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News from Bulgaria, Oct 30 '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. RESOLUTION ON BULGARIA'S REMOVAL FROM THE EU VISA BLACKLIST

  • [02] MASS PRIVATIZATION

  • [03] KOZLODOUI N-PLANT

  • [04] KOZLODOUI CONFERENCE TO DEBATE PROSPECTS TO NUCLEAR

  • [05] FEDERICO MAYOR COMMENDS BULGARIA'S ROLE IN UNESCO

  • [06] BULGARIAN-CHINESE CONSULTATIONS

  • [07] FORTHCOMING VISITS OF FOREIGN MINISTER PIRINSKI

  • [08] BULGARIA - MACEDONIA: EXPANSION OF TRANSPORT LINKS

  • [09] BUSSINES NEWS

  • [10] WEEKLY ROUND-UP OF EVENTS

  • [11] PARLIAMENTARY PARTY LEADERS ON LOCAL ELECTIONS

  • [12] PROJECTIONS GIVE SOCIALISTS VICTORY IN LOCAL ELECTIONS


  • [01] E.P. RESOLUTION ON BULGARIA'S REMOVAL FROM THE EU VISA BLACKLIST

    Sofia, October 27 (BTA)

    Today's press leads on yesterday's resolution of the European Parliament to remove Bulgaria and Romania from the European Union (EU) negative list. "The resolution was carried 305 - 20, with only two abstentions," the press says. "The list of the roll-call vote is expected to be publicized today," "24 Chassa" says.

    "Bulgaria may enjoy easing of the visa requirements after January 1996," "Douma", the daily of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), says.

    "Demokratsiya", the daily of the opposition Union of Democratic Forces (UDF), runs a headline saying that the UDF's active position played an important role for the vote.

    "Standart News" quotes former UDF leader and former Bulgarian prime minister Filip Dimitrov as saying that "now, the cabinet and the red majority should prove that Bulgaria really deserves the European recognition".

    "At last, the European sun shone on Bulgaria's streets as well," says a signed commentary in "Continent". Its author asks how it is possible for so many MEPs of all political stripes to manifest a positive attitude towards Bulgaria yesterday when other European representatives earlier listed it as a high-risk country.

    A commentary in "Standart News" says that the resolutions of the European Parliament "are not binding on anyone, nor do they make any impression on the decision-makers".

    An editorial in "24 Chassa" says that the Bulgarian diplomats should intensify their efforts as the final decision rests with the European Commission and the EU Council.

    The MEPs' resolution "strengthened our belief that, in addition to the relentless insurance officials of Lloyd's, there are other clever and respectable people in the West," says a commentary in "Troud".

    However, Willy de Clercq's draft resolution on the postwar reconstruction of former Yugoslavia does not include Bulgaria, "Standart News" says.

    [02] MASS PRIVATIZATION

    The papers give prominence to a message by Prime Minister Zhan Videnov on the start of mass privatization.

    The press quotes Centre for Mass Privatization Director Kalin Mitrev who rejects press allegations that he is involved with an international financial pyramid scheme.

    "The real start of mass privatization depends exclusively on the term within which the amendments to the privatization act will be adopted," Mitrev says quoted by "Continent".

    [03] KOZLODOUI N-PLANT

    Kozlodoui is safe; the Bulgarians can be absolutely sure in it, Russian Atomic Energy Minister Viktor Mihailov says, interviewed by "Douma".

    "I can assure all Bulgarians, I can guarantee them that nuclear power plants like the one in Kozlodoui operate in a satisfactory way and that we have registered no irregularities which violate the requirements for the nuclear power plants which operate with second and third generation power units," Mihailov says.

    [04] KOZLODOUI CONFERENCE TO DEBATE PROSPECTS TO NUCLEAR

    Sofia, October 27 (BTA) - The condition and prospects of nuclear power generation will be discussed at the annual conference of the Bulgarian Nuclear Society. The forum will be held in late November in Kozlodoui on the Danube, home of Bulgaria's nuclear power plant. The participants will consider the state of the metal casing of the plant's reactor number one.

    Several reports will focus on opportunities to upgrade the design of a second, incomplete N-plant in Belene on the Danube. According to a team of specialized lecturers, its completion would be economically feasible, if 30% of the facility is sold to a foreign investor.

    The initiative committee of the conference has invited anti- nuclear organizations to attend the forum.

    The first reactor of the Kozlodoui nuclear power plant can be operated through seven to eight more fuel cycles, Tihomir Apostolov of the Nuclear Research Institute told a press conference here today. He was quoting studies by three institutions. Britain operates reactors with less solid casings dating to 1956, according to Apostolov. Taking metal samples from the reactor would shorten its life by at least three years; it is an unnecessary experiment, Apostolov said.

    [05] FEDERICO MAYOR COMMENDS BULGARIA'S ROLE IN UNESCO

    Sofia, October 27 (BTA) - The Bulgarian Minister of Education, Science and Technology Ilcho Dimitrov this morning addressed the plenary meeting of the 28th Session of the UNESCO General Assembly, the Foreign Ministry announced today.

    The Bulgarian Minister was received by UNESCO Secretary General Federico Mayor. The latter commended Bulgaria's active role in UNESCO, and the contribution of its cultural, educational and scientific institutions and scientists in the development and implementation of UNESCO programmes. He emphasized his longtime relations with Bulgarian scientific circles and friendly feelings for Bulgaria.

    Dimitrov handed Mayor a message from Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev on the 50th anniversary of UNESCO.

    Mayor committed full support for Bulgarian initiatives in UNESCO and support for the Bulgarian national film library and the centre for young scientists in Sozopol.

    Dimitrov also met with the Slovenian Minister of Science and Technology Rado Bohinc. They discussed steps for the expansion of bilateral cooperation in science and technology, the signing of the agreement, and Bulgaria's participation in the European conference on information society in Ljubljana in 1996.

    [06] BULGARIAN-CHINESE CONSULTATIONS

    Sofia, October 27 (BTA) - Bulgarian and Chinese foreign ministry officials reviewed the state of bilateral relations and discussed international issues of shared interest in Beijing during October 26-27 consultations, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said.

    The sides are satisfied with the state and prospects of the bilateral political relations. The leader of the Bulgarian delegation, Deputy Foreign Minister Konstantin Glavanakov, stressed that Bulgaria considers China one of its major partners and maintains close friendly ties with it. He expressed thanks for the invitations to President Zhelyu Zhelev, Parliamentary Chairman Blagovest Sendov, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov and Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski to visit Beijing.

    Glavanakov familiarized the Chinese officials with Bulgaria's efforts to become integrated into the European structures, stressing that there is a broad consensus among the political forces on the main aspects of this foreign policy priority.

    Glavanakov set forth Bulgaria's views on the crisis in the former Yugoslavia and the great economic damage to Bulgaria resulting from strict sanctions enforcement.

    China's Deputy Foreign Minister Zhang Deguan stressed that China is set on developing lasting relations with Bulgaria and that there are no political problems to impede this process. He highly praised Bulgaria's constructive balanced policy in the Balkans and expressed support for this country's bid for compensations for its losses due to sanctions enforcement against Yugoslavia.

    Zhang Deguan elaborated on China's policy to Taiwan and thanked Bulgaria for its consistent stance on the issue.

    The sides agreed that there were many untapped opportunities for economic cooperation and that direct contacts between Bulgarian and Chinese companies should be encouraged and intensified.

    They established that the start of the implementation of the 1995-97 programme for cooperation in culture, science and education was successful. Specific steps for the expansion of this cooperation were recommended.

    Glavanakov was received by State Councillor and Secretary General of the State Council Luo Gan, who praised the progress of political dialogue between China and Bulgaria and stressed the need for a planned effort to expand economic cooperation.

    [07] FORTHCOMING VISITS OF FOREIGN MINISTER PIRINSKI

    Sofia, October 27 (BTA) - A meeting of EU foreign ministers will be held on October 30 and 31. On its second day the meeting will be attended by the foreign ministers of EU associate member states from Central and Eastern Europe. Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski will head the Bulgarian delegation. The ministers are expected to discuss cooperation between the European Union and the associated states under the PHARE programme, the problems of former Yugoslavia as well as the aspects of the peace process in the Middle East, Foreign Ministry's Spokesman Radko Vlaikov told a regular news briefing today. He described as unprecedented the fact that the discussions on the PHARE will be directly broadcast by the TV companies. This is the second participation of Minister Pirinski in the meeting of the foreign ministers of EU and associated states after the meeting on April 10, 1995.

    In Strasbourg on November 9 the Bulgarian Foreign Minister will take part in the 97th session of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. On the agenda are the accession of Macedonia and Ukraine to the Council of Europe, the further expansion of the CE, the role of the United States and Japan as observers in the organisation, as well as improvement of the mechanisms of observation on the ways in which the member states observe the standards, adopted by the Council of Europe.

    On November 10-11 Minister Pirinski will take part in the international forum "Europe-Forum-Berlin'95" where he will read a report on "Major Forms of Pan-European Cooperation".

    On November 13-14 in Madrid the Bulgarian Foreign Minister will take part in the regular autumn session of WEU's foreign and defence ministers, where he will be joined by Defence Minister Dimiter Pavlov. The discussions are expected to focus on European security. The ministers are also expected to approve the results of the process of joint reflection in the new conditions of European security which was completed in 1994. On the agenda will be also a discussion on the key items to be included in the White Paper on European security, as well as the process of WEU's further development, Mr Vlaikov also said.

    [08] BULGARIA - MACEDONIA: EXPANSION OF TRANSPORT LINKS

    Sofia, October 27 (BTA) - Bulgarian and Macedonian Transport Ministers Stamen Stamenov and Dimiter Buzlevski held a news conference last night to voice their satisfaction with the results of their talks yesterday. They assessed bilateral cooperation in this sphere as very successful and voiced hope that by the end of next month the two countries will sign several accords.

    The two Transport Ministers believe there are opportunities for promoting the ties in the railway and road transport, and in civil aviation.

    The sides agreed on joint action to continue the construction of a Sofia-Skopje railway link. It will become clear within a month when the construction would be completed. The Macedonian Transport Minister said a total of 40 million dollars were spent for the nine months of construction of the Macedonian section of the railway link. Three tunnels are now ready and work continues for the construction of the longest bridge along the route.

    The Bulgarian Transport Minister stressed Bulgaria's desire to develop a long-term cooperation with Macedonia and launch projects of primary importance for the economic infrastructure of the two countries.

    Macedonia has a long-stanging interest for using the services of Port of Bourgas (on the Black Sea) and is therefore interested in the speedy completion of the upgrading of this Port, said Mr Buzlevski.

    The sides also agreed to promote cooperation in air transport. Two Bulgarian air carriers, Balkan Airlines and Hemus Air, will service lines to Skopje and Ohrid. Balkan Airlines is planning to introduce preferential fares for its transcontinental routes for Macedonian passengers.

    The two countries' Transport Ministers were unanimous that the declaration signed in New York by state leaders of Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Turkey does not encroach on the interests of other countries.

    [09] BUSSINES NEWS

    Experts of the US Corps for Civil Democracy set up to assist countries of Eastern Europe, met 20 CEOs of private companies of Veliko Turnovo, Northern Bulgaria, writes "Douma". They are studying the opportunities for providing expert assistance in the management and planning of production.

    A contract for manufacture of nursery beds has been signed by a furniture making enterprise of Shoumen (Northeastern Bulgaria) and the Jennie Corporation of the US. The American partners like Bulgarian furniture and ask for unlimited supplies, according to the enterprise CEO Tsanko Pantev. The Shoumen facility is also furnishing the residential units which the Bulgarian company Glavbolgarstory is building in Russia and Ukraine. Since the start of the year more than 1,000 flats have been furnished, and another 1,000 will be outfitted until the end of December.

    Northern Telecom of Canada has ordered 500 sq m of printed circuit boards to the Rousse-based Systems and Electronic Equipment Plant, said the Director of the local branch of the Credit Bank Dimiter Kalchev. The plant's Manager, Engr. Yankov, has already signed a contract with the Istanbul office of the Canadian company which is doing business with all Eastern Europe. There are prospects for another contract for 3,000 sq m of PC boards for 1996, which will utilize the plant's capacity nearly 80 per cent.

    [10] WEEKLY ROUND-UP OF EVENTS

    Sofia, October 29 (BTA)

    NEW YORK, October 22-26 - Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev attended the 50th jubilee session of the United Nations General Assembly.

    NEW YORK, October 23-25 - President Zhelyu Zhelev and the heads of state of Albania, Macedonia and Turkey signed a declaration on the establishment of an East-West transport, telecommunications and energy corridor.

    SOFIA, October 23-25 - Sofia hosted the Third Ministerial Conference "Environment for Europe."

    SOFIA, October 24 - Greek Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias paid a one-day unofficial visit here. He conferred with Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski and Prime Minister Zhan Videnov.

    SOFIA, October 24-25 - Swedish Minister of European Union Affairs, Foreign Trade and Nordic Cooperation Mats Hellstroem paid a visit to Bulgaria. He was received by Prime Minister Zhan Videnov and Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski.

    [11] PARLIAMENTARY PARTY LEADERS ON LOCAL ELECTIONS

    Sofia, October 30 (BTA) - Shortly before midnight, without waiting for the release of any accurate returns, leaders of the main political forces met the press to make a political assessment of yesterday's local government elections. Representatives of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) expressed satisfaction with the voter turnout, whereas opposition leaders were unhappy with what they saw as rather light polling.

    Pollsters' estimates put voter participation at 55 to 65 per cent, and the Central Electoral Commission set the figure at approximately 60 per cent.

    The leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and Prime Minister Zhan Videnov said the elections were "successfully held." In his view, they were well organized, orderly, and fully democratic. "The Democratic Left coalition (BSP, the Alexander Stamboliiski Bulgarian Agrarian National Union and the Ecoglasnost Political Club) accepts the vote and assumes that it has won a majority in almost all municipal councils," Mr Videnov said. In his opinion, this will bring to an end the crisis in local govermment.

    The Government will cooperate with the new mayors regardless of the political force they represent on the basis of equal standards in conformity with Bulgarian legislation, Prime Minister Videnov said.

    "There were certain irregularities but they cannot cast a shadow on the legitimacy of the elections which were more or less successful," the leader of the main opposition Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) Ivan Kostov told reporters. He made a special point of the low voter turnout, about 55 per cent. "We see this above all as a sign of apathy and skepticism," he said, adding that in his view the reluctant voter participation is also the mark which the electorate gives to the performance of the left-wing government.

    Mr Kostov said UDF was reassured by the nationwide results. "I have estimates according to which the BSP vote was smaller than in the parliamentary elections at the end of 1994, whereas the UDF polled a higher percentage of the vote," the Union's leader also said.

    Mr Kostov noted that the showing of the UDF mayoral candidate for Sofia Stefan Sofiyanski "surpassed the UDF's expectations." Everything will be decided in the second round of voting, the UDF leader observed, hoping that the UDF will then receive extra support from other opposition political forces as well. Asked about the split of opposition votes between UDF and the Popular Union, Mr Kostov said the UDF feared an even worse fragmentation of the opposition vote.

    The co-chairmen of the Popular Union Anastasia Moser and Stefan Savov described their coalition's performance in the elections as a success. "It is a pity that a relatively small percentage of the eligible voters cast their ballots," Mrs Moser said, noting, however, that the Popular Union performed better now than in the 1994 general elections.

    "We are indeed a force to be reckoned with by all political formations," said Mr Savov, commenting on the projection vote tabulations. He confirmed that the Popular Union candidates will shift their electoral support to the Union of Democratic Forces in the places where they have polled less votes than the UDF. The co- chairman of the Popular Union recalled that it regards the BSP as its only political opponent. Mr Savov estimates that of the 24 per cent projected for the UDF on proportional lists nationwide, the Popular Union practically takes credit for 3 - 4 per cent.

    In a special statement for the media later in the night, the Popular Union's mayoral candidate for Sofia, Mrs Reneta Indjova, said she will not run in the second ballot but did not call on her supporters to vote for any other candidate.

    "Our general political assessment is that the elections proceeded normally, with heavier polling by our electorate," the leader of the ethnic Turks' Movement for Rights (MRF) and Freedoms Ahmed Dogan told a news conference. According to MRF Deputy Chairman Yunal Lyutfi, the Movement has grounds for optimism judging from the results released so far. He announced that the MRF has already secured two mayoralties, in Djebel (South Central Bulgaria) and Rouen (Southeastern Bulgaria), both in areas populated by compact masses of ethnic Turks. Mr Dogan noted that the MRF is also leading in Kurdjali (Southern Bulgaria).

    "These elections showed that we are the third political force in Bulgaria because the Popular Union is running in a coalition with the UDF and the MRF," commented the leader of the Bulgarian Business Block (BBB) George Ganchev. He stressed that the BBB is "the only independent proud political force" in this country.

    The political force leaders declined to answer questions unrelated to the elections. Mr Videnov, for instance, would not say whether he would reshuffle his Cabinet after the elections.

    [12] PROJECTIONS GIVE SOCIALISTS VICTORY IN LOCAL ELECTIONS

    Sofia, October 30 (BTA) - The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and its two coalition partners: the Alexander Stamboliiski Bulgarian National Agrarian Union and the Ecoglasnost Political Club, have won the local elections by the same margin as the December 1994 general elections, according to projection vote tabulations released by opinion research organizations this evening.

    The BSP-led coalition garnered some 42 per cent of the votes for municipal councillors on proportional lists, according to projections based on a 60 per cent sample counted by the Bulgarian Association for Fair Elections and Civil Rights and the MBMD Institute of Marketing and Public Opinion Research. The BSP-led coalition polled 43.50 per cent of the vote in the last parliamentary elections.

    The United Democratic Opposition, a campaign alliance of the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF, the largest opposition formation) with several extra-parliamentary parties, collected about 24 - 25 per cent. The UDF received 24.24 per cent in December 1994.

    The second largest opposition entity represented in Parliament, Popular Union (a coalition of Stefan Savov's Democrats and Anastasia Moser's Agrarians), polled between 7 and 9 per cent now, slightly better than the 6.51 per cent in the general elections at the end of last year.

    The ethnic Turks' Movement for Rights and Freedoms performed on a par with its general elections results: a little over 5 per cent of the vote.

    The Bulgarian Business Block received a projected 3 per cent- plus of the votes for municipality councillors. In December 1994 it garnered 4.73 per cent in the general elections.

    According to a Gallup poll, there will be a second ballot in Sofia as none of the 17 mayoral candidates managed to collect more than 50 per cent of the vote.

    The Sofia Municipality Electoral Commission said that United Democratic Opposition mayoral candidate Stefan Sofiyanski polled 43.8 per cent of the vote, ahead of Democratic Left-backed Ventsislav Yossifov (29.9 per cent) and the Popular Union's Reneta Indjova (19.8). These early returns are based on a count by 2:15 a.m. this morning.

    Mrs Indjova said she was retiring from the race but did not ask her supporters to vote for any of her rivals in the first round of voting.

    According to pollsters' projections, BSP candidates won the mayoralties in Vratsa, Vidin, Veliko Turnovo, Sliven, Razgrad, Silistra, Turgovishte and Yambol.

    In all likelihood, there will be a run-off election in Varna, where UDF's Hristo Kirchev takes the lead on 43 per cent, trailed by incumbent Regional Governor Kiril Yordanov, who is running as an independent.

    The Bulgarian Association for Fair Elections and Civil Rights does not think there will be a second ballot in Plovdiv because the topmost contender for the mayor's office, Spas Gurnenski of UDF, polled some 53 per cent of the vote.

    In eleven mixed-population municipalities, voters elected an MRF mayor, Movement leaders told reporters, quoting information from its local branches.

    The situation in Kurdjali (South Central Bulgaria, with a compact ethnic Turkish population) is unclear. BSP leaders told a news conference that their coalition's mayoral candidate topped the voting on an estimated 44 per cent, arguing that the vote distribution in the town was not ethnic-based.

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