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News from Bulgaria / Oct 19, 95

From: (Embassy of Bulgaria)

Bulgarian Telegraph Agency Directory











    Brussels, October 18 (BTA) - The Council of Minister's Secretary in charge of European integration and Deputy Foreign Minister Irina Bokova, who is on a working visit in Brussels, met with Charles Elsen, Director General in the EU Council of Ministers. She familiarized him with the extremely strong reaction of the Bulgarian public against Bulgaria's non-removal from E.U.'s negative list. Mrs Bokova insisted that the European Union takes concrete steps for Bulgaria's prompt removal from the list.

    Mrs Bokova also met with the head of Schengen's secretariat, Mr Liven Lenarts and reiterated Bulgaria's discontent with the visa difficulties which Bulgarian citizens are facing. The parties mapped out measures for overcoming the situation, which depends to a large extent on the positions of the Schengen states.

    Irina Bokova had a meeting with Co-chairman of the EU-Bulgaria Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) Mr Nikolaos Papakiriatsis, who assured her that on the initiative of the European Parliament's delegation for relations with Bulgaria and of the Committee on Civil Liberties and Internal Affairs, next week in Strasbourg a resolution of the European Parliament will be put to the vote. The resolution urges the EU Council of Ministers and the European Commission to reconsider the inclusion of Bulgaria and Romania in the list of states subject to visa requirements and to launch negotiations with a view to create prerequisites for establishing a visa-free regime for the citizens of these states. Mrs Bokova had a meeting with U.S. Ambassador to the EU Mr Stewart Eisenstat. Their talks focused on Bulgaria's participation in the post-war reconstruction of the Balkan region and on the concrete support of the United States, particularly for infrastructure projects. Ambassador Eisenstat confirmed Richard Holbrooke's recent assurances that the US will support Bulgaria in its demands. He said that the US commend Bulgaria's stabilizing role in the Balkan region, including the country's observation of the U.N. embargo. He described as timely Bulgaria's demarches, which will be considered in outlining the framework of cooperation for post-war reconstruction of the territory of former Yugoslavia.


    Slovenia's Foreign Minister Zoran Taler who arrived today on a formal two-day visit to Sofia, held talks with Bulgarian Foreign Minister and with Prime Minister Zhan Videnov.

    On the agenda were the current state and the future promotion of bilateral relations, the situation in the region, the prospects for the two states to take part in the post-war reconstruction of Bosnia, as well as European security.

    According to Georgi Pirinski and Zoran Taler, the two countries are cornerstones of stability in the region, but there is a zone of instability between them. "Both states are interested in finding a final and lasting resolution to the conflict in Bosnia and in joining the post- war reconstruction of the region," Minister Taler said. The two states emphasized their readiness to take part in all plans for post-war reconstruction of the region, the spokesman of the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said. "It became clear that Bulgaria and Slovenia are much interested in continuing the dialogue for promotion of their relations," the chief of Slovenian diplomacy said after his talks with Minister Pirinski. According to the Spokesman of the Foreign Ministry there are no unresolved issues between the two countries.

    Pirinski and Taler discussed the prospects for holding annual meetings between the two foreign ministries. The Slovenian Foreign Minister invited Minister Pirinski to visit Slovenia next year. The two officials also discussed future visits of Bulgaria's President and Prime Minister.

    After Minister Taler's talks with Foreign Minister Pirinski and P.M. Videnov, it was made clear that Slovenia will support Bulgaria in its efforts to get full membership in the Central European Initiative.

    Minister Taler's talks also considered the issue of activating negotiations for a free trade area between Bulgaria and Slovenia. There was a common understanding that a free trade area will encourage promotion of relations between the two states. Minister Taler gave as an example the free trade area between Hungary and Slovenia, which has been operating for almost a year and has contributed for increasing the commercial exchange.

    The Bulgarian party said that deepening of economic relations may be sought though some other means, in addition to the activation of two-way commercial exchange.

    Both parties assessed as unsatisfactory the level of trade between the two states which does not explore adequately their potentials and agreed to deepen cooperation to that end.

    The parties considered the prospects for the two interior ministries to sign an agreement for control of terrorism, illegal drug trafficking and organised crime, as well as a readmission agreement.

    The two parties showed willingness to accelerate the procedures on signing the agreements for protection and encouragement of investments and on the avoidance of double taxation.

    Minister Taler's talks considered also the prospects for promoting cooperation in transport and communications. Bulgaria has come up with an agreement for air transport and suggested to sign with Slovakia agreements on sea and road transport.

    A protocol for cooperation between the foreign ministries of Slovenia and Bulgaria is scheduled to be signed on Thursday. Minister Taler committed himself to accredit a Slovenian ambassador to Sofia and to set up a permanent Slovenian mission here.

    Mr Taler is due to have meetings with National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov, with MPs and with President Zhelyu Zhelev.


    Bulgarian Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski and Sofia-based Japanese Ambassador Yoshihiro Jibiki today exchanged notes on the extending of a Japanese loan for upgrading two Bulgarian metallurgical plants. The loan totals some USD 80 million and will go to the nonferrous metals plant near Plovdiv, Southern Bulgaria, and the Eliseina metallurgical works in Western Bulgaria. Of them USD 58 million will be spent for reducing sulphur dioxide emissions and water treatment in the Plovdiv plant. 21 million will go for solving the environmental problems of Eliseina: reducing the dust and sulphur dioxide content in industrial gases and of arsenic and heavy metals in the water. The loan is repayable over 30 years at an annual interest rate of 2.7% and grace period of 10 years.

    Foreign Minister Pirinski said the lending terms - the low interest rate and grace period - are very favourable for Bulgaria. "We are particularly encouraged by the fact that the Japanese side starts immediately with the implementation of the agreement," said he. Japanese experts are expected here next week to specify the conditions for the utilization of the loan.

    The lending agreement is signed days before the October 23 opening of the third "Environment for Europe" conference in Sofia. The Japanese Ambassador, too, described the lending agreement as very important. Environmental problems are a common matter for all people and just place the responsibility on East European countries would not solve the pollution problem; we must offer cooperation to East European countries in order to solve this problem, Ambassador Jibiki said adding that he hopes other countries would follow the Japanese example.

    The loan will allow to improve the environmental situation in the area of the two metallurgical plants.

    Some time ago the future of the Eliseina plant was unclear. Closure has been facing it ever since 1990 because of the environmental hazard it posed in the region. Experts found that the 90 years of the plant's operation has resulted in irreversible pollution of the soil with arsenic and lead, poisoning of plants and animals. 26% of the children in the region were found to have abnormally high levels of lead in the blood and the organisms of workers in the plant, high levels of zinc, copper and arsenic. These findings led to the closure of one of Eliseina's units, and the investment of millions of leva for upgrading the other. The final goal is to keep only profitable environment-friendly productions.


    Athens, October 18 - A Bulgarian military delegation, led by Defence Minister Dimiter Pavlov, arrived on a three-day official visit to Greece today. Mr Pavlov was received by the President of the Greek Parliament Apostolos Kaklamanis. They discussed the situation in the Balkans and the development of bilateral relations. It was emphasized that there is room for Bulgaria in the European Union and the Euro- Atlantic structures and that Greece will help remove this country from the EU visa blacklist.

    Mr Kaklamanis said that he will be visiting Sofia shortly to return the visit of his Bulgarian counterpart Blagovest Sendov. Mr Pavlov conferred with the Minister of National Defence of Greece Gerassimos Arsenis. At a joint news conference after their talks, the two stressed the fine interaction between the Bulgarian and the Greek army in the joint exercises within the Partnership for Peace initiative and expressed confidence in future closer contacts between the two countries' defence ministries and armed forces.


    NATO Assistant Secretary General for Defence and Planning Policy Antony Craig arrived in Sofia late tonight.

    Mr Craig's visit is in connection with the "Individual Briefing" which is organised tomorrow in Sofia. The "Individual Briefing" is a procedure of providing explanations and interpretations to all states which have shown interest in joining NATO. The individual briefing is a continuation of the general briefing of NATO Secretary General held on September 28, at which all partner states were familiarized with the results from a NATO poll on the union's enlargement.

    Similar individual briefings are currently held with all interested partner states. The delegation, led by Mr Craig, will report the impressions from their visits at a NATO foreign ministers meeting on December 5. According to the preliminary programme, tomorrow Mr Craig and his delegation will meet in succession with the Chairman of the parliamentary committes on national security Nikolai Dobrev and on foreign policy Nikolai Kamov, with President's foreign policy advisor Kamen Velichkov and with Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski. macroeconomic figures for Bulgaria


    All targets of the economic programme of the cabinet of the Bulgarian Socialist Party are being implemented, Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Roumen Gechev said a news conference in Pleven (Northern Bulgaria) last night. The macro-economic indicators seem to be making better progress than the programme itself, Gechev said. I had the opportunity to see it for myself that this economic policy of market economy transition enjoys considerable international support from the European Union (EU) and the world financial institutions, he said. Gechev projected that by the year's end inflation will increase to 34-36% at the most, which is four times lower than last year's figure. "We managed to increase this country's foreign exchange reserves without borrowing money from external sources," Gechev said. From US$ 900 million in 1994, forex reserves now total US$ 1,600 million, which means that they have been increasing by US$ 100 million on a monthly basis, he said. We shall be buying more U.S. dollars by the year's end, which will enable Bulgaria to strictly repay its outstanding debts to its creditors. Payments to this end are guaranteed for 1996 and 1997.

    According to Gechev, this country's foreign exchange market has never been so stable. The same holds good for the trade balance: Bulgaria currently has a trade surplus. Gechev expects that at the end of 1995 exports will outstrip imports by US$ 150 million to US$ 200 million. Bulgaria currently enjoys current account surplus, Gechev said. Unemployment went down to 400,000 people. For the first time since 1990 Bulgaria's industry is growing by at least 2.5%. Gechev projected that by the year's end the real economic growth will top 3%.

    The make-up of the trade balance is changing towards the EU. In early 1996, Bulgaria will be admitted in the World Trade Organization. By mid-1996, this country utilized a mere 40% of its industrial capacity, while now it uses 55-60%, Gechev said.

    Responding to a question about mass privatization, Gechev said that this country's radical approach to it surprised Bulgaria's partners at the World Bank and the EU. The start of the mass privatization now depends on Parliament, he said. "I do not expect any considerable changes in the list of enterprises subject to privatization, Gechev said.

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