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News from Bulgaria / Oct 12, 95

From: (Embassy of Bulgaria)

Bulgarian Telegraph Agency Directory










    Sofia, October 11 - Hungarian President Arpad Goncz described his three-day official visit to Bulgaria as "very useful". The visit ended here with a news conference held jointly by the Bulgarian and Hungarian heads of state. "It was not a ritual but a very meaningful and very important visit. It acquired the significance of a major political event," Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev told journalists evaluating the visit.

    Bilateral relations and multilateral cooperation within the framework of the Central European Initiative and the Central European Free Trade Area topped the agenda of Arpad Goncz's talks in Bulgaria. Shortly after his arrival here on Monday, the guest had a one-on-one meeting with his Bulgarian counterpart, followed by talks between the two countries' official delegations. The sides signed two accords: on plant protection and on cooperation in veterinary services. Today Arpad Goncz met Bulgarian Prime Minister Zhan Videnov and National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov.

    "At our private meeting and later at the talks between the two delegations, I raised the issue of interaction between state institutions, as, just like me, Mr Goncz is a liberal and being a President, he has to work with a government formed by a left-wing coalition. The talks, however, left me with the impression that there is a tangible difference because while he is working with a coalition formed by socialists and a small group of liberals, I am working with not-yet-socialists and liberal communists," President Zhelev told the news conference in his opening statement.

    "As regards bilateral relations, we observed that their legal framework became complete with the signing of a Declaration for Cooperation in April 1991. But albeit the existence of a reliable basis for cooperation, it is not at the level at which both countries would like it to be," the Bulgarian President continued. According to him, this is due to Bulgaria's 86 million transferrable rubles deficit in its trade with Hungary. However, the Governments of both countries have already shown good will for settling this problem as soon as possible. "This would lift the barriers before bilateral cooperation," Zhelev said.

    "I was glad to hear from the President that Hungary supports our efforts for integration into the Central European Initiative and above all our striving to CEFTA," Zhelev said. According to him, there is no difference between the two countries as regards their striving for integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structures, "if we do not consider the difference that while in Hungary all state institutions, including the left-wing majority, are categorically for NATO membership, in Bulgaria this issue is still subject to disputes and the ruling majority refuses to openly state its positions on it." Zhelev added that with President Goencz they reached the conclusion that the two countries should adhere to a common strategy, including cooperation and mutual assistance and not competition in their striving to European and Euro-Atlantic structures. "Our interests are not conflicting, to the contrary, they coincide and we should therefore support and assist each other," the Bulgarian President said. "We would welcome Bulgaria's joining CEFTA," President Goencz said.

    According to Zhelev, the two countries had no differences on Balkan issues. "We believe that our countries should seek some form of compensation for the considerable losses they sustained as a result of the Yugoembargo," Zhelev said. The Hungarian President observed that Hungary and Bulgaria should coordinate their proposals and come out with joint initiatives for the post-war reconstruction of the former Yugoslavia, "because Bulgaria and Hungary are the countries which suffered most from the Yugoembargo." "Not only do our countries have the right to claim a broader and more comprehensive share in reconstruction work but under this form they could also find partial compensation for the losses their sustained by observing the Yugoembargo," the Bulgarian President said.


    Sofia, October 11 (BTA) - There is not, and has not been, any disagreement on the restart of Unit One of the Kozlodoui nuclear power plant, President Zhelyu Zhelev said in answer to a question during a joint press conference with Hungarian President Arpad Goncz. National papers wrote today that an angry exchange occurred between the President and Prime Minister Zhan Videnov during yesterday's meeting of the Consultative Council on National Security at the President's Office. Deputy Prime Minister Kiril Tsochev, who participated in the meeting, also denied the reports of disagreement of the institutions on the restart of the first, oldest reactor.

    Without naming the papers, President Zhelev today described the stories as a provocation. "I am afraid their source are circles of the Bulgarian Socialist Party; I would not blame the Government, but I would like to ask the Prime Minister or his press office to deny this flagrant lie, which is seeking to achieve certain goals, eroding cooperation among the institutions," Zhelev said.

    Sofia, October 11 (Kiril Vulchev of BTA) - Deputy Prime Minister Kiril Tsochev, Yanko Yanev, Chair of the Committee for Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy, and Kozma Kouzmanov, Manager of the Kozlodoui nuclear power plant (on the Danube), today assured 24 foreign diplomats in Sofia of the safety of Kozlodoui's Unit One which was restarted last week after repairs.

    Deputy Prime Minister Tsochev had invited journalists to what was expected to become a joint news conference with the ambassadors. The latter, however, believed that such a news conference was unlikely to result in "a more constructive dialogue; on the contrary, it might provoke a more negative reaction against Bulgaria and the Kozlodoui power plant", Tsochev said.

    A Diplomatic Protocol official said the meeting was attended by the Ambassadors of Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, Slovakia, Spain and Ukraine, the Charges d'Affaires of the US and the Delegation of the European Commission, and representatives of the Embassies of Britain, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Turkey and the UNDP Office.

    Russian Ambassador Aleksandr Avdeyev was the only one to stay at the news conference after the meeting.

    Avdeyev said the G7 demarche lent itself to different interpretations but in any case it was not based on the actual condition of the reactor. There are 26 reactors like Unit One's operating in the world at the moment, said the Russian Ambassador.

    "There is no doubt about the plant's safety. Unit One is running well," said Kozlodoui's Manager Kozma Kouzmanov.

    Speaking to the press, Kiril Tsochev expressed his personal view that the pressure by the G7 countries for the decommissioning of Unit One was political.

    "This is political pressure prompted by the expected results of the constructive meetings between the Bulgarian and Russian prime ministers this year, and the upcoming signing of final documents on geo- strategic projects and Bulgaria's geographical location, allowing this country to become an energy hub in the next few years," Tsochev also said, voicing his personal views. According to him, this prospect is not without importance and is not a minor threat to many European countries because of which the G7 will continue their joint efforts.

    Tsochev also told the journalists that Bulgaria proposed the meeting prompted by clamour in the Western press over the danger posed by the Kozlodoui plant and threats by Western government officials to boycott the October 23-25 Third Ministerial Conference "Environment for Europe" in Sofia. The Deputy Prime Minister further quoted ambassadors as ruling out the danger that the forum might fail. "We have not been informed of any refusals or cancellations by G7 countries expected to take part in the Sofia ministerial conference on the environment," Foreign Ministry Spokesman Radko Vlaikov told the press here today, answering a question.

    The pressure on Bulgaria to decommission Unit One came after this country's inclusion in the EU visa blacklist despite its associate membership in the EU, Tsochev said. He added that before that pressure Bulgaria was not invited to the unofficial establishing of New Forum, also known as neo-COCOM, though this country strictly implements the export controls regulations on arms and dual-purpose products.

    "We are anxious that if Unit One were closed down, we might be asked to decommission the other three reactors," Tsochev said. According to him, thus Bulgaria would lose 1,760 MW of electricity, one sixth of its electric power. This is unaffordable luxury for a small country which would inevitably be plunged into an exceedingly grave energy crisis. Tsochev emphasized that none of those reactors would be operating if it endangered the region and Europe.

    Deputy Prime Minister Tsochev said certain ambassadors had suggested that participants in the meeting consider the possibility of decommissioning Unit One and providing financial support to Bulgaria for electricity supply or energy sources.

    "Once the EU makes a written proposal, we will be ready to consider the conditions on which financial support will be provided. I would not like to have it linked to the decommissioning of the nuclear reactor, however, if there is no technical reasoning behind it," Tsochev said.


    Sofia, October 11 (BTA) - The Bulgarian delegation to the 50th session of the UN General Assembly is working hard to push through a General Assembly resolution on granting economic compensations for the countries seriously affected by the implementation of Yugosanctions, journalists were told by Bulgarian Deputy Foreign Minister Irina Bokova, who attended the US forum. Apart from having a deep moral and political importance, the resolution calls upon international financial institutions to back Bulgaria's participation in the post-conflict recovery of the republics of the conflict area, she also said.

    The support for the Bulgarian initiative for a resolution is getting increasingly stronger, Irina Bokova said summing up the result of the nearly 50 meetings Bulgarian Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski and herself have to date had within the framework of the 50th UN General Assembly session. Bokova further said there are serious grounds to expect a strong resolution as European Union member states, Russia and the US have voiced readiness to back and participate in the drafting of the document. The draft resolution is expected to enter the agenda of the session in mid- or late November, according to the Deputy Foreign Minister.

    At this session, Bulgarian journalists for the first time were included in the UN programmes; Bulgaria will also seek to further the cooperation with the UN in the field of information services, Bokova also told journalists. A Bulgarian initiative for setting up a UN Information Centre for Eastern Europe based in Sofia in the SS Cyril and Methodius National Library, got support at high level, journalists were told. There are prospects for Bulgarian journalists to be included in UN initiatives in the field of mass media. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Radko Vlaikov pledged the support of this Ministry for the above initiative.


    Sofia, October 11 (BTA) - NATO Assistant Secretary General Anthony Craig will visit Bulgaria on October 19. He will be accompanied by a group of experts, invited here together with him by Bulgarian Deputy Foreign Minister Irina Bokova during her recent visit to Brussels.

    Irina Bokova today told a briefing that before the visit the cabinet will consider and put to the vote a stand on a study for future cooperation with, and prospects for the expansion of NATO, submitted by NATO Secretary General Willy Claes.


    Sofia, October 11 (BTA) - Bulgaria needs a single comprehensive act on narcotics, said Peter Schroeder, Chairman of the International Narcotics Control Board of the UN. Mr Schroeder is visiting here accompanied by Peter Scott, member of the Secretariat of the Board. Today they met Health Minister Dr Mimi Vitkova, head of the National Board for Combatting Drugs and Traffic in Drugs with the Council of Ministers.

    Sofia, October 11 (BTA) - A total of 1,721 companies went private over the past three years, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development Roumen Gechev today told an international conference on "Privatization and Foreign Investments in Bulgaria". He said 409 of these companies were state-owned and the rest municipal.

    Bulgaria this year is enjoying a higher interest on the part of investors, according to Roumen Gechev. It is likely to improve its standing among other countries in terms of business risk after two years ago it dropped from the 60th to the 110th place. There are no tangible economic or political factors to push inflation up by year's end and it is expected to be 4-fold below last year's level, said he. The national foreign exchange reserves grew to USD 1,500 million and this allows to have a sustainable foreign exchange rate.

    Sofia, 11 October The delegation, headed by Patriach Maksim, today arrived in the Serbian capital Belgrade. It includes the former Metropolitan of New York and Chief Secretary of the Holy Synod Gelasiy, the Vidin Metropolitan Dometian, the Nevrokop Metropolitan Natanail and Archimandrite Gavrail. They are expected to meet with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and Yugoslav President Zoran Lilic.

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