In 1992 Bulgaria was accepted member of the International Civil Defence Organization and this necessitated the separation of the department from the mobilization bodies of the General Staff of the army to meet this country's obligations under the Geneva Convention. Civil defence is a humanitarian activity and a function of the state and not of a separate government department, the chief of the department said then. The Civil Defence Bill passed on first reading this June is the first in its kind in Bulgaria and its seven sections regulate the preparation, protection and assistance of the population in the event of disasters and major industrial accidents and in times of war. It provides for the Civil Defence to be directly subordinated to the Council of Ministers. In 1994 there were 28, 000 events in this country necessitating the intervention of the Civil Defence in compliance with the new law. Civil Defence has 1, 033 shelters across the country. Of these, 327 are in Sofia, mainly in old buildings in the centre of the city. According to the provisions of the 1946 Geneva Convention for Protecting the Population in the Event of Disasters and Accidents, the capacity of these shelters should exceed the number of the population by 10%. However, the nuclear shelters in Sofia can take in only 35-40% of the Sofia inhabitants. The largest nuclear shelter - for 10, 000 people, is on the territory of the Yuzhen Park. For several years now some shelters have been rented out as warehouses. In Sofia, these shelters number 30. Civil Defence representatives claim that they can clear out the shelters in a matter of hours, should the need arise. Ten shelters in downtown Plovdiv have been rented out as restaurants and bars. The military joke that there would be no need to clear them out "if the need arises".
- Lisbon, July 18 - Bulgarian Defence Minister Dimiter Pavlov and the delegation he heads were ceremoniously welcomed today at the Portuguese Defence Ministry. Minister Pavlov had a half an hour talk with his Portuguese counterpart Antonio Jorge De Figueiredo Lopes. The full delegations then discussed the forthcoming signing of an agreement for military cooperation. Minister Pavlov told reporters later that during the talks the two parties were unanimous about the necessity to find a peaceful resoluion of the crisis in former Yugoslavia. It was said that Portugal was ready to send an air battalion to help take UNPROFOR troops out of the region when necessary.
The Portuguese delegation voiced the full support of its country for Bulgaria's efforts to receive full membership in the EU, the WEU and other European and Euroatlantic structures. According to Dimiter Pavlov, Lisbon supports the gradual association of the Central and the Eastern European states to these structures, without drawing differences between them or isolating any European state, Russia included. The delegations took a common stand that it is this approach alone that will help build a system of general European security. Both parties agreed that the reactivation of the Western European Union, which is NATO's European pillar, is in harmony with the building of the new structures on the old continent.
- Sofia, July 18 (BTA) - Bulgaria's attraction for foreign investments, the state of the country's economy and the possibilities for further cooperation between Bulgaria and Germany were in the focus of today's talks Friedhelm Ost, Chairman of the Bundestag Economic Committee, had today. He was on a three-day visit to Sofia at the invitation of the Bulgarian Parliament. Mr Ost was received by Prime Minister Zhan Videnov who said there are good opportunities to activate Bulgarian-German cooperation, Government Spokesman Nikola Baltov said. The Prime Minister told Mr Ost about the Government intentions concerning the structural reform, mass privatization and sustained economic growth, by which Bulgaria will justify the hopes of its foreign partners. The sides discussed Bulgaria's integration with the European structures. According to mr Ost, Bulgaria could play a pivotal role in "changing Europe", the Government spokesman said.
Meeting the members of the Economic Committee of the Bulgarian Parliament, Mr Ost said the 1991 Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation between Bulgaria and Germany, which the Bundestag Economic Committee backed unanimously, now should be substantiated. "We are pleased with the cooperation between the two countries which, however, should be expanded, " Mr Ost stated. He said that the Bulgarian share in Germany's import is only 0.1 percent. In his opinion, Bulgaria does not need loans from the International Monetary Fund or other international financial institutions but investments. "The conditions for investment in Bulgaria are not good, " he noted. Less than 200 million German marks have been invested in this country over the last three years. German investments in Bulgaria are less than 10 percent of the amount invested in Hungary. According to Mr Ost, the poor condition of telecommunications and transport in Bulgaria are an obstacle to foreign entrepreneurs. One of the ways of attracting investors is the promotion of environment-friendly productions and the encouragement of small and medium- size businesses by economic levers. Mr Ost emphasized that the structural adjustment of the econonomy and privatization should be accelerated. The German parliamentarian gave a news conference before his departure. he said that Bulgaria is at an important geopolitical crossroads and a point of intersection for the world economy. "The Bulgarians should realize what opportunities this position opens for them and should create better conditions for economic cooperation in their country, " he said. According to Mr Ost, "the European politicians should not forget Bulgaria when the question is about the process of European integration". He stressed that Bulgaria needs dynamic businessmen of its own and national capital. The presence of foreign capital in the country will promote competition in the different sectors of economic life and will help improve its infrastructure and telecommunications. "In this areas Bulgaria should get financial assistance from the European Union too, " Mr Ost stated. In his view, Bulgaria should prioritize the development of its food processing industry, the light industry in general and the textiles in particular and mechanical engineering, specializing in the production of certain components. It should not try to sell only farm products on the European markets which are anyway glutted; it should increase its presence on the markets in the Middle East too.
Friedhelm Ost met Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development Roumen Gechev. The sides discussed privatization, the consolidation of banking and the pipeline projects in the territory of Bulgaria. Special attention wa spaid to cooperation in banking. The Chairman of the Bundestag Economic Committee was received by National Assembly Chairman Blagovest sendov. Mr Sendov told him about the efforts of the Bulgarian Parliament to create good conditions and guarantee security for foreign investments, to provide a legal framework for the democratic changes and the transition to market economy principles, the National Assembly press centre said.
- Sofia, July 17 (BTA) - The Constitutional Court admitted to consider a case, which was insituted proceeding from a petition filed by Prosecutor General Ivan Tatarchev contesting the constitutionality of the provisional staute of national television and radio. The statute was promulgated in early 1991. According to Tatarchev's reasoning, the statute is inconsistent with a provision in the Constitition under which "the press and the other mass media are free and not subject to censorship." The Prosecutor General cites provisions of the statute of the national electronic media, authorizing Parliament at large and the parliamentary Committee on Radio, Television and BTA in particular to determine the structure and the rules of operation of the two broadacst media and to vet their governing bodies. Ivan Tatarchev also says that the provisional statute does not comply with the principle of separation of powers. The statute of national television provides airtime for the prime minister and the National Assembly chairman, but not for representatives of the judiciary, according to Mr Tatarchev's reasoning. The Constitutional Court has constituted President Zhelyu Zhelev, the Parliament, the Government, the Supreme Judicial Council and the director generals of national television and radio as parties in the case. They have 15 days to submit observations in writing to the Constitutional Court.
- Sofia, July 18 (BTA) - Some 60 million leva are needed for the start of the Industrial Development Fund, "24 Chassa" says, citing a source of the Industry Ministry. The fund-raising was launched on July 1, and will be conducted by banks and industrial companies. The fund will extend interest-free loans for the development of new products and technologies.
The management of the Golden Sands resort will seek foreign investors for the International Hotel, "Continent" says. The hotel, which used to be recognized as the Golden Sands' symbol, stays locked since years ago. The investor will be required to transform the hotel into a five- star establishment and to appoint a well-known management company to run it.
The competition between Bulgarian and foreign ice- cream producers is considerably tougher this year, "Douma" says. Apart from their lower prices, the Bulgarian ice- creams profit from their improved quality, the daily says.
- Washington, July 18 , For the first time since the 1994 World Cup a poster featuring Bulgarian star footballer Hristo Stoichkov, now next to an electric truck, can be seen in the United States. The caption runs: "We both are Bulgarian products".
Crown International of the U.S. and Balkancar, the Bulgarian electric truck maker, have set out to enter the American market with Bulgarian-made industrial trucks. Stoyan Bakalov, President of the American company based in Manassas, not far from Washington, D.C., does brisker business with Bulgaria than GE, Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola put together. Bakalov is poised to sell the first 300 Bulgarian-made electric trucks in the U.S. relying on their advantages: they are environment friendly, contain American electronic components and are offered at competitive prices.
American business representatives have been impressed with the deal between Crown International and Balkancar, guaranteed by Elitbank and Maxcom Car. At the inauguration of the office building in Manassas, three Congressmen wished the U.S. and Bulgaria to develop their trade contacts.
- Sofia, July 18 (BTA) - Russia has moved the most unfair variant for settling Bulgaria's share in the joint lumbering enterprise in Komi, Chairman of Forestry Committee Valentin Karamfilov believes. Mr Karamfilov was on the Bulgarian government delegation which visited Moscow and Komi last week. "Bulgaria shall have to start cooperation with Komi from scratch. It will simply have to forget its 25 years of budget investments in this country. This is the present result from the decision of Lyuben Berov's Government (December 1992 - September 1994) for Bulgaria's unilateral termination of the agreement, " Mr Karamfilov told reporters. He said that Bulgaria has left in the territory of Komi settlements, roads and heavy machines worth 50-70 million leva.
The compromise settlement envisages that Bulgaria uses for free for a period of 10 years the Bulgarian settlement Verhni Mezen, the last one to come out of construction, and is licensed to make 250, 000 cu m in annual wood output over 25 years. According to Mr Karamfilov this settlement is also unprofitable for Bulgaria, because the enterprise it has been offered to construct will be hundred per cent its property. The timber output will thus have to be sold in Komi or in Finland as the high transport expenses will make it unsaleable in Bulgaria. According to Mr Karamfilov, the idea is that Bulgaria imports from Komi the raw material it needs for its wood- processing factories. Apart from the problem with the Bulgarian share in the joint venture, the state authorities of Komi are eager to promote cooperation with Bulgaria in a number of fields, ranging from joint manufacture of electric trucks and furniture to the construction of cigarette factory operating with Bulgarian technologies and tobacco material.
- Sofia, July 18 (BTA) - The Black Sea ro-ro service between Varna (Bulgaria) and Poti (Georgia) was officially opened today. "This is a new route for the transportation of goods between Central and Eastern Europe on the one hand and Central Asia on the other, " Stoyan Paounov, Harbour Master of Port Varna, said. Irakli Savliashvili, the Georgian organizer of the ro-ro line, read a greeting message from Georgia's Parliament and Government. A Bulgarian government delegation will visit Georgia soon, Varna's Regional Governor Kiril Yordanov told a news conference after the opening ceremony. Armenia and Azerbaijan are expected to join the transport project too. By the end of August 1995 a delegation of the Varna region will visit Iran which has also shown interest in the sea route. Varna Port is making preparations for the operation of yet another sea line to Batumi, which can be used for the transport of goods to and from Iran.
Today the "Sofia" ship, the only private ro-ro ship in Bulgaria owned by Astarta 21 Inc., is going to make its first voyage along the Varna-Poti line. It will carry 430 tonnes of foodstuffs, sugar and whisky. The ship's capacity is 42-43 16-meter-long truck and trailers; a second ro-ro ship will be chartered within 3-4 months; 500-600, 000 tonnes of goods a year can be shipped along the route.
The "Sofia" is expected to arrive at Poti on Thursday. The Georgian side will open the line officially on Friday.
- Sofia, July 18 (BTA) - A meeting between the management of the Bulgarian Telecommunications Company, a mission of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank and the World Bank was held on July 17 and 18 in Sofia, Valentin Kolev, chief expert in the company said. The representatives of the creditor banks confirmed their preconditions for signing loan agreements for the construction of a new digital telecommunications network in Bulgaria. They confirmed the position of their banks, that the extension of loans for the digital network is directly related to the raising of telecommunications price rates and to the availability of guarantees that the mechanism of their updating will start working automatically under the changed conditions. The President of the Bulgarian Telecommunications Company Mihail Damov said that nothing endangers the servicing of loans granted by the banks. The raising of price rates was regulated by a decision of the Council of Ministers in October, 1994 and seeks adaptation to the realities of the transition in the country, Mr Danov is quoted as saying.
- Sofia, July 18 (BTA) - An earthquake was registered at 11.10 p.m. local time yesterday, epicentred some 220 km to the southeast of Sofia on Bulgarian territory, the Civil Defence said early today, quoting the seismological operative unit of the Institute of Geophysics with the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. According to preliminary data, the quake measured 3.4 on the Richter scale and was felt in Momchilgrad and its environs. No fatalities or damage to property have been reported.
Another earthquake measuring 5.0 on the Richter scale was registered by the Institute of Geophysics with the Bulgarian Academy of sciences, the Civil Defence said. It was epicentred at 350 km southwest of the Bulgarian border. No damage and victims are reported.