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News from Bulgaria / Feb 13, 96

From: (Embassy of Bulgaria)

Bulgarian Telegraph Agency Directory



13 February, 1996









    Sofia, February 12 (BTA) - Prime Minister Zhan Videnov left today on a two-day official visit to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. He is accompanied by his wife.

    On the delegation are Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture Svetoslav Shivarov, Trade Minister Atanas Paparizov, deputy ministers and some 20 representatives of the business circles, among which the heads of the Bulgarian Chamber of Industry and Trade, the Bulgarian State Railways, the Bulgarian Telecommunications Company, the national air carrier Balkan and the Neftochim company.

    The visit is paid in a significant for the bilateral and the Balkan relations moment, Mr Videnov said before his departure. Following the Dayton agreements and the suspension of sanctions against Yugoslavia, we have the chance to activate the relations with this neighbouring country in all fields. We are justified in this by the sustained positions in this country during the conflict, by the appreciation of our viewpoint on the Yugocrisis we received, as well as by our ideas for development and stabilization in all fields of the Balkan region, Bulgarian Prime Minister said.

    The visit is intended to give impetus to the preparation of a new legal framework for the bilateral relations and to boost economic ties. We shall also raise many issues concerning the cultural and other relations between the two states, including the role of the Bulgarian citizens in Yugoslavia for promoting bilateral ties in the traditional friendly and good-neighbourly spirit, Mr Videnov said.

    An intergovernmental agreement for mutual protection and encouragement of investment with Yugoslavia is expected to be signed during the visit. The accords for the avoidance of double taxation probably will not be signed now, but we shall do our best to make them a fact during the session of the joint commission which will be held in Sofia in late February, Mr Videnov specified.

    Mr Videnov's schedule includes a visit to Serbia and Montenegro. In Belgrade the Bulgarian Prime Minister will have a meeting with the Federal Prime Minister Radoje Kontic, Serb President Slobodan Milosevic and with Yugoslavia's President Zoran Lilic. Tomorrow he is scheduled to meet Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic.

    Belgrade, February 12 (BTA correspondent Lyudmil Mitakev) - I very much hope the visit will boost political, economic and cultural relations between Bulgaria and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov said upon his arrival in Belgrade this morning. His two-day official visit is the first by a Bulgarian Prime Minister in eleven years.

    Videnov was welcomed by Yugoslav Prime Minister Radoe Kontic on whose invitation he is visiting. He was given a military salute.

    The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is sincerely in favour of all- round cooperation with neighbouring Bulgaria, whose principled position on the Yugocrisis we valued highly, Kontic told reporters.

    The two Prime Ministers pointed out they would continue the dialogue on bilateral and all-Balkan cooperation opened in Davos, Switzerland, several days ago. Kontic expressed support for a Bulgarian proposal to set up a free trade zone in the region.

    The official talks between the governmental delegations headed by the two Prime Ministers focused on the two countries' desire to work towards the all-round development of their bilateral relations. The discussion paid special attention to the work of the joint committee for economic, scientific and technical cooperation whose next session will take place on March 6 and 7. In addition to that, the two sides will seek to intensify the activities of the separate ministries to tap the good opportunities for cooperation.

    The talks also addressed issues of the cooperation between the two countries' foreign ministries which are expected to sign in the near future a plan for political contacts and to develop the legal framework of the relations between Sofia and Belgrade.

    The talks also discussed the cooperation between the two countries' interior ministries in cracking down on the illegal smuggling of people and drug-trafficking. The participants expressed their satisfaction with the signing of a protocol on the cooperation between the defence ministries of Bulgaria and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and voiced their desire to actively work for its implementation in practice. There emerged good prospects for the forthcoming signing of documents on the extradition of convicted persons and on legal aid between the two countries' justice ministries.

    From an economic point of view, the Bulgarian and Yugoslav officials agreed to create such conditions for the implementation of the agreement on economic and trade cooperation so as to ensure that the bilateral commercial exchange grow to up to US$ 500,000 annually. The details of the cooperation in such promising spheres as for instance chemistry, metallurgy and transport, are yet to be specified. What was made clear as early as this moment, however, is the readiness to immediately start the electrification of the Dimitrovgrad-Nis section of the railway to Bulgaria. Road transport and power generation were also listed as priority spheres for the further development of the Bulgarian- Yugoslav cooperation.

    Participants in the talks showed understanding on the issue raised by the Bulgarian side for the further promotion of the cultural and humanitarian exchange and the expansion of the contacts in the sphere of science. The sides stressed the importance which the Bulgarian minority in Yugoslavia is expected to have as an element in the creation of favourable conditions for good-neighbourly relations. The Yugoslav Prime Minister Kontic described the Bulgarian minority as a loyal part of the population of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, saying that in future it can be used as a bridge to streamline the bilateral relations.

    According to Bulgarian Government's Spokesman Nikola Baltov, the sides openly raised all questions within the framework of the Bulgarian-Yugoslav relations and expressed readiness to solve them in the spirit of good-neighbourly relations and without resorting to any forms of their internationalizing. At the same time, Kontic stressed that due to the Yugocrisis and the material difficulties of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, it is wrong to state that absolutely all rights of all minority groups in the Republic have been realized as is provided by the Constitution. Kontic said that the fact that there are 65 Bulgarians in the 7,000-strong administration of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia indicates the Bulgarians' real participation in the country's governance.

    The Bulgarian and Yugoslav officials exchanged views on the further promotion of the all-Balkan cooperation. In addition to the idea expressed by the Bulgarian Prime Minister for an all-Balkan summit, Kontic proposed that similar meetings should be held in other spheres as well, as for instance the chambers of commerce and industry and the Olympic committees of the Balkan states. The talks discussed a number of projects which require the participation of other countries as for example projects in communications and the development of navigation along the Danube.

    In a separate discussion, the two delegations spoke about the opportunities for promoting the all-Balkan cooperation. The Bulgarian side expressed its readiness to help to the best of its ability the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia's reintegration in the international community.

    Following the end of the official talks, Videnov met with the Chairman of the Chamber of Citizens in the Yugoslav Parliament Radoman Bozovic. The two officials discussed the prospects for the intensification of the relations between the Parliaments of Bulgaria and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.


    Sofia, February 12 (BTA) - Negotiations on the construction of the Bourgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline are going on and considerable progress may be expected within a month, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Regional Development and Construction Doncho Konakchiev is quoted as saying by the Capital weekly. According to Konakchiev, there are no differences among Russia, Bulgaria and Greece on government level. Separate companies and businessmen who show interest to the construction of the facility have certain controversies, Capital says. Given the achieved agreements on government level I am positive about the implementation of the project and believe that the construction of the pipeline will start already this year, Konakchiev is further quoted as saying. The paper refers to the participants in the negotiations as saying that the second meeting in Ioannina is planned to clarify Bulgaria's and Greece's positions on the realization of the infrastructure project. The meeting will probably be held in March and should confirm or revise the already achieved bilateral agreements, Capital writes.

    In 1996 60 to 80 percent of the oil deliveries to Bulgaria's largest oil refinery, Neftochim, in Bourgas (on the Black Sea) will be made by the Russian company, Rosneft, and the Iranian, Niok, Neftochim Executive Director Stefan Nedelchev says in an interview for Douma. The remaining amounts will be purchased on the spot market. Nedelchev is quoted as saying that the company will probably sign other contracts for annual oil deliveries too. He recalls that last year Neftochim saved almost one million US dollars of the money designed for oil purchasing. This year the refinery is projected to process 7,650,000 tons of oil which is close to the company's maximum capacity.

    Pari writes that 30 percent of the international telephone calls are made without being paid for and that people of the Bulgarian Telecommunication Company staff are involved in this. In 1995 the company's profit was only about 16,000 million leva, the paper says.

    About 3,000 telephone lines in Sofia will be discontinued due to unpaid charges for October, Troud and Continent report.


    Sofia, February 12 (Alexander Kirov of BTA) Pressures eased somewhat, but the interbank and the foreign exchange market registered no marked change after the base interest rate increase a week ago, central bank Vice Governor Mileti Mladenov told BTA.

    The base rate rose 8 percentage points to 42 per cent as of February 5, reversing a string of seven cuts, the last of which was last August. The National Bank of Bulgaria (BNB) took this step to ease pressure on the lev and remedy a grave liquidity crisis.

    In the past five working days banks reacted to the central bank's signal by raising interest rates 4-5 per cent, said Mladenov. Dealers said, however, that the composition of deposits remained unchanged without major exchanges of hard-currency for leva deposits. The impact of the base rate increase was short-lived, with the dollar gaining 0.60 leva in a week, Post Bank's Ivailo Buyukliev told BTA. On Monday the dollar was quoted above the 74 leva threshold which undercut the central bank's effort to ensure a smooth weakening of the lev.

    The new terms are not attractive enough yet to cause major changes in the banking system, said Maya Kouzmanova, Executive Director of the financial brokerage house Benefis. According to her, central bank regulation of the foreign exchange market is geared to the needs of state- owned enterprises alone and cannot have a lasting tangible effect across the board.

    The stock market failed to meet the central bank's expectations after the base rate increase. Neither individuals nor major buyers opted for -es, Bulgarian Stock Exchange Executive Director Viktor Papazov told this reporter.

    The BNB management does not rule out a further rise in the base rate. If the dollar continues strong against the lev, the base rate will have to go further up, even if it should come close to 50-60 per cent. A stable dollar guarantees steady prices and low inflation which rank high on the central bank's list of priorities, Vice Governor Mileti Mladenov commented.


    Sofia, February 12 (BTA) - The Governing and Supervisory Boards of the Russian-Bulgarian Rosbulneft today approved a business in Bourgas on the Black Sea. The joint venture, set up last October, has provided one tanker with oil to the Bourgas-based refinery Neftochim, with shipments to total 260,000 t by the end of February, the Chairman of the Supervisory Board Favoris Devetlyarov said late tonight. Shipments will amount to 5 million t by year-end. Neftochim refined 7 million t of crude in 1995.

    Rosbulneft will set up joint ventures in Turkey and Yugoslavia, the official said. The profit will be reinvested in expanding Neftochim. Rosneft has not yet invested any money in Bulgaria.

    The venture's authorized capital of 30 million dollars is split fity- fifty between Neftochim Inc. and Russia's largest oil supplier Rosneft. Forty-nine per cent of the state-run Rosneft is up for sale.


    Rousse, February 12 (BTA) - A fire left Bulgaria's fourth largest city of Rousse (on the Danube) without public transport this morning.

    The fire spread over an area of 3,000 square meters of Bus and Trolley Bus Inc - Rousse, destroying 45 buses and one road tractor last night. The company's best bus fleet has been destroyed, including German MAN buses, Hungarian Ikarus buses and Bulgarian Chavdar buses. One person was injured.

    The police is investigating three versions. One is arson, the local investigative service said. Witnesses of the fire claim that the guards were drunk. The damages are still being estimated but the destroyed buses, premises and equipment are for no less than 100 million leva, employees of the company said.

    There was a similar fire in the 50s when the fire brigade of Giurgiu (on the opposite, Romanian bank of the river) was called to the rescue.

    Today city public transport in Rousse used buses of the intercity services. Transport Minister Stamen Stamenov has ordered the sending of 25 buses with their drivers to Rousse for one month from the nearby towns of Razgrad, Silistra and Turgovishte.

    Rousse Deputy Mayor Hristo Passev told BTA that the Government is working on a decree for rendering assistance to Rousse public transport. Four trolley buses, a gift to Rousse from an organization of Bulgarians abroad, will start for Rousse soon. A team of Rousse drivers is leaving to receive four more trolley buses, a gift from the city council of Bern. Some 300,000 DM will be needed for buying secondhand Ikarus buses to replace the burnt ones, the Deputy Mayor said.

    The Rousse City Council is now regulating the use of buses of other companies, including private ones, along the public transport routes. Measures will be taken against taxi fee hikes. The Rousse City Council will speed up the transformation of the company from a state into a municipal one and possibilities are being considered for setting up a Bulgarian-German joint venture in public transport.


    Sofia, February 12 (BTA) - Three generations of Bulgarian diplomats met at the Foreign Ministry today to pay tribute to former Bulgarian foreign minister Ivan Bashev on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of his birth.

    It is an honour for every minister to talk about a personality such as Ivan Bashev. The memory of him is still living in different spheres of Bulgarian social life, but this is most of all true for Bulgarian diplomacy, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski said in a brief address.

    Ivan Bashev was born of February 11, 1916 in Sofia. He graduated in law and after the communists took over on September 1994 he occupied leading posts in the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Education and became foreign minister in 1962. He headed the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry till his death on December 13, 1971.

    24 Chassa described Ivan Bashev as one of Bulgaria's most remarkable foreign ministers. This daily claims that a little before his tragic death, the Bulgarian intelligence came across a document of a foreign intelligence service claiming that Bashev surpassed most of the leaders of the Bulgarian communist party and state in intellect and training, with his command of several languages and his modesty.

    On December 13, 1971 the foreign minister was found frozen to death on Mount Vitosha (near Sofia). 24 Chassa writes that the then Italian foreign minister Aldo Moro accompanied his condolences to Bashev's widow with an album of his visit to Rome, covered by most Italian dailies. Aldo Moro described his Bulgarian counterpart as a man of a brilliant intellect, with a keen sense of responsibility and due measure and of deeply humane features.

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