News from Bulgaria / July 17, 95




JULY 17,1995













    Sofia, July 14 (BTA) - Today Parliament ratified an agreement for gratuitous aid from the Netherlands (Debt Servicing and Reduction Project) between Bulgaria and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development as an administrator of the Netherlands funds, signed on May 23, 1995 in Washington.

    The donation amounts to 15 million guilders in support of a World Bank loan for reducing Bulgaria's foreign debt to commercial bank creditors and its servicing.

    Parliament ratified an intergovernment agreement between Bulgaria and Armenia on Reciprocal Investment Protection and Promotion, signed on April 14, 1995 in Sofia. According to the parliamentary economic committee, this agreement will boost commercial exchange, joint economic activity and investment between the two countries.


    - Sofia, July 14 (BTA) - Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski returned here today from Vienna where he attended a meeting of the Permanent Council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). There he set forth the Bulgarian Government's proposal for the agenda and organization of a November meeting in Sofia on the development of the trans-European infrastructure in Central and Eastern Europe and the Black Sea region.

    In talks with Foreign Ministers Wolfgang Schessel of Austria and Laszlo Kovacs of Hungary and in the statements of the European Union delegates, Mr. Pirinski received positive assessments of the Bulgarian proposal. "The idea to work for stabilization of the region even while the crisis in former Yugoslavia is still going on is seen as a reasonable approach, " the chief Bulgarian diplomat told the BTA stringer in Vienna.

    In Vienna, Mr. Pirinski conferred with the President the Bundesrat Dr. Heinz Fischer and was received today by the Federal Chancellor of Austria, Dr. Franz Vranitzky.


    - Sofia, July 14 (BTA) - A military delegation, led by Defence Minister Dimiter Pavlov, will visit Portugal on July 17 - 20, Defence Ministry's press office said. The preliminary programme envisages the signing of an agreement for bilateral military cooperation and a programme for joint operation in 1996. The two parties will also sign a protocol on the statute of the joint Bulgarian- Portuguese Commission for cooperation in the field of defence. Minister Pavlov will have a meeting with Portuguese Prime Minister and Foreign Minister and will visit military sites.


    - Sofia, July 16 (BTA) - The chairman of the Bundestag Economic Committee, Friedhelm Ost, arrived on a visit to Bulgaria today. Tomorrow he will meet Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski, Industry Minister Kliment Vouchev, Finance Minister Dimiter Kostov, Deputy Trade Minister Ivan Belchev and National Bank of Bulgaria Governor Prof. Todor Vulchev. The talks will focus on the prospects of the Bulgarian economic reform. Mr. Ost said on his arrival he would like to get more information about the state strategy for the development of production and the stability of the Bulgarian lev.


    - Sofia, July 14 (BTA) - The signing of an agreement on bilateral transport cooperation between Bulgaria and Turkey was the closing event of the 13th session of the Mixed Bulgarian-Turkish Transport Commission, which began here today. Improved organization and coordination of road traffic, better organized rail traffic, concerted action to open new border crossings and building of major transport projects linking Turkey and Bulgaria with Europe topped the agenda of the session, transport ministers Stamen Stamenov of Bulgaria and Ali Sevki Erek of Turkey told a joint news conference.

    The two ministers singled out the common understanding reached on the opening of two new border checkpoints, at Malko Turnovo - Derekoy and at Lessovo - Hamzibey, as a special achievement of the session. The two crossings are to be completed by the end of 1996. The idea is to avoid the congestion of cross-border traffic at Kapitan Andreevo - Kapi Kule and above all to facilitate cargo traffic. As from the beginning of August 1995, the two countries' customs services will clear trucks of an overall weight of 42 t, up from 38 t. Because of the dilapidated state of the Bulgarian road network, for the time being Bulgaria declined Turkey's request to clear heavier trucks, Mr. Stamenov said.

    The sides found that two-way passenger and cargo traffic by road has increased and that the 1977 bilateral agreement on road transport needs updating. It was agreed to streamline the arrangements for the issue of permits to Bulgarian and Turkish carriers, specifically in passenger traffic. A total of 2, 000 extra permits (1, 000 for each of the countries) will be issued to cargo carriers in 1995.

    As agreed at the session, by the end of October 1995 the rail administrations of Bulgaria and Turkey will sign an agreement on operation at the shared border railway station of Kapi Kule (on Turkish territory).

    Opportunities to pursue intermodal traffic and specifically ro- transport were discussed at the session.

    Even though water transport lies beyond the competence of the Turkish Ministry of Transport, the Bulgarian-Turkish Transport Commission agreed on the holding of a meeting between the two countries' shipping companies.

    In air transport, it was agreed to enhance the existing fine cooperation between Bulgarian and Turkish air carriers.

    In transport construction, there is keen shared interest in building the transport infrastructure of Bulgaria and Turkey, the two ministers said. It was agreed to work out options for funding road repairs and for construction of priority transport projects along the routes of European transport corridors which pass through the two countries' territories.

    The two countries' road administrations will meet in Edirne in September 1995 to sort out technical details concerning the Plovdiv - Kapitan Andreevo trunk road and the Kapitan Andreevo Kapi Kule border crossing.

    Bulgarian and Turkish experts agreed to coordinate their studies and intentions for building a trunk road along the Black Sea coast.

    The sides undertook to brief each other on changes in Bulgarian and Turkish legislation concerning transport and on violations in this area.

    Mr. Erek said Turkey was ready to assist tackling a backlog of transport problems and building a modern infrastructure between the two countries.

    In November 1995, Bulgarian and Turkish delegations will meet to analyze the two countries' work in the field of transport.

    The Mixed Bulgarian-Turkish Transport Commission was set up in 1975. It will hold its 14th session in 1996.


    - Sofia, July 15 (BTA) - Today Bulgaria and Tunisia signed three documents: a trade agreement, a programme for cooperation in science, culture and education covering the next two years, and a protocol on cooperation between the foreign ministries of the two countries. Tunisian Foreign Minister Habib Ben Yahia, who arrived on an official visit here yesterday, and Bulgarian Foreign Minister Pirinski voiced their satisfaction with the documents signed and the talks held.

    This is the first visit by a chief diplomat of the countries in Maghreb and the Arab world in the last five years, but as Foreign Minister Pirinski stated, "the event is far from being symbolic". In Mr. Pirinski's words, his Tunisian counterpart's visit "is very useful and fruitful". In Mr. Ben Yahia's opinion, his visit will give a new impetus to Bulgarian-Tunisian relations. Today Habib Ben Yahia was received by Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Kiril Tsochev and Minister of Health Mimi Vitkova. Yesterday Mr. Ben Yahia conferred with his Bulgarian counterpart Georgi Pirinski, President Zhelyu Zhelev and National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov. "There are real, very important areas in which the two countries have common interests and in which they can work together, " Minister Pirinski told the media today, after the documents were signed. It will be to the benefit of both Bulgaria and Tunisia to cooperate in trade, economy, industry, and the exchange of personnel. The two countries can conduct cooperation in third countries and on third markets. In a regional aspect, Bulgaria and Tunisia seek to play a stabilizing role, it was stated after Mr. Ben Yahia's meetings in Sofia. "Both countries are situated in sensitive zones, in areas where there is tension, " Mr. Ben Yahia said stressing the two countries' efforts to "ease tension, promote peace and stop the fire of arms". The topics discussed by PM Videnov and Mr. Ben Yahia include Bulgaria's role as a mediator in the region and the implementation of infrastructure projects. They both agreed that there is a good basis for the expansion of economic cooperation and trade between Bulgaria and Tunisia, the Government Press Office said. The Bulgarian side pointed out there is a possibility of widening the range of exported products.

    Kiril Tsochev, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade and Foreign economic Cooperation, described the Bulgarian-Tunisian agreement on trade as especially important. It is planned to increase trade that, having dropped considerably over the last years, now is about 10 million US dollars' worth. According to Mr. Tsochev, the fact that in the first quarter of 1995 alone the two countries' trade rose to 11.7 million US dollars, largely due to Bulgaria's imports of crude oil and lubricants, gives ground for hope. Bulgaria has a trade deficit with Tunisia. At today's talks Mr. Tsochev and Mr. Ben Yahia considered the possibility of boosting trade and Bulgaria regaining its foothold on the Tunisian market by machinery supplies. Tunisia is interested in getting more Bulgarian fertilizers, phosphates and by-products on a barter basis. If Bulgaria regains its position on the Tunisian market and Tunisian exports to Bulgaria is increased, bilateral trade may be expected to rise to 40-50 million dollars, reaching the level of previous years, Mr. Tsochev said. Bulgaria will probably try to participate in the construction of infrastructure projects in the Mediterranean countries. Foreign Minister Ben Yahia praised the programme for cooperation in science, culture and education in 1995-1997. "The Bulgarian physicians and teachers in Tunisia are highly appreciated, " he said. He attached much importance to bilateral cooperation in pharmaceutical and medical exchange in the treatment of serious diseases. The protocol on cooperation between the bulgarian and the Tunisian foreign ministries makes provisions for political consultations on a regular basis and contacts at the level of deputy ministers on all problems of bilateral relations, regional cooperation and international issues of mutual interest. The Bulgarian-Tunisian Commission on Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation will hold a session this autumn. It was agreed during Mr. Ben Yahia's visit to appoint two task forces which would make arrangements for the exchange of visits by experts and seek opportunities for the signing of specific contracts. It was pointed out at Mr. Ben Yahia's meeting with health Minister Mimi Vitkova, Co-Chair of the Bulgarian-Tunisian Commission on Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation, that one of the priorities of the Commission's session was to make preparations for the ratification of agreements on the avoidance of double taxation and the reciprocal protection of investments.


    - Sofia, July 16 (BTA) - Tunisian Foreign Minister Habib Ben Yahia ended his official visit to Bulgaria. This was the first visit by an Arab foreign minister to Sofia in the last five years. Bulgarian Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski received an invitation to visit Tunisia. According to sources in the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry, it will be paid before the end of this year.


    - Sofia, July 14 (BTA) - The budget revenue in January-June 1995 is a mere 38.2% of the 1995 target figure while expenses are 43.1%, writes the financial and business "Pari" daily. According to preliminary estimates, the budget deficit for the above period is 31, 500 million leva which amounts for 64.7% of the annual figure. Finance Ministry experts are quoted as saying that the most serious problem is the collection of excise duties and VAT.

    Russia's US$ 100 million debt to Bulgaria will be settled in goods, "Pari" writes quoting Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Economic Cooperation Kiril Tsochev. US$ 50 million will be repaid with goods for the ferrous metallurgy and as much with goods for special production and spare parts for the army. A working group of three cabinet ministers will work out a mechanism for settlements in leva under a Bulgarian-Russian agreement on reciprocal liabilities. One of the options is that the budget covers the losses of Bulgarian companies that have exported goods to Russia in previous periods, Tsochev said. He, however, believes this is impossible with the current exchange rate of 66 leva/US$ 1 because the export was effected at other levels of the exchange rate.

    The Bulgarian Sports Totalizer this year expects 2, 500 million leva proceeds, Director General Lyuben Genov tells an interviewer of "Pari". This is 40% up the 1, 700 million leva last year.


    - Sofia, July 16 (BTA) - Massey Ferguson, a world- famous British producer of farming equipment, staged an on-field demonstration of its new machinery. It showed tractors and combines at work during the harvest near Isperih (Northeastern Bulgaria).

    The Shell Bulgaria Inc. is going to build yet another petrol station in Bulgaria. It will be on the E-79 international highway connecting Bulgaria with Greece and adjacent to the highway to Macedonia. Shell representatives say that the facilities and equipment, worth 800, 000 US dollars, are all state-of-the-art and meet the requirements for environmental protection. This will be Shell's seventh petrol station in Bulgaria. The company plans to build 80 to 100 petrol stations in this country by 2000.

    The Vazov Machine Building Plant in Sopot (Central Bulgaria) launched the production of children's bicycles based on a Dutch technology which makes it possible to manufacture 120, 000 bicycles a year.

    Unlike most producers of sheep cheese, the Shoumen-based Serdika has no problem to sell this product. The company has dispatched 50 tonnes of cheese to the United States and Australia since the beginning of 1995. It plans to export white cheese of 300, 000 US dollars's worth by the end of the year.

    A specialized farm near Vratsa (Northwestern Bulgaria) has bred and exported 250 tonnes of ecological snails to the European markets. The company was established in 1990 and has a total area of five hectares.

    The Lavena Company in Shoumen produces essential oils extracted from various plants. Lavena's dill, lavender and salvia oils have well-established markets in the United States, England, Germany, France and other countries. They are designed for the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and food-processing industries. The fennel oil is the company's new product and English and Egyptian companies have already shown interest in it.

    The appraisal of a fish-processing workshop near Smolyan (Southern Bulgaria), subject to privatization, is 117 million leva. It produces smoked fish fillet and frozen trout. Its capacity is 1 tonne per day. Belgian, Dutch and Turkish companies have shown interest in its privatization.

    Foreign companies' investments will revive production at the largest canning plant in the Balkans in Pazardjik (Southern Bulgaria). The Italian company Panda- Fruit has made a favourable offer. More than 20 companies from Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan seek contacts with the enterprise. However, high custom duties in the former Soviet republics hinder the export of Bulgarian canned foods.

    The Promenergo company in Pleven (Northern Bulgaria) launched the production of solar-battery powered water-heaters. Appliances of this kind will appear on the Bulgarian market for the first time. The water-heaters have been designed by Bulgarian and Czech experts. They are produced jointly: the batteries are supplied by a Czech maker, and the other components - by Bulgarian producers. Promenergo will make about 2, 000 water-heaters per month; 60 percent of the output is designed for export.


    - Sofia, July 15 (BTA) - Interviewed by APA, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski said that Bulgaria would like to expand its economic cooperation with all countries, Tsvetana Delibaltova told BTA from Vienna late last night. Pirinski is in Vienna to take part in a session of the Standing Council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. "The development of economic relations with the United States arise a particular interest and Bulgaria will expect more US investments", Pirinski said. Russia and the other countries of the former Soviet Union are also important partners for Bulgaria, due to their large markets and considerable resources, the Bulgarian Foreign Minister stated. At present prospects are being studied for the construction of an oil pipeline from Azerbaijan via Bulgaria, Macedonia and Albania to Italy, Minister Pirinski said. He dwelled on the Bulgarian losses, estimated at millions of dollars, suffered as a result of the observation of the embargo on former Yugoslavia and Iraq. Pirinski expressed the view that sanctions against Belgrade should be mitigated or lifted in compliance with the process of peaceful settlement of the Yugoconflict.

    Nikolai Kamov, Chairman of the parliamentary Committee on Foreign Policy left for Moscow today to take part in a scientific conference on "On the Road to a New Model of European Integration". The conference will mark the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Helsinki Final Act.

    The National Committee for Protection of National Interests (NCPNI) held two national conferences, electing a chairman each. The delegates of both conferences claim that their forums are legitimate. One of the conferences listened to a report on the six-year long activities of NCPNI and elected the MP of the Democratic Left, Dobromir Zadgorski Chairman of the Committee. The other part of NCPNI members and the Fatherland Party of Labour (which recently defected from NCPNI) elected the former MP, Roumen Vodenicharov as the Committee's Chairman. The delegates of the two conferences suppose that the legitimacy of NCPNI leaders, chosen today will be established in court.

    The Grazhdanin (Citizen) Society organized round table talks here today on foreign programmes in Bulgaria's media space.

    Last night in the Kayluka Park near Pleven (Northern Bulgaria) drug addicts destroyed one column of the basilica in the Storgoziya ancient fortress, BTA local correspondent reported. The basilica is considered one of the largest in Bulgaria.

    Bulgaria and Komi project to restore their economic cooperation, it became known after a Bulgarian delegation, led by Deputy Prime Minister Svetoslav Shivarov ended its visit to Komi.

    Several protocols on cooperation in the spheres of trade, economy, science, technology and culture were signed yesterday.

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