Sofia, September 12 - An interdepartmental council of representatives of the ministries of culture, the interior, justice and finance will be set up to protect intellectual property from copyright infringers. The enforcement of a regulation on registration of contracts for the manufacture and circulation of phonograms is also under way, Dimiter Enchev, head of Copyright Department with the Ministry of Culture told a news conference. The news conference was held on the coming into force in Bulgaria, respectively on August 31 and on September 6, 1995, of the International Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations (Rome, 1961) and the Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms Against Unauthorized Duplication of their Phonograms (Geneva, 1971). The two conventions provide for the application of the Copyright and Neighboring Rights Act, adopted two years ago, Mr. Enchev explained. He said that regional structures will also be formed for the enforcement of the legislation and of the two conventions. The Copyright Department with the Ministry of Culture and the Police are the only bodies in Bulgaria, authorized to make inspections about copyright infringements and to impose sanctions, Mr. Enchev said. He said that in that sphere Bulgaria will rely on the assistance, including financial support, of the International Federation of Producers of Phonograms and Videograms (IFPI).
Sofia, September 12 - At a nearly seven-hour meeting today the Council of Ministers discussed the possibilities for cutting expenses and for ensuring the budget revenue. Finance Minister presented a report on the utilization of the state budget until the present moment and draft amendments to the legal framework, intended to guarantee income to the public purse. At this stage the budget does not need updating and we are doing our best to ensure its utilization, Minister Kostov said after the meeiting. According to figures, released by the Finance Ministry, 85.5 per cent of the planned budget deficit has been achieved by August 31. In the first eight months of the year were achieved 55.1 per cent of the planned proceeds and 60.8 per cent of the planned expenses. The ministers discussed amendments to tax and customs control regulations, suggested by financial experts. The measures are intended to crack on excise goods smuggling and to ensure larger inspection powers for the tax administration, Minister Kostov said. According to the Finance Minister, budget revenue stands real chances of being utilized. Expenses of state-financed organizations had been planned at higher prices and the current estimates show that prices will not rise more than 30-35 per cent by the end of the year, the Minister explained. At the same time, because of low inflation, incomes are also lower in nominal terms. If the revenue is not utilized, the shortage will be in the range of 4-5 per cent, Minister Kostov said.
Sofia, September 12 - "One possibility for Bulgaria's accession to the European structures is getting tangible and is likely to come true next year," Bulgarian Prime Minister Zhan Videnov said late last night upon his return from the Brno summit of the Central European Free Trade Area (CEFTA). Within CEFTA, this country will have the opportunity to develop the partnerships it will need on the way to united Europe, the Prime Minister said answering a question of BTA as to whether the CEFTA membership would facilitate Bulgaria's entry into the European Union. According to Zhan Videnov, CEFTA should not be seen as an obligatory intermediate stop en route to the EU. He believes it is all one and the same process taking place simultaneously at regional, trans-regional and continental level. To join CEFTA, Bulgaria should bring to a successful conclusion the negotiations for joining the World Trade Organization and sign bilateral free trade agreements with all CEFTA members: Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. In Brno Bulgaria was met as an interesting and promising partner in European cooperation, Videnov stressed. He went on to say there is no reason to fear that Bulgaria is dramatically lagging behind on the road to the Central European structures now being built. Zhan Videnov said in Brno he met his Slovak counterpart Vladimir Meciar and discussed with him bilateral cooperation. The sides identified a need for closer cooperation among the countries of Central Europe: a process in which Bulgaria could make a serious contribution.
Sofia, September 12 - The Democratic Left (a coalition led by the Bulgarian Socialist Party, including the Ecoglasnost Political Club and the Alexander Stamboliiski Bulgarian Agrarian National Union) is drafting a declaration on the latest developments in Bosnia, Democratic Left Deputy Floor Leader Stefan Gaitandjiev told a news briefing today. Also today, the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF), the largest opposition formation in Parliament, released a declaration welcoming the Geneva agreement between Bosnia- Herzegovina, Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. As a first step towards a comprehensive peaceful settlement of the conflict in Bosnia. According to the document, "this breakthrough has been achieved thanks to the energetic political efforts of the United States and the International Contact Group; the use of force by the United Nations and NATO against the Bosnian Serb army, in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions, also played an important part." UDF hopes that the negotiations in Geneva will lead to compliance with the UN demands for a withdrawal of heavy weapons and lifting the siege of Sarajevo and this would be another important step towards peace, the declaration says.
UDF believes that speaking of a new military-bloc division of Europe is unrealistic, the declaration, referring to the statement of Russian President Boris Yeltsin against a NATO enlargement. "UDF regards the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as the sole guarantor of Europe's stability and security. The will and actions for joining NATO are a sovereign choice of the countries, including Bulgaria, which seek full membership in that organization," the document says.
"The Democratic Left and the Government have a common stand in favor of a policy of non-intervention in the internal affairs of Yugoslavia regardless of the pretext and preference for peaceful options for settlement of the Yugocrisis," Stefan Gaitandjiev told the regular news briefing of the BSP-led coalition today. "Ecoglasnost is rather inclined to condemn the use of armed force against civilian targets by NATO as a means to settle these problems," said Mr. Gaitandjiev, who is Chairman of the Political Club. He noted that the Ecoglasnost Political Club opposes Bulgaria's joining NATO and the club takes a harder and more categorical line on the NATO air-raids against Bosnia than the official line, which should be far more balanced.
"Zhelev Waves Finger At Yeltsin" (the ruling Socialists' "Douma" daily), "Zhelev, Yeltsin At Odds On NATO" ("the opposition "Demokratsiya" daily), "Zhelev Defies Yeltsin On NATO" (the private "Troud" daily): this is a sample of headlines capping front-page commentaries on Monday's statement of President Zhelyu Zhelev. Dr. Zhelev's words came as response to a statement by Russian President Boris Yeltsin in which he said Russia would not allow NATO's eastward expansion, the private "Continent" recalls. "Bulgaria is an independent and sovereign state, conducting an independent foreign policy complying solely with its national interests, and it 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," dailies quote a statement of the President's Office yesterday. "Continent" stresses in a headline that Zhelev would withdraw his support for Yeltsin. "The fact is important: Dr. Zhelev told Yeltsin he does not depend on him. We are looking forward to hearing similar statements as regards other symbols of democracy," reads a commentary in "Douma" by Velislava Dureva, one of Dr. Zhelev's aides in the dissident years and now an outstanding critic of his pro-American policy. "Dr. Zhelev's prejudices and suspicion for Moscow are well-known. This presidential statement, however, had new nuances: that we would tolerate no pressure, be it from the East or from the West, and that Bulgaria has always supported Russia's democracy, and will continue to do so in the future," a signed commentary in "Continent" goes.
"Troud" and "Douma" headline that Bulgaria has applied and may become member of the Central European Free Trade Area (CEFTA) already next year. Prime Minister Zhan Videnov is attending the CEFTA summit in Brno. "The European Union supports CEFTA because it would speed up the economic adjustment of the former socialist countries for full membership in the EU, "Troud" writes. "The outcome of the negotiations on free trade zones with CEFTA would amount to neglect of Bulgaria if some radical changes are not made in this country's economy, a signed article in "Continent" says.
"Extraterrestrials from the planet of Krissi disappointed 3,000 local enthusiasts who gathered to greet them at an airfield near Rousse (on the Danube) at 1100 yesterday," "24 Chassa" writes on its front page. Three self-styled mediums predicted that extraterrestrial space ships would land there and even asked the management of the airfield to stop training flights by warplanes so that the extraterrestrials would land safely. The chief of the military airfield ordered flights to be suspended by 1245. However, nothing happened. "Standart News" says that the extraterrestrials did not come because Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev was not there to welcome them, as one of the mediums claimed. "24 Chassa" writes that enterprising local vendors profited most from the whole affair, offering cold drinks to the roasting crowd. "24 Chassa" also says that the deputy chief of the airfield was most pleased: "We proved that we are ready to receive even extraterrestrials. So I see no reason why the airfield should not become an international one." "At least such hoaxes help us keep our skies clear of hostile invasions. Never have the military monitored the skies so carefully as in expectation of the extraterrestrials near Rousse. For a change our mediums could, from time to time, spread rumors that Marsians are coming by sea. Then Turkish fishing boats poaching in our waters would stand no chance, too," says an editorial in "24 Chassa".
A Tu-154 aircraft owned by Balkan Bulgarian Airlines almost crashed at Sofia airport Sunday night, the dailies report, citing a Civil Defense source. The pilots told the command tower that one of the undercarriages refused to open. "24 Chassa" reports that all emergency teams were alerted and that Deputy Prime Minister Doncho Konakchiev, who heads the government commission on major industrial accidents and natural calamities, came to the airport. After circling over Sofia for two hours, the plane made a safe landing. The dailies cite a letter by Prime Minister Zhan Videnov thanking the crew for its high professionalism and self-control and insisting that the incident be investigated. A signed article in "Continent", however, disagrees with the Prime Minister who also thanked the management of Balkan Bulgarian Airlines and of Sofia Airport as well as three ministers. "It is hard to believe that in their several months in office the three ministers helped enhance the professionalism of the crew," the author says.
"24 Chassa" quotes US citizen Douglas Bailey as telling a Sofia private radio station Monday that no espionage charges have been brought against him, and if such charges exist, they should be presented through the US Embassy in Sofia.
In the telephone interview, Bailey told Sofia's Darik Radio the use of satellite maps is a common practice in world archaeology. "Bailey put on satellite maps distances between strategic facilities in Bulgaria," "24 Chassa" writes, recalling reports in the Bulgarian press.
"24 Chassa" quotes an informed source as saying the espionage charges against the US archaeologist were fabricated to discredit Bulgaria's Socialist Government, and foil a planned meeting of Prime Minister Zhan Videnov and Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski with US Secretary of State Warren Christopher on the sidelines of a UN General Assembly session opening in late September.
In an interview for "Troud" Defense Minister Dimiter Pavlov supports the re-establishment of the Military Inspectorate.
The inspectorate will not engage in sinister plots, Pavlov emphasizes. He says it was conceived as an institution to exercise civilian control over the army, in line with world practices.
President Zhelev declined to sign decrees appointing leaders of the inspectorate, arguing it should be regulated with a law, rather than government decrees.
Police found 5.5 kg of heroin, 40 kg of hashish, 3 kg of barbiturates, weapons and ammunition in the Sofia home of an Arab national shot to death on September 4, "Standart News" reports on its front page.
Sofia, September 12 - For five years now Bulgaria has not sold a single kilo of uranium concentrate and currently disposes of 620 tons of this raw material, Ivan Markov, Deputy Chairman of the Power Engineering Committee and Chairman of the Interdepartmental Uranium Mining Expert Council, told BTA. According to statistics published in the press, Bulgaria ranks among the first countries in Europe in its uranium deposits. From 1946 to 1989 uranium mining varied between 100 and 600 tons a year. Under a long-term contract Bulgarian uranium ore was processed in the CIS. "We will most probably conclude another long-term contract," Markov said. But first the Government will have to decree how many of the 51 uranium mining facilities proposed for liquidation will remain. In August 1992 the cabinet of then prime minister Filip Dimitrov, former leader of the opposition Union of Democratic Forces (UDF), decided to close down uranium mining in nine state-owned companies. Both for environmental reasons and because of inefficiency which made the price of Bulgarian uranium higher than the average world price. In March 1994 the next cabinet of politically unaffiliated Lyuben Berov issued a decree for a gradual liquidation or uranium mining and processing. The trade unions and the workers in this branch protested and even threatened to dump uranium in front of the building of Parliament. The liquidation of units has been motivated in a report to the Council of Ministers proposing that ten of the uranium mining facilities be preserved, Markov said. The report also proposes an extension of the terms for liquidating the other units to meet technical and technological requirements of the liquidation procedure, Markov said. The preservation of part of Bulgaria's uranium mining industry may prove economically profitable for this country because it can meet some 1/4 of this country's needs in nuclear fuel, according to Markov. Now the fate of part of Bulgaria's uranium mining depends on the Government.
Sofia, September 12 - An intergovernmental agreement for cultural, scientific and educational exchange was signed today in the Foreign Ministry between Head of International Cultural Policy Department Hristo Georgiev and head of Cultural Relations Department with the Argentinian Foreign Ministry Kive Stive. The Argentinian guest described the program as an important landmark in the widening of contacts between the two states and expressed hope that it will be substantiated with real facts. The program covers the period 1995-1997 and is a continuation of the agreement for cooperation in culture, education and science between Bulgaria and Argentina, signed on July 1, 1987. The program stipulates the formation of a working group of experts of the two states to work up a draft agreement for mutual recognition of education, diplomas and other degrees. The two states will exchange textbooks in history and geography for the elementary and the secondary school. Argentina will grant every year two scholarships to Bulgarians post-graduate studies of Latin American culture. The representatives of the Argentinian Foreign Ministry suggested that two scientific seminars with Bulgarian participation be held in Buenos Aires. The signed program envisages also joint scientific studies and exchange of university lecturers, scientists, artists and students over the next two years. The two countries will cooperate in art, cinematography, publishing, architecture, museum and library work.
Sofia, September 12 - The International Monetary Fund is ready to sign a long-term agreement with Bulgaria, says "Continent". The story quotes IMF Mission Leader for Bulgaria Russel Kincaid as saying upon his arrival at the Sofia Airport that a politically strong Bulgaria would get the support of the IMF and the World Bank. "Fourth IMF Loan Depends On Socialist Cabinet" reads a headline on this matter in "Douma", the daily of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP). "Pari" writes Kincaid commended Bulgaria for the low inflation rate, while "Continent" says he was disappointed by the slower-than-expected privatization.
Prices hiked 4.1% within ten days, the opposition "Demokratsiya" daily writes in a front-page story. It says the National Statistical Institute reported a 4.4% rise of food prices in September 1-10. Non-foods reportedly rose by 1.7% and bus fares by 1.2%. "Pari" also runs an interview with Krustuy Petkov, leader of one of Bulgaria's two major labor organizations, who said this country's collapse did not start five years ago with the launch of democratic changes but fifty years ago when the Communists took power.
Muddle at the National Electricity Company (NEC) jeopardize the delivery of nuclear fuel for one of the power units of the Kozlodui Nuclear Power Plant, on the Danube, "24 Chassa" writes quoting a source of this power plant. The story says the fuel was expected to arrive late last week but it is not even clear if it has ever been dispatched from Russia. The NEC reportedly said it has paid for the fuel and it should be supplied by the end of this month.
Three major German tour-operators arranging holidays in Bulgarian resorts posted a 32% slump of business as by August 10, writes "Demokratsiya". According to this daily, the situation is unlikely to change by the end of this tourist season.
Sofia, September 12 - Today President Zhelyu Zhelev decreed appointments in the armed forces, the President's Press Office said. Captain Milan Milanov was appointed Deputy Commander of the Navy, Colonel Boncho Botev, Head of Rocket- Artillery Armament and Radar Equipment Agency with the General Staff of the Bulgarian Army and Major General Tsanko Dolenski, Deputy Commander of 1st Army.
The Constitutional Court ruled that the Council of Ministers cannot dispose of state property, in which the president, the parliament or judicial authorities are accommodated, without their explicit consent. The Constitutional Court members voted unanimously in favor of this decision. It was prompted by a government intention to move the Constitutional Court to another building. President Zhelev referred to the Constitutional Court, asking it to give an interpretation of the texts of the Constitution, concerning the right of the government to dispose of state property.
Today Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Kiril Tsochev conferred with Ananada Kovindasami, director of the energy issues team with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and EBRD experts, accompanying him, the Government Press Office said. Konstantin Roussinov, Chairman of the Energy Committee and Dimiter Grivekov, Chairman of the National Pricing Committee also took part in the talks.
The Bulgarian-Romanian Agreement on the Avoidance of Double Taxation is effective as of today, after Bulgarian Deputy Foreign Minister Ivan Hristov and Romanian Ambassador to Bulgaria Vasile Tanase signed a protocol on the exchange of instruments of ratification. The agreement was signed on June 1, 1994 in Bucharest.
"In the last few years Bulgaria proved that it is not influenced by pressures on important matters of long prospects," Radko Vlaikov, Spokesman for the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry told journalists, asked to comment on the latest statement of Russian President Boris Yeltsin in connection with the future expansion of NATO.
The Neofit Rilski University in Blagoevgrad (Southwestern Bulgaria) hosts an international school for young scientists in biomechanics. Doctors, engineers, mathematicians, physicists and biologists from USA, Great Britain, Italy, France, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Bulgaria are taking part in it. This is the sixth scientific forum on biomechanics, held in Bulgaria for the last 20 years, BTA correspondent in Blagoevgrad said.
At a news conference today Pencho Tokmakchiev, Chairman of the Federation of Miners with the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria (one of the country's largest trade union amalgamations) protested against the planned discontinuing of deep ore-mining. In a statement, sent to Deputy Prime Minister Kiril Tsochev, the Federation expresses its alarm over these projections, set in a draft strategy for the development of Bulgarian power engineering which was drawn up by the Energy Committee and an independent expert team.
Representatives of the Prosecutor General's Office, the National Investigative Service, the Interior Ministry and the Ministry of Justice discussed the draft program for organized crime control at a meeting today. The next meeting of the working group, drawing up the overall strategy for curbing crime will be held next week.
A Bulgarian-German symposium on: "Development of Tourism and Health Resorts in the Saxony-Anhalt State and the Plovdiv Area" was opened in Plovdiv (Southern Bulgaria) today. The symposium aims to promote private tourism in Bulgaria.
Remzi Osman, MP of the ethnic Turks' Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) will suggest to the Parliamentary Committee on National Security at its meeting tomorrow to hold a hearing, at which security services operatives will testify whether Bulgarian MPs and politicians have had meetings with activists of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Mr. Osman, his colleagues from MRF and other politicians were alarmed by press publications to this effect and he wanted to clarify the problem, Osman told journalists.
The first Bulgarian-German educational center in Bulgaria was officially opened in Pazardjik (Southern Bulgaria) today. The German Interior Ministry granted 37 million Deutsche Marks to finance the establishment of such centers in Pazardjik, Stara Zagora and Pleven. These centers will organize courses for the retraining of Bulgarians, who will be repatriated to Bulgaria in compliance with a bilateral agreement to this end. The purpose is to help them find jobs after their return to Bulgaria. There are more than 41,000 Bulgarians in Germany at the moment and 22,000 of them are there illegally. The center in Pazardjik is going to offer two-year courses for business administrators, managers of small and medium-size enterprises and computer experts for the total of 200 people.
Last night the Plovdiv police conducted a raid for tracing stolen cars. The policemen checked more than 5,000 cars, nine autohouses, 10 service stations, garages and places, where used cars are sold, Colonel Momchil Yamakov, Head of Police Department with the Regional Directorate of the Interior in Plovdiv said.
The National Police conducted operations in Sofia and four other regions in the country. It cleared the total of 36 crimes, seized three illegally possessed guns and identified 40 people, wanted by the police, the National Police Press Office said.
US army surgeons, who had participated in the Persian Gulf war, delivered lectures before experts in the military hospital in Rousse (on the Danube) today. The purpose was to familiarize their Bulgarian colleagues with the US experience in exerting first aid and the organization of medical support on the battle field.
The activity of the United Way International US charity organization and its future plans were on the agenda of today's meeting between President Zhelyu Zhelev and the organization's Chairman Russi Soumarivalla. Mr. Soumarivalla is here at the invitation of the Open Society Foundation and examines the possibility to open an office of the organization in Bulgaria.
Today Colonel General Tsvetan Totomirov, Chief of the General Staff of the Bulgarian Army, met with the Military, Air- Forces and Naval Attache of Russia here, Major General Anatoli Kiselev, the Press Office of the Defense Ministry said. The two of them discussed the delivery of materiel of the Russian army, subject to reduction, as a grant aid and the forthcoming visit of Army General Kolesnikov, Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces and First Deputy Minister of Defense to Bulgaria.