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News from Bulgaria / Oct 20, 95

From: bulgaria@access1.digex.net (Embassy of Bulgaria)

Bulgarian Telegraph Agency Directory

CONTENTS

  • [01] COUNCIL OF MINISTERS DECISIONS

  • [02] GOVERNMENT AMENDS FOREIGN TRADE RULES

  • [03] PRESIDENT ZHELEV, PM VIDENOV RECEIVE RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE SERVICE CHIEF

  • [04] PRESIDENT ZHELEV MEETS MAYORS OF MOUNTAIN AREAS

  • [05] NATO ASSISTANT SECRETARY GENERAL CRAGG ENDS VISIT

  • [06] BULGARIA, ROMANIA: AGREEMENT NEEDED FOR NEW BRIDGE

  • [07] GOVERNMENT NOT OFFERED COMPENSATIONS

  • [08] SLOVENIAN FOREIGN MINISTER TALER ENDS VISIT TO BULGARIA

  • [09] BULGARIAN, JAPANESE BUSINESSMEN DISCUSS PROSPRECTS FOR TRADE AND ECONOMIC TIES

  • [10] NATIONAL ASSEMBLY RATIFIES PROTOCOL

  • [11] PARLIAMENT RATIFIES COOPERATION AGREEMENT

  • [12] FORMAL MEETING MARKS U.N. 50TH ANNIVERSARY

  • [13] THURSDAY NEWS BRIEFS


  • [01] COUNCIL OF MINISTERS DECISIONS

    The cabinet today authorized Deputy Transport Minister Luchezar Lalov to sign in Brussels documents on Bulgaria's participation in the extending of Trans-European corridor No9 from Helsinki via St. Petersburg, Bucharest, Rousse and Dimitrovgrad to Istanbul branching off to Alexandroupolis via the Makaza Pass.

    The cabinet gave its consent for accommodating children of Serb Krajina and Bosilegrad in the children village of Kachoulka near Sliven in late 1995. The village can accommodate two groups of 50 children. There are now 38 children of Serb Krajina staying there, said cabinet Spokesman Nikola Baltov.

    The cabinet heard a report by Finance Minister Dimiter Kostov on Bulgaria's participation in the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington. The Finance Minister briefed the cabinet on the measures the Bulgarian government is expected to take so that the two international financial institutions continue their negotiations with Bulgaria in November. He stressed the need for stepping up the work on a bankruptcy law, on mechanisms for insurance of deposits and on the structural adjustment of state-run enterprises.

    Today's sitting of the government approved an initialed agreement with Iran on avoidance of double taxation. It adopted a bill proposing that Parliament ratify an agreement on double taxation avoidance with Armenia signed during the Bulgarian visit of the Armenian President.

    [02] GOVERNMENT AMENDS FOREIGN TRADE RULES

    The Council of Ministers passed a decree suspending until December 31, 1995, import duties on installations, equipment and materials used for purification of drinking water, reduction of pollutants in industrial waste water, and reclamation of polluted land. Vaccines and serums for human and veterinary medicine, corneal transplant tissue and AIDS and hepatitis tests will also be imported duty-free. The Government extended a list of imports from the European Union, subject to reduced duties. Duty will not be charged on up to 440-tonne shipments of vegetable oil, and up to 10-tonne shipments of vodka. The duty on margarine (up to 1,315 tonne, excluding liquid) will be slashed to 7.5%, and on homogenized baby foods (up to 12 tonne) to 28%.

    [03] PRESIDENT ZHELEV, PM VIDENOV RECEIVE RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE SERVICE CHIEF

    President Zhelyu Zhelev today received the Russian Intelligence Service Chief, Academician Evgeny Primakov, who is on a short visit here. Zhelev and Primakov discussed the prospects for Bulgarian- Russian cooperation in the combating of organized crime, illegal drug trafficking and the arms trade, the Presidential Foreign Policy Adviser Kamen Velichkov said after the meeting. Zhelev raised the issue of applying a more rigorous regime in the transiting of Bulgarian territory. He reaffirmed that Bulgaria would continue fighting crime, Velichkov said without giving details.

    Later today Prime Minister Zhan Videnov also received Academician Primakov. The sides discussed aspects of the interaction between the two countries' intelligence services for the promotion of bilateral and multilateral cooperation and European integration, as well as for the combating of contemporary security threats, such as drug trafficking, terrorism and emigration, the government press office said. The prospects for the peace process in the Balkans and the stabilization of the region were also discussed. Academician Primakov stressed that Russia supported Bulgaria's membership in neo- COCOM on the grounds that it is active in the combating of international crime. The meeting was attended by Russian Ambassador Aleksandr Avdeyev and the National Intelligence Service Director, General Brigo Asparouhov.

    [04] PRESIDENT ZHELEV MEETS MAYORS OF MOUNTAIN AREAS

    President Zhelyu Zhelev today met mayors, leaders of the Association of Rhodopi Municipalities, MPs and representatives of the executive of mountain, highland and borderland areas. The meeting focused on the problems facing these regions. Dr. Zhelev believes that a specific regional policy and relevant laws should be adopted for the economic recovery of such areas. The parliamentary Committee on Development of Mountain, Highland and Borderland Areas pledged that a bill on the development of mountain areas will be introduced at Parliament by early 1996. The Committee Chairman said the bill is likely to pass by mid-1996. The President reportedly voiced a readiness to help achieve better coordination of activity of the different powers so as to quickly solve the problems facing mountain regions. The meeting reportedly decided that a national meeting be held by year's end with representatives of business circles to consider ways of promoting the development of mountain areas.

    [05] NATO ASSISTANT SECRETARY GENERAL CRAGG ENDS VISIT

    Bulgaria is much interested in and very well informed on the studies NATO is conducting for its expansion, Anthony Cragg, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Defence and Planning Policy, told a news conference this evening. Cragg arrived on a visit here last evening. The members of the delegation led by him were unanimous that Bulgaria is committed to the democratic process and seeks to further develop its relations with the European structures in all their forms. The task of the visit was to hold Individual Briefing: a procedure for offering explanations and interpretations to countries interested in joining NATO. In the sphere of armament, the new member states will be expected to observe the principle of technical compatibility which is not identical with standardization, Mr Cragg said in answer to a question. The deployment of nuclear weapons and military contingent on the territory of prospective NATO members is a matter of negotiations with NATO applicants and not a requirement on the part of this organization, stressed Anthony Cragg. The results of the expansion studies made to date will be discussed at a December meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers in Brussels, Cragg also said. Earlier today the guest and the experts accompanying him met Deputy Foreign Minister Irina Bokova, the chairpersons of the parliamentary committee of national security and foreign policy, Nikolai Dobrev and Nikolai Kamov, and Presidential Foreign Policy Adviser Kamen Velichkov. The talks focused on NATO's political and military membership requirements.

    [06] BULGARIA, ROMANIA: AGREEMENT NEEDED FOR NEW BRIDGE

    The European Commission called on the governments of Romania and Bulgaria to reach an agreement on the location of the new bridge over the Danube River by November 1. Should they fail to do so, Alexander Gibb & Sons of Britain will suspend its study financed by the PHARE Programme and the entire project will be jeopardized. This was announced today by a European Commission delegation in Bucharest, quoted by different sources. Monika Wolf Maties, member of the European Commission, said the PHARE Programme extends some ECU 35 million a year for joint infrastructure projects in Eastern Europe. Bulgarian-Romanian talks have reached a deadlock. Romania insists that the new bridge link Turnu Magurele and Nikopol, while Bulgaria wants it to link Lom and Rastu, or Vidin and Calafat. The European Commission also said it would provide financial support for the construction of the bridge on condition that other international institutions contribute to the financing of the project.

    [07] GOVERNMENT NOT OFFERED COMPENSATIONS

    The Government so far has not received an official offer of compensations from the European Union, if it decommissions Unit One of the Kozlodoui nuclear power plant, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Kiril Tsochev said today at the Government Press Office. Last week the Cabinet restarted the plant's oldest reactor following a lengthy overhaul, despite EU and G-7 safety concerns. In a demarche to the Government, G-7 nations urged a shutdown of the reactor, offering Bulgaria financial aid. Deputy Prime Minister Tsochev today requested a meeting with EU Ambassador here Thomas O'Sullivan. "I am ready for constructive dialogue, and will again invite EU experts for a discussion in Sofia, as the latter are not totally familiar with our studies," Tsochev added. He begins meetings with G-7 ambassadors on Monday. The delivery of 440 megawatts of electricity in compensation is in principle technically feasible, but the electricity would have to pass through Ukraine and Romania and Tsochev doubted it would reach Bulgaria. Bulgaria would accept an offer of coal, as its only option for coal import so far is Indonesia, he said. He ruled out any monetary compensations, as failing to solve the energy problem. It is necessary to work out the technical details of an electricity delivery, or a direct shipment of coal to the Varna (on the Black Sea) thermal power plant, Tsochev said. He described as "not serious" claims the Bulgarian and European power grids were incompatible

    [08] SLOVENIAN FOREIGN MINISTER TALER ENDS VISIT TO BULGARIA

    Slovenian Foreign Minister Zoran Taler today ended his two-day official visit to Bulgaria. Today the guest had talks with Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov and MPs of the parliamentary committees of foreign policy and national security. A protocol on cooperation was signed between the two countries' Foreign Ministries. Speeding up the development of bilateral relations, the situation in the region and opportunities for participation of the two countries in the post-conflict recovery of Bosnia were focal issues during Mr Taler's talks in Sofia. At the end of his visit Foreign Minister Taler and his Bulgarian counterpart Georgi Pirinski voiced satisfaction with the results of the visit. Foreign Minister Pirinski said this visit was very important for Bulgarian Slovenian relations. "Slovenia is a partner of priority for Bulgaria in Southeastern Europe, just as Bulgaria is one of Slovenia's important partners," Foreign Minister Pirinski stressed. The sides were unanimous that the two countries are factors of stability in one of the most volatile regions. They also shared identical views on the ways to promote stability in the other parts of the region. The sides agreed to step up the negotiations on the setting up of a free trade zone. Meetings to that end will be held some time soon at expert level. With the emergence of this zone Slovenia could help Bulgaria in its efforts to join the Central European Free Trade Area. Answering a journalist's question Georgi Pirinski said he saw no rivalry between the two countries for participation in the restoration of the region after the end of the Yugoconflict. Pirinski also said the sides found that opportunities exist now for activating the transport link by sea, for working together for the large-scale development of transport and telecommunications links by land and by sea, and exchanging information and ideas for the recovery and further development of the region. Bulgaria could also rely on Slovenia for its accession to the Central European Initiative. At their meeting today, Zoran Taler and President Zhelev stressed the significance of the upcoming meeting of the two countries' Presidents in New York. The sides also agreed on the exchange of visits at different levels: presidential, prime minister's and foreign minister's. The Bulgarian Foreign Minister is expected to visit Slovenia next year.

    [09] BULGARIAN, JAPANESE BUSINESSMEN DISCUSS PROSPRECTS FOR TRADE AND ECONOMIC TIES

    Some 30 representatives of big Japanese companies are visiting Sofia to take part in the 14th session of the Bulgarian-Japanese Economic Committee which opened here today. In the two days of the forum, Bulgarian and Japanese business people will discuss the opportunities for expanding the bilateral trade and economic ties. The Japanese delegation is headed by the President of Marubeni Corporation Kazuo Haruna, who is also President of the Japanese- Bulgarian Economic Committee. The session is co-organized by the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Japanese Organization for Trade with Russia and Central and Eastern Europe (ROTOBO). The forum was opened today by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade and Foreign Economic Relations Kiril Tsochev, who is also Chairman of the Bulgarian-Japanese Economic Committee. After the opening ceremony, Tsochev delivered the principal report on the Bulgarian side, "State and Prospects of Bulgaria's Economy", which outlined the achievements of the first nine months since the incumbent cabinet took office as well as the trends for the growth of the economy. Tsochev stressed that the tendency towards economic revival, which began in mid-1994, continues into 1995 as well. The private sector is growing and now accounts for about a quarter of total output in terms of relative share. No tangible changes in the structure of the Bulgarian economy occurred during the first nine months of 1995. Rising production in real terms was registered in six branches of the economy: the chemical industry, oil- processing industry, ferrous metallurgy, power generation, china industry and the pulp and paper industry. In the past nine months, gross domestic product rose by 2.4% as compared to the same period in 1994 at comparable prices. Inflation is going down. Tsochev stressed the need for speeding up of the structural reform and privatization, as well as for embarking on a policy aimed at attracting more foreign investments. "Foreign investments, especially from Japan, are of primary importance for the Bulgarian economy, the more so after taking into account that in the past few years the country was deprived of external financing, and has a limited potential of resources," Tsochev concluded. Kazuo Haruna, who delivered the principal report on the Japanese side, outlined three factors which in his view could boost the development of the Bulgarian Japanese economic ties: encouraging exports and export-oriented industries in the Bulgarian economy, offering of traditional Bulgarian commodities on the Japanese markets and aggressive presentation of Bulgaria's advantages and of concrete projects before potential investors in Japan. "In my opinion, one of Bulgaria's advantages is its geographic location and the possibilities for cooperation for exports to third countries," Haruna said. He stressed the steep drop in bilateral trade in the past few years: from US$ 209.5 million in 1989, the commercial exchange dropped to US$ 43.9 million in 1994, according to data presented by the Japanese side. Presidential Economic Advisor Boyan Slavenkov read an address to participants in the forum on behalf of President Zhelyu Zhelev. Japanese Ambassador to Sofia Yoshihiro Jibiki also addressed the session. On the Japanese side, the forum is attended by representatives of Kobe Steel Ltd., the Export-Import Bank of Japan, the Bank of Tokyo, Mitsubishi Corporation, and others. Bulgaria is represented by officials of state institutions, commercial banks and companies of different branches of the economy, as for instance Pharmachim, the Metalsnab Holding Group, Balkancar, Himko-Vratsa, Bulgartabac, Polimeri-Devnya, and others as well. Tomorrow, participants in the session will hold business meetings. It is expected that at the end of the forum, the two sides will sign a Joint Protocol on its work. Tomorrow Haruna will meet President Zhelev, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov and Industry Minister Kiril Vouchev.

    [10] NATIONAL ASSEMBLY RATIFIES PROTOCOL

    The National Assdembly ratified today the Protocol between Bulgaria and Germany for the construction of qualification centres and improvement of qualification in Bulgaria in the framework of a German-Bulgarian project for reducing migration. The Protocol was signed between the governments of Bulgaria and Germany on November 12, 1994 in Bonn. The Protocol envisages the construction of vocational qualification centres for Bulgarian citizens returning from Germany and for persons registered as unemployed in Bulgaria. The centres will be situated in Pazardjik (Southern Bulgaria), Stara Zagora (Southern Bulgaria) and Pleven (Northern Bulgaria). Under the Protocol, the German Government will provide some 30 million Deutschemarks in grant aid for the purpose. Bulgaria commits itself to assist in relieving from taxes, duties and charges the equipment which will be imported for the needs of the qualification centres.

    [11] PARLIAMENT RATIFIES COOPERATION AGREEMENT

    The National Assembly ratified today the Agreement for Friendly Relations and Cooperation between the Republic of Bulgaria and the Republic of Azerbaijan. The agreement was signed on June 29, 1995 in Sofia.

    [12] FORMAL MEETING MARKS U.N. 50TH ANNIVERSARY

    A formal meeting in Sofia followed by a concert today marked the 50th anniversary of the United Nations. Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski delivered an address. The meeting was attended by Parliamentary Chairman Blagovest Sendov, MPs, cabinet ministers and representatives of the diplomatic missions to Sofia. Bulgaria has been a constructive member of the UN for forty years and its new Constitution is in full harmony with the basic principles enshrined in the UN Charter, Pirinski said. He emphasized that Bulgaria had been a factor of stability in the Balkans in the past few years and had been highly praised for it. "The material expression of this assessment is also important to us and we expect Bulgaria to be included in the plan for post-war reconstruction of the former Yugoslavia," Pirinski also said. UNDP deputy manager for Europe Anton Pudernik read a congratulatory message from the UN Secretary General. The world- famous women's choir, La Mystere des Voix Bulgares, gave a concert.

    [13] THURSDAY NEWS BRIEFS

    The Prince of Monaco Rainier, the owner of Wrigling Circus Keneth Feldt, owner of large part of Las Vegas, and other celebrities have been invited to celebrations of the centenary of Bulgarian circus art. The centenary is due in the spring of 1997 but the celebrations will take place in December 1996, journalists were told by Georgi Kounov, Director General of the Bulgarian Circuses Chief Directorate. Bulgarian troops who have been abroad for the past 10 or 15 years will show the best of Bulgarian circus at the first jubilee performance which is part of the anniversary events. The programme of the second performance includes only foreign performers.

    29 doctors from across Bulgaria today were decorated with the Bulgarian Medic honorary badge. The award was instituted for the Day of Bulgarian Medics, October 19. Today doctors across Bulgaria celebrated for the first time the Day of St. John of Rila whom they consider as their patron. Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev send an address on the occasion. Deputy Minister of Health Care Prof. Petko Ouzounov said Parliament by year's end will pass a law on health insurance expected to solve many of the pressing problems facing the health service in Bulgaria.

    Officials of the Sofia-based Korean Embassy today donated seven computers to the Bulgarian Ministry of Education. A donation to this ministry was also made by the Lebanese Embassy here.

    An international scientific conference on "Text Linguistics" opened today at the SS. Cyril and Methodius University of Veliko Turnovo. In the course of two days the forum will hear 40 reports by participants of Germany, Russia, Serbia, Ukraine, France and Bulgaria. The conference was organized with the assistance of the French Embassy in Bulgaria.

    Bulgarian Deputy Foreign Minister Irina Bokova met in Brussels today Guenter Burghardt, Director General on foreign policy matters at the First General Directorate of the European Commission, said the Foreign Ministry. The two discussed the implementation of the strategy for Bulgaria's accession to the European Union, the opportunities for this country's participation in the post-conflict recovery of former Yugoslavia, the need for taking steps to strike Bulgaria off the EU visa blacklist, the safety of the Kozlodui Nuclear Power Plant and the implementation of operation PHARE. Irina Bokova also met the chairperson of the World Jewish Congress.

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