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News from Bulgaria / Oct 24, 95

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

Bulgarian Telegraph Agency Directory

EMBASY OF BULGARIA - WASHINGTON D.C.

BTA - BULGARIAN TELEGRAPH AGENCY

BULLETIN OF NEWS FROM BULGARIA


CONTENTS

  • [01] STATE LEADERS OF ALBANIA, BULGARIA, MACEDONIA, TURKEY

  • [02] GOVERNMENT EUROPEAN INTEGRATION COMMITTEE MEETS

  • [03] THIRD MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE "ENVIRONMENT FOR EUROPE" BULGARIAN P.M. VIDENOV OPENS SOFIA ECO-FORUM

  • [04] THIRD MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE "ENVIRONMENT FOR EUROPE" PHARE PROGRAMME TO GRANT $60 MILLION FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION IN EASTERN EUROPE

  • [05] THIRD MINISTERIAL MEETING "ENVIRONMENT FOR EUROPE" BULGARIA, SWITZERLAND SWAP DEBT FOR ENVIRONMENT

  • [06] WORLD BANK EXTENDS $10 MILLION FOR BULGARIAN ECO-PROJECT

  • [07] FOREIGN MINISTER PIRINSKI STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF UN

  • [08] EBRD TO PROMOTE COOPERATION WITH BULGARIA


  • [01] STATE LEADERS OF ALBANIA, BULGARIA, MACEDONIA, TURKEY

    New York, October 23 - Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Turkey signed a declaration on the development of regional and trans- regional transport, the energy industry and telecoms in New York today, said the Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) correspondent in New York. The document was signed by Presidents Zhelyu Zhelev of Bulgaria, Sali Berisha of Albania, Suleyman Demirel of Turkey and Macedonian Parliament speaker Stoyan Andov who signed the declaration on behalf of the Macedonian President. The four participated in the events marking the 50th anniversary of the United Nations. The four Balkan leaders acknowledged the significance of the East-West transport corridor from Duras in Albania, to Bourgas in Bulgaria, for the development of links between Europe, the Mediterranean, the Middle East and the Black Sea basin by land and by sea, said this BNR correspondent. The four leaders believe that building the transport and telecommunications corridor can help overcome the adverse effects of the UN sanctions against former Yugoslavia. The specific projects could be launched within four years and are expected to take some USD 1,000 million. The dispatch from New York further said there is investor interest in the US, Italy and other EU countries, as well as European organizations and international institutions. It emerged at a news conference the four leaders gave jointly, that the document is open for the other Balkan countries to join, and does not conflict the North-East regional development, said the BNR correspondent. Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev today had meetings with the Heads of State and Government of Argentina, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, Iceland and Slovenia, with the Australian Governor General, the leader of B'nai B'rith and the special envoy of the Saudi Arabian King to the UN General Assembly, Prince Ben Abdul Aziz, said the President's Press Office.

    [02] GOVERNMENT EUROPEAN INTEGRATION COMMITTEE MEETS

    The Governmental Committee on European Integration today held a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, the Government Press Office announced. The agenda included environmental issues. The Ministry of the Environment presented reports on constitutional procedures linked to Bulgaria's accession to the Basel convention on control of the transboundary movement of hazardous waste, and the Biological Diversity Convention. It recommended Parliament to ratify them. The Committee discussed a draft amendment to the rules of origin in Bulgaria's Europe Agreement to be discussed on the expert level, the Press Office said. It discussed measures to be taken by Government institutions for Bulgaria's admission into the Australian Group and the successor of the COCOM. The Committee discussed steps for Bulgaria's removal from the Schengen and European Union visa blacklists. It heard a report about the preparation of Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski's participation in the meeting of foreign ministers of the EU nations and the associated countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

    [03] THIRD MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE "ENVIRONMENT FOR EUROPE" BULGARIAN P.M. VIDENOV OPENS SOFIA ECO-FORUM

    The Third Ministerial Conference "Environment for Europe" opened here this morning. The conference will continue for three days. Participating in the forum are 630 delegates of 54 European countries, the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. Among them are over 70 Ministers of Environment, Finances and Industry. There are also representatives of 40 international organizations, including the United Nations, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Europe, secretariats on international conventions. The five plenary sittings of the forum will focus on the environmental action programmes and their financing, the protection of biodiversity and the connection between business industry and environment. The conference will end on October 25 with the adoption of a ministerial declaration. The Conference was opened by Bulgarian Prime Minister Zhan Videnov. "The Bulgarian government takes heed of the concerns and recommendation of European states about technologies that might prove to be environment-hazardous. What is more, it is doing everything possible to use Bulgaria's energy and industrial capacities with the full responsibility for the people of Bulgaria, of the neighbouring countries and the whole Europe," the Prime Minister said. He further said that Bulgaria has the necessary legislative and institutional base for implementing a modern environmental policy. The Bulgarian government is aware of the responsibility it has for protection of environment and is trying to make available the funds necessary for this. The speaker further stressed the need for interaction between the civil society and the state for solving environmental problems, and hailed the contribution of non- governmental organizations. Environmental NGOs are holding a conference in Sofia parallel with the ministerial one. Addressing the conference, Spanish Minister for Public Work, Transport and the Environment Jose Porrell voiced a hope that in 1996 environment will become a priority for Europe. The Environment Minister of the country holding the presidency of the European Union, said the major task at this stage is to improve the mechanisms for and boost investments in environmental protection, and improve the performance of competent institutions in the countries in transition of Central and Eastern Europe. The Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Europe, Yves Berthelot read an address on behalf of UN Secretary General Bourtos Boutros-Ghali. The first two plenary sessions held today discussed the implementation of the environmental action programme and possibilities for financing environmental projects. At a news conference this afternoon a group of 20 environmental NGO representatives, who opened a parallel meeting here yesterday, said they would not take part in the drafting of the ministerial declaration which will be one of the final documents of the Conference.

    Later today the Ecoglasnost National Movement held a protest march in downtown Sofia. The demonstrators were addressed the leader of the Movement Edvin Sougarev MP of the Union of Democratic Forces who said the same criminal economic interests stood behind the Rila water intake system, the Kozlodoui N-plant and the Belene N-plant (both on the Danube). He said generating Unit One of the Kozlodoui N-plant was not safe because it was built without a protective casing. The demonstrators were also addressed by Elena Ivanovska of the Macedonian Environmental Committee who read a declaration against the starting of Generating Unit One of the Kozlodoui N-plant adopted at the environmental NGO forum in Sofia yesterday. According to National Radio, during the demonstration Antony Froggat of Greenpeace International called for urgently stopping Generating Unit One of the Kozlodoui N-plant.

    [04] THIRD MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE "ENVIRONMENT FOR EUROPE" PHARE PROGRAMME TO GRANT $60 MILLION FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION IN EASTERN EUROPE

    Sixty million dollars (ECU 50 million) will be allocated to environmental projects in Eastern Europe under the PHARE Programme, Tom Garvey, Head of the European Commission Delegation to the Third Ministerial Conference "Environment for Europe", told a press conference today.

    Twenty million dollars (ECU 15 million) will be used for expert assistance and start-up capital for new environmental investment schemes, Garvey said. According to him, $32 million to $45 million (25 million to 30 million ECU) will support environmental investment in the private sector, under another project, Green Shares. The same fund is expected to share out nearly 125 million ECU by 1998, with substantial support from international institutions.

    The absence from the conference of Ritt Bjerregaard, European Commissioner for Environment and Nuclear Safety, is in no way a manifestation of a special attitude toward Bulgaria, Garvey said in response to a question. Bjerregaard today should attend a European Commission meeting on French nuclear tests in the Pacific, he said.

    The problem of Bulgaria's nuclear plant in Kozlodoui should be discussed on the expert level, Garvey said.

    [05] THIRD MINISTERIAL MEETING "ENVIRONMENT FOR EUROPE" BULGARIA, SWITZERLAND SWAP DEBT FOR ENVIRONMENT

    Bulgaria today signed its first debt-for-environment swap deal, with Switzerland. The ceremony took place after a round table on the same topic in the framework of the Third Ministerial Meeting "Environment for Europe". Bulgaria is the first country in Central and Eastern Europe to sign such an agreement. The agreement was signed by the Bulgarian Minister of the Environment Georgi Georgiev and Swiss Federal Councillor Ruth Dreifuss. According to it, the Swiss government would forgive 20% of Bulgaria's debt, on the understanding that the Bulgarian Government will invest the same amount in environmental clean-up and investment schemes. The sums, eight tranches of 300 million leva annually, will go into a National Trust Fund. The World Bank will extend $200,000 for training the Fund's personnel. The bank helped draft the agreement, said World Bank Vice-President Rachel Lomax.

    [06] WORLD BANK EXTENDS $10 MILLION FOR BULGARIAN ECO-PROJECT

    The World Bank has always been willing to work with the Bulgarian Government in the area of ecology and the environment. Its interest is serious, and it will be very glad to be able to cooperate in that field in the future, Rachel Lomax, Vice-President and Chief of Staff of the World Bank, told a press conference today . She is participating in the Third Ministerial Meeting "Environment for Europe" here. The World Bank is preparing two environmental projects involving Bulgaria, Lomax said. One is a scheme for granting $10 million in cost-free aid for the elimination of emissions destructive to the ozone layer. This project has been developed and presented to the World Bank Board of Directors, and stands an excellent chance of implementation, Lomax said. It would be the first of its kind in a country of Eastern Europe. The other project is still in the making, Lomax said. It outlines priority areas of investment, such as the manufacture of unleaded petrol, the elimination of pollution from non-ferrous metal plants, etc.

    Within the scheme, negotiation is underway with the Bulgarian Government on World Bank lending to the oil refineries Plama in Pleven (Northern Bulgaria) and Neftochim in Bourgas (on the Black Sea), Lomax said. The World Bank only supports projects that are environmentally as well as economically beneficial to a nation. The prospects for raising funding and returns look brighter in the case of Bourgas, according to Lomax. The World Bank, jointly with the Government, decided to grant a loan to Neftochim, she said.

    World Bank Vice-President Rachel Lomax today met with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development Roumen Gechev, the Council of Ministers Press Office reported. Gechev said economic indicators were pointing to financial stability, a lowering of the rate of inflation, a steady lev, a growing national reserve, and a trade surplus. The Government is now working on the draft national budget for 1996; it is vitally important for it that international institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund press ahead with cooperation with Bulgaria, Gechev said. He stressed a number of conditions set by the World Bank and the IMF have been met, and the Cabinet will continue its cooperation with international financial institutions, while prioritizing national financial interests.

    [07] FOREIGN MINISTER PIRINSKI STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF UN

    "Without the UN we could not have hoped for the conflict in the former Yugoslavia to end soon, even if it was not at its best on this occasion," Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski said on National TV tonight in a TV show on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the UN. Foreign Minister Pirinski cited a number of examples illustrating the role and the importance of this world organization today and at the same time stressed the need for reform. Bulgaria has a clear foreign political course oriented towards united Europe in a broader Euroatlantic framework. This course has found expression in an active role in the stabilization of the region of Southeastern Europe and in assisting its active development and integration into Europe, Pirinski said in response to a question on Bulgaria's work in the UN.

    [08] EBRD TO PROMOTE COOPERATION WITH BULGARIA

    Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development Roumen Gechev received today Mr. Jacques de Larosiere, President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). During the talks Mr. Jacques de Larosiere said the EBRD intends to extend cooperation with Bulgaria not only by assisting infrastructure projects but also by taking part in the privatization process in this country. The EBRD management is showing certain interest in the Government's programme for changes in the banking sector and in the prospects of the development of the United Bulgarian Bank in particular as well as in the Foreign Investment Agency, the EBRD President said, according to e government press release. Deputy Prime Minister Roumen Gechev acquainted the guests with the privatization programme recently adopted by the Government and pointed to the advantages of the Bulgarian model of denationalization combining the mechanisms of mass and cash privatization.

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