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News from Bulgaria / Feb 16, 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

16 February, 1996


CONTENTS

  • [01] FOREIGN MINISTRY DECLARATION

  • [02] COUNCIL OF MINISTERS DECISIONS

  • [03] CABINET APPROVES DEBT RESCHEDULING AGREEMENT

  • [04] RATIFICATIONS IN PARLIAMENT

  • [05] BUSINESS PRESS

  • [06] FRANEK ROZWADOWSKI, IMF RESIDENT REPRESENTATIVE IN SOFIA

  • [07] OPPOSITION FORCES TO SEEK UNITY IN THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS

  • [08] MRF LEADERS ADVISE FOREIGN DIPLOMATS ON KURDJALI CASE


  • [01] FOREIGN MINISTRY DECLARATION

    Sofia, February 15 (BTA) - BTA has received the following declaration of the Spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: "In connection with the TANJUG news agency coverage of the official visit by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and in particular of the talks held between the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Svetoslav Shivarov, and the Yugoslav Minister [in charge of Civil Liberties and National Minorities], Mrs Margit Savovic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would like to declare the following: "The position of the Bulgarian government delegation on the whole range of questions concerning the real exercise of the constitutionally proclaimed cultural, educational, social and other rights of the Bulgarian national minority in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, upheld during the visit, reflects this country's desire for a solution of these questions in a constructive spirit. In the last few years the Republic of Bulgaria has been adhering and will continue to adhere unswervingly to this approach. It underlay our desire, repeatedly expressed at international fora as well, to find a solution to this question on a bilateral basis. This question is among the foreign policy priorities of the Republic of Bulgaria. "The Republic of Bulgaria consistently applies the universally accepted international standards on human rights and fundamental freedoms and the international mechanisms connected with the application of these standards. In accordance with them, the interest in the respect for human rights cannot be interpreted as intervention in the internal affairs of the separate states. As a member state of the Council of Europe and associate member of the European Union, the Republic of Bulgaria will remain committed to this position on human rights."

    In a February 13 report, TANJUG said that during the talks between Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Svetoslav Shivarov and Yugoslav Minister Margit Savovic, "it was stressed that the status of national minorities is an internal affair of each state and they must not be a source of conflict between the country or residence and the country of origin. It was emphasized that any internationalization of this matter violates the state sovereignty. It was further emphasized that the state of human rights in Yugoslavia is being unjustifiably placed at the centre of attention of certain international institutions."

    [02] COUNCIL OF MINISTERS DECISIONS

    Sofia, February 15 (BTA) - At a regular sitting today the Government adopted guide lines of state policy on providing health and safety at work. The forthcoming adoption of occupational safety and industrial hygiene act, hazardous chemicals act, standardization act and others will ensure the implementation of the government program in this field, Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Mincho Kolarski said.

    The Council of Ministers decided to allocate funds to assist the operation of the International Information Centre on the Sources of Balkan and Mediterranean History (CIBAL). The money will be utilized for non-profit publishing.

    The Government approved an agreement under which the World Bank is to extend to Bulgaria 10.5 million US dollars' worth grant aid for the national program for phased reduction of the use of ozone depleting substances. The agreement should be ratified by Parliament.

    The Cabinet approved a draft cooperation agreement between the defence ministries of Bulgaria and Cambodia. The document is expected to be signed during the visit of a Bulgarian delegation to Cambodia from February 29 to March 5.

    The Cabinet approved a draft cooperation agreement between the governments of Bulgaria and Moldavia in the filed of tourism which was proposed by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development Roumen Gechev.

    The Council of Ministers mandated Justice Minister Mladen Chervenyakov to hold negotiations and sign an agreement on legal assistance in civil matters between Bulgaria and Israel. The draft agreement envisages equal legal protection of personal and property rights of the two countries' citizens and free access of every citizen to the judiciary of either of the countries.

    The Government approved an initialed text of agreement on avoidance of double taxation between Bulgaria and Morocco.

    The Cabinet approved a Convention on Cooperation in the Filed of Quarantine and Plant Protection and Veterinary and Sanitary Convention between Bulgaria and Hungary.

    The Government approved the Bulgarian position for the upcoming talks with Belarus Prime Minister Mikhas Chigir in Sofia. During his visit the two sides are expected to sign a Bulgarian-Belarus agreement for trade and economic cooperation and a protocol for cooperation between the two countries' trade ministries. The drafts of the two documents were approved by the Government today.

    The Cabinet ministers decided to propose to the National Assembly to allow Bulgaria's participation in the "Peace Shield" exercise under the Partnership for Peace initiative due from August 1 to August 11 in Ukraine.

    [03] CABINET APPROVES DEBT RESCHEDULING AGREEMENT

    Sofia, February 15 (BTA) - The Cabinet approved a debt rescheduling agreement signed with the Japanese Export Import Bank (Eximbank) on January 23, 1996 and will propose to Parliament to ratify it.

    The agreement provides the rescheduling of the Bulgarian debt to Eximbank and other Japanese creditor bank and natural persons amounting to 9,000 million yen and 13 million US dollars. The payment will be made in eight installments starting in 2001 and paying the last one in 2004. The agreement grants facilities under loan agreements on the funding of several Bulgarian projects for the construction of the Chaira pump storage power station, the reconstruction of the chemical works at Devnya and other industrial units.

    According to Finance Minister Dimiter Kostov, the agreements will considerably relieve the external debt servicing in the next seven years and will make it possible to use the funds to stimulate the Bulgarian economy.

    [04] RATIFICATIONS IN PARLIAMENT

    Sofia, February 15 (BTA) - Parliament today ratified three treaties between Bulgaria and Armenia, signed in Sofia last April.

    One is a bilateral agreement on legal assistance in civil suits, regulating rogatory commissions, legalization of documents, information exchange, etc. The agreement is in line with modern European and international law standards, according to the parliamentary Committee on State Bodies' Organization and Operation.

    The MPs ratified a bilateral agreement on legal assistance in criminal proceedings, promoting cooperation in criminal law, according to the Cabinet, which sponsored the agreement.

    Parliament also ratified an agreement on extradition between Bulgaria and Armenia regulating conditions for extradition and its denial, pretrial remand in custody, etc.

    The MPs today ratified two treaties between Bulgaria and Georgia, signed in Sofia last January.

    According to the agreement on legal assistance in civil suits, Bulgarian and Georgian nationals can defend their interests before courts and other institutions in each of the countries. They are entitled to free legal assistance in the other country.

    The MPs also ratified a treaty on legal assistance in criminal proceedings between Bulgaria and Georgia, which will help more effectively combat crime, according to the Cabinet which sponsored the treaty.

    Parliament ratified an agreement on legal assistance in civil proceedings between Bulgaria and China signed in Sofia last April. The treaty will help promote bilateral cooperation in criminal law, according to the parliamentary Committee on State Bodies' Organization and Operation.

    [05] BUSINESS PRESS

    Sofia, February 15 (BTA) - As the embargo on Yugoslavia was lifted, Yugoslavia's Tigar, one of the biggest producers of car tyres and rubber articles in Central and Eastern Europe, is eyeing Bulgaria, "Pari" says. The company has opened a representative office in Sofia under Director Obrat Pesic, long-serving director of the plant and designer of many products offered now. Bulgar-Yugo is Tigar's exclusive distributor for Bulgaria. Set up in 1994, it imports almost the entire range of household rubber products and over 30 types of car tyres. Tigar is negotiating for joint production and barter with Bulgaria's biggest state- owned refinery, Neftochim of Bourgas, and chemical plants.

    Charges and zones for operator-connected services changed as of February 13, "Douma" writes, quoting the Sofia Telephone and Telegraph Communications Department. Formerly zone-two Ireland, Cyprus and Madeira are now zone three, with charges at 100 leva/min. The charges for the US, Canada and Syria, now in zone four, are 200 leva/min.

    On Wednesday Bulbank extended 100 million leva to Sunny Beach Inc. for renovation of the resort's facilities in preparation for the summer, "Pari" says. This is the first tranche of a 300 million leva loan agreed in 1995. Sunny Beach will need 400 million leva for repairs before the tourist season. It reported a profit of 250 million leva for 1995 despite a drop in the influx of tourists, the management told the daily.

    [06] FRANEK ROZWADOWSKI, IMF RESIDENT REPRESENTATIVE IN SOFIA

    Sofia, February 15 (BTA) - "In 1995 Bulgaria saw some progress on macroeconomic stabilization due to policies implemented by the authorities during 1994 and 1995. The IMF would like to see this progress sustained and augmented in 1996.... which would be a good foundation for support from the multilateral financial institutions," says IMF's Resident Representative in Sofia Franek Rozwadowski in an interview for BTA's specialized English language weekly newsletter Bulgarian Economic Outlook (BEO). This is Mr Rozwadowski's first interview for a Bulgarian information institution.

    "The IMF supports the Government's objectives of lowering inflation further while sustaining economic growth," says Mr Rozwadowski in the interview. In his view, "these policy objectives will require a further reduction in the budget deficit and a prudent monetary policy." He believes, however, that structural policies also need to be in place. According to Mr Rozwadowski, the start of the mass privatization programme at the beginning of the year, was definitely a step in the right direction. The IMF also backs the Government's intentions to take bold action on the side of cash privatization. In Mr Rozwadowski's view, financial discipline of the banks and the restructuring of the banking sector are the other urgent issues which the Government should address.

    "The reforms, including cash and mass privatization, the reform of the banking system and imposing financial discipline on public enterprises are difficult from a technical and political point of view," Mr Rozwadowski says. For that reason the delay of the reforms in Bulgaria is not entirely surprising for the IMF. On the one hand, this delay caused the delay in the availability of the fund's support in Bulgaria. On the other hand, however, the IMF would lend its support for a programme which has been widely debated and agreed upon, IMF's Resident Representative in Sofia believes. In his view, "if the delay was necessary in order to arrive at reform proposals which enjoy a consensus within the government, then this would be worth the wait."

    Mr Rozwadowski says that a lot of work needs to be done in the banking sector. In his view, banks in Bulgaria, both private and state ones, are in trouble mainly due to their non-performing loans and excessively high costs. The IMF's Representative recommends that the first thing to be done is to strengthen bank supervision which needs an adequate legal framework. In his view, "only then will it be possible to rehabilitate banks without wasting the tax-payers' money." According to Mr Rozwadowski, only after these steps have been taken, privatization in the banking sector will become possible.

    According to IMF's Resident Representative, the Government's bank rehabilitation programme adopted in late 1995 makes a very accurate and profound diagnosis of the reasons for the banking sector's problems. "The advantage of this programme is that it does recognize that the most important objective is to reform the behaviour of the banks," Mr Rozwadowski says in conclusion.

    [07] OPPOSITION FORCES TO SEEK UNITY IN THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS

    Sofia, February 15 (BTA) - After conferring today, the leaders of the parliamentary opposition forces declared themselves in favour of a single nomination for the presidential elections, due to be held by the end of this year. This was the first meeting at which the leaders of the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) Ivan Kostov, of the Popular Union Stefan Savov (Democrats) and Anastasia Moser (Agrarians), and of the ethnic Turks' Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) Ahmed Dogan exchanged views on the upcoming presidential race. After their two-hour- long news conference, the four leaders told the press that they are unanimous that the opposition must field a single nominee for the elections. Mrs Moser, however, openly fears that the opposition will be divided between two nominations. Local analysts say that part of the opposition will most probably support the re-election bid of the incumbent President and the UDF will nominate its own candidate. Even at this stage, Mrs Moser called for tolerant relations and said that what will matter most to the opposition candidates would be not to campaign against each other but "to focus on the Cabinet's weak points." The UDF National Coordinating Council has worked out a nomination procedure. At a National Conference in late March the opposition coalition will take a vote to select the Union's candidate from among several contenders. The UDF suggests that after that a single opposition nominee be decided at national preliminary elections. After the meeting today Mr Kostov said that the UDF remains committed to this idea and that if it is accepted, this will be the first time that the opposition will achieve unity of action. Mr Dogan and Mr Savov, however, called into question the preliminary elections idea, arguing that this is a complicated procedure and that Bulgaria has no experience of such elections. Mr Dogan said that in principle the MRF is in favour of primary elections. In late January President Zhelev said he regarded the UDF-proposed nomination procedure as the most democratic one.

    [08] MRF LEADERS ADVISE FOREIGN DIPLOMATS ON KURDJALI CASE

    Sofia, February 15 (BTA) - Leaders of the ethnic Turks' Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) familiarized today diplomats from embassies of Islamic countries in Bulgaria with their estimate of the elections in the Kurdjali municipality (area inhabited by compact masses of ethnic Turks) which were annulled on February 5. The legitimacy of the elections was contested by the local structures of six political forces over law violations.

    "We recognize as few as 35 of the examination's conclusions, which were filed with the Regional Court in Kurdjali, MRF leader Ahmed Dogan told reporters after the meeting. Although the invitation was extended to all ambassadors of Islamic countries in Bulgaria, the meeting was attended only by advisor and second secretary level officials from the embassies of Lebanon, Morocco, Turkey, Kuwait, Egypt and Libya. The MRF was represented by Ahmed Dogan, MPs Yunal Lyutfi and Ibrahim Tatarlu, the challenged Kurdjali mayor Rassim Moussa and the Chairman of MRF's Regional Council in Kurdjali Ahmed Yussein.

    According to Ahmed Dogan, one of the topics on the agenda was the Kurdjali case, as a precedent of a serious violation of the electoral rights of the citizens in one of the regions with mixed population. The MRF leaders also familiarized the diplomats with certain violations of the draft legislations on the Protection of Bulgarian Language and on Radio and Television.

    Only 35 of the voters violated Art.3 of the Local Elections Act, says the statement, which was delivered to the diplomats and later read before reporters. The electoral registers, which were worked out using the database of the Regional Directorate of the Interior are inadequate and do not coincide with the municipal registers, Dogan said after the meeting. He suggested a public trial and the complete recordings of the election campaigns of the BSP-led coalition and of the MRF in the region of Kurdjali be monitored so that it becomes clear "who is playing the ethnic card."

    The MRF leader promised an international examination, monitors and a commission to analyse the election results on the spot. The MRF leaders called on to the invited diplomats not to drop Bulgaria from the agenda of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. Bulgaria was put on the Organisation's agenda already at the time of the regenerative process (the coercive change of ethnic Turks' names in 1994) as a country in which the rights of Muslims are violated, it became clear from Ahmed Dogan's statement.

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