News from Bulgaria / July 25, 1995

From: (george kapodistrias)




JULY 25, 1995

















    Sofia, July 24 "Socialists Ready to Hold Conference" headlines a story in the ruling Socialists' "Douma" daily reporting yesterday's closed-door plenum of the top decision-taking body of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP). The plenum was called before the national conference.

    "The national conference will carry out its task only if it addresses the questions in issue and bring to the fore what is relevant in them to the local elections. [...] The conference should not just hold debates and take decisions but go deep into the problems of party policy and people's life, " writes "Douma" Editor-in-Chief Steffan Prodev. "We have been ruling for half-an-year now and it is our obligation to take a look at ourselves from aside to see the good things we have done and the bad things that prevents us to look people in the eyes, " Prodev goes on to say.

    "BSP Likes Its Mayors But Wants to Keep Them in Suspense" caps a story in "Demokratsiya", the daily of the opposition Union of Democratic Forces (UDF).

    In a frontpage story headlined "BSP Admits It Marks Time" the private "Standart News" daily quotes Nikolai Dobrev, one of the Socialist leaders, as saying seven months after it took power his party is marking time. "This is the conclusion of the man who has been controlling the party's local structure for years now, " the story says.

    "Continent", Pari" and "Troud" stress in reports on the plenum that the BSP leadership criticized the cabinet.

    "Continent" says a report on the BSP election campaign describes in negative terms the government's performance in the combat against crime, profiteering and corruption, its pricing and social policy.

    According to "Troud", the cabinet was accused that its tenure programme was "too general and unclear of purpose", its economic programme unclear and vague in terms of schedules"; and what is more, it has drifted away from the problems of people and the cabinet ministers persistently deny to take into consideration grass-rooters' recommendations.


    A frontpage story in "24 Chassa" headlined "[PM] Videnov Planning the First Cabinet Reshuffle" says Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Kiril Tsochev might be forced to step down because of the war between the cabinet and the Energy Committee (EC). Tsochev refused to replace the chief of the National Electricity Company (NEC), Dyanko Dobrev, violating an express order by the Prime Minister, the story says adding that Tsochev is in charge of both the EC and the NEC. "24 Chassa" further says that the Prime Minister's Economic Advisor Prof. Ivan Angelov accused in a report the NEC of increasing the monthly pay of its bosses, of signing unprofitable contracts with private companies, spending money on advertising and sponsorship and withholds its accounts from the cabinet. Furthermore, the NEC bosses allegedly solved financial problems at the expense of the company's capital. The author of the report further said the poor management of NEC is sure to result in power rationing in early autumn.


    In an extensive interview in the "Capital Press" weekly, Prof. Ivan Angelov makes a detailed account of the critical situation of the energy industry. In his view, those who managed the sector in the past few years did nothing to correct the defects. "They further aggravated the flaws in the power generation industry and brought it to its present desperate state. The gravest mismanagement and corruption in the energy industry started in 1991. The people who were in charge of the Energy Committee and the National Electricity Company (NEC) are to be blamed for what is happening now, " Prof. Angelov says.

    "The power generation industry is managed by responsible people and not by gangsters and criminals, " Konstantin Roussinov, Acting Chairman of the Energy Committee, says interviewed by "Troud". According to Roussinov, the energy industry needs thousands of millions of leva in investments.

    "Energy Industry, An Old Trump-Card for Politicians" caps an extensive article in "Capital Press". According to its author, "for the first time since the negligence manifested by several cabinets, the situation of the power generation sector and the need for urgent measures for its rehabilitation and for an integral strategy for the sector's growth, became the cabinet's top problem".

    The dailies inform about the decision by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs to increase the grants paid to the socially disadvantaged for electricity and heating in the next winter season.

    NEC will spend 20 million leva for the replacement of stolen power lines in the past two months, "24 Chassa" says, citing the NEC's press office.

    The former director general of the Devnya thermoelectric power plant and the plant's chief accountant embezzled a total of two million leva, it was established during a preliminary investigation in abuse of office and serious misappropriation, "Continent" says in a front-page story.


    "UDF Guarantees Democratic Reforms in Local Government" runs a headline in "Demokratsiya, " quoting UDF leader Ivan Kostov's statement during the seminar on Local Elections '95, which ended yesterday. Some 300 UDF members of Southern Bulgaria, most of whom have already been nominated to run in the elections at the Union's primaries, worked out the UDF's strategy for the forthcoming local elections during the seminar in Borovets. The forum was organized by the UDF, the Democracy Foundation and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. "We shall Succeed If We Make the Maximum Effort" caps an article in the daily, which runs views presented by participants in the seminar.


    The dailies report on the Saturday's meeting of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF, of the ethnic Turks) leadership, during which most of the MRF district leaders insisted on holding an extraordinary conference and on the resignation of two of the Movement's deputy chairmen, Osman Oktai and Yunal Lyutfi.

    MRF leader Ahmed Dogan managed to persuade his deputies to resign en bloc, although the MRF regional structures wanted Oktai's and Lyutfi's dismissals only, because of the former's responsibility for the MRF's election defeat and the latter's vote against Turkey at the spring session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, "Continent" says. Dogan refused to put to the vote Oktai's and Lyutfi's resignations because all of his deputies were elected en bloc by the MRF's national conference so that their resignations cannot be voted separately. "The political moment is not suitable for change of leaders, " Dogan reportedly explained to his fellow party men. The MRF district leaders were told that if a new leadership is elected now, the MRF will have to again register with the court which for its part could thwart the Movement's participation in the local elections. Although not knowing whether this is how things stand, the MRF district leaders said after the meeting that they do not want to assume such a responsibility and this is why they rejected the resignation of Dogan's deputies, "Continent" says.

    "Dogan Spreads His Wings Over Oktai and Lyutfi" ("Demokratsiya"), "Dogan Pressures His Fellow Party Men Into Sparing Lyutfi and Oktai" ("Stanadrt News"), "Like in a Theatre of the Absurd Play, Dogan Again Spares Oktai and Lyutfi" ("Troud"), are some of the press headlines on the topic. "The MRF's Reshuffle Postponed Until Spring" caps a report in "Douma" on MRF's decision against holding an extraordinary conference and for calling a regular one in the spring instead.

    "Citing the MRF's statutes, Dogan managed to avert all attempts to spread confusion and turmoil in the Movement, which had anyway lost much of its influence after the last general election, " says a signed commentary in "Continent".


    An official meeting between Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev and his Romanian counterpart Ion Iliescu is being arranged by the Christian Democratic Centre and the Association of Wallachs in Bulgaria, "Douma" says quoting Organization Secretary Roumen Vulchev. A monument will be inaugurated during the meeting to commemorate the Romanian soldiers who died near the Smurdan village in 1877 during the Russo-Turkish War.


    The Greek government has decided to open two new check points on the Bulgarian-Greek border along the Smolyan - Xanthe and Kurdjali - Makaza - Komotene roads, "24 Chassa" quotes Vangelis Kortidis MP of New Democracy, as telling journalists in the village of Levochevo. Kortidis headed a delegation od Greek officers of the reserve visiting Bulgarian officers of the reserve in the Rhodopi region in Southern Bulgaria. A detailed report on the visit is published in "Douma".

    The Greek Consulate in Plovdiv, Southern Bulgaria, rejected 500 of a total of 3, 600 visa requests over the past month, "24 Chassa" writes citing Plovdiv-based Greek General Consul Xenia Stefanidou.


    Bulgaria and Uzbekistan will launch joint enterprises for production of tinned fruit and vegetables, beer, brandy and chickens, "Douma" writes. Six agreement to that effect were signed by a Bulgarian delegation in Tashkent and officials of the Uzbek Ministry of Agriculture and CEOs. The Bulgarian delegation included Ivan Genov, chair of the parliamentary Bulgarian-Russian Friendship Group, and Ivan Lilov, chair of the Bulgarian side of a bilateral intergovernmental committee on economic, scientific and technological cooperation. Cooperation accords were also signed between the Ministries of Health Care, with the Uzbek Agency for Space Studies and the biggest Uzbek- Swiss company, "Douma" further says.


    Bulgarian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Hristo Kotrov tells an interviewer of "Douma" that NATO is interested in Bulgaria's navy. The interviewee says that a total of 70 military ships of some 25 countries have paid port calls in Bulgaria since 1991.


    "Demokratsiya" runs a frontpage story headlined "Interior Ministry Gets Rid of Its Firms. Government Covers Up Scandalous Links with Criminals". The story was prompted by the legal proceedings launched against three security firms in Montana, Northwestern Bulgaria, likely to get their licences revoked for having repeatedly violated the law.


    Sofia, July 24 (BTA) - The Bulgarian National Bank has bought some 60 million dollars in July to prevent a sharp strengthening of the lev, "Standart News" says, quoting the central bank's Foreign Exchange Transactions Department. The foreign exchange reserve has hit a record level of 1, 600 million dollars.

    The base rate will be cut by three percentage points to 36 per cent in early August, says "24 Chassa" quoting bankers. Since April the base interest rate has dropped from 72 per cent to 39 per cent.

    The new base rate expected to be announced on Thursday will strengthen the dollar, which will then slowly move down, a bank dealer comments in "Pari".


    Sofia, July 24 (BTA) - Margit Savovic, Yugoslavia's Minister without portfolio in charge of human liberties and minority rights, met today with Deputy Prime Minister Svetoslav Shivarov and with Education Minister Academician Ilcho Dimitrov. Mrs Savovic arrived last night on a visit here at the invitation of the Bulgarian Government.

    Human and minority rights were on the agenda of Mrs Savovic's talks with Minister Shivarov. The two officials also discussed the relations between the two states and problems of the Yugocrisis. "The guest praised Bulgaria's consistent position and expressed understanding for the fact that this country has been a victim of the situation, " Deputy PM Shivarov said.

    "I am very much pleased with the meeting I had and with the honour to be invited by the Bulgarian Government. During the talks we discussed all vital problems, " Mrs Savovic said after the meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Svetoslav Shivarov, which was also attended by the President of the Agency for Expatriate Bulgarians Ginyo Ganev. She pointed out that the two parties voiced their political will to continue the talks in all fields.

    The prospects for cooperation in culture, science and education were discussed at the meeting with Education Minister Academician Ilcho Dimitrov. Mr Dimitrov raised the issue of education in the Western outlands (Eastern Serbia), inhabited by Bulgarian minority groups. "I voiced the idea that we should not let the question of the Western outlands develop into another "Macedonian question" or into an impediment to our relations, " Minister Dimitrov said. He pointed out that a solution should be found to the wish of the Bulgarian minority in Yugoslavia to study Bulgarian language and keep contacts with Bulgaria. Minister Dimitrov suggested that a joint commission, including members of the Bulgarian minority, examines the reasons why their just demands cannot be met. The idea, however, was turned down with the argument that the issue should be decided by the responsible authorities.

    "For the first time in modern times we enjoy the opportunity for cooperation and understanding with Yugoslavia in all fields, because all divisive issues have dropped out, " said Minister Dimitrov after the meeting. Minister Dimitrov received an invitation to visit Belgrade. The two parties are preparing an agreement for cooperation in culture and education.

    In the afternoon Mrs Savovic had a meeting with Bulgarian Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski, with the Chairman of the Bulgarian National Assembly Blagovest Sendov and with MPs of the committees on foreign policy and on human rights and religious faiths.

    Filip Dimitrov, MP of the Opposition Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) and member of the foreign policy committee and ex prime minister (1991-1992) said he would not attend the meeting with Minister Savovic because she "is a minister of human rights in a country which grossly violates them and supports the aggression in Bosnia." "I find Mrs Savovic's reception in Bulgaria cynical, particularly today, when the horrible news about mass murders, rapes and inhuman treatment in Srebrenitsa and Zepa are shaking the world, " reads the statement of the former prime minister and ex leader of the UDF, circulated today by UDF's press centre.


    Sofia, July 24 (BTA) - Relations between Bulgaria and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the Yugocrisis and the rights of the Bulgarian minorities in the Western Outlands (a territory now in Southeastern Serbia which Bulgaria, defeated in World War I, lost to Serbia under the 1919 Treaty of Neuilly) were on the agenda in Sofia today of Mrs Margit Savovic, FRY's Minister without Portfolio in Charge of Civil Liberties and Minority Rights. She arrived on a visit here yesterday at the invitation of Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Svetoslav Shivarov.

    Apart from Mr Shivarov, Mrs Savovic today conferred with Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski, Education, Science and Technology Minister Ilcho Dimitrov, National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov, MPs and Patriarch Maksim of Bulgaria.

    After her talks with Mr Pirinski and the meeting with Bulgarian parliamentarians, to which reporters were admitted, Mrs Savovic singled out for comment Bulgaria's position on the Yugocrisis.

    "We highly appreciate Bulgaria's objective approach to the Yugocrisis and its insistence on a lifting of the Yugosanctions, " Mrs Savovic said after conferring with Foreign Minister Pirinski. In his opinion, for obvious reasons Yugoslavia singles out that part of the Bulgarian position which is in favour of a gradual relaxation of the sanctions. The chief Bulgarian diplomat made a special point of the Bulgarian stance that as gradual progress is made towards a political settlement of the conflict - through negotiations, on a peaceful basis, limitation and elimination of the sanctions will also be sought. In what has been happening over the last few days, Mr Pirinski sees cause for serious concern over developments in Bosnia-Herzegovina. "Precisely at this moment, it seems to me that it is very important to reiterate over and over again the need of redoubled efforts towards a cease-fire and opening of negotiations. The signs that a start of talks between Zagreb and Knin could be achieved show that even in these dramatic days it is not absurd to talk about efforts towards a peaceful settlement, " the Bulgarian Foreign Minister said.

    The rights of the Bulgarian national minority in the Western Outlands figured high on Mrs Savovic's agenda with her hosts. "The problems concerning the condition of the Bulgarian minority should be solved on a bilateral basis, " the Yugoslav Minister told reporters after her talks with Mr Pirinski and at the meeting with Bulgarian MPs. Mr Pirinski agreed that in future these matters should be discussed as part of the talks on bilateral basis. "These issues will obviously stay on the agenda as long as there are grounds for concern, as long as the Bulgarian public is raising them, " Mr Pirinski said, adding that Serbia can be expected to take certain steps in the near future in respect of Bulgarian-language publications and radio broadcasts.

    As Mrs Savovic put it, at her session with the Foreign Minister the question of the Bulgarian minority had been merely defined and agreement reached on further discussions. "There are enough grounds for optimism vis-a- vis the realization of the constitutional rights of the Bulgarian minority in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, " Mr Pirinski said, asked for comment by a Bulgarian reporter. Yugoslavia has confirmed that there is no official line restricting the full implementation of the constitutional rights of the Bulgarian minority and of the individual rights of each citizen identifying himself or herself as ethnic Bulgarian. It has been furthermore confirmed that the issues raised by Bulgaria in connection with the practical application of the constitutional standards are accepted for consideration and specification by Yugoslavia in the spirit in which they are raised by Bulgaria: as neither minor nor contentious.

    National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov, who conferred with Mrs Savovic later in the day, also raised the question of the Bulgarians' rights. He was invited to visit FRY to see for himself that "most of the problems are a matter of interpretation, " as Mrs Savovic told him.

    Academician Ilcho Dimitrov, Minister of Education, Science and Technology, raised to Mrs Savovic the matter of Bulgarian language study and access to Bulgarian literature of Bulgarians in the Western Outlands. The guest declined Mr Dimitrov's suggestion that a special commission including representatives of the government authorities as well as Bulgarians from the Western Outlands address their problems because, according to Yugoslavia, the matters lie within the competence of the institutions in charge. "The question of the Western Outlands must not be allowed to turn into a new Macedonian question, into a stumbling block to the will for bilateral cooperation, " Mr Dimitrov emphasized.

    The designation "Western Outlands" caused a scandal at Mrs Savovic's meeting today with the members of the National Assembly standing committees on foreign policy and on human rights and religious denominations. The Yugoslav Minister said it was unacceptable to refer to the area by this name because Yugoslavia regarded this as interference in its internal affairs. An opposition MP emphasized that the name "Western Outlands" is used in conformity with historical tradition, without implying a desire to revise the existing borders. The sides, however, remained divided over the matter. MPs of different parliamentary parties asked Mrs Savovic questions about the rights of the Bulgarian minority in the Western Outlands and cited cases of abuses. After the meeting, the MPs of the opposition Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) expressed their chagrin that Mrs Savovic and Yugoslav Deputy Foreign Minister Zivadin Jovanovic, who accompanied her, had failed to give to-the-point answers to their questions. Earlier in the day Mr Filip Dimitrov MP of the UDF, former UDF leader and former prime minister (1991-1992), refused to attend the meeting because, as he put it, Mrs Savovic is "a minister of human rights of a state which brutally violates them and supports the aggression in Bosnia."

    Late in the evening, Mrs Savovic was also received by Patriarch Maksim of Bulgaria, who expressed his wish that young men from the Western Outlands pursue their studies in Bulgaria and be ordained priests. The Chief Secretary of the Holy Synod, Metropolitan Gelassii, said that the matter will be raised before the Head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Pavle, when Patriarch Maksim visits the FRY in mid-September.


    Sofia, July 24 (BTA) - The leadership of the Energy Committee is ready with the strategy it had to formulate by request of the Government; it includes short-, medium and long-term programmes for development of the energy sector, a news conference was told today. Energy Committee Chairman Konstantin Roussinov explained that the first step would be to rehabilitate the existing facilities and replace those service life had expired.It is planned to build up three generating units, a 1000 MW one and two of 600 MW, at the Kozlodoui Nuclear Power Plant to replace older ones. Projects are made for hydroelectricity production and the power plants using imported fuel and gas.

    Dyanko Dobrev, Director General of the National Electric Company (NEK), gave almost 100-percent guarantee that there would be no power rationing in winter. In his words, this year the situation is no worse than in the previous two years, and the 5, 000 million leva floated through the State Fund for reconstruction and Development for coal mining and heat power helped achieve financial stabilization. According to the chiefs of the Energy Committee and NEK, a price increase of elecricity of 60 percent for industrial users only will backfire at the economy because it will by all means mark up all other prices, reflecting on consumers.

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