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News from Bulgaria / Oct 23, 95

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

Bulgarian Telegraph Agency Directory

EMBASSY OF THE REPUBLIC OF BULGARIA - WASHINGTON D.C.

BTA - BULGARIAN TELEGRAPH AGENCY


CONTENTS

  • [01] PRESIDENT ZHELEV - INTERVIEW

  • [02] PRESIDENT ZHELEV'S VISIT TO NEW YORK

  • [03] CABINET DECISIONS


  • [01] PRESIDENT ZHELEV - INTERVIEW

    It will be sad if the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) wins the local elections as well, President Zhelyu Zhelev said, interviewed by the trade unions' "Troud" daily.

    Local elections are very important for this country's democratic development, Zhelev said further, and reminded that Bulgaria still lacks some of the necessary legislation for local self government.

    In Zhelev's view, these will be the first elections to show a certain degree of unity of action among the various parties of the democratic opposition, which, unfortunately, is not the case everywhere or with equal success. Zhelev is not worried by the presence of two opposition centres, but expressed his concern about some statements made by leaders of the opposition, which, in his view, demonstrate the "inability, shortsightedness or the colour-blindness" to distinguish their political opponent from their political ally or partner.

    If the BSP gains a local elections victory, the consequences will be grave, Zhelev says. This, in his view, spells a slowdown for the reforms or reforms that will benefit a small circle of people connected with the BSP leadership. The land reform has already been torpedoed; instead of mass, cash or a management buy-out, the privatization is likely to become a nomenklatura one, Zhelev says. The President also spoke about foreign policy: Schengen, the EU negative list, from which Bulgaria proved unable to get out, Neo- COCOM, which this country could not join, and other topics. The biggest problem of the ruling Socialist Party, however, is its inability to crack down on crime, Zhelev said.

    [02] PRESIDENT ZHELEV'S VISIT TO NEW YORK

    Sofia, October 22 (BTA)

    "Zhelev Renames Avenue in New York," reads a front-page headline in the private daily "24 Chassa". The daily gives prominence to the visit of the Bulgarian President to the United States and his participation in the U.N.'s session on the 50th anniversary of the organisation. According to the report, today Mr Zhelev is expected to inaugurate a street in the prestigious Manhattan quarter in New York, which will bear the name of Bulgaria for a couple of days. "Seventh western 83rd street near the well-known Central Park will be named Bulgaria avenue, in honour of Bulgaria's contribution for saving the lives of 50,000 jews in World War II," the daily says. The same paper writes about the ceremony in the "Rodet Salom" synagogue where the Bulgarian head of state was granted a nearly one-meter tall candlestick made of crystal, the Jewish symbol of freedom. According to "24 Chassa", Zhelyu Zhelev will read an address from the Bulgarian jewish organisations to the participants in the ceremony, organised by the American Committee of Jews. The daily writes that, starting from today and until Tuesday, when he is going to address the U.N. session, President Zhelev will have meetings with about 20 heads of state.

    [03] CABINET DECISIONS

    Sofia, October 20 (BTA)

    Parliament today reiterated Bulgaria's loyalty to the United Nations Charter and the aims and principles of the UN. This was stated in a declaration on the 50th anniversary of the UN, adopted unanimously by the MPs, in the presence of Prime Minister Zhan Videnov and cabinet ministers. The declaration says Bulgaria is ready to help reach an agreement on implementing reforms which would improve the efficiency of the world body. "The end of the Cold War opened up new prospects for strengthening the UN role in international affairs. At the same time, it left the world body faced with new challenges, calling for concerted action on a regional and global scale. Parliament supports efforts for turning the UN into a focus of multilateral cooperation in today's interdependent world, into an effective instrument for establishing and maintaining a new world order based on justice, understanding and respect of international law," the declaration says. It stresses the UN contribution for maintaining world peace and security. UN efforts to contain confrontation, curb the arms race and promote disarmament, advocate and protect human rights and freedoms, accomplish decolonization, establish new standards of economic and social development, protect the environment, and develop international law, are of invaluable importance, the document reads.

    In an address before the declaration was put to the vote, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov stressed that Bulgaria is implementing the UN Security Council embargo against Yugoslavia in spite of the difficulties. "We insist on lifting the Yugoembargo in parallel with the progress of the peace process, compensating embargo-related losses and ensuring Bulgaria's participation in the postwar development of the region," said the Prime Minister.

    Sofia, October 21 / BTA/ Former NATO secretary general Willy Claes will probably not visit Bulgaria, "24 Chassa" says. According to the report, the leader of the Bulgarian Atlantic Club Solomon Passi invited Mr Claes to visit Bulgaria on October 24 and 25 in order to encourage the discussions on Bulgaria's membership in NATO. Yesterday Mr Passi sent another letter to repeat his invitation to Willy Claes.

    Sofia, October 20 (BTA) - Fifty-two per cent of the Bulgarian people believe that privatization is necessary in one form or another, 34 per cent are hesitating and 14 per cent say that privatization is not necessary, according to a representative for the country opinion poll conducted by the Sova-5 company for social and marketing studies between September 27 and October 3. The opinion that privatization is necessary prevails and this is the first symptom that mass denationalization will not start in a hostile public climate although people are extremely cautious about this issue, sociologists say. Denationalization has the largest number of supporters among those occupied in the private sector - 74 per cent and is least popular among the pensioners (48 per cent hesitate and 19 per cent are against), followed by the unemployed (48 per cent are hesitant and 17 per cent are against) and people with primary and lower education (1/5 of both groups reject the necessity of privatization). According to sociologists, people from these groups are in principle most hostile to any social change.

    Sofia, October 20 (BTA) - At a governmental level the Bulgarian-Japanese relations have been progressing very well, however the commercial exchange between the two states has dropped about four times since 1990. This was the conclusion from today's meeting between President Dr Zhelyu Zhelev and Mr Kazao Haruna, Director of the Japanese company Marobeni. Mr Haruna is in Bulgaria to attend the next session of the Bulgarian-Japanese economic committee.

    Sofia, October 20 (BTA) - 500,000 people have left Bulgaria to live abroad since 1986 and instead of the expected 9 million, Bulgaria's population at the end of 1994 was 8.5 million. Birth-rate has also considerably dropped from 112.000 births in 1989 to 80.000 in 1994 and the downward trend is likely to persist into 1995. The figures were officially made public today at a seminar on the "Demographic Situation in Bulgaria: Problems and Prospects", held under the auspices of National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov and organised by U.N.'s Development Programme (UNDP) and the Union of Bulgarian Scientists.

    Sofia, October 20 (BTA) - Since 1990 the bodies of the Interior Ministry have caught 300,000 perpetrators of crimes of whom 20,000 were sentenced, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov said today answering an MP's question. A total of 9,000 are now in prison, one-third of whom are without sentence. During question-time at Parliament today, Zhan Videnov was asked if and to what extent the cabinet is acquainted with the activity of private power structures operating in this country as security and insurance companies, and what measures it takes to combat their unlawful methods of work. The Socialist cabinet is most often attacked for what the opposition believes to be inadequate and weak measures for curbing crime. Zhan Videnov said today that the result of the performance of the Interior Ministry to date is halting the upward trend in street and economic crime. According to him, it is unreasonable to expect more with the current inaction of law enforcement bodies: lawcourts, the Prosecutor's Office and investigative bodies. There are organized criminal structures in Bulgaria operating as insurance and security companies, said the Prime Minister. He believes they have mushroomed as a result of the collapse of statehood, the liquidation of controlling bodies, the re- politization of the judiciary, the legislative vacuum, the inaction of the judiciary and the executive, and "the promotion of anarchy by political leaders, MPs, governments and presidents". Capital accumulated illegally was legalized and "small criminal groups grew into well- organized power structures," said Videnov.

    A major priority in the cabinet's tenure programme is building a barrier before organized economic and street crime, stabilizing public order, protecting the interests of citizens, strengthening the Interior Ministry system and specialized services, and adopting relevant bills, the Prime Minister also said. Before such laws take effect, the cabinet and Interior Ministry are taking tactical measures for control on insurance contracts signed by state-run enterprises, for limiting the scale of gambling and introducing licensing requirements in the gambling business, for stiffening the customs and border control, cracking down on racketeers coming from licensed or unlicensed security firms, curtailing the right for use of weapons, Videnov also said.

    Vassil Mihailov, MP of the opposition Union of Democratic Forces, said that Bulgaria's efficient participation in the UN presupposes accession to NATO. Mihailov has been urging Parliament to vote a draft decision on Bulgaria's entry into NATO at the opening of nearly all sittings. A proposal to that effect came today, to be rejected by the Socialists-dominated Parliament.

    Sofia, October 20 (BTA) - Bulgaria and the French community in Belgium today signed a programme for cooperation in culture and education. It envisages the establishment of a bank for grants and short-term exchange between Belgium's French community and Bulgarian experts and students. According to Jean Pierre Lagasse, director of the external relations administration of the French community, the bank will promote bilateral exchange in the field of science, education and culture. The sides will encourage cooperation, direct contacts and joint projects between universities, research centres and scientific institutions. The sides will work for full convergence of bilateral and multilateral cooperation in European Union, Council of Europe and UNESCO structures. The French community in Belgium will give Bulgarian libraries a chance to buy books at 10 per cent of the price. It will organize French courses at Sofia University. The programme, covering the period from 1996 to 1998, envisions another 15 joint projects and the exchange of two ethnographic exhibitions.

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