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News from Bulgaria / Oct 27 '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] E.P. CHALLENGES BULGARIA'S INCLUSION IN E.U. VISA BLACK LIST

  • [02] PRESIDENT ZHELEV RECEIVES U.S. AMBASSADOR MONTGOMERY

  • [03] PRIME MINISTER ZHAN VIDENOV ADDRESSES THE NATION

  • [04] COUNCIL OF MINISTERS DECISIONS

  • [05] GOVERNMENT TIGHTENS TAX DISCIPLINE

  • [06] PARLIAMENT RATIFIES EBRD FOUNDING TREATY

  • [07] PARLIAMENT RATIFIES BULGARIAN-AZERBAIJANI AIR TRANSPORT

  • [08] PARLIAMENT RATIFIES BULGARIAN-ARMENIAN TREATY

  • [09] BUSINESS PRESS

  • [10] NEW ISSUE OF BULGARIAN ECONOMIC OUTLOOK

  • [11] HILTON HOTEL: GROUND-BREAKING CEREMONY IN SOFIA


  • [01] E.P. CHALLENGES BULGARIA'S INCLUSION IN E.U. VISA BLACK LIST

    Strasbourg, October 26 (BTA exclusive by Danielida Weber) - The European Parliament today challenged the decision of the Council of the European Union under which Bulgarian and Romanian nationals must be in possession of a visa when crossing EU external borders and appealed for its reconsideration.

    At a plenary session in Strasbourg, the MEPs adopted a resolution saying that "with the exception of Bulgaria and Romania, the states of Central and Eastern Europe which have concluded association agreements with the European Union do not appear on the list of states which the Commission has proposed should be subject to a visa requirement." By virtue of their status, EU Associated Countries "must be treated in the same manner, notably as regards visa requirements," the resolution reads. It states that "individuals should normally be able to travel between these states and the European Union without a visa" and that "derogations from these basic principles must be justified and should be valid for the shortest possible period of time."

    Article 4 of the resolution is of greatest importance for Bulgaria as it "calls on the Council and Commission to reconsider the inclusion of Romania and Bulgaria in the list of states subject to a visa requirement." The MEPs urge the EU Council and the European Commission to establish the justifications for setting visa requirements to Bulgarian and Romanian nationals and to decide whether these justifications are well-founded.

    The resolution was carried, 305 - 20 with two abstentions. All amendments prejudicing Bulgaria which were moved during yesterday's debate were voted down.

    Although it is not binding on the European Commission and the Council, a procedural opening is nevertheless opening as from January 1, 1996 to go ahead with reconsideration of the EU visa blacklist.

    "We have reasons to be content any time we receive political and moral support for the case of Bulgaria in connection with its visa treatment by the European Union," said Kamen Velichkov, the President's foreign policy advisor, commenting on the passage of the resolution.

    "We realize that it is a non-binding resolution and the solution to the problem practically depends on the EU Council and the European Commission," Mr Velichkov stated.

    National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov and Nikolai Kamov, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Policy, also issued statements on the same occasion. They expressed the hope that the EU Council and the European Commission would take into consideration the resolution when making a decision on Bulgaria's ultimate removal from the EU visa blacklist.

    The Republic of Bulgaria is pleased by the EP resolution, Radko Vlaikov, Spokesman for the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said. According to him, the resolution provides the basis on which the decision for Bulgaria's removal from the EU visa blacklist may be adopted in the nearest future. On its part Bulgaria will keep on making vigorous efforts to this effect on the relevant level, Vlaikov stated.

    [02] PRESIDENT ZHELEV RECEIVES U.S. AMBASSADOR MONTGOMERY

    Sofia, October 26 (BTA) - Today's meeting between President Zhelyu Zhelev and U.S. Ambassador to Sofia William Montgomery focused on the October 22 declaration signed in New York by the heads of state of Bulgaria, Albania, Macedonia and Turkey on the construction of an East-West transport, telecommunications and power corridor and the commitment of the United States to the project. The initiative for improving the infrastructure of Southeastern Europe stems above all from the national interests of the countries which have declared their interests, but the project certainly enjoys the support of the U.S., Presidential Foreign Policy Advisor Kamen Velichkov said after the meeting. In his view, one proof of this is the February declaration in Washington of the U.S. Administration in which the latter committed itself to provide financial assistance for the implementation of certain projects and to offer concrete help for them. President Zhelev's initiative fits well in all initiatives for the development of the Balkan infrastructure as part of this country's strategy on the Balkans, Velichkov said. "It is a follow-up of the personal efforts of President Zhelev and of the Bulgarian government for several years now," Velichkov said. A concrete fact in this respect is the reference which the New York declaration makes to the commitments and achievements made during the 1994 Crete Trans- European conference of transport ministers and its protocol which states the will on part of four of the interested countries to establish the coordinating centre in Sofia, Velichkov said. In an address on the national media President Zhelev later said that the initiative was praised by Hans van den Broek, European Commissioner in charge of the external relations with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and by UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. "The initiative for the construction of the corridor is open to everybody who would like to join and is not directed against the interests of any Balkan country," the President said in his address. He expressed his conviction that sooner or later Russia and Ukraine will also get interested in the East-West corridor. "Certain attempts to oppose the East-West corridor to the North-South corridor are untenable. Bulgaria has always supported the construction of both corridors as extremely important for the Balkan region. So far the political forces and state institutions of the Republic of Bulgaria have been unanimous on this issue. The governments of the four interested countries signed a special protocol on the establishment of a Coordination bureau for the project in Sofia in April 1994," Zhelev said. According to President Zhelev, if the East-West and North- South corridors intersect on Bulgarian territory this will be the greatest success of the Bulgarian diplomacy particularly considering the country's favourable geographical and geostrategic position. Zhelev appealed to the government and the political forces to work together for Bulgaria's national interests retaining their consensus on the country's Balkan policy priorities.

    [03] PRIME MINISTER ZHAN VIDENOV ADDRESSES THE NATION

    Sofia, October 26 (BTA) - "An event of the magnitude of a real social revolution" is how Prime Minister Zhan Videnov described the mass privatization, due to start in Bulgaria in a few weeks' time, in a special message broadcast on the national media.

    In full conformity with the programme of the Socialist Party and the Government, the wealth will revert to its real makers, working Bulgarians, Mr Videnov said. Divestiture is not a retreat from democratic socialism but a further step towards the country's modernization, in his view.

    "Whatever our political opponents may say, this wealth was created precisely during the last half-century," Mr Videnov said. In his view the Government clearly realizes that it will meet with resistance from "the new and old Bulgarian reaction" but is prepared for this.

    Mr Videnov said that the starting mass privatization "will redistribute property in this country in the interests of the millions of working people," halting economic mismanagement, integrating Bulgaria with the industrialized democracies and laying the foundations of a truly democratic society.

    According to the Prime Minister, the success of privatization will be neither easy nor quick but once achieved will be a success for all citizens of this country. He called on all citizens to unite their efforts with the efforts of the Government "so as to take together the decisive step towards Bulgaria's future."

    [04] COUNCIL OF MINISTERS DECISIONS

    Sofia, October 26 (BTA) - Security offices will be established in further state bodies and organizations, according to a decree which the Government adopted today amending a 1994 Council of Ministers Decree on the operations of the National Security Service for securing the protection of strategic installations and activities and safeguarding state secrets. The sponsor of the new decree, Interior Minister Lyubomir Nachev, argued that classified information must be safeguarded and that new organizations, such as the National Accounting Office, are being set up which do not figure on the existing list.

    The Government dismissed the members of the Board of Directors of Bulgargas for inefficient discharge of their responsibilities. Executive Director Angel Popov kept his seat on the Board.

    The Council of Ministers gave its consent to the formation of a fifty-fifty joint venture between the Neftochim refinery and the Russian enterprise Rossneft. The aggregate capital of the new company will be 50 million leva.

    The Cabinet approved the text of an updated convention between the governments of Bulgaria and Turkey regulating the railway border service at the border station of Kapikule. The Agreement regulating the border service between the Bulgarian and the Turkish railways was signed in Ankara in 1971 in connection with the launch of a direct rail service from Svilengrad to Edirne via Kapikule. The updated version of the agreement was discussed by the Mixed Bulgarian- Turkish Transport Commission at its last two sessions.

    The Cabinet approved the position of the Bulgarian delegation for negotiations with Turkey on determination of the border line in the mouth of the River Rezovska and delimitation of the Firth of Rezovska and the sea areas in the Black Sea.

    On a motion by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Kiril Tsochev, the Cabinet approved the extension for 1996 of the system of double licensing of the export to the EU of Bulgarian ferrous metals and articles thereof coming under the terms of the Treaty Establishing the European Coal and Steel Community. The effective agreement on the matter expires at the end of 1995.

    The Cabinet members approved a draft application by Bulgaria to join the General Transit System and authorized the Chief of the General Customs Directorate to sign the application. The General Transit System is applied by the EU and EFTA countries and is intended to optimize the procedure of cargo traffic and facilitate commercial exchanges between the participating countries.

    The Government gave its consent to the conduct of elections on the premises of the Bulgarian embassies in Poland on November 5, Algeria on November 16, and Russia on December 17.

    The Government empowered Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation to sign an agreement on the establishment of a free trade zone with the Czech and the Slovak republics.

    The Council of Ministers approved the Bulgarian position for the negotiations at the subcommittee on agriculture in Brussels, which are part of the trade negotiations with the EU on association.

    The Cabinet decided to tighten controls on explosives and ammunition. Specific measures will be outlined on a motion by the Minister of the Interior by November 25, 1995.

    A government decision canceled hunting parties before and during the October 29 local elections. The Government obligated the Forestry Committee and the Union of Hunters and Anglers to postpone the hunting parties scheduled for that period, and the Bulgarian Sports Union to suspend shooting competition and training.

    The Council of Ministers appointed Agriculture and Food- Processing Minister Vassil Chichibaba to hold negotiations and sign a veterinary and plant health convention between the governments of Bulgaria and the Czech Republic.

    [05] GOVERNMENT TIGHTENS TAX DISCIPLINE

    Sofia, October 26 (BTA) - Natural and juristic persons, conducting some kind of business will have to declare all their bank accounts and specify their numbers under a Government's decree adopted today. The decree introduces measures for further tightening of tax discipline and is intended to improve the conditions for forceful collection of receivables from tax evaders. So far the tax administration authorities did not have at their disposal sufficient information about the bank accounts of debtors whose creditors have filed suits for enforced collection of their receivables. The decree's regulations do not involve disclosing of bank secrecy, because the natural or juristic persons will not be asked to declare the size of their assets or their bank operations, but just how many accounts they have and to specify their numbers, Finance Minister Dimiter Kostov said. A fine of between 5,000 and 10,000 leva for natural persons and 100,000- 200,000 leva for juristic persons will be imposed on violators. The size of the fine is in compliance with the Administrative Misdemeanours and Penalties Act, which is soon to be updated, the Finance Minister said.

    [06] PARLIAMENT RATIFIES EBRD FOUNDING TREATY

    Sofia, October 26 (BTA) - Parliament today passed an Act ratifying the founding treaty of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development signed by Bulgaria in Paris on May 29, 1990. The treaty was approved by the Bulgarian government on August 30, 1990, and entered into force on March 18, 1991. Under the Bulgarian Constitution of July 1991, all international treaties must be ratified by Parliament to become part of national law. As such they have primacy over contravening national legislation. Late in 1992 the then government of the Union of Democratic Forces submitted to Parliament an EBRD Status, Privileges and Immunities Bill. The Act of Parliament adopted today clarifies these points with regard to the Bank's operations on Bulgarian territory. In an opinion on the ratification of the founding treaty the Parliamentary Economic Committee said it had repeatedly affirmed that Bulgaria would benefit from participation in and cooperation with the EBRD.

    [07] PARLIAMENT RATIFIES BULGARIAN-AZERBAIJANI AIR TRANSPORT

    Sofia, October 26 (BTA) - Parliament today ratified an intergovernmental agreement on international air transport between Bulgaria and Azerbaijan. The agreement was signed in Sofia on June 29, 1995. It is of the so called "Chicago type" framework bilateral accords that regulate at intergovernmental level the relations in opening, servicing and maintenance of international air lines. Bulgaria and Azerbaijan are signatories to the 1944 Chicago Convention on international civil air transport. The agreement is an element of bilateral economic relations between the two countries and expresses their shared desire for business cooperation in transport, read the motives with which the cabinet introduced the agreement for ratification by Parliament.

    [08] PARLIAMENT RATIFIES BULGARIAN-ARMENIAN TREATY

    Sofia, October 26 (BTA) - Parliament today passed an Act ratifying a Treaty for Friendly Relations and Cooperation between Bulgaria and Armenia, signed in Sofia on April 10, 1995. The Treaty expresses the two countries' views, shared position and desire for cooperation on vital global and regional issues, such as international peace and security and conventional and nuclear arms cuts. Under the Treaty, the underlying principles of Bulgarian-Armenian relations are mutual benefit and full equality. The Treaty lays down the main lines of cooperation in trade, the economy, finance, education, culture, science, transport, agriculture, military-technical cooperation and environmental protection. The reasoning of the Bulgarian government behind the Bill enacted by Parliament said the Treaty with Armenia confirms Bulgaria's pragmatic approach to the establishment of a new type of relations with the New Independent States on the territory of the former Soviet Union.

    [09] BUSINESS PRESS

    Sofia, October 26 (BTA) - Bulgarian foreign debt bonds went up yesterday following the prices of US treasury bills in New York, "24 Chassa" writes quoting Reuters. Front-loaded interest reduction bonds were in demand at 27.62 to 27.75 cents (0.5 cents up the Tuesday price) and were available at 28.25 to 28.37 cents.

    The markup of flour prices again pushed up bread prices, "Standart News" writes. Flour gained 2 leva per kilo over the past few days, according to the Union of Private Bread Makers. Bread prices will pushed further up by the rising dollar as some of the bread inputs are imported, bread makers say.

    Two companies have filed offers for repair of the Bulgarian section of the cross-Danube Dounav Most, writes "Pari" citing the Transport Ministry. The winner of a tender for a contract will be named on November 15. Experts reportedly say the repairs will cost some USD 3 million.

    [10] NEW ISSUE OF BULGARIAN ECONOMIC OUTLOOK

    Sofia, October 26 (BTA) - The new issue of BTA's Bulgarian Economic Outlook (BEO) runs an opinion by Roumen Gechev, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development, on the implementation of the Government's economic programme. It carries reports on the newest amendments to foreign trade regulations, the upcoming eighth meeting of commercial banks in this country, and the state and development of the chemical industry over the last few years. BEO continues the publication of the full text of the Act on Securities, Stock Exchanges and Investment Trusts, and the list of insurers in Bulgaria.

    [11] HILTON HOTEL: GROUND-BREAKING CEREMONY IN SOFIA

    Sofia, October 26 (BTA) - The construction of Sofia's five-star Hilton Hotel, the 169th of the chain, was launched with a ground- breaking ceremony today. It was attended by Sofia Mayor Alexander Yanchoulev; representatives of the investor, Feal International of France; Hilton Vice President Jean Paul Herzog; and French Ambassador Marcel Tremeau. The Greater Sofia Council made available a one-hectare site in central Sofia. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which provided consultancy on the architectural design, will extend a 15 million dollar loan, said officials of Deluxe Hotels, a joint venture of Sofia City Council and French firms. Feal International is going to borrow 10 million dollars from French banks. The hotel will cost between 50 and 60 million dollars to build. Feal International will hold a 60 per cent stake and Sofia City Council will own the remaining 40 per cent. The building was designed by Spanish architect Ricardo Bofil and a team of Bulgarian architects under Lozanov. The drafts were examined by a supreme architectural council which issued an official permit. The project includes two parking lots for 180 cars, a casino, a swimming pool and a roof-top atrium-style restaurant. The hotel, a rival to Sofia's Sheraton, will be completed in 1997. The original deadline was the spring of 1996 but work was delayed by lack of funds, said Peter Stankov, Chief of the Sofia City Council. The new hotel can be classified as medium-sized by Hilton standards.

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