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News from Bulgaria / Feb 23, 96

From: (Embassy of Bulgaria)

Bulgarian Telegraph Agency Directory



23 February, 1996












    Sofia, February 22 (BTA) - In a televised address tonight President Zhelev called on Bulgarians to unite in public committees "for the return of the land in its physical boundaries and upon the submission of notarial deeds of ownership" as well as in committees for land distribution. Zhelev said that the Government's claims that 70% of the farm land has been returned to its owners do not correspond to the truth and accused the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) of impeding the land reform.

    "Over the past weeks and months I have been receiving more and more complaints from different parts of Bulgaria about gross violations of the Land Act and letters claiming that the land reform has actually come to a halt and that the land is not being returned to its owners," Zhelev said. He recalled that all the three parliaments and six governments that ruled Bulgaria after democratic changes were launched in this country pledged to return the land to its former owners. Bitter experience has shown that without pressure from the people backed by the democratic state institutions and political forces, land will not be returned, the President also said. Several times in his address he called upon Bulgarians to be more active on this issue.

    "Those who have inherited land from their mothers and fathers, from their ancestors, cannot have it back because it conflicts the narrow partisan interests and political prejudices of a handful of people at 20, Pozitano Street [the BSP headquarters]," said Dr. Zhelev.

    He said, however, that the land restitution issue should not be politicized out of proportion and stressed he was not addressing only the adherents to the democratic opposition but the members and supporters of the BSP as well. Dr. Zhelev further described land restitution as "a national problem" and said that solving it is vital for the future of the economy and the state. He also said he will insist that this issue be put on the agenda of the Consultative Council on National Security. Dr. Zhelev has previously dwelled on land restitution, in an address he made in April 1995.


    Sofia, February 22 (BTA) - President Zhelyu Zhelev today discussed the state of the military-industrial complex with arms trade bosses. Kintex boss Anton Saldjiiski and Elmet Engineering boss Lenko Dankov had separate meetings with Zhelev, explaining this was in the interest of trade secrets. Armimex boss Nikola Rachev, whose licence was revoked, was also at the President's Office but Zhelev did not receive him. Armimex has special functions and as soon as the Government specifies them, the President will meet a company representative, Zhelev's Military Adviser Col. Nikola Kolev told BTA.

    In the past few days the President met with trade union activists of the defence industry and bosses of some of the largest arms producers. The Consultative Council on National Security will meet soon at a date which will be announced later, Col. Kolev said. The Council will recommend measures to the state institutions intended to bail the military-industrial complex out of its difficulties.

    The arms business is in the hands of the state and will need support on all levels if it is to succeed, said Col. Kolev, adding that according to President Zhelev, there were no cut-and-dried solutions. In 1995 arms manufacturers posted sales of 160 million dollars, Industry Minister Kliment Vouchev said today. Most of this went to the Arab countries.


    Sofia, February 22 (BTA) - The National Assembly today passed conclusively amendments to the Taxation Procedures Act, adding foreign persons' representative offices and wholly owned subsidiaries to the category of persons subject to mandatory tax registration. "Even though the subsidiaries and the offices are no juristic persons in their own right, foreign juristic persons, acting through their subsidiaries, practically engage in substantial commercial business involving persons which or who are statutorily subject to tax registration," the Council of Ministers, which introduced the bill, argued in its reasoning. A tax audit of the subsidiary itself will be necessary for determination of the foreign persons' tax liabilities. "Representative offices may not carry on business, but under the law they may employ both foreign and Bulgarian citizens. With a view to controlling the deduction and payment of aggregate income tax and social security contributions in respect of their staff, these entities also must register for tax purposes," the reasoning reads. The amendments particularize the obligations of tax-payers corresponding to the powers of the tax administration as regulated by the relevant statute, which was amended last week. The Government argues that, judging by practice, the lack of such provisions so far has prevented the efficient exercise of tax services' powers. The amended version also specifies the obligations of third parties to the tax authorities in connection with the gathering of reliable information on tax-payers. As amended, the Act obligates the head of the competent tax service to motivate any taxation decree as issued, and any taxpayer appealing against such a decree to produce substantiating evidence. The MPs added a new chapter to the law, establishing a procedure for revision of effective taxation decrees. The passages specifying the instances in which the head of a tax service has discretion to determine the specific amount of tax due sparked a controversy in the debating chamber. Any natural- person tax-payer whose book-keeping is irregular or lacking must declare his property and prove the origin of its intervening increment if the tax authorities determine that there is any such increment. Juristic persons are required to submit annual financial statements. If they fail to prove the origin of the assets, they will be taxed. "This provision violates citizens' constitutional rights and the presumption of innocence," Mr Svetoslav Louchnikov MP of the opposition Union of Democratic Forces and former minister of justice, said from the platform. "The new provision is a formal misconception as well: it leads into a labyrinth of antinomies and confusion," Mr Louchnikov believes. "The presumption of innocence is totally irrelevant in this case: the mechanism fixing tax liabilities is not a penalty," reacted Mrs Mariela Miteve MP of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, the dominant member of the ruling Democratic Left coalition.


    Sofia, February 22 (BTA) - At a regular meeting today the Government enacted a decree regulating the structure and operation of a Committee on Securities and Stock Exchanges. The Committee is an independent state agency based in Sofia. Its main objectives are to protect investor interests and encourage securities trading. Its functions will be to regulate and control the issuing of securities and the setting up of stock exchanges, as well as to control investment brokers, companies and privatization funds. It will license investment brokers to operate abroad.

    The Cabinet amended a 1993 decree to give Bulgarians living abroad a better chance to study in Bulgaria. In the past few years candidates for training in Bulgaria by far exceeded the available places, says the sponsor, Education Minister Ilcho Dimitrov. More and more Bulgarian expatriates are applying for postgraduate studies, research and teacher-training courses.

    The Government will propose to Parliament to allow American servicemen to take part in a military-medical exercise Partnership '96 which will be held in Bulgaria from March 23 to 30. It is part of the Bulgaria-NATO partnership programme within the framework of the Partnership for Peace plan. The exercise will seek to develop skills for participation in humanitarian operations, exchange experience and enhance the competence of Bulgarian medical personnel involved in joint missions under the aegis of the UN and NATO. Taking part in the exercise will be 150 persons including 31 unarmed military- medical personnel of the US Air Force Command Europe.

    The Cabinet approved Bulgarian-Russian intergovernmental agreements on cooperation in antitrust policy.

    The Cabinet approved a draft declaration to the European Energy Charter relating to the principles of the peaceful uses of atomic energy and the safety of nuclear installations, as well as the principles of cooperation in this field. The declaration will be considered at the forthcoming meeting of the Conference on the European Energy Charter. Being a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and the Convention on Nuclear Safety, Bulgaria has entered into the commitments listed in the declaration and its possible adoption would not lead to new commitments, the draft's sponsor, the Prime Minister, says in his reasoning.

    The Cabinet approved a Notaries Bill regulating legal transactions conducted by notaries. The Bill provides for private persons authorized by the state to perform such services. Now all notaries are civil servants.

    The Supervisory Board of the Privatization Agency may pronounce only on the legality of privatization deals, the Cabinet proposed in draft amendments to the Privatization Act. The Board will be barred from discussing the economic aspects of privatization contracts which is said to cause tensions between the Board and the Executive Director, thus impeding the Agency's operation, Deputy Prime Minister Roumen Gechev said at the government press office.

    The Cabinet approved the position of the Bulgarian delegation to the fourth session of the Bulgarian-Russian intergovernmental committee on cooperation in trade, the economy, science and technology which will be held in Moscow from February 27 to March 1. The delegation will be led by Deputy Prime Minister and Construction Minister Doncho Konakchiev and will include representatives of the Energy Committee because Bulgaria's energy requirements and the supply of energy sources will be on the agenda.

    The Cabinet gave the go-ahead for a Season of Bulgaria in Russia from March 2 until May. The event, organized after a 12-year break, will present Bulgaria's economic potential, Government Spokesman Nikola Baltov said.

    The Cabinet will propose to Parliament to ratify an agreement between the NATO member states and the Partnership for Peace countries relating to the status of their armed forces, as well as the additional protocol to the agreement. This country signed with a reservation. The Cabinet proposed that Bulgaria ratify the agreement by a unilateral declaration so as not to impede its ratification by the rest of the countries, Baltov said. The point of the reservation is that Bulgaria's criminal jurisdiction will apply to NATO armed forces during exercises on Bulgarian territory.

    Bulgaria will be taking part in a mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) policing the implementation of confidence and security-building measures in Bosnia-Herzegovina and organizing multinational inspections to control this process. The Cabinet proposed that Bulgarian inspectors take part in five or six of the 90 OSCE inspections in the 120 days from March 1. "We suggest that Bulgaria lead one of the inspections," Baltov said.

    The cabinet discussed a report by Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski on the further implementation of the initiative proposing that Bulgaria host the next meeting of foreign ministers within the framework of Balkan cooperation. The cabinet approved the text for an official letter from Prime Minister Zhan Videnov to his opposite members of the Balkan states, proposing that consultations be launched at deputy foreign ministers' level to prepare the meeting. A decision was taken that such consultations be also held with the partners of the EU and other organizations for regional cooperation in Europe, as well as with the member states of the Contact Group for former Yugoslavia. High on the agenda of the upcoming meeting will be security in the Balkans and projects and initiatives for Balkan cooperation, said Baltov.


    Sofia, February 22 (BTA) - A Montenegrin business delegation, led by Trade Minister Dusko Lalicevic, held meetings at the Bulgarian Ministry of Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation and the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, "Douma" and "Continent" write. The prospects for cooperation in tourism, metallurgy, furniture and tobacco industries were on the agenda of the talks, the papers say.

    Kuwait made its first state investment in Bulgaria purchasing land for the construction of an embassy compound and a moll, "Continent" writes referring to Kuwaiti Ambassador to Bulgaria Yosuf Al-Onaizi. The Kuwaiti Parliament is expected to ratify the agreement on reciprocal protection of investments between Bulgaria and Kuwait signed two years ago. The paper quotes Yosuf Al-Onaizi as saying that Kuwaiti businessmen show interest in Bulgarian tourism.

    The Government will not take extraordinary measures to prevent the withdrawal of deposits from the commercial banks, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development Roumen Gechev says in an interview for "Continent". Gechev states that the responsibility of the Government is limited only to influencing the management of the banks in which the state has shares. He says in the interview that the control over the banks is an obligation and right of the Banking Supervision Department with the National Bank of Bulgaria (BNB).

    "BNB should help, as much as possible, to prevent the grave crisis in some, mainly private, financial institutions. The small depositors could not be thrown to the lions," Stefan Stoilov, MP of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party, says, interviewed by "Troud". According to him, the system guaranteeing small and medium-sized deposits is to be set in operation as soon as possible. "The central bank should help these who have no bad debts, extended by careless bankers," Stoilov states.

    "24 Chassa" runs texts of a bill on bankruptcies of credit institutions saying that "only BNB may petition the court to adjudicate on a bank's bankruptcy". It is not yet decided whether the MPs will enact the bill separately or as an amendment to the Banks and Lending Act, the paper says. So far, there is only a provision concerning bankruptcy of enterprises in the Commercial Code, but it cannot be applied to banks and insurance companies," Borislav Stratev, Head of the BNB Legal Department, says quoted by the paper.


    Sofia, February 22 (BTA) - "To put an end to rampant crime, to say 'Enough!' to violence and fear. To take in our hands the responsibility for our own safety," is an appeal to all Bulgarians issued today by the newly set up National Public Council for Fighting Crime.

    The Council emerged at the initiative of a group of outstanding intellectuals and public figures, including poet Valeri Petrov, writer Nikolai Haitov, actor Assen Kissimov and the chair of the Bulgarian Bar Association Georgi Petkanov.

    Member of the leading body of the new organization is also the Director of the Chief Penitentiary Administration Zdravko Traikov. He said today that the major task of the Council is to pool efforts with the competent bodies of the executive, legislative and judiciary in a bid to prevent crime. Bodies of the Council operating across the country will inform the competent bodies of crimes and cases of disturbed order.

    Earlier this year pop star Doni launched a campaign of civilian protest against violence and fear. His initiative got the support of many intellectuals and representatives of various political forces.

    On several occasions last year leaders of one of Bulgaria's major trade unions, the Podkrepa Labour Confederation, called upon the public to organize residence-based groups to help the Interior Ministry bodies in the combat against crime. The trade union activists even had a project ready providing technicalities for the formation of such groups. These and other initiatives are invariably prompted by the flood of reports by the media and government on the inefficiency of the judiciary.

    According to late 1995 figures of the Interior Ministry, the crime rate soared 3.5 times over the 1990-94 period, while the clear-up rate dropped from 65% in the 1980s down to 39.71% last year. In the 1980 there were 583 crimes registered per 100,000 population and in the 1990-94 period the figure jumped to 2,600 per 100,000 population. The official statistics report as an achievement a 2.5 percentage-point rise of the clear-up rate but the number of convicted offenders remains negligible.

    At a news conference last October Justice Minister Mladen Chervenyakov said that only one out of 12 crimes are ever taken to court. Today Interior Minister Lyubomir Nachev said he has sent Prosecutor General Ivan Tatarchev a list with the names of 2,315 criminals with two or more pending cases, who are at large.

    The leaders of the counter-crime public council today declared April 12, Good Friday, as day of the victims of crime. A rally with a concert will be organized in Sofia on this day in protest against crime and violence in Bulgaria.


    Sofia, February 22 (BTA) - The Bulgaria-EU joint parliamentary committee ended its session in Brussels today. The session closed with the adoption of a declaration, Bulgarian National Radio correspondent Alexander Vladkov reported.

    The document says that accession to the EU remains a major objective for Bulgaria and there is a broad consensus on this matter in the Bulgarian society. This country is taking active and persistent efforts to accomplish this objective. In connection with this the joint parliamrntary committee hails the filing of an official EU membership application by the Bulgarian government on December 16, 1995. Together with some general assessment of the state of bilateral relations and business and trade cooperation, the declaration highlights two specific issues: the support of the European Parliament for getting Bulgaria out of the EU visa blacklist, and the support of the joint parliamentary committee for including this country in the projects for post-war reconstruction of former Yugoslavia with a priority it deserves as a neighbouring country that was hit worst by the UN embargo, said this radio correspondent. The declaration makes recommdendations as regards specific problems that sound particularly important today: to activate the structured political dialogue, to further liberalize bilateral trade and facilitate the access to EU markets for Bulgarian-made goods, to exchange information on the intergovernmental conference preparing the reform in and expansion of the EU.

    The document sets forth requirements to Bulgaria on issues where little or no progress has been made. Of particular significance among them are consolidation of the national budget, curbing inflation to a sustainable level and stabilization of the banking sector, Vladkov also said in his report from Brussels. The sides agreed that the much- controversial Kozlodoui Nuclear Power Plant, on the Danube, be discussed at the next session of the committee due this summer in Sofia.

    On the second day of the session today, the committee discussed bilateral business and commercial ties and cooperation in infrastructure projects.

    In an address to the session today, Peter Bashikarov MP of the ruling Socialist party dwelled on the development of business and trade contacts stressing the need for further liberalization of the import of Bulgarian goods in EU countries, which would be fully in compliance with the principle of equality of all EU associate members.


    Sofia, February 22 (BTA) - Greek Public Order Minister Kostas Gitonas and Bulgarian Interior Minister Lyubomir Nachev signed today an implementation protocol to the agreement on cooperation between the interior ministries of the two countries. Mr Gitonas arrived here yesterday on his first official visit abroad as interior minister.

    The agreement was signed in the summer of 1991 in Greece during an official visit of the then Bulgarian interior minister. In December 1995 the two countries signed an agreement on the readmission of illegal immigrants on the territories of the two countries.

    The implementation protocol to the agreement on cooperation signed today provides for cooperation in combatting terrorism, Interior Minister Nachev told BTA. According to him, the interior ministries of the two countries will cooperate in solving transborder problems such as trafficking in drugs, radioactive materials and cars and document forgery. Officers will be accredited to the diplomatic missions of the two countries who will be in charge of contacts between the Greek Ministry of Public Order and the Bulgarian Interior Ministry.


    Sofia, February 23 (BTA) - "I expect to have interesting substantive talks with Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov," Foreign Minister Pirinski said before his departure for Moscow early today. During his two-day working visit he will discuss a broad spectrum of questions: Bulgarian-Russian relations, stability measures and regional cooperation in the Balkans, and European affairs including security. Pirinski was invited to Moscow by his Russian counterpart Primakov. Pirinski's schedule also includes a meeting with State Duma Chairman Gennady Seleznyov and other deputies.

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