Sofia, November 18 (BTA) - In an interview broadcast by the National Television this evening, Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev said he will run for another presidential mandate. Dr. Zhelev was elected to the President's office in Bulgaria's first direct presidential elections in January 1992. He was given a five-year term and the next presidential elections are due in early 1997. "I am concerned over the development of things here in Bulgaria, by the sluggish reforms and the political and social tension underlying it, the signs of isolation of this country," Dr. Zhelev said adding all this has made him take the firm decision to run for a second term. The President would not answer whose political party's nominee he will be. "This is not very important for me. I will rely on all democratic forces in Bulgaria," said the President. In the 1992 elections he was nominated by the opposition Union of Democratic Forces with whose leadership he later came at odds.
Greece is the only Balkan country that is member of the European Union, NATO and the Western European Union and it is most natural for us to ask its support for our efforts to join NATO and the EU, just as we have asked the support of Turkish President Demirel during his visit here, President Zhelev said adding this matter will be brought to the fore by all means. The talks are also likely to touch upon the infrastructure projects in the Balkans that became particularly topical recently. "I believe this is a broad field for work and it is to the benefit of all Balkan countries. I hope there will be no contradictions," Dr. Zhelev said. Asked to make an assessment of the present state of bilateral relations, Dr. Zhelev said they could be at a much higher level. He said new Bulgarian-Greek check points that are vital for the development of the border regions could have opened a long time ago. "I hope this visit, as well as the visit here by Greek Prime Minister Papandreou will give an impetus, a new momentum for the development of bilateral relations and will push them up from this point that does not satisfy us," Dr. Zhelev said in conclusion.
As soon as the power unit is completed, the Bulgarian power grid will increase its capacity from 14,000 mW to that of Europe, i.e. 100,000, 200,000 or 300,000 mW.
A Bulgarian delegation to Moscow this week discussed with Russian Atomic Energy Minister Viktor Mihailov issues related to the construction of the Belene nuclear power plant and the reconstruction of the power units of the Kozlodoui N-plant. The two sides will resume their talks on Monday, after the arrival here of a group of Russian nuclear power experts and designers.
The Belene N-plant will not be different form the one designed ten years ago, Roussinov said. The investments made so far, however, will be fully utilized. The construction of the new power unit will US$ 800,000 - 1,000,000 of the investment made so far, Roussinov said.
The construction of the Belene N-plant was suspended in 1990 due to pressure from environmental organizations and the people living in the area of the plant.
Bulgaria will strive to become the linking part between, on the one hand, the power grids of European countries, and those of Russia and Ukraine, on the other, Roussinov said.
Sofia, November 18 (BTA) - Bulgarian National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov today returned from Paris where he participated in a jubilee session of UNESCO. The session was dominated by tolerance, Blagovest Sendov told journalists upon his arrival at the Sofia Airport. Sendov said in 1996-97 some USD 400,000 are expected in UNESCO financial assistance for Bulgarian science and culture. The money will go for financing specific projects. A regional center for training of research workers will be set up in Sozopol, on the Black Sea, and a cellular membranes center in Sofia. UNESCO will make available another USD 100,000 for the implementation of a comprehensive programme for the Black Sea developed by Bulgarian scientists. Financing will also be available for projects for early warning in cases of earthquakes in the Carpatho-Balkan region, a Bulgarian-Macedonian project for using underground waters, a study of the brain drain process in Bulgaria and two mathematical projects. In Paris Blagovest Sendov met his French counterpart Philippe Seguin. The two discussed Bulgarian-French cooperation. Sendov invited the French Parliament chairman to visit Bulgaria next year.
Sofia, November 17 (BTA) - Ukrainian delegation, led by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Hennadii Udovenko, arrives on a two-day official visit on Sunday. One of the main purposes of the visit is to strengthen bilateral economic contacts. On the delegation are Transport Minister Orest Klympush and deputy ministers of trade, foreign economic relations, industry and finances. On Monday the two delegations are expected to sign an intergovernmental agreement on the joint exploitation of the Varna-Ilichovsk railway and ferry line (on the Black Sea), a protocol on commodity exchange in 1995-1996, agreement on cooperation between the two countries' trade ministries and an agreement for avoidance of double taxation. An agreement for trade and economic cooperation is also being drafted. The Hungarian Foreign Minister will be received by his Bulgarian counterpart Georgi Pirinski, President Zhelyu Zhelev, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov and National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov. "We expect the visit of Hennadii Udovenko proves useful and beneficial," Bulgarian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Radko Vlaikov told journalists. The possibilities for further enlargement of economic cooperation between Bulgaria and Ukraine, the condition and future prospects for bilateral relations and a number of international issues will be high on the agenda of the forthcoming talks.
Sofia, November 19 (BTA) - Ukrainian Foreign Minister Hennadii Udovenko arrived on a two-day official visit in Sofia this morning. "There has been an active dialogue between the two countries' leaders over the recent years. Our task is to give a new impetus for the development of Bulgarian-Ukrainian relations," Foreign Minister Udovenko said upon his arrival in Sofia. "Our ties have deep historical roots," he said adding that Christianity and the Cyrillic alphabet were brought to Ukraine from Bulgaria. Udovenko stressed that neither before nor now have open problems existed between the two countries, and the two nations share most warm feelings. "I am confident that the upcoming talks will be useful for both countries," said Bulgarian Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski. The guest is accompanied by the Ukrainian minister of transport, the deputy ministers of trade, foreign economic relations, industry and finances. On Monday the Ukrainian delegation will have talks at the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry. Minister Udovenko is expected to be received by President Zhelyu Zhelev, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov and National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov. The talks in Sofia are expected to stress trade and business ties between the two countries and opportunities for their promotion. The sides are expected to sign an intergovernmental agreement on joint operation of the Varna-Ilichovsk railway and ferry line (on the Black Sea), a protocol on commercial exchange in 1995-1996, agreement on cooperation between the two countries' trade ministries and an agreement on avoidance of double taxation. A bilateral agreement on mutual promotion and protection of investment and a number of economic and trade accords are already in effect. Bulgarian exports to Ukraine include machines and equipment, chemical products, products of animal and plant origin. Ukraine imports in Bulgaria electricity, coal, mineral products and fuels. The 1994 bilateral commercial exchange amounted to USD 304 million and unofficial figures set it at USD 92 million for the first half of 1995. The sides are also expected to discuss the present state of and prospects for Bulgarian-Ukranian ties, and exchange views on a number of international issues. Ethnic Bulgarians in Ukraine will also be on the agenda. Bulgaria was among the countries that first recognized the sovereignty of Ukraine in 1991 and diplomatic ties at embassy level were established between the two countries in December 1991. In October 1992 Bulgaria and Ukraine signed a Treaty on Friendship and Cooperation during an official visit in Sofia by the then Ukrainian president, Leonid Kravchuk.
Sofia, November 17 (BTA) - Prime Minister Zhan Videnov today received Mr. Jean Matteoli, President of the French Council for Economic and Social Affairs, who is visiting Bulgaria to take part in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) seminar on "The Role of Trans-European Infrastructure For Stability and Cooperation in the Black Sea Region".
The meeting between the two officials focused on the key role which infrastructure has in laying the groundwork for the European integration processes as well as on the two sides' willingness for effective cooperation in this respect.
Building of the infrastructure is the keystone of every economic revival, Mr. Matteoli said, sharing his experience from the postwar restoration of France.
The sides shared the view that Bulgaria and France can and should exchange expertise, information and personnel in the field of economic and state policy.
As a country with mixed economy which has a developed public sector, our expertise can be of great help to you; we can also learn from you, Mr. Matteoli said, adding that France can provide concrete cooperation and assistance as regards both the infrastructure construction and the law of concession.
Videnov hailed the proposals and said that Bulgaria may become a future center of communications, transport and energy projects. Sofia, November 17 (BTA) - The three-day international seminar on "The Role of Trans-European Infrastructures for the Stability and Cooperation in the Black Sea Region" ended here today. It was attended by delegations from 45 states, representatives of 17 international organisations, including the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the UN's Economic Commission for Europe, representatives of the business circles and private entrepreneurs. The concluding document of the forum stresses the general recognition that the development of the infrastructure contributes for the strengthening of security in the region and has a direct effect on regional cooperation, economic development and prosperity. Cooperation in the development of infrastructure between countries of the region and the international community was viewed as a key element in ensuring economic integration and policy convergence. The participants were unanimous in recognizing that a more active approach needs to be taken by the countries of the region and the international community in resolving the pressing infrastructure problems that have evolved in South Eastern Europe and the Black Sea Region.
"Specific measures should be elaborated to overcome the consequences of the disruption of traditional transport and communication links with Central and Western Europe," reads the final paper of the seminar. Special emphasis in the discussions was put on the four corridors approved by the Pan-European Transport Conference in 1994, that pass through the Black Sea Region. A number of participants informed of their views for the necessity to construct branches to corridors Number IV (Dresden-Prague-Bratislava-Budapest-Krajova- Sofia-Istanbul), VIII (Duras-Tirana-Skopje-the Black Sea) and IX (Helsinki-St. Petersburg-Pskov-Kiev-Kishinev-Bucharest-Plovdiv- Alexandroupolis) and missing links like bridges. Attention was devoted to the PHARE INTERREG programme and the Transit Facilitation Programme for removal of bottlenecks at border check-points. A common view was expressed that the elimination of border crossing delays is one of the most cost-efficient ways for increasing traffic flow capacity. The importance of the private sector for the realization of infrastructure projects was also stressed. The participants considered joint actions for updating and improving the infrastructure in the Black Sea region by accelerating the realization of current projects through a comparative and rational assessment of relative priorities, establishment of appropriate legal and economic frameworks in each country and through innovative approaches to overcome the gap between infrastructure needs and available financial resources. According to Bulgarian Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski, the seminar confirmed the expectations about the discussions of three areas of issues: how the Black Sea region and its neighboring areas can open themselves to Europe via the infrastructure, how to turn this into the driving force of economic revival and what actions should be taken for the political stabilization of the region. "I think that the seminar made tangible contribution in pinpointing the ways to achieve these three aims," Pirinski told a BTA reporter. He attached great importance to the fact that the infrastructure issues were discussed in the context of the trans-European projects. Pirinski expressed his satisfaction with the fact that all participants in the seminar shared the view that the various projects should be implemented in a coordinated manner and that the involved parties should coordinate the short, medium and long-term projects in the various areas. At their joint closing news conference, Bulgarian Transport Minister Stamen Stamenov, Bulgarian Deputy Foreign Minister Konstantin Glavanakov and Piotr Switalski, Head of Department in the Secretariat of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), assessed in highly positive terms the results of the seminar, which took place under the auspices of OSCE. "The seminar was successful; it showed the link between the infrastructure, the sustainable development and the essence of security," Switalski said.
Videnov thanked the EBRD for its key role in this advanced investment project. The bank contributed 60% of financing and Bulgaria's 40%. "I thank the representatives of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe for this wonderful opportunity to demonstrate that Bulgaria assigns a key role to its transformation into a transport, telecommunications and energy center, in the name of cooperation, goodneighbourliness and understanding in the Balkans, Europe and the world," the Prime Minister said. Videnov added he was proud the Bulgarian Government proved its ability to work out and ensure funding for this ambitious infrastructure project. "This encourages us in the nearest future to continue the construction of the motorway, not only toward the Eastern Mediterranean, but also toward the new terminals in Bourgas, the new passes at Makaza, and, with help from the present foreign guests, to the new bridge in the western part of the Bulgarian section of the River Danube, another project to underscore the European role of the new motorway section opened today," Zhan Videnov also said.
The construction of the Plovdiv-Orizovo section started in 1988. This is the longest section completed at a single go; its cost is 700 million leva. The construction has been managed by the British Mott MacDonald consultancy firm, in cooperation with resident engineering teams of Bulgarian experts.
Sofia, November 18 (BTA) - At an extraordinary sitting today, the government continued its work on the 1996 national budget bill, said the cabinet's press office. The ministers discussed the budget's macroeconomic framework, its structure and priorities. The bill places an emphasis on the further macroeconomic stabilization of the country and measures for ensuring the collection of budget revenues, improving the investment climate, promoting material production, and increasing wages and pensions, said the cabinet's press office. This is the second sitting of the government on the 1996 draft budget. Work on it will continue, said the press office.
Sofia, November 18 (BTA) - Under the Constitution, foreign and domestic policy is adopted and implemented by the government, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski said this evening on the National Television. He was asked by the anchorman of the popular weekly magazine programme Panorama, whether Bulgaria will ever have a single foreign policy. The anchorman further asked when the controversy between the President and the first diplomat will end, specifying he referred to "the highly-nuanced and delicate expression of diverging views on certain foreign policy issues". The questions were prompted by disagreements between the cabinet and President Zhelev over the appointment of new ambassadors to a dozen of overseas Bulgarian diplomatic missions. This, however, is not the only occasion in which the President and government have conflicting views on foreign policy issues. "When we talk about a single foreign policy, it is very important to think of the pillars it would rests on," said the Foreign Minister. According to him, uncertainty as to who has the leading role results in confusion. "To have an effective foreign policy, those who are involved in it should be free from political pressure and speculations," Pirinski also said. The interview with him was broadcast live from the Panorama studio immediately after a recording of an interview with President Zhelev was aired. Foreign Minister Pirinski said he regretted being unable to ask the President personally what was the implication of his remark about "signs of international isolation" of Bulgaria.
Sofia, November 17 (BTA) - The national budget will not have to be updated, Finance Minister Dimiter Kostov said today in answer to an MP during the minister's question time in Parliament.
The minister admitted revenues were running lower than expected. According to him, the Government may come 15,000 million leva short at year-end. The budget deficit for 1996 was set at nearly 49,000 million leva.
Revenues amounted to 156,000 million leva in the ten months to November. The target for 1995 is about 215,000 million leva; it has been met 63% so far. Spending for the first ten months hit 202,000 million leva, the finance minister said. The budgeted figure for the year is 264,000 million leva.
A major reason for the lower revenues is lower inflation, the minister said. The targets were set for inflation of 35%; actual inflation for the first nine months was 23%, according to statistics. Other reasons were lower Bulgarian National Bank contributions, the delay of legal measures such as new excise taxes and changes in tax laws, the abolition of the advance collection of income tax, etc. Lower inflation will also cut down spending, the minister said.
Sofia, November 19 (BTA) - Greek President Costis Stephanopoulos is arriving on an official three-day visit to Bulgaria. He is expected in Sofia early in the afternoon on Monday. It will be the first visit in Sofia by a Greek Head of State after the launch of democratic changes in Bulgaria. The agenda of the visit includes meetings with Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov and Patriarch Maksim. On Wednesday the Greek President will address the Bulgarian Parliament. According to preliminary information, the delegation accompanying President Stephanopoulos includes Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias. This is a very important and much-expected event both in Bulgarian-Greek relations and in the dialogue between Bulgaria and the European Union, the foreign policy advisor to the President, Kamen Velichkov told an interviewer of the National Radio on Friday. Velichkov placed an emphasis on the fact that Bulgaria is the first of Greek's neighbors President Stephanopoulos will visit. "This is a good precondition for a concrete and meaningful dialogue on issues pertaining to Bulgaria's integration into Europe, the visa regime, the traffic capacity of Bulgarian-Greek border, and infrastructure projects for the development of the region," said the President's advisor. According to Velichkov, one of the most important issues to be discussed during the upcoming visit is the Bourgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline project because of, as he put it, "its obvious economic and strategic advantages". President Zhelev will try to stand by Bulgarian national interests in the specific accords on the project, insisting, among other things, on Bulgaria's equal participation in the construction and operation of the pipeline, Velichkov said. As for the declaration on the East-West corridor the leaders of Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Turkey signed a month ago in New York, Kamen Velichkov reiterated this is a document open for everyone willing to join the launch of infrastructure projects in the region. "We rely heavily on the Greek support for the construction of Corridor 4 to link Thessaloniki with Sofia and Bulgaria's Danubian region, and I suppose there can be very important talks on this matter," Velichkov added. The visit of the Greek President comes after the Greek visit by Bulgarian Prime Minister Videnov last June and the exchange of visits by the two countries' Foreign Ministers, the last of them being the visit to Sofia late last month by Foreign Minister Papoulias. The "Troud" daily yesterday published an extensive story on the upcoming visit headlined "Zhelev And Stephanopoulos Meet After Promises And Clashes Between Sofia And Athens". According to author Georgi Sharabov, "Greek President Stephanopoulos is coming here at a moment when the traditionally good relations between the two neighbouring Balkan countries are threatened by stagnation." The story said this is a result of Athens' promises to open new check points on the Bulgarian-Greek border, that are never put into practice, of Greek press allegations that Bulgaria is placing new conditions for the Bourgas- Alexandroupolis pipeline, and the Greek attacks against Bulgaria's Kozlodui nuclear power plant. The story also said that Greece is the most active investor in Bulgaria. The author said in conclusion that the two countries' Presidents during the visit are expected to assert the goodneighbourliness cherished for decades by their predecessors.