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News from Bulgaria / Feb 7, 96

From: (Embassy of Bulgaria)

Bulgarian Telegraph Agency Directory



7 February, 1996













    Sofia, February 6 (BTA) - This morning Bulgarian Prime Minister Zhan Videnov left for Davos to take part in the World Economic Forum.

    At today's session on: "Peace in the Balkans", Videnov will brief the participants on Bulgaria's position that the peace process in the Balkans is steadying and may be very successful, if matched with Pan-European integration processes. "At present the attention should be focussed on building up new communications linking the countries between them and with Europe and on reviving the all-Balkan process," Videnov said upon departure.

    A Bulgarian delegation attended the Davos forum for the first time in 1990.

    In 1992 and 1993 the delegations were headed by President Zhelev. Addressing the forum in 1992 Zhelev said that Bulgaria needs Western assistance and trade with the West to develop a market economy. An agreement with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development was reached in 1993 on extending grant aid of 60 million US dollars' worth for the Kozlodoui Nuclear Power Plant (on the Danube).

    In 1995 Bulgaria did not send official representatives to the World Business Forum.

    A mini forum on Bulgaria was held for the first time in April 1992 in Geneva under the auspices of the Davos forum and the Bulgarian Embassy in Bern. The purpose was to familiarize foreign participants with economic changes in the country and the prospects for investing. Attending were Oesterreichische Kontrollbank, the German Commerzbank, the British Nuclear Power company, British Airspace, the Thompson British company, the Total French company and a number of industrial associations.


    Davos, February 6 (BTA Spec. Corr. Vesko Konstantinov) - During his visit to Davos for the World Economic Forum, Bulgarian Prime Minister Zhan Videnov invited the foreign ministers of the Balkan countries to meet in Sofia. The aim of this meeting will be to continue the dialogue on Balkan cooperation interrupted by the war in former Yugoslavia.

    Today the Prime Minister met his Yugoslav counterpart Radoe Kontic.

    Speaking before the World Economic Forum in Davos, Bulgarian Prime Minister Zhan Videnov stressed the need to guarantee lasting peace on the Balkans. Videnov took part in the last-day meetings of the this year's session of the 26th World Forum. Mottoed "Peace on the Balkans", the day was dedicated to the Balkan region. The Bulgarian Prime Minister made his speech during the Future of the Balkans session.

    Videnov called upon the participants in the forum for parallel efforts to ensure lasting stability and security in the region. According to Videnov, the social and economic aspects assume key importance for ensuring stability. Southeastern Europe is a crossing point for various interests, forces, movements; religious fundamentalism, organized crime, drugs trafficking inclusive, Videnov said. He listed a number of ways to eliminate such phenomena. The Bulgarian Prime Minister stressed the need for establishing of lasting good-neighbourly relations among the states based on unambiguous confirmation of the adherence to the basic principles of the international law and to the texts underlying the Helsinki document and the Paris charter on inviolability of borders, territorial integrity, noninterference in internal affairs, and good- neighbourly cooperation.

    According to Videnov, transboundary cooperation, together with a reaffirmation of existing borders, are other important issues. Transboundary cooperation should be carried out at governmental and international level, through multilateral and bilateral agreements. Videnov stressed the need for up-to-date mechanisms: passport and customs procedures and cooperation in the combat against illegal smuggling of people and goods.

    Videnov also appealed for transforming the Balkan region into a region of rapid development of infrastructure networks. He stressed the importance of telecommunications, energy projects, projects for environmental protection, and water management.

    The growth of trade and investments should be achieved through setting up of free trade zones in Southeastern Europe, Videnov said. Legal, cultural and social issues regulated by international agreements can ensure the free movement of people in the countries in the region, Videnov said. He stressed the primary importance of ensuring the free social and cultural exchange and cooperation as well as the need for identifying ways to resolve the complex ethnic problems in the region, thus preventing the emergence of potential pressures.

    According to Videnov, the urgent measures for reconstruction of Bosnia and Herzegovina are of key importance for the development of the infrastructure in the region.

    The Bulgarian Prime Minister stressed that during the military conflict in former Yugoslavia Bulgaria did not allow political interference and did not take part in the hostilities. Bulgaria lost about US$ 6,000 to 7,000 million as a result of enforcing the U.N. sanctions against former Yugoslavia. According to Videnov, Bulgaria's active participation in the postwar reconstruction of former Yugoslavia and cooperation with the international organizations will prove a compensation for part of these losses.

    US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs Richard Holbrooke expressed readiness today to assist the granting of most favoured nation status to Bulgaria, it became known after today's meeting between Richard Holbrooke and Bulgarian Prime Minister Zhan Videnov who is attending the World Economic Forum in Davos.

    The meeting with Mr Holbrooke discussed possibilities for promoting bilateral relations, government spokesman Nikola Baltov told BTA. Holbrooke praised Bulgaria's participation in Partnership for Peace. The US diplomat also said that not all in the US appreciated Bulgaria's role in this initiative.

    Commercial exchange liberalization and the possibilities for Bulgaria to avail itself of the conditions of the organizations regulating world trade problems were also discussed.

    Analyzing the situation in the Balkans, Holbrooke noted the key role which Bulgaria may play in solving the problems of the region.

    In the conference centre in Davos Videnov also met the Prime Minister of Bosnia and Hercegovina Hasan Muratovic. Both sides agreed that it is necessary to regulate the already established diplomatic relations, including the exchange of ambassadors. The foreign ministers of the two countries are expected to step up their contacts to prepare a summit. It is also necessary to set up joint committees and to exchange economic delegations. The two sides discussed possibilities for the participation of Bulgarian companies, including construction ones, in the economic reconstruction of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as for Bulgarian energy and food deliveries. According to Muratovic, there are possibilities for promoting bilateral economic relations with the participation of the international community as well.

    Videnov also conferred with Swiss Federal Counsellor for Foreign Affairs Jakob Helenberg. The meeting discussed bilateral cooperation and possibilities for the implementation of agreements between Bulgaria and Switzerland in power engineering, transport and health care, the government spokesman said. Videnov assured his host that Bulgarian experts will take part in the working out of projects within the framework of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The meeting assessed in positive terms the "debt for environment" swap agreement between Bulgaria and Switzerland. Possibilities are being studied for granting Bulgaria Swiss financial assistance.

    The Bulgarian Prime Minister is expected to return to Bulgaria this evening.


    London, February 6 (BTA) - Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development Roumen Gechev today opened a conference on doing business with Bulgaria, organized by the London Chamber of Commerce and the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI). The opening was attended by Lord Fraser, Minister of State for Trade and Industry.

    Gechev left on a four-day visit to Britain on Monday at the head of a large delegation of businessmen. More than 30 Bulgarian companies, 12 of them private, have sent representatives to London.

    Speaking about Bulgaria's economic achievements in 1995, Gechev emphasized that the Bulgarian Cabinet had done its best to couple economic growth with financial stabilization. Privatization is the Cabinet's top priority in 1996 and to speed it, it will seek to attract foreign investment. Gechev said the Cabinet had drawn up lists of enterprises subject to privatization, adding that foreign investors are welcome to Bulgaria's economy.

    In his address BCCI President Bozhidar Bozhinov, a member of the delegation, said the Bulgarian and the British government should clear the road for two-way business. The two countries have signed all agreements promoting trade and economic cooperation. One hundred British companies have invested in Bulgaria a total of 220 million dollars. Bozhinov pointed out that apart from problems, there are prospects for economic cooperation opened up by Bulgarian legislation. "Come and make money in Bulgaria," he said.

    Summing up some of the statements and questions, Lord Fraser emphasized the successes of British companies in Bulgaria. He listed sectors in which British businessmen will closely cooperate with their Bulgarian partners in the future.


    Sofia, February 6 (BTA) - Bulgaria's association and membership in the European Union and Balkan issues were at the focus of Bulgarian Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski's speech before the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee here today.

    After the Committee's meeting, Pirinski told journalists that he was asked a number of questions related to the Government's position on NATO's eastward expansion. Pirinski confirmed the commitment, assumed under a cabinet's decision, for enhanced dialogue, drafting of the respective document for it, and extending an invitation to NATO Secretary General Javier Solana to visit Bulgaria.

    Pirinski confirmed that the issues connected with NATO's eastward expansion are among the key ones and will be given serious consideration during the drafting of the document, which is intended to serve as a basis for a dialogue with NATO representatives. The document should be prepared by mid-March.

    "I hope that during the drafting of the document there will emerge a broad circle of issues on which there will be consensus since they concern the national security and about which the various parliamentary forces have similar stands," Pirinski said.

    Meanwhile, Vassil Gotsev, deputy chairman of the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF, this country's biggest opposition force), made a statement on NATO issues.

    "We shall insist that the cabinet's decision on this country's participation in an enhanced dialogue on NATO's expansion be discussed in the plenary chamber so that it become clear whether there is a will on the part of the majority for Bulgaria's membership in the North Atlantic Organization," Gotsev told journalists today.

    "So far, no one of the cabinet members has stated that the aim of the dialogue is this country's accession to NATO and we do not know what is the position of the Council of Ministers on this issue," Gotsev said.

    It is not enough for the cabinet to say that it begins a dialogue; the Government should state whether Bulgaria wants to join NATO, UDF leader Ivan Kostov said.

    According to Gotsev, there are controversies in the parliamentary group of the Democratic Left as regards Bulgaria's integration into NATO.


    Sofia, February 6 (Iva Toncheva of BTA) - Norwegian Foreign Minister Bjoern Tore Godal and Bulgarian Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski discussed today the prospects of bilateral relations and a number of international issues. Foreign Minister Godal arrived on a two-day official visit here this afternoon.

    "The main purpose of this visit is to enhance and improve bilateral relations," Norwegian Foreign Minister Godal said at Sofia Airport, stressing that this is the first visit by a Norwegian chief diplomat to Bulgaria since 1970.

    During their talks the two chief diplomats expressed a wish to step up and deepen cooperation between the two countries.

    Bulgaria received Norway's support for its ambitions to become a full member of the European Union, Foreign Ministry spokesman Pantelei Karasimeonov said after the talks. Foreign Minister Godal set forth the stand of Norway, which is not member of the EU, for building a Pan-European economic space including the countries of Central and Southeastern Europe.

    Pirinski raised the issue of the visa-free regulations that existed between the two countries from 1968 to 1989 which Bulgaria wishes to restore. Pirinski stressed that the free movement of people should be a key aspect of the Pan-European economic space proposed by Norway. Pirinski said that Bulgaria does not agree with its unequal treatment in respect to visa regulations.

    The Bulgarian foreign minister expressed the opinion that Norway enjoys high prestige in international forums in NATO, in the Council of Europe and in the UN, and praised Norway's peace-keeping role in the Balkans. Pirinski said that the two countries may promote cooperation in the military sphere and that Bulgaria may draw on Norwegian experience in peace-keeping operations.

    The Bulgarian President and the Bulgarian Prime Minister have sent invitations to the King of Norway and to the Prime Minister of Norway to visit Bulgaria.

    The Norwegian side views the opening of a representation in Sofia of the Norwegian Norsk Hydro concern tomorrow as a good sign for bilateral trade and economic relations. Bilateral exchange marked considerable growth over the past few years but the starting point of this growth was quite low. The opening of a representation of Norsk Hydro is expected to encourage other Norwegian companies to invest in Bulgaria. Norway believes that it can assist the stabilization of the Bulgarian economy, especially in environment protection and telecommunications. Bulgarian Foreign Minister Pirinski spoke in favour of restoring the role of bilateral commissions for economic and trade cooperation. According to the Bulgarian side, it is desirable to speed up the signing of an agreement on reciprocal investment protection and promotion, the drafting of which has reached an advanced stage.

    Discussing regional cooperation, the Bulgarian foreign minister said that Bulgaria wishes to take an active part in the postwar reconstruction of the region. He stressed Bulgaria's stand in favour of restoring all- Balkan cooperation.

    On Wednesday Norwegian Foreign Minister Godal is scheduled to meet President Zhelyu Zhelev, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov and National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov, as well as members of the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee.


    Sofia, February 6 (BTA) - Today a military delegation of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, led by Defence Minister Pavle Bulatovic, arrived on a two-day official visit to Sofia. "During my visit I expect we reach an agreement for cooperation between the two defence ministries and our armies," Bulatovic said upon arrival. He told a BTA reporter he hopes the talks with his Bulgarian counterpart Dimiter Pavlov will be successful. Balkan security will also be on the agenda of the visit, Bulatovic said.

    A military cooperation agreement between the two countries will be signed tomorrow. FR Yugoslavia is the only neighbouring country with which Bulgaria has not yet signed an agreement for military cooperation.

    Later today the Yugoslav Defence Minister was received by Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev. Dr. Zhelev said that the contacts between the two countries' defence ministries will facilitate bilateral relations in general, BTA was by Bulgarian Defence Minister Pavlov told after the meeting. The Bulgarian President is also quoted saying that the goodneigbourly relations between Bulgaria and Yugoslavia offer a chance for establishing a climate of peace and cooperation between the Balkan countries.

    Bulatovic said the two Defence Ministers acquainted Dr. Zhelev with the cooperation agreement due to be signed tomorrow. He believes that the agreement will provide a groundwork for efficient cooperation and friendly relations.

    Before meeting Dr. Zhelev, the two Defence Ministers discussed the military political environment in the Balkans and the two countries' integration into European structures and NATO. The guest reportedly backed the initiative for a meeting of the defence ministers of the Balkan countries.


    Sofia, February 6 (BTA) - The Bulgarian Telecommunications Company will hold a tender for frequency allocation in the coming months, BTC President Mihail Danov told the press today. Tenders have been submitted by the Radio Telecommunication Company (a joint venture of BTC and Britain's Cable & Wireless), Bulfon (a joint venture of BTC and Greece's Intrakom) and Mobiltel.

    BTC negotiated for financial assistance from Deutsche Bank during last week's visit to Sofia by the Bank's deputy chairman Peter Tils, Danov said. The funds will be earmarked for renovation and development of Bulgaria's telecoms systems.

    Danov will visit London in early March to thrash out differences with Cable & Wireless over the management of Mobicom, in which BTC holds a 39 per cent stake, the state-owned Radio Electronic Systems a 12 per cent stake, and Cable & Wireless a 49 per cent stake. According to Danov, BTC proposed a replacement for Mobicom's incumbent President John Munnery at the latest shareholders' meeting. The proposal was rejected by the British company. Under the Articles of Association the company's president is elected by a two-thirds majority. Cable & Wireless has proposed to BTC a new meeting of the Mobicom partners which is likely to be held during Danov's visit to London in March.


    Sofia, February 6 (BTA) - Today's sitting of the Parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee focused on Bulgaria's relations with Turkey. Committee Chairman Nikolai Kamov said the sitting adopted with consensus a stand identifying a stability and advancement of bilateral ties.

    Speaking on behalf of the working group that drafted the stand, Socialist MP Ivan Gaitandjiev said the adopting of the document is not related to the invalidation of the local election results in Kurdjali, an area in Southern Bulgaria with ethnically mixed population.

    According to the deputy chairman of the committee, opposition MP Assen Agov, the adopting of the document will help avoid future confrontation in Bulgarian-Turkish relations.


    Sofia, February 6 (BTA) - A captain of the Central Service for Organized Crime Control last night shot at a car shortly after MP Ventsislav Dimitrov got off it. Journalists learnt this at Parliament today from Dimitrov himself.

    Ventsislav Dimitrov, MP of the opposition Popular Union, said the car driving him home last night dropped him somewhat earlier than normal. The secretary of the Popular Union and her sister remained in the car. They stopped 200 meters down the street intending to help a Ford that had crushed. A man, obviously drunk, emerged from the Ford and shot at the car and the two women in it. It emerged later at the police that the man was a captain of the Central Service for Organized Crime Control.

    "Interior Minister Lyubomir Nachev and the Chief Secretary of the Interior Ministry today categorically refused to receive me and I suspect that the Interior Ministry is training recruits to eliminate the opposition", the MP said. He also told the BTA that the crash involving the Ford might have been a setup. He complained that the Popular Union secretary and her sister were held at the police the whole night to testify, while the other participant in the incident and a female companion were allowed to go without being questioned.

    The chairman of the parliamentary National Security Committee, Nikolai Dobrev reportedly pledged his assistance for clarifying the case.


    Sofia, February 6 (BTA) - The parliamentary group of the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) today decided to demand the resignation of National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov because of his statements during a recent visit to Moscow, BTA was told by UDF floor leader Yordan Sokolov.

    The MPs of the UDF, Bulgaria's major opposition force, tomorrow will draft a decision for relieving Sendov of his office, and will submit it to the other opposition forces at Parliament. The parliamentary rules require that a motion for the resignation of the Parliament Chairman should be backed by one-third of all 240 MPs.

    Sokolov said the resignation demand was also prompted by the unsatisfactory account Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski gave today before the parliamentary committees on national security, foreign policy and European integration of Blagovest Sendov's meeting with Russian President Boris Yeltsin and the ITAR-TASS report on his statement on NATO expansion to the East. ITAR-TASS said in a report Sendov shared Yeltsin's views that there is no need for NATO's eastward expansion.

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