Sofia, September 29 - President Zhelyu Zhelev will attend a meeting in Malta from October 12 to 15, organized by the Mediterranean Crans-Montana Forum, Presidential Foreign Policy Adviser Kamen Velichkov said on national radio today.
The meeting will be attended by heads of state and government of seven Balkan countries. Reuters said the invitation to the forum had been accepted by Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic, Yugoslav President Zoran Lilic and Croatian Prime Minister Nikica Valentic. The other participants are Romanian President Ion Iliescu, Albanian President Sali Berisha, Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov and Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek.
President Zhelev's foreign policy adviser and the Foreign Ministry spokesman today denied press reports that Bulgaria had not been invited to the forum. Invitations have also been sent to Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski, Defense Minister Dimiter Pavlov (who has already confirmed his participation) and other ministers, Ivan Kostov, leader of the opposition Union of Democratic Forces, and Privatization Agency Executive Director Vesselin Blagoev, the Foreign Ministry spokesman said.
New York, September 29 - Bulgarian Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, who is taking part in the 50th session of the U.N. General Assembly, held a number of meetings here today. At the first one, which took place in the U.N. Headquarters in New York, Videnov met with China's Vice Premier of State Council and Minister of Foreign Affairs Qian Qichen, who extended him an invitation to pay an official visit to China in early 1996. The two officials discussed the prospects for all-round expansion of the Bulgarian-Chinese relations and for the cooperation between Bulgaria and China in tasks carried out by the United Nations. In the field of economic ties, the two countries will boost the direct relations between Bulgarian and Chinese enterprises. Before Videnov's visit to China, the two sides will draft a number of important intergovernmental agreements that will be signed in early 1996. China expressed strong interest in establishing closer ties with Bulgaria in various spheres. Bulgarian Prime Minister Videnov and Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski met with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke. The discussion between the three officials focused on the situation in former Yugoslavia and on the Balkans. Mr. Holbrooke expressed his sincere understanding for Bulgaria's efforts to receive compensations for the big losses sustained by this country as a result of the strict enforcement of the U.N. sanctions against former Yugoslavia. Mr. Holbrooke emphasized that Bulgaria has the right to insist for international aid so that it could resolve some of the serious economic problems brought about by the U.N. sanctions against former Yugoslavia. The U.S. diplomat showed deep interest in the Bulgarian proposal, included in Videnov's speech before the 50th session of the U.N. General Assembly, for the establishment of new transport and telecommunication links on the Balkans once the conflict in former Yugoslavia ends. After the meeting, Mr. Holbrooke departed for Sarajevo where he will discuss the possibilities for finding a lasting solution to the crisis in Bosnia. U.N. diplomats, who requested anonymity, said that after his visit to Sarajevo Mr. Holbrooke may come to Sofia, provided that his schedule in the Bosnian capital does not prove too busy. In Bulgaria, Mr. Holbrooke would like to once again discuss this country's proposals for the economic restoration of the Balkans after the end of the conflict in former Yugoslavia. The discussion between Videnov and the U.N. mediator in Yugoslavia Carl Bildt focused on the same issue. After their meeting, Videnov said that there emerged strong prospects for reaching a cease-fire in Bosnia and for the partial or full lifting of the sanctions against former Yugoslavia. Videnov held talks with officials of Alliance Capital Management, the big U.S. investment company. The officials brought with them a brochure which the company prepared especially for the meeting and which included macroeconomic estimates of all major branches of the Bulgarian economy. The brochure says that during the time in which Videnov's cabinet has been running the country, Bulgaria's economy started a process of stabilization. During their discussion, the Alliance Capital Management officials asked Videnov lots of questions about this country's state and prospects in various aspects. The Bulgarian Prime Minister attended a reception which German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel gave for the participants in the 50th session of the U.N. General Assembly. In his talks with Videnov, Kinkel expressed a positive view about the stand the Bulgarian Prime Minister took in his speech before the U.N. General Assembly as regards issues of the United Nation's activities which are important to Bulgaria, and those related to the situation on the Balkans. The two officials exchanged views about the Bulgarian-German relations, this country's cooperation with the European Union (EU) and the need for the EU's further assistance for the successful reform in Bulgaria. In New York the Bulgarian and Malaysian prime ministers established the first high-level contacts between the two countries. At their meeting, Videnov and Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamed expressed a hope that the Bulgarian-Malaysian ties will grow, initially through the exchange of information, and later through exchange of visits of delegations at different levels. The two officials shared the view that Bulgaria and Malaysia will aim at intensifying bilateral relations, especially in the economic sphere, air transport and tourism, which will be extremely profitable for both countries. The Malaysian Prime Minister invited Videnov to visit Malaysia next year.
The meeting between Videnov and Moroccan Prime Minister Abdellatifopic: bta Filali reviewed the Bulgarian-Moroccan relations in a number of spheres, and especially the economic one. The two officials stressed the fact that there are still untapped possibilities for the expansion of the Bulgarian-Moroccan economic ties. Videnov met with Robert Rifkind, President of the U.S. Jewish Committee. Later, Videnov departed for Bulgaria.
Sofia, September 30 - I would like to stress the key importance which the U.N. General Assembly attaches to the problems on the Balkans, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov said upon his arrival from New York today. The U.N. session paid attention to the prospects for finding a peaceful solution to the conflict in Bosnia and the international community's commitment to the postwar restoration and growth of the region, Videnov said. I would like to express my satisfaction that Bulgaria's long-proposed key initiatives were supported by the major delegations and will apparently be included in the documents that will be approved by the Organization, Videnov said. The draft resolution which Bulgaria will propose to the U.N. session concerns the U.N. aid for the countries which sustain losses as a result of the enforcement of the U.N. sanctions against former Yugoslavia, Videnov said. Videnov attached great importance to his meetings with U.N. Secretary General Boutros Ghali, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke, European mediator in Yugoslavia Carl Bildt, and with representatives of big U.S. companies interested in the region. Summarizing the impressions from his visit to New York, Videnov said that the Bulgarian diplomacy is expected to take part in the peaceful regulation of the region, the Bulgarian companies are expected to announce their participation in the postwar restoration of the region, while the public opinion is expected to formulate the ideas for an all-Balkan cooperation. I categorically reject the accusations made against the cabinet saying that it was not active enough to prevent Bulgaria's inclusion in the negative list of the European Union (EU), Videnov said. The diplomats we had contacts with expressed their view that this motion on the part of the EU Ministerial Council is not up-to-date as regards this country, Videnov said. The Union of Democratic Forces acts irresponsibly when it supports and circulates all kinds of international political speculations and provocations as regards this country, Videnov said.
New York, U.N., September 29 - Bulgaria's Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski met here with his counterparts Muhamed Sacirbey of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Milan Milutinovic of Yugoslavia and Mate Granic of Croatia. Minister Pirinski is in New York to attend the U.N. General Assembly session.
The Balkan foreign ministers exchanged views on the situation in former Yugoslavia, on the steps towards finding a political solution to the problems there and on the post-war restoration and development of the region. Bulgaria's principled position on the conflict and its activity towards eliminating the consequences were estimated in positive terms.
Bosnian Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbey familiarized Minister Pirinski with the progress of talks with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on the political organization of Bosnia and Herzegovina as part of the preparations for an international conference on the final solution to the conflict. Minister Pirinski stated Bulgaria's views on relieving post-conflict tension, the restoration of confidence and the economic recovery of the region for which the international economic and financial institutions should be attracted at this very stage.
Minister Milan Milutinovic presented Yugoslavia's stand on a number of aspects of the conflict pending settlement through talks with a view to calling an international conference on ending the conflict the soonest possible. On Minister Pirinski's initiative, the sides exchanged opinions on the situation of Bulgarians in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, their desire to learn the Bulgarian language and receive Bulgarian newspapers. It was agreed that the problems will be discussed in detail during Foreign Minister Milutinovic's visit to Bulgaria in the nearest future.
Foreign Minister Mate Granic briefed Pirinski about Croatia's negotiations on the normalization of relations with Yugoslavia; the agreement Croatia and Yugoslavia are expected to reach is seen as part of the comprehensive solution to the conflict an international conference would try to find. The two foreign ministers also discussed the post-war rebuilding of the region.
Pirinski and Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans discussed the two countries' participation in the UN General Assembly session, the Spokesman for the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said here today. Evans emphasized that Australia set great store by its candidacy for non-permanent membership in the Security Council in 1996-97 and the ban on nuclear testing.
Pirinski met with his Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee, who praised Bulgaria's active and constructive foreign policy. The two foreign ministers reviewed Bulgarian-Indian relations and highly praised their dynamic development. They discussed aspects of the reform of the United Nations. Mukherjee expressed India's support for Bulgaria's stance in favor of a revision of the UN mechanism of imposing economic sanctions and compensating third countries for the damage caused by their enforcement.
Pirinski and his Cuban counterpart Roberto Robaina voiced the two countries' willingness to intensify and broaden their contacts in all spheres. Pirinski was invited to visit Cuba.
At a meeting between Pirinski and Georgian Foreign Minister Aleksandr Chikvaidze it was stressed that there is a potential basis for the further development of bilateral relations. The two foreign ministers discussed a wide range of issues related to bilateral and regional cooperation, as well as to ways to further broaden the legal framework of bilateral relations.
Pirinski and Uruguay's Foreign Minister Alvaro Ramos expressed willingness to intensify and widen bilateral relations above all in the economic sphere. The sides discussed possibilities to exchange delegations and business representatives, as well as the mechanism of regular contacts.
Pirinski and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Manh Cam agreed on the need to revitalize the two countries' ties in trade and technology.
New York, September 30 - Bulgarian Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski, who is a member of the Bulgarian delegation to the 50th session of the U.N. General Assembly, met yesterday with the Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas. The two officials discussed various aspects of the Bulgarian-Indonesian relations. The meeting paid special attention to the efforts of the international community for reaching a just and lasting solution to the conflict in former Yugoslavia. Yesterday, Pirinski also held talks with the French Minister of State for Francophone Affairs Margie Sudre. The meeting discussed the Bulgarian-French cooperation within the Francophone matters.
Sofia, October 1 - Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski returned this evening from his visit to New York, where he took part in the 50th session of the U.N. General Assembly. Speaking about the talks and meetings he had with his European counterparts, during which he raised the issue of Bulgaria's inclusion in the negative list of the European Union (EU), Pirinski said that the ministers took the traditional position that the issue should not be dramatized . "They said we should not consider it a decision against Bulgaria, but in my view they underestimated the urgency of the issue, which is one of principle for Bulgaria," Pirinski said. In his view, six months until the entry into force of the EU negative list are not such a short period. European Commissioner Hans van den Broek for external relations with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe made a commitment that he will keep in contact during the discussion of the steps and actions for Bulgaria's removal from the list, Pirinski said.
Sofia, September 29 - "We hope the European Union will revise its decision to put Bulgaria on its negative list (of nations posing a security or immigration threat)," the chief of the Foreign Ministry Consular Department Georgi Peichinov today told journalists.
Peichinov called the decision "politically ill-considered" but said it may be corrected before it takes effect in six months. While on the list, Bulgaria cannot carry out bilateral talks on visa free entry.
Bulgaria sharply protested the step in Brussels on Monday. Meeting EU foreign ministers and Commissioner Hans van den Broek in New York, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski called the decision groundless and totally unacceptable. Bulgaria will continue to press for its review, Pirinski said.
"The negative list can only be viewed in negative light", President Zhelyu Zhelev's foreign policy adviser said in an interview on national radio. The President is also expected to make a statement soon.
"We will firmly insist on being dropped from the list," Peichinov said today. He expressed a hope Bulgaria will be excluded, after a sharply-worded government declaration, made at the meeting of EU ministers of justice and the interior in Brussels Monday, and other steps to be taken.
Sofia, September 29 - The Spokesman of the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry told a news conference today that NATO Secretary General Willy Claes is expected to visit Sofia shortly. An active exchange of information is under way for the purpose of expediting the visit, the Spokesman also said.
In a statement at yesterday's meeting in Brussels between NATO and countries of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, Bulgarian Deputy Foreign Minister Irina Bokova stressed that the Bulgarian government sets great store by the continuation of dialogue on NATO's enlargement as an important component of the structure of European security. Mrs. Bokova confirmed the invitation to a NATO delegation to visit Bulgaria and continue the discussion.
Sofia, September 29 - Shell yesterday opened its first two filling stations in Sofia. They add up to a total of 12 Shell filling stations in Bulgaria.
The program for development and intensification of the structural adjustment in banking will be ready within a week, dailies write in their economic columns. A draft program was put up for discussion yesterday but work on it continues. The measures to be launched will be further specified before being set forth in the general government program with which the Bulgarian delegation on October 5 will leave for the International Monetary Fund annual meeting in Washington. The program envisages legislative changes, recapitalization, merger of banks and stiffer bank supervision. Central bank Governor Todor Vulchev said the program does not name specific banks.
The rehabilitation of the banking system will take 100,000 million leva, writes "Troud". Bankers are quotes as saying the funds should be made available by year's end but this is unlikely to happen. The delayed decision for banks' recapitalization will only increase the amount of money to that end, according to "Troud". The cabinet should decide how much the budget can give, and when.
The construction of facilities on the Bourgas Port, on the Black Sea, for servicing the oil pipeline to Alexandroupolis will cost some 220 million US dollars, says "Troud". The facilities should be completed within two years.
Sofia, October 1 - Gazelle is the name of the new motor car which is a joint production of the TAZ company Inc. in Nizhni Novgorod, Russia, and Veliki Preslav, Northeastern Bulgaria. Gazelle is a multi-purpose car with a 100 horsepower petrol engine and fuel consumption of 11 l/100 km. Its load-carrying capacity is 1.5 tons. The motor car has six versions: cargo lorry, delivery van, universal van, refrigerator lorry, hydraulic crane lorry, and tip-lorry. The assembly of the new motor car will start by the year's end. In 1996 the plant will produce between 1,000 and 2,000 Gazelle motor cars.
The Bulgarian Telecommunication Company and the Greek Intracom company established the Bulphone joint venture. Bulphone will modernize the telephone network in Bulgaria and will introduce new technologies. The company will carry out three projects: digitalization of the Sofia telephone exchange, introduction of cellular phones and installation of public phonecard booths.
There are more than 500 Hungarian companies which deal in trade with Bulgaria, 10 out of which are represented at the Autumn-95 edition of the International Technical Fair in Plovdiv. Eliminating the Bulgarian trade deficit with Hungary remains high on the agenda, despite the measures taken by the two countries' financial institutions, it emerged at a news conference. The two countries signed an agreement on the subtraction of 25 million transferable roubles of the sum total of 86 million roubles, but the deal is yet to be carried ott. The Hungarian-Bulgarian ties passed their freezing point, Hungarian Ambassador here Sandor Szabo said. Despite the U.N. sanctions against former Yugoslavia, trade between the two countries grew by 25% reaching $ 55 million.
Bulgaria currently rates 20th in the list of Russia's foreign trade partners, while in 1990 it ranked second, member of the collegium of the Foreign Economic Relations Ministry of the Russian Federation Alexey Gumilevski told at his meeting with business people. Bulgarian-Russian commercial exchange in January-September 1995 reached $ 900 million, but it could triple in the next two years. In November, a Bulgarian-Russian commission will discuss the easing of export and import tariffs between the two countries.
The Bulgarian Balkantourist Inc. tour operator opened its own travel agency in New York. The initial investments are estimated at $ 500,000. In October, U.S. tour agents will visit Bulgaria to familiarize themselves with this country's sites of interest and the services provided here. Balkantourist intends to open similar offices in London and Moscow as well.
Sofia, October 1 - An Indian delegation, which will pay a visit to this country next week, will negotiate the supply of Bulgarian special production, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development Roumen Gechev said upon his arrival from India, where he headed a Bulgarian government delegation. According to Gechev, Bulgaria sustains loss of profit from military supplies. While Bulgarian arms exports have been steeply decreasing, the U.S. control over the weapons market grew from 36% to 72%, Gechev said. While five years ago Bulgarian trade with India amounted to $ 160 million, it has now decreased tenfold, Gechev said. Gechev's visit to India is the first one at such a level in the past 10 years, it emerged at the news conference. "India is a country that is approaching the U.N. Security Council and which in the past three years reported a 6% growth of its gross domestic product. India is a strategic partner with a population which in the year 2000 will reach 1,000 million people, a market comparable to that of the European Union," Gechev said. The projected 2.5% growth of the Bulgarian gross domestic product in 1995 and this country's gradual economic recovery entitle the cabinet to look for political and economic means for ensuring of markets, Gechev said.
Sofia, October 1 - The Bulgarian and Syrian agriculture ministries will sign agreements on bilateral trade and exchange of experts. The two countries' industry ministries will conclude similar agreements, Deputy Prime Minister Svetoslav Shivarov said upon his arrival from Syria today. "The Bulgarian-Syrian ties have been improving and will continue to do so," Shivarov said, commenting on the results of his meeting with Syrian Prime Minister Mahmoud Zubi. An intergovernmental agreement is being drafted, Shivarov said. The meeting Shivarov, who is leader of the Alexander Stamboliiski Bulgarian Agrarian Party (one of the Bulgarian Socialist Party's (BSP) coalition partners), had with Deputy Regional Secretary of the Arab Socialist Renaissance (Ba'ath) Party Suleyman Kadhah was one between the party and Ba'ath. This is how Shivarov answered a BTA reporter who asked him whether the agreement between BSP and Ba'ath on training and exchange of personnel is still in force. "I cannot take the responsibility as regards BSP issues, these are relations between the two parties and everyone should assume their responsibility," Shivarov said.
Sofia, September 29 - There are no technological problems impeding the restarting of Generating Unit One of the Kozlodoui N-plant (on the Danube). This is the conclusion of a five-day inspection by experts which ended today. The inspection was made by a team of experts of the Committee for the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy (CPUAE), headed by Vladimir Hristov, Deputy Chairman of the Committee. The results of the tests made at the Unit will be presented early next week at a session of international experts in Sofia. Late last week the ambassadors of the G-7 countries in Bulgaria presented an official demarche to Deputy Prime Minister Kiril Tsochev, in charge of power engineering. The demarche demanded that the restarting of the unit be postponed by several months for carrying out new tests proving its safety. The demand was based on wrong readings of 1989 showing a danger of violation of safety norms, Deputy Prime Minister Kiril Tsochev explained then. However all tests made subsequently showed a radioactivity level within the permissible limits, he added. The reactor was shut down this February for repairs and is now ready for restarting. According to Bulgarian and Russian experts it may be switched to the grid. No objections to its starting have been made by the chief of the Russian Organization of Atomic Supervision and by the International Atomic Energy Agency Director General with whom CPUAE Chairman Yanko Yanev conferred in Vienna, according to the Bulgarian press. The reactor is now being prepared for trial restarting, Yanev said yesterday, IAEA Director General Dr. Hans Blix is expected for the event and has already confirmed his arrival.
Sofia, October 1 - U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke arrived in Sofia on a brief working visit today.
Upon his arrival at Sofia Airport, Holbrooke expressed his satisfaction with his visit here, and his regrets that it will be so short. "I promised the Bulgarian President, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister that we would come and visit," Holbrooke said.
He said that he came to Sofia for two reasons. "First, to brief the government of Bulgaria on the situation of the negotiations and to get their advice, because Bulgaria, as the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister made clear (in New York three days ago), is part of the region, and has an important contribution to make to peace, and is currently making significant sacrifices in enforcing the sanctions regime," Holbrooke said.
The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State further stressed that Bulgaria has an important role to play in the future reconstruction of the region and important benefits to gain from the peace in the area.
As the second reason for coming to Sofia, Holbrooke listed the Bulgarian-U.S. relations. "Bulgaria is a member of the Partnership for Peace, an important part of the security and stability in Southeastern Europe, which is the most turbulent part of the world today. We want to get the views of the President, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister on these matters," Holbrooke said, adding that he looks forward to the discussions due to start later in the evening.
Holbrooke will hold talks with President Zhelyu Zhelev, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov and Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski.