In an interview for national radio today, President Zhelev declared himself to be for Bulgaria's NATO membership. "There are no obstacles to become a full member of NATO if there is somebody to admit us there," he stated. President Zhelev believes that it will be more difficult for Bulgaria to join the European Union as a full member than NATO. "Admission to EU would require from Bulgaria to do much more than accession to NATO," Zhelev said. The Bulgarian President stated that NATO membership is this country's political ticket to enter the EU. "NATO is not only a military and political pact, it is an organization concerned with ecology, economy and high technologies. Bulgaria's admission to NATO would be a token of trust in the country and it will have access to all this," Zhelev said. He believes that NATO membership is very important for the former communist countries. "Unlike Austria or Sweden, no one of the ex-communist countries can become a full member of the EU without being admitted to NATO first," Zhelev said adding this is his strong conviction. The inaugural session of the EU-Bulgaria Association Council is being held in Brussels today. In this connection President Zhelev declared himself to be for working out a detailed strategy for Bulgaria's full membership in the EU saying that not only the state institutions, but "all Bulgarians, all members of the civil society should be motivated in a certain way to insist on taking part in this process because it concerns the country as a whole." In reply to the question whether Bulgaria should make a more pressing request for full membership in the EU, President Zhelev stressed the importance of carrying out political, economic and legal reforms first. "The implementation of reform is Bulgaria's card representing it to the European Union and its respective structures we have been negotiating with. It is this country's card representing it to the international financial institution when applying for financial, political or other support," Zhelev went on to say. He pointed out that the question of reforms is not a party one but of nation-wide importance, therefore there should be consensus on it, as is the case with Bulgaria's admisison to the EU. "No matter how insistant we are, no matter how much we can pester the respective EU institutions, if there are no reforms, if there is no real progress to genuine, free and modern market economy, if there are not genuine democratic laws and institutions in this country, nobody is going to pay much attention to our requests," Zhelev said. In Zhelev's opinion there is a connection between the Schengen agreement and the alow pace of reforms in Bulgaria. "If a country has carried out reforms, if it has improved considerably people's living standards, if it offers its citizens much greater opportunities in the sphere of business and other fields of social life, then naturally the people who may opt to go and work or settle abroad will be fewer," President Zhelev observed.
The Consultastive Council on National Security (CCNS) today met to discuss the matter of Bulgaria's membership in NATO. President Zhelev called the meeting after the Socialist majority in Parliament adjourned the debate on a draft resolution on NATO membership last Friday. "President Zhelev put on the agenda of CCNS the need to state the country's position on NATO membership in a clear and categorical manner on the basis of a consensus between the parliamentary parties and coalitions and the institutions of state," CCNS Spokesman Ivailo Trifonov said after the meeting. Mr Trifonov read to reporters an official press release. The participants in the meeting declined to provide further details. "Concerning the problem of Bulgaria's membership in NATO, the Consultative Council on National Security, noting the principled importance of Parliament's Declaration of December 1993, suggests that the [National Assembly] Committee on Foreign Policy and the Committee on National Security jointly with Parliament's delegation to the North Atlantic Assembly, continue the discussion of Bulgaria's specific positions on this matter in connection with guaranteeing the country's national security in terms of integration with European and Euro-Atlantic structures as part of an all-embracing security architecture in Europe and the world," reads the press release, spelling out the view on which the members of the Council have converged after hearing the participants' opinions. During the meeting, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov briefed the members of the Consultative Council on the content of a document entitled "Key Points of Bulgaria's Position on National Security Guarantees in Terms of Integration with the European and Euro-Atlantic Structures" and on the positions declared by the Government in various international contacts. First Deputy Foreign Minister Stefan Staikov surveyed Bulgaria's relations with NATO and the Western European Union in the last few years, stressing the participation in the Partnership for Peace initiative, the North Atlantic Cooperation Council and Bulgaria's Associate Partner status in WEU. Mr Staikov recalled the discussion at NATO on the principles and ways of the future enlargement of the Alliance. Defence Minister Dimiter Pavlov briefed the participants on specific Partnership for Peace exercises this year. The Chairman of the National Assembly Committee on Foreign Policy Nikolai Kamov briefed the Council on the debates on the matter of NATO membership held at the parliamentary committees. The Floor Leader of the opposition Union of Democratic Forces Yordan Sokolov set forth the Union's position that Bulgaria must state its clear and categorical desire for full NATO membership. The same position was expressed by the representatives of the two other opposition parliamentary formations: the Popular Union and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms. Mr Nikolai Dobrev MP of the BSP, Chairman of the National Committee on National Security, spoke in favour of an ongoing dialogue in the spirit of what has been achieved so far. The Consultative Council on National Security is chaired by the President of the Republic and comprises the Chairman of the National Assembly, the Prime Minister, the ministers of defence, interior, foreign affairs and finance, the Chief of General Staff of the Bulgarian Army and representatives of the parliamentary groups.
Today Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev received Russia's prominent aircraft designer Alexei Tupolev and Academician Vadim Zagladin, a political scientist. They were accompanied by Russian Ambassador to Bulgaria Alexander Avdeyev. Tupolev and Zagladin are visiting Bulgaria on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Russian Cultural and Information Centre. "Bulgaria's integration into NATO was only briefly discussed at the meeting," President's Spokesman Valentin Stoyanov told journalists later. Vadim Zagladin, who is a member of the International Fund for Social and Political Studies headed by Mikhail Gorbachev, conveyed President Boris Yeltsin's greetings to the Bulgarian President. Zhelyu Zhelev agreed with Vadim Zagladin that military and political relations should not be placed in the centre of Bulgarian-Russian relations and that the two countries should go on promoting their economic and cultural cooperation. All those who claim that Russia hinders Bulgaria's full integration with NATO live in the past, Zagladin stated. Bulgaria has the right to make its own sovereign decision, he added. Russian Ambassador Avdeyev told journalists that he spoke to President Zhelev over the telephone on Friday informing him the Russian position against NATO's enlargement remains unchanged. "Nobody is going to put pressure on anyone else; the question is about a normal, natural dialogue between the Russian and the Bulgarian state leaders," Avdeyev said. He pointed out that both Bulgaria and Russia are interested in the further advancement of their bilateral relations.
In connection with the first session on Bulgaria's association with the European Union in Brussels, President Zhelyu Zhelev invited the ambassadors of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary and Romania for a meeting today. Romania and the Czech Republic were represented by deputy ambassadors. Speeding up the process of integration with the EU was the main topic on the agenda, President's advisor on European integration Raina Karcheva said. The ambassadors and Dr Zhelev voiced the stands of their states on the association with NATO. "There is a consensus in Poland, Hungary, Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia on their association both with the European Union and with NATO," Mrs Karcheva said. Dr Zhelev familiarized his guests with Bulgaria's stand on the integration with the two structures and with today's meeting of the consultative council on national security.
Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev sent a cable to United Nations Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali condemning the impermissible violation of the standards of international law after the dramatic events in Bosnia in which UNPROFOR peacekeepers fell victims to outrages, a press release of the President's Press Office reads.
At its meeting today the Council of Ministers decided in principle to set up a national environmental trust fund. The fund will be established as a non-profit juristic person and will manage the funds on the swap deals "Debt for dnvironment," "Debt for Nature" and other foreign financial sources directed at the protection of Bulgaria's environment. The Cabinet will adopt a final decision and regulations for the fund's operation after a week, the Government's press office said.
Machines, machinery and equipment, imported by the companies, licensed to prospect and drill for oil in the Bulgarian continental shelf, will be exempted from customs levies. The decision is in compliance with the international agreements, Government's Spokesman Nikola Baltov said.
The Council of Ministers decided to extend until December 31, 1995 the term for the temporary import of tobacco types and auxiliary materials, intended for processing and imported after January 1, 1994. The decision was taken after the Central Customs Administration made thorough inspection at several customs and registered cases of non-completed temporary imports, amounting in certain customs declarations to hundreds of tonnes of tobacco. more
"In the opinion of the Russian Ministry of Defence putting pressure on the belligerents in the Yugoslav conflict has not produced and will not produce a positive result; it is necessary that the United Nations and the international contact group achieve an immediate cease of hostilities in Bosnia and Herzegovina by political means," Colonel Vasily Shchepetkov of the Russian Defence Ministry stated at a two-day international conference on the prevention of military conflicts in Southeastern Europe opened in Sofia today, It is held under the patronage of Bulgarian Defence Minister Dimiter Pavlov.
"This is the first forum of this kind that takes place in Bulgaria," the participants were told by Prof. Nansen Behar, Director of the Centre for National Security Studies (CNSS) with the Bulgarian Defence Ministry. The conference is organized by CNSS and the Institute for National Strategic Studies with the National Defence University of the United States. Representatives of different military and political organizations of the USA, Greece, Romania, Albania, Macedonia, Croatia, Hungary and Bulgaria are attending it in their capacity as experts; they will not present their countries' official positions. A number of representatives of Bulgarian state and public institutions are also taking part in the conference. Prof. Behar said the Yugoslav representative was unable to attend it because of a last-minute hitch. Colonel Shchepetkov familiarized the participants with the Russian Defence Ministry's position saying that the leaderships of the UN, the US and the leading Western countries should abandon their double- standard policy of exerting pressure on the Sebian side only and should admit that both the parties to the Bosnian conflict are equally responsible for its exacerbation. "The embargo on arms sales to Bosnia and Herzegovina should remain in force but the UN sanctions against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia should be lifted unconditionally, thus supporting Yugoslavia's efforts for a peaceful settlement of the conflict," Colonel Shchepetkov said. The Russian Defence Ministry believes that negotiations between the leaders of the belligerents in Bosnia held under the aegis of the UN, an international conference on the Yugocrisis and a high-level meeting of the contact group countries after a compromise is achieved could end the Yugoslav conflict. According to Jeffrey Simon, Senior Fellow of the Institute for National Strategic Studies with the US National Defence University, the present situation in the Balkan is similar to that at the beginning of the century; Macedonia and Kossovo are the two triggers the squeezing of which would expand and worsen the Yugoslav conflict. The countries not affected by the conflict should coordinate their strategic efforts in order to prevent such a scenario, he said. Jeffrey Simon said that Macedonia should receive sufficient economic aid to avoid the expansion of the conflict. He pointed out the necessity of promoting regional cooperation among Albania, Macedonia and Bulgaria. The United States should formulate a policy that would not allow the entry of large groups of refugees in Macedonia which would destabilize that country, Mr Simon said. In his opinion, in case this happens, the West should draw up a plan for urgent coordinated actions by Macedonia's neighbours to prevent the destabiliztaion of the whole region. "Apart from relations with the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the other priority of Russia's still unsettled foreign policy is its strategy in the Balkans," Dr Vadim Zagladin of the International Fund for Social and Political Studies (the Gorbachev Fund) told the participants in the conference. According to him, the 1992 Bulgarian-Russian Treaty could serve as a good example for the Russian policy in Southeastern Europe. The Gorbachev Fund and the Radjiv Gandhi Fund jointly proposed a programme for the prevention of conflicts to the UN and several states; the programme provides for the establishment of an ad hoc commission with the UN. Dr Zagladin described Jeffrey Simon's suggestions as very interesting for Russia. "In the past as well as in the present correcting most solutions to the Balkan problems imposed from the outside cost the Balkan peoples their blood," Bulgarian Defence Minister Dimiter Pavlov said at the opening of the conference. "The international organizations and the great powers are in position to play an exceptionally positive role but only if they have profound knowledge of the problems of the Balkan peoples and act in their interest," he stated. "We expect that the conference can act as a catalyst to outline a new system for the prevention and blocking of conflicts in the Balkans," Minister Pavlov said. The conference will continue with statements and a discussion on the papers presented this morning.
President Zhelyu Zhelev has sent a telegramme to Russian President Boris Yeltsin to express condolences on the tragedy of the earthquake-hit Sakhalin island, President's Spokesman said.
"Legal Protection of Design," is the topic of a two- day workshop which started here today at the initiative of the Centre of Industrial Design. The licensing charges are expected to be quadrupled from the current rate of 2,500 leva in order to meet the international standards, Emilia Novakova, representative of the Patent Office told the participants.
The European days of Union Internationale des Journalistes et de la Presse de Langue Francaise (UIJPLF), attended by 120 journalists, ended today in Sofia. This is the first time the union holds a meeting in Eastern Europe. The forum decided that Romania will host the next edition of the European days of UIJPLF. The Bulgarian section of the union, the largest one among East European states, will take part in the congress of the union this autumn in Cotonou, Benin.
The Bulgarian Social Democratic Party (BSDP) in principle supports Bulgaria's association with NATO, BSDP leader Peter Dertliev told a news conference here today. In his view President Zhelev is the person who is to unite the political powers on the issue, by working out a national security doctrine tackling, among other issues, the NATO accession.
The prospects for promoting bilateral economic relations and for participation of Indian businessmen in the process of privatization in Bulgaria were discussed today by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic relations Roumen Gechev and India's ambassador here Nurupam Sen. The Indian diplomat confirmed his country's invitation to a Bulgarian Governmental delegation to visit India at a time it considers convenient.
In the concluding debates at the session of the North Atlantic Assembly in Budapest, Ivan Gaitandzhiev, head of the Bulgarian delegation described the session's operation as objective, constructive and realistic.
Since the beginning of June the Bulgarian Chamber of Industry will launch a series of workshops on the protection of intellectual property in Bulgaria. There have already been reported cases in which trade marks, industrial samples, inventions and patents were sent for nothing because they have not been registered on time.
Bulgarian Industry Minister Kliment Vouchev and Genadi Voronin, Deputy Chairman of the Bulgarian-Russian Intergovernmental Committee for Cooperation in Special Production, has signed "documents of major importance", the trade union "Troud" daily reports today in its economic columns. According to the Bulgarian minister, they provide for the joint development of new state of the art systems and arms equipment. Russia is already working on bank communications and the transport scheme for the movement of the special products of this joint development prior to starting production, Vouchev said.
Over 80% of the intellectual property of a subsidiary of the Bulgarian DZU company abroad has been stolen, Industry Minister Vouchev said. If Evtim Pandev, a Bulgarian of dual nationality, living in the US, member of the board of directors does not return all the documents, Bulgaria will institute legal proceedings for restoring property, Industry Minister Vouchev told "Troud". US Ambassador William Montgomery has been informed of the scandal.
The "Chavdar" bus-making plant is negotiating three major contracts, the financial news daily "Pari" writes. The first is for delivering 40 buses to Sofia public transport. Balkanbank is ready to credit their production by USD 8 million. The City Council will pay 15% upon delivery and the remaining sum in the course of five years. Chinese and Thai businessmen have been showing interest in the buses made in Chavdar.