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News from Bulgaria / Feb 6, 96

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

6 February, 1996


CONTENTS

  • [01] MEETINGS OF DEPUTY P.M. GECHEV IN LONDON

  • [02] NORWEGIAN FOREIGN MINISTER TO PAY OFFICIAL VISIT TO SOFIA

  • [03] BULGARIA - FR YUGOSLAVIA: MILITARY COOPERATION

  • [04] COURT VOIDS LOCAL ELECTIONS IN KURDJALI

  • [05] WORLD BANK MISSION TO HELP BULGARIAN BANK SYSTEM

  • [06] BULGARIAN COMPANIES TO EXHIBIT AT BELGRADE FAIR

  • [07] BULGARIAN MP SHOT

  • [08] MONDAY NEWS BRIEFS


  • [01] MEETINGS OF DEPUTY P.M. GECHEV IN LONDON

    London, February 5 (BTA) - Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development Roumen Gechev had today in London a number of meetings with representatives of the local financial and business circles, the Government's press office said. Mr Gechev arrived on a visit to London yesterday at the invitation of the British Government. His visit will end on February 8. At the British Finance Ministry Mr Gechev discussed with Deputy Finance Minister David Heathcoat the process of Bulgaria's adaptation to the European Union and the World Trade Organisation. The British hosts recommended that Bulgaria be more insistent in presenting itself to potential western partners. David Heathcoat showed interest in the restructuring of Bulgaria's banking system and said that Great Britain has been seriously studying the prospects for the British banks to take part in the Bulgarian finance sector. Mr Gechev emphasized that their direct meetings with the Bulgarian business are very important and will make them interested in investing in Bulgaria. Minister Gechev visited the Cooper and Librand finance and privatization corporation where he discussed the prospects for cooperation in privatization. The British corporation has been showing interest in the denationalization of the Sodi plant in Devnya, as well as in telecommunications. The prospects for taking part in the privatization process in Bulgaria were considered at the meeting with representatives of the Rothschild foundation for Central and Eastern Europe. On the agenda of the talks with the President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Jacques de Larosiere were issues linked to the privatization process in Bulgaria. At the meeting with Secretary General of the EBRD Antonio Maria Costa, Roumen Gechev discussed the upcoming annual meeting of the bank due to be held in April in Sofia. Minister Gechev will continue his meetings tomorrow at the Bulgarian-British Chamber of Trade and Industry.

    [02] NORWEGIAN FOREIGN MINISTER TO PAY OFFICIAL VISIT TO SOFIA

    Sofia, February 5 (BTA) - Norwegian Foreign Minister Bjoern Tore Godal will arrive Tuesday on a two-day official visit to Sofia. This is the first visit of a Norwegian foreign minister to Bulgaria in the past fourteen years.

    Godal is scheduled to hold talks with Bulgarian Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski, and to meet President Zhelyu Zhelev, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov and National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov. The Norwegian Foreign Minister will also meet MPs of the Foreign Policy Committee in Parliament. Godal will attend the opening ceremony of the Norwegian Hydro concern.

    Bulgaria and Norway established diplomatic relations in 1932. The first trade agreement between the two countries was concluded in 1955. The first long-term trade accord was effective in 1963-65. The expanding Bulgarian-Norwegian relations were further boosted by a number of agreements on economic, industrial and technical cooperation, cooperation in the field of road transport, science, education, culture, tourism, as well as those on merchant navigation and avoidance of double taxation. An agreement on mutual investment protection and promotion is currently being drafted.

    From US$ 6.6 million in 1975, bilateral trade reached US$ 10.1 million in 1982, and dropped to a mere US$ 2.4 million in 1992. Bilateral trade amounted to US$ 1.5 million for January-September 1994.

    Under an additional protocol to the agreement between Bulgaria and the European Free Trade Association, Norway grants Bulgaria tariff concessions on the import of 200 agricultural products and foods, most of which are exempt from import duties.

    [03] BULGARIA - FR YUGOSLAVIA: MILITARY COOPERATION

    Sofia, February 5 (BTA) - A military delegation of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), led by Defence Minister Pavle Bulatovic, arrives on a two-day official visit to Sofia tomorrow. A military cooperation agreement between the two countries' defence ministries is expected to be signed during the visit, the press office of the Bulgarian Defence Ministry told BTA.

    Bulgarian MP Miroslav Durmov stressed on the necessity of signing such document already in 1994 at the time of a Bulgarian parliamentary delegation visit to Belgrade. Two month ago the "Troud" paper reported about a proposal by Colonel General Tsvetan Totomirov, Chief of the General Staff of the Bulgarian Army, to sign a plan for bilateral military cooperation.

    The Bulgarian and Yugoslav defence ministries drew up a draft of the agreement. "There are no obstacles to the finalizing and signing of the agreement which will at last clear the history of prejudice between the two neighboring countries," Bulgarian Defence Minister Dimiter Pavlov said before "Douma" today.

    At the visit the Yugoslav delegation will hold talks at the Ministry of Defence, including with Defence Minister Pavlov. The delegates will be received by President Zhelyu Zhelev and Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, reads the Defence Ministry press release.

    FR Yugoslavia is the only neighboring country with which Bulgaria has not signed a military cooperation agreement. The two countries project to restore cooperation between their military industrial complexes in the nearest future. "Troud" wrote that two-way trade in military supplies amounted to 540 million US dollars in 1989.

    "I do not doubt that the talks in Sofia will stimulate confidence- building between the two countries' armies and peoples," Minister Pavlov is quoted by "Bulgarska Armiya" as saying in an interview for the TANJUG news agency.

    Pavlov is further quoted as saying in the interview that "Bulgaria and FRY may in practice take advantage of the peace achieved in Yugoslavia by restoring and promoting their bilateral political, economic and cultural relations".

    [04] COURT VOIDS LOCAL ELECTIONS IN KURDJALI

    Sofia, February 5 (BTA) - The District Court in Kurdjali (Southern Bulgaria) today issued a ruling invalidating the October 1995 elections of a mayor and municipal councillors in the Kurdjali municipality on account of 1,271 violations of the Local Elections Act that were proved by five expert witnesses who examined the election stationery and voter registers. Representatives of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, the Fatherland Party of Labour and the Nationwide Committee for Defence of National Interests went to court, challenging the legitimacy of the results of a poll in which Rasim Musa, the candidate of the ethnic Turks' Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), was elected mayor of Kurdjali. The claimants cited polling irregularities they have observed on election day. BTA's Kurdjali correspondent reported that MRF leader Ahmed Dogan attended today's court hearing but left the courtroom without waiting for the delivery of the ruling. At a news conference in Kurdjali this evening, Mr Dogan described the case as a farce and a political trial. For the first time in six years now, he stressed, MRF's fundamental thesis about settlement of the ethnic problem in Bulgaria is called into question. MRF is concerned by the machinations at all tiers of power and especially by the fact that the judiciary has proved unable of autonomy, Mr Dogan emphasized. The MRF leader observed that his Movement will react by taking a hard line on keeping the ground it has gained as a party. In protest, the MRF will shortly recall its municipal mayors and municipal councillors from the local authorities nationwide, Mr Dogan said, adding that the responsibility for this rests with the Government and the parliamentary majority. Along with that, the MRF will do everything possible to give these actions an international exposure. The MRF Central Council is scheduled to hold an extraoridnary meeting in Kurdjali on February 7, with the MRF municipal mayors attending. It was decided to stage a protest rally with nationwide support in Kurdjalu on Saturday. The MRF leader said that there are plans to take what he called the "appropriate moves" before the Supreme Court. In accordance with the Local Elections Act, new elections of a mayor and municipal councillors will be held in Kurdjali. The Deputy Chairman of the BSP Supreme Council Georgi Purvanov said that the BSP and its coalition partners will again back the bid of Dr Peter Georgiev, an independent candidate who, together with Mr Musa, contested the mayoralty in the second round of voting last October. According to Mr Purvanov, this new election will be held in the contest of the presidential race which has already started and this will probably distort the situation too much and will affect the contest in Kurdjali. Asked about the Socialists' reaction to a possible appeal against the ruling before the Supreme Court, Mr Purvanov answered that the BSP has declared that it accepts the rulings of the court the way they are.

    [05] WORLD BANK MISSION TO HELP BULGARIAN BANK SYSTEM

    Sofia, February 5 (BTA) - A mission of the World Bank will extend technical assistance to the Government program for rehabilitation of the bank system as of today and until February 16. A four-member expert team of the bank is lead by Joseph Pernia, chief financial expert at first European department of the World Bank, the World bank resident office in Sofia said.

    The program of the visit envisages meetings at the Bank Consolidation Company, the National Bank of Bulgaria and the Finance Ministry. The talks will be held within the frameworks of December 1995-negotiated technical assistance on elements of the rehabilitation program.

    In December 1995 after his return from the IMF-World Bank annual meeting in Washington Finance Minister Dimiter Kostov said that the World Bank will offer Bulgaria know-how about other "hospital banks" in the world. In Minister Kostov's view if such bank is set up in Bulgaria a large part of the non-performing debts of commercial banks will be transferred there and the bank will handle their collection. However, Bulgarian Consolidation Company executives said that "a hospital-bank" will be established only as a last resort unless the other measures do not work.

    [06] BULGARIAN COMPANIES TO EXHIBIT AT BELGRADE FAIR

    Sofia, February 5 (BTA) - Some 50 private and state-owned companies from different parts of Bulgaria have shown interest in taking part in the International Technical Fair in Belgrade, which is scheduled for May 6-11, a news conference of the Belgrade Fair company was told today. The company management has planned to restore the tradition of presenting all sectors of the Bulgarian economy. Bulgarian companies last took part in the fair in the 1980s. Early this month the managements of the Belgrade Fair and of the Plovdiv Fair companies agreed on the areas of future cooperation, as well as on the preparations for the Fair of Balkan States which is due this year in Plovdiv (Southern Bulgaria). The Belgrade Fair was set up in 1937 and currently has 40 ha of exhibition area. The company organises some 40 international events every year in various branches. It is member of the Union of World Fairs, headquartered in Paris.

    [07] BULGARIAN MP SHOT

    Dobrich, February 5 (BTA correspondent) - Dobrich MP Todor Todorov this morning was found shot injured in his home in Dolna Malina near Generaltoshevo (northeastern Bulgaria), Lieutenant Colonel Peter Eftimov, police chief in Dobrich, today told BTA. Todorov is MP of the Bulgarian Socialist Party and chairs the parliamentary Agriculture and Forestry Committee. The injured MP was rushed to the city hospital in Dobrich. According to the attending doctors, his life is in danger. A police team is investigating on the spot. Police have declined further comment.

    Reports came later today that Todorov is undergoing an emergency operation at the Dobrich hospital. A medical team was flied from Sofia for the operation but a thick fog prevented it from landing in Dobrich and it continued to Varna. The regional police is expected to announce in the afternoon whether this was a case of murder or suicide attempt. A police spokesman said the latter is more likely.

    Todorov was preparing to go to Sofia, this BTA correspondent learned from Todorov's family in Dolna Malina. On Saturday he was in Dobrich on business and spent the Sunday with his family in Dolna Malina where his wife is mayoress. He was planning to leave early on Monday morning for Varna to catch the 4 p.m. plane for Sofia. Colleagues of his wife at the mayor's office said noone heard the shots. Todorov was found wounded later and immediately taken to hospital. Later in the day a press release of the Interior Ministry specified that Todorov was found by his wife at about 7:30 a.m. with a bullet wound in his right temple. A pistol he legally possessed as an MP was found beside him.

    Inspecting the scene the chief of the regional investigative service in Dobrich said that the case was most probably a suicide attempt, says the Interior Ministry press release. Investigation is continuing. At the moment Todorov is in intensive care, the Interior Ministry says. He is still in critical condition, the Parliament press office said.

    Asked by a BTA reporter Interior Minister Lyubomir Nachev said he is sure that Todorov committed a suicide. "I do not know the details, but this involves a human tragedy," he stated.

    Kalcho Choukarov, an MP of the Popular Union from Dobritch told BTA correspondent that Todor Todorov is known as a strong- minded person who would never seek solution to problems in that way. According to Mr Choukarov, Todor Todorov had been somewhat depressed over the last few days but this did not impede his work in the committee and in Parliament.

    Floor leader of the parliamentary group of the Democratic Left Krassimir Premianov said that Todor Todorov has never complained of having received threats.

    [08] MONDAY NEWS BRIEFS

    Sofia, February 5 (BTA) - Components for the assembly of Czech cargo trucks of the new type TATRA-260 will be manufactured by the Madara works of Shoumen (Northeastern Bulgaria) under a cooperation contract between the Bulgarian works and the Czech plant TATRA which was signed today, BTA's local correspondent said. The parties have planned that next year Madara manufactures the whole article. The samples will be made with Czech materials. Under the contract, the quality of the components will determine the quantities to be manufactured.

    The sign-in for reinstating as head of state the last Bulgarian King Simeon II, who lives in Madrid has been progressing quite successfully, Chairman of Kingdom of Bulgaria Federation Hristo Kourtev said. He specified that 2,000 signatures have been collected so far, the largest number being in Varna, Rousse, Pernik and Haskovo. The sign-in was launched late last year shortly after Bulgarian intellectuals invited King Simeon to visit Bulgaria and he accepted. According to Mr Kourtev this visit has been scheduled for May.

    The Chairman of the Committee on Posts and Telecommunications Lyubomir Kolarov departed today for Moscow at the invitation of the Federal Minister of Communications of Russia Vladimir Boulgak. The parties are expected to sign an agreement in the sphere of posts and telecommunications.

    "The Socialist Government does not protect the national interests in metallurgy," Ivan Neikov, Deputy Chairman of one of the major trade union amalgamations, the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria (CITUB) told a news conference today. The statement was made in connection with the situation in the "Stomana" metallurgic works in Pernik (Northwestern Bulgaria) which suspended operation over shortage of raw materials. According to the leadership of the branch trade union organisation "Metallurgists" with the CITUB, the reasons are red-tape obstacles posed by the Industry Ministry in licensing companies which trade in metal scrap. The trade unionists warn that the protests will also be directed against last week's decision of Industry Minister Kliment Vouchev to dismiss Stefan Stamenkov as the company's Executive Director. In their view under Stamenkov the company showed very good results and his dismissal is not in the interest of the work. At a meeting of Stomana's board of directors today, Executive Director Stamen Stamenkov handed in his resignation, which was accepted and Nikolai Galev, chief engineer of the company so far, was appointed as Executive Director, Stomana's press office said.

    The ballistic examination made by Russian experts found out that there had been no shooting at the truck in which 14 soldiers died in an accident near Sofia last August, BTA learned from a source of the Armed Forces Prosecutors' Office who denied to be named. At the end of 1995 the Bulgarian investigation asked Russian experts for consultation aid at the examination of the truck. Their conclusion coincides with the stance of Prosecutor General Ivan Tatarchev who said last week that there are no proofs about shooting at the truck. He also said that in his view the case will probably not be referred to court and the culprits will not be penalized.

    The premiere projection of the film "Golden Eye", which is 17th in the series of James Bond films, will be held at the National Palace of Culture on February 15. The film is distributed in Bulgaria by Sunny Films company. At a news conference President of Sunny Films Vesselin Savov quoted the "Variety" magazine as saying that the total proceeds from the projections of the film add up to 300 million US dollars and have been projected to reach more than 500 million US dollars. This will be the first cinema encounter of the Bulgarian audience with Agent 007.

    50 MPs have filed a request with the Constitutional Court urging that it declares unconstitutional part of the decision of the National Assembly dealing with the programme for voucher privatization, the Constitutional Court said.

    The health ministries of Bulgaria and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea signed today a cooperation programme for 1996- 1997. The plan is part of a cooperation agreement in health protection and medicine, which Bulgarian and Korean governments signed in 1980, the press office of the Health Ministry said. Under the accords, the states will exchange free medical aid for each others' citizens during their stay in the respective country, the report says. The plan also envisages exchange of experience, materials and experts in health care and medical science.

    At the invitation of Chief of General Staff of the Bulgarian Army Colonel General Tsvetan Totomirov, an official delegation of the armed forces of France will pay an official visit here between February 7 and 9, the Defence Ministry's press office said. The French delegation will be led by Chief of Staff of the French Armed Forces, Army General Jean-Philippe Douhen. Talks on the prospects for bilateral military cooperation will be held during the visit, the Ministry's press office said.

    Interior Minister Lyubomir Nachev introduced today to the staff of the Sofia Directorate of the Interior their new Director, Colonel Krassimir Petrov. Former commander of the anti-terrorist squad will replace as Director of the Sofia Directorate of the Interior Colonel Yordan Kovachev, who was dismissed last week. Commander of the Anti-terrorist squad was appointed Lieutenant-Colonel Ilian Stoyanov, who was deputy to Colonel Petrov.

    A trilateral agreement for support and promotion of workers' sport was signed today between the Committee of Physical Education and Sports, the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria and the Bulgarian Workers' Sports Federation. Under the accords, funds will be allocated from the sports totalizer for the realization of the programme for development of workers' sport.

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