Bulgaria's European integration topped the agenda of the talks between Bulgarian Prime Minister Zhan Videnov and his Spanish counterpart Felipe Gonzalez, who is on a two-day official visit here.
The Spanish PM emphasized on the avaliability of a political decision and the historic chance for association to the European structures not only of Bulgaria, but of other states as well, Government's Spokesman Nikola Baltov said after the meeting. In his view Spain is ready to share its experience in negotiating for seven years and adapting itself for ten years to the European Union, which will be useful for Bulgaria, irrespective of certain differences in the nature and the terms of association. The two parties agreed on the decisiveness of the fact that Spain chairs the group which is preparing the 1996 intergovernmental conference.
The Spokesman for the Bulgarian Government quoted Mr. Gonzalez as saying that the political signals, which Bulgaria has been sending to indicate its clear orientation towards the European structures, have been received. Through the policy it has pursued until the present moment Bulgaria managed to prove its devotion to the processes of integration into the EU, the Spanish Prime Minister believes. Tomorrow the two prime ministers will discuss bilateral relations.
After the meeting with the Bulgarian Prime Minister, Felipe Gonzalez met with representatives of the two major political parties in Bulgaria: the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and the opposition Union of Democratic Forces (UDF).
"We met in our capacities as leaders of similar parties, this interaction always benefits the promotion of intergovernmental relations," BSP leader Zhan Videnov said after the meeting. In his view, these meetings render certain public, ideological and party aspects to the official visits, which, in his view, is quite useful. "We familiarized Mr. Gonzalez with our view about the current stage of Bulgaria's development, our concerns over re-communization, which we believe is under way, our concerns, that in certain aspects the democratic process is no longer irreversible," UDF floor leader Yordan Sokolov said after his meeting with the Spanish Prime Minister. The UDF representatives voiced their firm stand for Bulgaria's integration with the European and the Atlantic structures and were assured of Spain's approval and support for Bulgaria in its efforts to that end.
"Bulgaria has been following closely the development of the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the last few days and is reassured by the vigorous contacts between the parties in the contact group," Bulgarian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Radko Vlaikov said at the Ministry's regular news briefing. Mr. Vlaikov recalled that being a country in immediate proximity to the conflict zone, Bulgaria keeps providing proof of its consistent position on the conflict in the former Yugoslavia.
"Bulgaria hails the agreement reached on a meeting of the foreign ministers of Yugoslavia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia in Geneva this weekend," Mr. Vlaikov stated. He expressed the hope of Bulgaria that this meeting will give a tangible impetus to the peace process.
"We expect that this meeting will be held and initiate to-the- point negotiations on the parameters of future higher-level talks," the Foreign Ministry Spokesman said.
"We are optimistic that, following the talks with US Assistant Secretary for European and Canadian Affairs Richard Holbrook, things are already gradually getting down to brass tacks, i.e. specific aspects of the future talks are starting to take shape," Mr. Vlaikov noted. He sees grounds for guarded optimism in the latest developments; the talks of Russian President Boris Yeltsin with Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl and French President Jacques Chirac, held in the last few days, as well as the stance assumed by Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic a couple of days ago, also contribute to such optimism. The latest development of the situation opens up a realistic opportunity for the start of negotiations between the three parties to the conflict, Radko Vlaikov said. Last week the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry declared its support for the US initiative to organize the peace process, the Foreign Ministry Spokesman recalled. "We hope that the US will indeed put into practice these aspects of the peace initiative which are related to the possibility of a parallel search for a peaceful settlement to the conflict and gradual lifting of the UN sanctions against Yugoslavia," he stated. The aspect of the US initiative which concerns the making of efforts and finding ways and forms for stabilization of the region after the establishment of peace. i.e. the adoption of a plan for economic reconstruction of the entire region and especially of the countries affected by the conflict, is also of particular interest to Bulgaria. In this respect, it is exceedingly important for Bulgaria to receive an opportunity for a wide-ranging participation in this plan, given that it is one of the countries whose economy has been hit worst by both the Yugoconflict and the UN sanctions, Mr. Vlaikov said, adding that Bulgaria expresses satisfaction with the fact that these two aspects are included in the US initiative.
IMF Executive Director of the Netherlands Constituency Group Johannes A. H. de Beaufort Wijnholds arrived this evening in Sofia. The visit is a continuation of a series of meetings of the National Bank of Bulgaria (BNB, the central bank) and the Government with international financial institutions, which was launched on August 29 with the arrival of an IMF mission to Bulgaria. Mr. Wijndholds' program envisages meetings with Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov, the BNB's Governing Board and with representatives of political forces. According to statements of the BNB, the visit is intended to study the intentions of the Bulgarian Government before the actual negotiations on a new stand-by agreement. The prospects for activating cooperation between Bulgaria and the international financial institutions were discussed today at the meeting between Prime Minister Zhan Videnov and IMF's representative for Bulgaria Franek Rozwadowsky. Cooperation is significant for the implementation of the technical assistance loan agreement, it was emphasized at the talks, the Government's press centre said. Mr. Videnov familiarized Mr. Rozwadowski with the economic situation in the country and particularly with the forthcoming mass privatization and the ways of attracting foreign investment to Bulgaria. The talks also focused on the UN recommendations for offering assistance to states, sustaining losses from the strict observation of UN economic sanctions. Mr. Rozwadowski identified bank supervision and Bulgaria's financial and foreign exchange stability as particularly interesting for his mission in Sofia. In his view, the difficulties in the financial sector hamper the development of real economy.
Colonel General Tsvetan Totomirov, Chief of General Staff of the Bulgarian Army, will pay an official visit to Slovakia between September 5 and 7, 1995 at the invitation of Colonel General Jozef Tuchyna, Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Slovak Republic, the Defense Ministry press centre announced. This will be the first meeting of the two military leaders. It comes under a plan for bilateral cooperation between the Bulgarian and the Slovak defense ministries. The purpose of the visit is to establish official contacts between the two countries' general staffs and to consider opportunities and main areas for military cooperation after the signing of the agreement between the two defense ministries in Bratislava in June 1995. In pursuance of this agreement, specific cooperation plans will be adopted annually. Talks on joint activities in 1996 will be held during the forthcoming visit.
A Bulgarian parliamentary delegation will make an official visit to Ukraine from November 28 to November 30. This was confirmed at today's meeting between National Assembly Chariman Blagovest Sendov and the Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Handogii. The guest conveyed a message from Aleksandr Moroz, Chairman of the Ukrainian President to Sendov, appealing to Bulgaria to support Kiev in its efforts to be admitted to the Council of Europe. Blagovest Sendov said that the Bulgarian representatives in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe will support Ukraine's candidacy, the parliamentary Centre for Information and Public Relations said.
Slovakia is ready to support Bulgaria for getting a membership with the Central European Free Trade Area (CEFTA), Jozef Dravecky Ambassador of the Slovak Republic to Bulgaria told a news conference. The Bulgarian, Romanian and Lithuanian prime ministers are invited for the first time to attend a meeting of the CEFTA countries, scheduled for September 10 and 11. A major goal of the meeting is to promote the establishment of a trade zone in Central Europe. A country should meet three requirements to become a CEFTA members: to have an association agreement with the EU, to be a member of the World Trade Organization and to have the consent of all CEFTA members. Mr. Dravecky said that Slovakia prioritizes its relations with the countries, associated with EU, including Bulgaria. He expressed his country's willingness for the gradual establishment of a free trade zone between Bulgaria and Slovakia.
The Kozlodui nuclear power plant, on the Danube, has moved to the category of safe nuclear power plants, CEO Kozma Kouzmanov says. According to him, this view is shared by many foreign experts who have checked the performance of this N-power plant, and by the head of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, who submitted a report to that effect after a visit to Kozlodui an year ago. Interviewed by the "Douma" daily, Kouzmanov says there is no alternative in Bulgaria for the peaceful use of the atomic energy. "Nuclear fuel provides 40% of the electricity in this country. It is the groundwork for the recovering economy," the interviewee stresses. According to him, practice has proven that in spite of the nuclear accidents in the US in 1974 and in Chernobyl in 1986, nuclear power plants are least environment- hazardous. Bulgaria's nuclear power plant has bottomed out, its manager says. The power generated over the January-July period of 1995 (over 11,000 million KWh) is nearly equal to the whole 1992 output. The economic crisis and financial hardships, however, did not spare the Kozlodui N-power plant and the result was delayed supplies of spare parts and nuclear fuel. Optimizing the management before the peak period this year will ensure a smooth run of two small and two big power units, and electricity in Bulgaria will not be rationed this year. Kouzmanov pledges that the management will take effort to ensure the further exploitation of the oldest power units, the first of which was switched on in 1974 and is expected to keep running by 2004. "Our colleagues abroad, particularly the Finnish, benefit from the legal extending of the service life of Russian-made equipment to 40 years. We have no right to switch these power units off. And, of course, there are certain factors that we will take into consideration," says the manager of Kozlodui.He believes the installation for treatment of solid radioactive waste will start operating by the end of next year. The equipment was bought in 1991 on a 100 million leva governmental loan and 6 million Ecu made available by the European Union. According to Kouzmanov, the troublesome question is the storage of spent nuclear fuel. "There is no express agreement with the Russian government and we cannot move the fuel from the power plant's grounds. Neither is there a decision on the construction of a long-term storage facility within the N-power plant. We should not forget that spent nuclear fuel is also energy and has a high price," the interviewee stresses.