The Government decided to approve the agreement between the NATO member countries and the countries participating in Partnership for Peace concerning the status of their armed forces and the additional protocol to it. According to Defense Minister Dimiter Pavlov, this is a timely decision because Bulgaria's military cooperation with the other PfP countries is steadily expanding.
The Government adopted a decree regulating certain legal matters concerning the organization of a joint exercise code-named "Cooperative Partner '95," due to be held in Bulgarian territorial waters between September 10 and 17, 1995. To this end, the Government authorized the following foreign warships to enter Bulgarian territorial waters: "Aegeon" of Greece, "Ukrainskii Komsomolets" and "Lutsk" of Ukraine, "Turgut Reis" of Turkey, "Santa Maria" of Spain, "Mimbeli" of Italy, "Shreevieport" of the US and "Admiral Petre Barbuneanu," "Lastanul" and "Grozavul" of Romania.
The Government allowed three South Korean warships to make a port call at Bourgas from September 15 to 17 for a training purpose.
The Government endorsed an agreement on trade, economic, scientific and technological cooperation with Azerbaijan, a trade agreement with Tunisia, an agreement on trade, economic, scientific and technological cooperation with Tatarstan, an agreement on trade and economic cooperation with Ukraine, agreements on cooperation in the peaceful uses of atomic energy with Russia and the US, an intergovernmental agreement with Japan on the establishment of a Center for Energy Efficiency in Production, treaties of friendly relations and cooperation with Lithuania and Armenia, an agreement on cooperation between the ministries of foreign affairs of Bulgaria and Armenia, veterinary and sanitary conventions and conventions on cooperation in quarantine and plant protection with Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
The Government approved the results of the 7th Session of the Bulgarian-Australian Commission on Cooperation and the joint declaration adopted in Sofia on July 5, 1995.
The Cabinet decided on ceremonies to mark the 110th anniversary of the Union of the Principality of Bulgaria with Eastern Rumelia and the Serbo-Bulgarian War. The Government will support the initiative committee for the observance of the anniversary, chaired by Plovdiv Mayor Garabet Tomasian, and will itself organize ceremonies on the battlefields of the Serbo-Bulgarian War on November 4 and 5.
The Cabinet authorized a delegation led by Environment Minister Georgi Georgiev to negotiate the disbursement of money from the Global Environment Facility in Washington, D.C., from January 5 to 7. The assistance will be used for introduction of new ozone-friendly technologies in industrial enterprises.
The prices of the different types of petrol and diesel fuel will remain unchanged in September, the Government decided today. The rest of the liquid fuels: gas oil, fuel oil and liquefied hydrocarbon gas, will cheapen.
The monthly unemployment benefit will be increased by 140 leva (some 2 US dollars) from September 1, 1995 to April 30, 1996 to offset the electricity and heat-power price rises, the Government decided today. The National Employment Service puts the number of dole entitlements at 170,000.
The Government extended the mandate of the Managing Director of Geocom Ltd. for negotiations on the Bulgarian oil concessions in Libya until December 31, 1995.
At its regular meeting today, the Council of Ministers approved a Clean Atmospheric Air Bill and will present it to Parliament. The bill meets international commitments assumed by Bulgaria and conforms to the European Union directives.
The purpose of the draft legislation is to reduce the atmospheric emissions of pollutants. It sets indicators and standards for air quality, regulates the rights and duties of state and public authorities in the control, management and maintenance of air quality, and lays down fines for the various violations, said Environment Minister Georgi Georgiev, speaking at the Government Press Office.
Among the merits of the bill, he singled out its devolution of power. Local governments will be entitled to tighten environmental protection standards in the territory under their jurisdiction if major polluters are located there, or may demand the closure of the polluting installations. The bill provides for amendments to the Road Traffic Act, introducing fines of 2,000 to 4,000 leva for motor vehicle drivers who pollute the air above the permissible standards.
Four new nominations of top command personnel in the Armed Forces will be submitted for approval to President Zhelev by the Government. At its meeting today, the Cabinet endorsed a draft moved by Defense Minister Dimiter Pavlov for four new appointments: a deputy commander of the 1st Army, a chief of the Rocket-Artillery Armament and Radar Equipment Agency of the General Staff, a deputy commander of the Bulgarian Navy, and a chief of the State Military Real Estate Directorate.
Mr. Pavlov told reporters that he does not expect the Office of the President to object to these nominations as Major General Stefan Dimitrov, Chief of the President's Military Office, agreed to them in principle at a meeting of the Supreme Military Council yesterday.
"The fuss around the transfers in the army is unnecessary; this is a routine annual rotation," Mr. Pavlov also said. The 1,100 appointments (traditionally made before the start of the new training year in the Bulgarian Army in September) are within the powers of the service branch commanders, he specified.
On August 29, President Zhelyu Zhelev signed decrees endorsing merely six out of some 30 Government-proposed personnel changes at the top of the Armed Forces. He did not decree any appointment to the Defense Ministry Inspectorate, which was re-established by a Council of Ministers Decree of July 21, 1995. (The Inspectorate was abolished in early 1993). "The re- establishment of the Inspectorate is precipitate and must be first discussed in Parliament as part of the forthcoming debate of the Defense and Armed Forces Act," Dr. Zhelev said in a televised message. "Our categorical stand is that an inspectorate is needed and must be set up as soon as possible," the Ministry of Defense said in observations released yesterday in connection with the President's message.
President Zhelev also rejected a replacement of the commanders of the Interior Ministry Troops, the Border Guards and the National Fire Service, all three within the Interior Ministry system. Interior Minister Lyubomir Nachev said today that he will see Dr. Zhelev for coordination of new nominees for these positions, as under the Ministry of the Interior Act these appointments are within the exclusive competence of the President. Mr. Nachev does not think that President Zhelev's disagreement with the Cabinet's earlier nominations will be an obstacle to an ultimate solution of the problem. "The Government does not seek to stir tension between the institutions, nor the pursuit of two separate national-security policies," Mr. Nachev said.
About 60 to 70 insolvent companies will be closed down, Industry Minister Kliment Vouchev reaffirmed today. This is the estimate of financiers; industry insiders are considering rehabilitation options for some. The exact number and names of companies to be closed down will be announced within two weeks; no major companies will be on the list, Vouchev said. Biggest money losers include structures that coordinated links between producers and light-industry firms in Southern Bulgaria. The latter's closure may cause tension, as they employ miners' wives and former tobacco growers. The closure of money-losing firms is a World Bank condition to release the Finance and Economy Structural Adjustment Loan (FESAL). The possibility of a newly-set up Industry Fund subsidizing money-losers is dim, said Vouchev. Money for that fund will be raised from working structures, and will be channeled into attractive projects making marketable products. The cabinet, meeting today for the first time after vacation, faces several pressing tasks, Vuchev said. It has to deal with state orders in industry, finalize changes in foreign trade regulations, and suggest amendment to tax legislation and some of its decrees.
Bulgarian government delegation, led by Environment Minister Georgi Georgiev, is going to conduct negotiations with representatives of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the World Bank in Washington from September 5 through September 7. The final version of the project on the phasing out of ozone- depleting substances in Bulgaria will be on the agenda.
The sides will sign an agreement for a 11.9 million US dollars' worth donation of the GEF trust fund to Bulgaria. The grant aid will be used to finance 16 projects on the introduction of new ozone-friendly technologies in 8 Bulgarian enterprises.
Ten Bulgarian servicemen will leave for the Federal Republic of Germany tomorrow for participation in a multinational communications exercise within the Partnership for Peace initiative, due to be held in the area of Stuttgart between September 4 and 23. Taking part will be units of the US, Germany, Austria, Poland, Romania, Hungary and the Czech Republic. The Bulgarian servicemen will be deploying a field telephone exchange. The object of the exercise is to achieve interoperability between the communications systems of the different armies, which will be needed in future peacekeeping and rescue operations.
According to official central bank statistics, the banking system ended the first six months of 1995 with losses amounting to 30,684 million leva. Bank losses grew 729 million leva in a month, the "Pari" daily writes. By the end of June the banks paid 88,000 million leva and received 70,000 million leva in interests. Their expenditures totaled 14,000 million leva.
Eleven Bulgarian companies are taking part in the Exhibition of the Bulgarian Machine Building Industry in Jakarta which opened on August 26, "Douma" writes. It was organized by Metalurg Impex Ltd. The Bulgarian delegation is led by Deputy Minister of Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Ivan Belchev.
The US Enterprise Oil company will start new drills for oil in the Black Sea in the spring of 1996. "Douma" writes. So far it was a partner of Texaco but plans to starts independent prospecting.
The Bulgarian Geokom company is negotiating with the Lybian Government on the future of Bulgaria's oil concessions in Lybia, "24 Chassa" writes. The negotiations will decide whether Bulgaria will start extracting the oil it discovered in the desert or cede the concessions. So far Bulgaria has invested some 200 million US dollars in oil prospecting in Lybia.