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News from Bulgaria / Feb 14, 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

14 February, 1996


CONTENTS

  • [01] PRESIDENT ZHELEV ANSWERS INTELLECTUALS' QUESTIONS

  • [02] P.M. VIDENOV'S VISIT TO YUGOSLAVIA

  • [03] WORLD BANK FUNDS AUCTION FOR MANAGEMENT

  • [04] BUSINESS PRESS - HALF OF THE COMPANIES ON THE MASS PRIVATIZATION LIST ARE LOSS MAKERS

  • [05] VIKTOR PAPAZOV INTERVIEWED

  • [06] FESAL FAILS, SAL-2 POSSIBLE

  • [07] B.S.P. ANALYSES FARMER COOPERATIVES


  • [01] PRESIDENT ZHELEV ANSWERS INTELLECTUALS' QUESTIONS

    Sofia, February 13 (BTA) - "Preservation of civil and ethnic peace in Bulgaria and of the army's integrity as well as the efforts to unite the nation are among the most important achievements of President Zhelyu Zhelev as leader of the opposition and as head of state," President Zhelyu Zhelev says in a written reply to questions of intellectuals of the Concord for Bulgaria society, who will support him to seek reelection. "The Lesson Upon Which We Should Build Our Relations," reads the headline of the paper, which Mr Zhelev handed today to members of the society at a meeting at the President's Office. About a month ago 50 artists, members of Concord for Bulgaria, asked the President to answer six questions concerning his performance as president, the fall of Filip Dimitrov's government of the Union of Democratic Forces and his attitude to the national question. Concord for Bulgaria was established by writers Georgi Mishev, Lyuben Dilov, professor Georgi Fotev and professor Ivailo Znepolski (former ministers), painter Gredi Assa, composer Haigashot Agassyan and other scientists and artists. Recently the society set up a nomination committee to back Zhelev's bid for the forthcoming presidential elections. They motivated their decision with the claim that Zhelyu Zhelev's nomination may unite the democratically- minded people. The intellectuals asked Zhelev to comment on the allegations that a news conference he gave in 1992 precipitated the fall of Filip Dimitrov's cabinet. In his reply the President says that he only wanted to warn the executive against some negative results of their government. Zhelev describes as groundless the accusations made by nationalists that his positions were not in line with the national interests. He recalls that he contributed to the reintegration of the Bulgarian emigrants, to the recognition of the rights of Bulgarian minorities in a number of countries and that he always took commitments in the interests of the nation only. "I am confident that I have reasons to keep the president's seat and that I stand chances of winning the people's confidence in the elections once again," the President writes. Tomorrow the intellectuals are expected to comment Zhelev's replies and to say whether they find them adequate.

    [02] P.M. VIDENOV'S VISIT TO YUGOSLAVIA

    Belgrade, February 13 (BTA correspondent Lyudmil Mitakiev) - The Bulgarian government delegation led by Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, which arrived on an official visit to Belgrade on February 12, had a meeting with President Zoran Lilic of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia today.

    In a cordial and friendly atmosphere the head of state of neighbouring Yugoslavia confirmed his country's desire for a rapid activation of bilateral ties and Balkanwide cooperation. "Now is the crucial time to overcome Balkanization of the region and prevent an even more severe crisis in the Balkans," President Lilic stated. Speaking in the same spirit, the Bulgarian side said that now is the time to prove that the Balkans are an integral part of Europe, which should be done through Europeanization of political relations in the region.

    The Yugoslav head of state thanked Bulgaria for its principled position of non-interference and equal treatment of all parties to the Yugoslav conflict, for its active neutrality and the humanitarian aid provided during the conflict within the limits set by the international sanctions.

    Zoran Lilic acquainted Zhan Videnov with the progress of the peace process in the region expressing concern over the explosive developments at Mostar and some other parts. He reacted strongly to the transfer of General Djukic and Colonel Krusmanovic from Sarajevo to the Hague. In Lilic's opinion, this was done without following the legal procedure prescribed by the international law.

    The Bulgarian side stated that the region's problems should be approached and coped with by avoiding any ideologization and religious schemes.

    Bulgaria and Yugoslavia will start working on the signing of a treaty of friendship and good neighbourly relations, the BTA correspondent was told by a well informed source in the Bulgarian government delegation. The proposal was made by the Bulgarian side and accepted with pleasure by all the officials Prime Minister Videnov met with in Belgrade yesterday and today.

    Bulgaria has already concluded treaties of friendship and good neighbourly relations with most Balkan states, NATO members Turkey and Greece included.

    "During the meeting of Prime Minister Zhan Videnov and Radoman Bozovic, Chairman of the Chamber of Citizens in the Yugoslav Parliament, an invitation was extended to Chairman of the Bulgarian National Assembly, Blagovest Sendov, to visit Yugoslavia," Government Spokesman Nikola Baltov told reporters today.

    At the end of the two-day official visit of the Bulgarian government delegation to Belgrade prime ministers Zhan Videnov of Bulgaria and Radoe Kontic of Yugoslavia expressed their satisfaction with the specific results achieved.

    "We achieved many specific results and signed a particularly important investment agreement. It is especially important that a series of other documents are ready and they will be signed in Sofia at the beginning of March," Bulgarian Prime Minister Videnov told reporters. In his opinion, the most important result is the shared conviction that there is no turning back for the peace process in the Balkans and that all necessary conditions for the promotion of Balkanwide cooperation have been created.

    "First of all we are satisfied with mutual confidence building and the revival of the all-Balkan political process. We are pleased with Yugoslavia's support for the idea to hold a meeting of Balkan foreign ministers in Sofia this year and for the preparation of a Bulgarian- Yugoslav treaty of friendship and good neighbourly relations. We intend to complement the legal framework of relations between Bulgaria and Yugoslavia and renew border areas cooperation thus making the common border into an European one. We are pleased with the support for establishing a Bulgarian-Yugoslav free trade area. Bulgaria and Yugoslavia's central position in the Balkans is very important from the point of view of communications and the two countries will engage in intensive exchange of information to develop the infrastructure of the region. This will be a prerequisite for the promotion of human contacts which do not stir up historic prejudice but help rally public support for our common European future," Prime Minister Videnov said.

    Agreeing with his Bulgarian counterpart, Prime Minister Radoe Kontic specified the areas of Yugoslav-Bulgarian cooperation: mechanical engineering, agriculture, energy, the ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgy, the chemical industry and tourism. He said that the two countries could contribute a lot to Balkanwide cooperation and backed Videnov's idea for a Balkan meeting. "This is the Balkan countries' road to European integration," he stated. Kontic highly appreciated Bulgaria's position during the Yugoslav conflict and its support for Yugoslavia's reintegration in the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe and other international organizations. "Bulgaria does not only support us, it also launches initiatives to this effect," Kontic said. In his opinion, the present visit is the beginning of an entirely new stage in the two countries' relations.

    A little earlier Bulgarian Minister of Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Atanas Paparizov and Yugoslav deputy prime Minister and Minister of Finance Jovan Zevic signed an agreement on the promotion and reciprocal encouragement of investments in the presence of the two prime ministers, ministers and businessmen from the two countries.

    The Bulgarian government delegation, head by Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, visited Podgorica, the capital of Monte Negro. The delegation had separate meetings with President Momor Bulatovic of Monte Negor and with Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic. As in Belgrade, the talks were particularly constructive. The sides decided to launch cooperation projects in ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgy, mechanical engineering and other economic areas.

    The Bulgarian government delegation is returning to Bulgaria later tonight.

    [03] WORLD BANK FUNDS AUCTION FOR MANAGEMENT

    Sofia, February 13 (BTA) - The Bulgarian Telecommunication Company (BTC) invited tenders for the management information system, Bozhidar Nikolov, Head of the Information Technologies Directorate at BTC, told a news conference today. The project includes the building of modern computer network and introduction of information systems for technological and economic activities in BTC. The tender will be cofinanced by the World Bank and BTC, Nikolov said. So far 12 companies have bought tender dossiers, including IBM, Hewlett Packard and Sun-Microsystems.

    "In December 1995 the World Bank gave its consent to organize a tender for the management information system," Nikolov recalled. The successful bidder will dispatch the technologies, adapt them to the Bulgarian conditions and set the basic components of the system into operation.

    "BTC adopted a program for upgrading the networks for data transmission in early February," Nikolov said. "However, adequate telecommunication resources, new information technologies and services are needed for this purpose," he added. BTC plans to provide services compatible with the European infrastructures. This will allow the use of Internet in all large cities in the country. "One of the conditions for achieving this goal is to update the Bulfak national network for data transmission and improve its efficiency," Nikolov stated.

    Nikolov said that in the nearest future BTC projects to sign a try and buy agreement with IBM for the introduction of a high tech ATM network on the territory of Sofia.

    [04] BUSINESS PRESS - HALF OF THE COMPANIES ON THE MASS PRIVATIZATION LIST ARE LOSS MAKERS

    53% of the companies and enterprises on the mass privatization list registered losses in 1994, "Continent" and "Standart News" report, citing a survey of the "Ikonomika 2000" Association. The survey was based on the balance sheets of the enterprises and reveals both the financial enterprises' financial state and the return on capital employed. "Standart News" and "Continent" run a list of leading commercial partnerships according to their financial and economic state. "Neftochim" Bourgas (Southern Bulgaria, on the Black Sea), Kremikovtsi, Sofia and Balkancar Reklama, Sofia, rank first, their shares giving the highest yield.

    Despite the intensive privatization awareness campaign launched by the mass media, the public has no information on the actual state of the enterprises, "Continent" comments. The way in which citizens will actually take part in mass privatization is also unclear which explains the weak interest in mass privatization, according to "Ikonomika 2000", "Continent" writes.

    "Standart News" writes that the advice given to participants in mass privatization to invest in enterprises in their regions is misleading. Usually only several companies bring dividends to their shareholders. The remaining have a negative or zero yield.

    [05] VIKTOR PAPAZOV INTERVIEWED

    "The stock exchange will pick up before the summer of 1997," Viktor Papazov, CEO of the Bulgarian Stock Exchange (BSE) says in an interview for "Pari". The merging of the BSE with the Sofia Stock Exchange is a step that will activate the secondary market of government securities.

    Asked whether the merging will not pose too high a risk for the BSE, Papazov says that the deal will not be finalized before the balance sheet of the Sofia Stock Exchange is ready and the number of shares to be exchanged are not included.

    Neither the Government nor the Bulgarian Stock Exchange will receive money from the FFr 3.5 million aid granted by the French Government for upgrading the capital and stock market, Papazov believes. According to him, the aid was granted for a three-stage software project. The first two stages include the drafting of the respective regulations and rules to adapt Bulgaria's computer system to the Western one. The third stage will involve the installation of the software, Papazov says.

    [06] FESAL FAILS, SAL-2 POSSIBLE

    Bulgaria will not receive a USD 150 million Finance and Economy Structural Adjustment Loan (FESAL) from the World Bank but it will probably receive a a second Structural Adjustment Loan, "Douma" writes. Unlike the conditions for signing a FESAL agreement which requires a restructuring of the banking system, the SAL is for the structural adjustment of the entire economy.

    Bulgaria received the first SAL of USD 250 million leva in 1991. Between USD 150-250 million were planned for 1996, "Douma" recalls. This daily recalls that for the time being the negotiations are at a preliminary stage and that talks are to be held at the Board of Directors.

    On February 14 and 15 the chiefs of the Bulgarian Bank Consolidation Company will meet a World Bank mission currently visiting Sofia. Then the World Bank mission will present the actual sum to be extended under a second Structural Assictance Loan agreement and will offer technical assistance in drafting a programme for the use of the loan, "Douma" writes. By Friday, February 16, the experts hope to be able to reach an agreement with the Bulgarian Government on the concrete conditions for signing the agreement. "Douma" adds that the World Bank has approved Bulgaria's budget for 1996.

    [07] B.S.P. ANALYSES FARMER COOPERATIVES

    Sofia, February 13 (BTA) - "Family farming will not be in position to meet the country's agrifood demand until the beginning of 21st century" - this is the conclusion of a task force assigned by the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) to analyse the state of farmer cooperatives in Bulgaria. The report, considered at today's meeting of the Executive Bureau of the BSP Supreme Council, was made by Nikola Koichev, BSP Executive Bureau member, and Democratic Left MPs Zlatimir Orsov and Todor Todorov.

    The analysis showed that 2,800 farmer cooperatives had been registered by the beginning of 1996. They provided over 80 percent of the total agricultural produce in 1995 - about 80 percent of the wheat crop, 75 percent of maize, 83 percent of sugar beet and one-third of potatoes, Nikola Koichev told a news conference today.The 2,800 farmer cooperatives have a membership of 1,200,000.

    According to Koichev, small farming cannot provide a larger share of annual agricultural produce because the farming equipment available in Bulgaria makes it impossible - it is mainly heavy and medium machinery. "Mansized machinery is available on the world market but there is no money to buy it," Koichev said. This hinders a more efficient development of small farming and the tendency will persist until the beginning of next century.

    Funding is one of the major problems of farmer cooperatives. The report notes that the slow pace of the institutionalization of the Agriculture State Fund resulted in not subsidizing the autumn farm works on time in 1995. The BSP leadership will do its best so that the Fund starts to operate successfully before the spring farm works.

    Another weak point the report points to is the slowness in building up specialized mechanized cultivation companies, purchase and supply organizations.

    "It is our ambition to accelerate the institutionalization of the Agriculture State Fund and auxiliary farming structures and ensure active state participation in the regulation and stimulation of agriculture," Koichev stated

    He said that today's meeting was a phase of the preparations for a BSP plenum on the agricultural policy of the Democratic Left.

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