Sofia, September 11 - In connection with the statement made by Russian President Boris Yeltsin at a news conference in Moscow that Russia would not allow an expansion of NATO, Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev said that Bulgaria is an independent and sovereign state, conducting an independent foreign policy, complying solely with its national interests and would not allow another state - be it from the East or from the West, to decide for it issues related to its national security and sovereignty, presidential spokesman Valentin Stoyanov said this afternoon. At a news conference in Moscow on September 8, Russian President Yeltsin said that NATO's expansion would be a grave mistake and warned that if NATO approaches Russia's borders there would once again be two military alliances. The President's spokesman recalled that Dr. Zhelev was the first head of state to express support for Boris Yeltsin on August 19, 1991 during the attempted pro-communist coup against Mikhail Gorbachev. President Zhelev has expressed support for the Russian President on other occasions as well, seeing him as a symbol and bearer of democratic change in Russia. Russia is a complex phenomenon. There are different political forces in it, ranging from extreme left to extreme right. Bulgaria supports and will support those changes in Russia which will transform it into a modern and democratic country, the President's spokesman said.
Sofia, September 11 - "In the new conditions, our relations with the countries of Central Europe should be regulated economically in the spirit of trade liberalization, and from this point of view the free trade area negotiations which we are holding in most of them, mainly the Czech Republic and Slovakia, are exceedingly important," Prime Minister Zhan Videnov said today before leaving for Brno, the Czech Republic, where he will attend the meeting of heads of government of the Central European Free Trade Association (CEFTA).
"A decision on Bulgaria's membership in CEFTA will also provide a radical solution to the problems with our major partners like Poland and Hungary and, in principle, will be part of Bulgaria's participation in European integration," Mr. Videnov added. He expressed the hope that Bulgaria's accession to CEFTA may be arranged by the end of this year or early next year, in time for the decisive stage of negotiations with the World Trade Organization. "We have enlisted the constructive attitude of all our partners in Central Europe, their categorical support in the negotiations on our accession to the WTO," the Prime Minister said. He added that Bulgaria's membership in CEFTA will open opportunities for negotiations on further free trade areas with the Balkan countries and Eastern Europe, mainly Russia.
At their meeting in Brno today, the CEFTA prime ministers will consider an abolition of customs duties on most of the goods traded between their countries and will attend the formal opening of the autumn Brno Fair.
Bulgaria would appreciate its speedier affiliation to the Central European Free Trade Association (CEFTA) and is conducting the necessary bilateral negotiations with the CEFTA countries, Bulgarian Prime Minister Zhan Videnov said in Brno today. In his greetings address to the participants in the CEFTA summit the Bulgarian prime minister said that since the early 90s Bulgaria has been pursuing a liberal trade policy in line with the internationally acknowledged rules in this sphere. Recalling that for three years now Bulgaria has been conducting intensive talks with the GATT, Videnov said that these negotiations are expected to be completed by the end of this year and Bulgaria may become a full member of the World Trade Organization. Videnov stressed the political will of the Bulgarian Government for economic integration into Europe. He said that Bulgaria's possible integration into CEFTA would be only logical and would assist the economic development of the countries of the region and within the framework of European integration.
At a news conference at the end of the summit of the states from the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA), Bulgarian Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, who took part in the forum, categorically restated Bulgaria's willingness to join the structure. Mr. Videnov voiced satisfaction with the discussions in Brno and emphasized that Bulgaria may contribute to the European integration process with its concepts for trans-regional cooperation, through the potentials of the Black Sea cooperation and its integration with the Central European region.
Bulgaria's future integration with CEFTA will be realized through bilateral accords and agreements, said host of the summit Vaclav Klaus in answer to a BTA question on the possible effect of CEFTA integration on the relations between its members and other Eastern European states. The Czech Republic and Slovakia have already planned to sign such an agreement with Bulgaria in the first part of 1996, Mr. Klaus said.
Generalizing the results of the meeting, Vaclav Klaus emphasized that the summit addressed CEFTA's territorial enlargement and the working up of amendments to the agreement to specify on membership criteria. The CEFTA states unanimously approved Slovenia's accession to the agreement by the end of the year, the association of Bulgaria and Romania in the nearest future and that of the Baltic states at a later stage.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Zhan Videnov attended today the opening ceremony of the 37th Industrial Fair in Brno. He got familiarized with the Bulgarian participation, represented by Balkankarpodem and Balkankar Holding.
Sofia, September 11 - Bulgarian Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski will pay an official visit to Slovakia on September 17-19, Foreign Ministry's Spokesman told a news briefing today.
A delegation of Argentinian Foreign Ministry, led by the head of Direction of Cultural Affairs with the Ministry, is on a visit to Sofia, Foreign Ministry's spokesman said. An intergovernmental Program for Cooperation in Education, Science and Culture for the period 1995-1997 is scheduled to be signed tomorrow. The program opens possibilities for cooperation between higher schools and scientific institutes of the two states. It also features an agreement for exchange of students and scholarship students in culture and offers possibilities for Bulgarians to attend Spanish courses in Buenos Aires. The two countries have also signed an agreement on a broad cultural and scientific exchange.
Sofia, September 11 - The signing of a new stand-by agreement between the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Bulgaria by the end of this year is possible in the presence of a positive approach on both sides and with good deeds to back it up, IMF mission leader Russel Kincaid told journalists today upon his arrival to Bulgaria to discuss the signing of a fourth stand-by agreement between Bulgaria and the IMF. Another objective of the visit here by IMF experts is to complete their report on the state of the Bulgarian economy. Kincaid expressed satisfaction with the latest tendencies in the Bulgarian economy - the drop in the inflation rate, the increase in foreign exchange reserves and the stability of the national currency. The progress of the structural reform will be of key importance in signing a stand-by agreement. The IMF also binds the signing of a stand-by agreement to the success at the negotiations on a FESAL from the World Bank already in March 1995. Today the IMF mission leader confirmed that the international financial institutions are expecting a strong policy from the Bulgarian Government. At the same time Kincaid expressed his conviction that Zhan Videnov's Cabinet would try to meet the requirements of the two international financial institutions - speeding up privatization, improving the health of the financial sector and increasing financial discipline in state-owned enterprises. The IMF is Bulgaria's largest creditor, central bank governor Prof. Todor Vulchev said recently. He specified that this country's debt to the IMF amounts to some 750 million US dollars and that by the end of this year Bulgaria is due to pay back 280 million US dollars in interest and principal payments on previous loans. Bulgaria became member of the IMF in 1990.
Sofia, September 11 - Bulgaria will receive a 10.5 million US dollar aid from the Global Environmental Facility for the implementation of a national program for stage-by-stage phasing out productions destroying the ozone layer, Environment Minister Georgi Georgiev today told the BTA upon his arrival at the Sofia airport. Georgiev returned from the US where he had negotiations with the World Bank that manages the environmental aid funds. "It is very prestigious for Bulgaria that it is the only country in transition getting environmental aid," said the Environment Minister. It will be made available as the national program for phasing out ozone-hazardous productions meets all requirements of the donor. In the US the Bulgarian Environment Minister signed a protocol of agreement with the World Bank on the management of the funds. In October the Governing Board of the Global Environmental Facility is expected to take a decision on the extending of the aid after which the Bulgarian Parliament should ratify the agreement.
Sofia, September 11 - Bulgarian Foreign Minister Lyubomir Nachev left on an official visit to Skopje today at the invitation of his Macedonian counterpart Lyubomir Frckovski.
The visit will last until September 13 and on its agenda are the implementation of the cooperation agreement, which the two states signed in 1992, the further cooperation in organized crime control, the prospects for expansion of future relations and mutual assistance in crime control.
Sofia, September 11 - The discussions on a new stand-by arrangement between Bulgaria and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will be rather difficult, says IMF Executive Director Johannes A. H. de Beaufort Wijndholds, interviewed by "Pari". Mr. Wijndholds visited Bulgaria last week. "The economic processes in Bulgaria are encouraging and although serious problems exist, the authorities are well aware of them," he says.
The idea to establish a regional Balkan cooperation zone, like the existing regional trade agreements and free trade areas is not bad at all but in any case should conform to Community law, Nikos Katsaros, Deputy Chairman of the Greek Parliament, says in an interview for "Pari". According to him, such a zone would promote the prosperity of the countries in the region and their faster integration into the EU.
There will be more money than last year for the autumn sowing, but it will not be enough, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food-Processing Maria Lazarova says in an interview for "Douma". There are signs of recovery in animal breeding, she notes.
Sofia, September 11 - Reversing the slump in tobacco production is the major objective of a program for the development of tobacco industry by the year 200, adopted today by the Agriculture Ministry, Minister of Agriculture and Food Processing Industry Vassil Chichibaba told a news conference. He said the development of the program was prompted by the persistent downward trend in tobacco production. The program will set the optimum amount of tobacco to be grown on the basis of its marketability, the Minister of Agriculture further said. According to him, this will help eliminate the wide demand-supply margin. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, 1995 is a record low year for tobacco production. The tobacco output so far amounts to 25,000 tons while demand is nearly double. The implementation of the program is expected to normalize the rhythm of purchasing and paying the tobacco harvest and introduce minimum purchase prices. Outstanding payments to tobacco producers for last year's harvest amount to 300 million to 400 million leva, according to Atanas Rousinov, head of the Agriculture Ministry Tobacco Fund. He said by April 30 this year 7,300 tons of tobacco were unsold, most of it being in the areas of Gotse Delchev, Smolian and Kurdjali. The Tobacco Fund has to date bought out a total of 3,300 tons of tobacco of last year's harvest worth 231 million leva.
Sofia, September 11 - Bulgarian military research institutes are developing special ammunitions to replace some of those that are now being used, journalists learned from major General Pencho Dobrev, commander of the Engineers Department with the General Staff of the Bulgarian army. The ammunitions self-destroy after a certain period in compliance with international humanitarian standards. Gen. Dobrev quoted UN figures according to which each year ammunitions left over after wars and armed conflicts kill about 100,000 people across the world. On September 13 the Corpse of Engineers will celebrate their 117th anniversary. In different stages of their development, they provided the groundwork for, and its branches evolved into transport corpse, signals and air forces. The Corpse of Engineers boast highly- qualified specialists. According to figures quoted by Gen. Dobrev, 94% of officers of the Engineers have civilian university education, and 80% of servicemen acquire civilian qualification during their military service. In time of peace, the Engineers defuse bombs and mines, build roads, participate in disaster relief operations. A center has been operating with the Engineers for an year now for training soldiers for participating in UN humanitarian missions.
Sofia, September 11 - The Sofia police confiscated eight packages of heroin, 200 "slabs" of hashish and six packages of a substance for making the psychotropic preparation Captagon during routine checks last week, Captain Roumen Haralampiev said at a news conference at the Sofia Directorate of the Interior today. He gave no further details and did not specify the weight of the drug haul. The police also confiscated illegal weapons - a machine gun and a gas pistol, two AK 47 assault rifles, an underbarrel grenade launcher with two grenades, an assault grenade and many cartridges.
Sofia, September 11 - The Bulgarian trial in the attempt against the life of Pope John Paul II is a complete fiction, Mehmet Ali Agca said today at a four-hour confrontation with complicity suspect Giuseppe Pazienza, Hristo Petrov reported for BTA exclusive. According to Pazienza's lawyer, Agca and Pazienza were questioned by examining magistrates and by the prosecutor dealing with the third suit on the attempt against the Pope's life. "I shall visit the Bulgarian embassy and will apologize to the Bulgarian people, who have been soiled for years," the lawyer is quoted as saying after the confrontation.
Turkish citizen Ali Anian was detained by the customs authorities in attempted illegal crossing of the Bulgarian-Romanian border at the Silistra check-point (on the Danube, Northeastern Bulgaria), the Regional Directorate of the Interior said.
The customs guards at the Kapitan Andreevo border check- point intercepted an attempted smuggling of 1.6 million leva worth of goods, customs officials from Svilengrad (on the Bulgarian- Turkish border) said. It was specified that goods belong to a Turkish company and have been found in a secret place in a truck, it was specified.
A workshop on the problems of chemical waters in N-plants with BBP reactors will begin tomorrow in Vratsa (Northwestern Bulgaria), the information office of the Kozlodui Nuclear Power Plant said. The workshop will be attended by experts from Bulgaria, Russia, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.
A week of friendship between the Bulgarian town of Blagoevgrad and the Belgian town of Dendermonde is starting tomorrow. Accords on the twinning of the two cities will be signed tomorrow in Blagoevgrad's city hall.
Former chairman of the Committee of Tourism Prof. Emil Lozanov is the most probable candidate for the mayoral elections of the Bulgarian Business Bloc (BBB), Chairman George Ganchev told a news conference. The final choice will be made tomorrow at a meeting of BBB's leadership.
In a joint action, police teams from the towns of Septemvri and the town of Peshtera (Southern Bulgaria) uncovered a garage for disassembly of stolen cars, head of Road Police in Pazardzhik Yordan Yordanov said. He specified that the garage is in a private cottage, property of Katya Angelova from Peshtera, in the resort of Rozovski Briz.
According to figures, released by the National Statistical Institute, retail prices of Government-monitored goods have grown an average of 4.1 per cent between August 31 and September 11, 1995. Foods have grown up 4.4 per cent on the average. The largest increase is to be observed in the prices of eggs, beef and pork, potatoes, cow's cheese and milk, certain cereals.
National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov received today the newly-appointed ambassador of Turkey here Mehmet Ali Irtemcelik. The two officials exchanged views on the current state of the Bulgarian-Turkish relations and stressed on the necessity for further promotion of inter-parliamentary contacts, the Parliament's press office said. The talks also focused on the significance of the forthcoming official visit of a Bulgarian parliamentary delegation to Turkey in March 1996.
Bulgarian Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski received today in succession the ambassadors to Bulgaria of Austria - Erich Kristen, of Hungary - Sandor Szabo and of Slovakia, Mr. Josef Dravecky, the Foreign Ministry said. On the agenda were concrete aspects of the promotion of Bulgaria's relations with these states. Mr. Pirinski familiarized the ambassadors with Bulgaria's view on the prospects for expansion of cooperation in Europe and, more particular, with Bulgaria's estimate on the prospects for more active participation of the neighbor countries to former Yugoslavia in the after-war restoration of the region.
Minister of the Interior Lyubomir Nachev has sent a letter to Prosecutor General Ivan Tatarchev, voicing "surprise and disappointment" with the latter's actions. The two institutions have been in argument over the detainment of the Head of the Service for Organized Crime Control in the town of Varna, Colonel Stamo Stamov, on charges of corruption. In the letter Minister Nachev supports his position with facts, showing that the Armed Forces have committed gross violations during Stamenov's detainment and stresses again the fact that he was not notified about the arrest. At the end of last week Prosecutor General voiced disagreement with Interior Minister's view, sending him a letter which says that the detainment was conducted in full observation of the laws.
The traditional autumn fair in the town of Razgrad (Northeastern Bulgaria) started today. Forty state-owned and private companies from the region and the country will exhibit for one week their latest production. The opening ceremony will be attended by Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Mincho Koralski.
Ammonia leak during routine repairs in the Serdika milk- processing plant in Plovdiv was reported by the Civil Defense. The measurements showed that ammonia contents is within the permissible levels and poses no danger for the population.