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News From Bulgaria - 02/26/96

From: (Embassy of Bulgaria)

Bulgarian Telegraph Agency Directory



26 February, 1996












    Stara Zagora, February 23 (BTA) - On a visit to Stara Zagora (Southeastern Bulgaria), President Zhelyu Zhelev was familiarized with the problems of the municipality and met with business executives of the private and state sector. They exchanged views on the obstacles to investment activity in Bulgaria. Dr Zhelev singled out the crime and corruption among civil servants as the main obstacles to foreign investment in this country. The President believes that investors are running into what he described as "the mafia symbiosis between definite tiers of state powers and groups of shady pursuits, intended to get control of investment." An operation "Clean Hands" is needed in order to eradicate crime and corruption in the state apparatus and the judiciary, President Zhelev said, speaking at a meeting with the intellectuals affiliated to the Bulgarian Assembly Club, who, together with the municipal authorities, invited him to the town. In any other country, if a government is implicated in connections with shady groups, it would resign, Dr Zhelev told his audience. The President was asked by the audience why he is stepping up his attacks for land restitution, and why he is calling for accession to NATO rather than for neutrality. He denied that this has anything to do with his election campaign. "It is impossible for a country like ours to be neutral," he said. Concerning his bid for re- election, he said he will run because opinion polls show he enjoys the largest support among voters. "If anybody proves to have a higher approval rating, I will withdraw my candidacy," Dr Zhelev said.


    Sofia, February 24 (BTA) - Bulgaria can rely on soft-term customs duties when exporting commodities to Russia, Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski said upon his arrival from Moscow this evening where he paid a two-day working visit at the invitation of his Russian counterpart Yevgeny Primakov.

    Apart from his meeting with Primakov, Pirinski held talks with the Chair of the Russian Duma Gennady Seleznyov and attended a plenary session of the lower chamber of the Russian Parliament as an honorary guest. During their talks, the Bulgarian and Russian foreign ministers discussed the issue of the European security. Participants in discussions spoke about the approaches sought by Bulgaria and Russian for a new model of security in Europe. The new model should create lasting stability in Europe and cannot be achieved through cooperation with only one or another European organization, Pirinski said. The decision of the Bulgarian Government to take steps towards this country's possible integration into NATO was not reportedly discussed during the meeting between the two foreign ministers.

    The forthcoming official visit of Prime Minister Zhan Videnov to Russia in the spring was another topic of discussion during Pirinski's meetings with Russian officials. The meetings also specified a number of details of the documents that are expected to be signed during Videnov's visit to Russia.


    Moscow, February 24 (BTA) - The joint efforts for resolving the issues of the trade and economic cooperation between Russia and Bulgaria should receive a priority status in the activities of the two countries' foreign ministries, Bulgarian and Russian foreign ministers Georgi Pirinski and Yevgeny Primakov said at their meeting in Moscow. Pirinski paid a working visit to Russia on February 23 and 24.

    The talks between Pirinski and Primakov stressed that the Bulgarian-Russian relations are making good progress, reads a joint press-release issued by the Information Department of the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry. The talks between the two ministers stressed the key importance of the political dialogue between Bulgaria and Russia and expressed the two officials' satisfaction with the results achieved in the drafting of the new legal framework of the bilateral cooperation. After 1991, the two countries signed many intergovernmental and interdepartmental agreements in various spheres of the cooperation between Bulgaria and Russia.

    The ministers expressed their conviction that the implementation of the projects in the sphere of energy and supply of raw materials is not only in accordance with the Bulgarian and Russian national interests but will also contribute to the cooperation and stability in the region, the press-release says. The talks stressed the importance of the forthcoming fourth session of the Bulgarian-Russian intergovernmental committee on trade, economic, scientific and technical cooperation. The sides stressed the important role of the traditional cultural and spiritual exchange between Bulgaria and Russia.

    During their discussion of the international problems, the two ministers stressed the need for the creation of a new security architecture in Europe, which should take into account the interests and sovereignty rights of all countries and which would help in the prevention of the emergence of new dividing lines, the press-release says. The talks stressed the importance of the model for common and comprehensive security in Europe in the 21st century, developed within the framework of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and of the discussion of these issues at other international forums.

    The ministers stressed that it is important that all countries should implement in its entirety the agreement on peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina signed in Paris. The two officials stressed the need for further actions for the economic reconstruction and development both of the region directly involved in the conflict and of the entire Southeastern Europe as well.

    The Russian side expressed an interest for the Bulgarian Government's initiative to organize a meeting in Sofia of the Balkan foreign ministers, which will seek to establish regional security, stability and multilateral cooperation in Southeastern Europe. The sides confirmed their interest in the further promotion of the Black Sea economic cooperation and in the speedy opening of the Black Sea Bank for Trade and Development.

    Pirinski invited his Russian counterpart Primakov to pay an official visit to Bulgaria. The invitation was accepted. Pirinski was received by the Chair of the Russian Duma Gennady Seleznyov. The Bulgarian Foreign Minister attended the plenary session of the lower chamber of the Russian Parliament as an honorary guest.


    Sofia, February 23 (BTA) - Yesterday's address of President Zhelev was described as "absolutely inadmissible" by Deputy Prime Minister Svetoslav Shivarov in a statement on the National Television tonight. In an address on the national media yesterday President Zhelev called on to the 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". According to Mr Shivarov, in his capacity as head of state Mr Zhelev was appealing for the setting up of revolutionary committees in a democratic state whose institutions are already established and in operation. Mr Shivarov accused the President of using all his powers to attack the largest and most serious force in the country, the Democratic Left, and at the same time attack the rule of law in Bulgaria. "This is a clear evidence of lack of patriotism and an attempt to put the personal interest before the public one," Mr Shivarov said. With his appeal for civil disobedience after the land has been lawfully distributed, the President, according to Mr Shivarov, will set part of the farmers against others, part of the citizens against other citizens, with an intention to divide the nation. According to Mr Shivarov, it is a manifestation of incompetence on the part of the head of state to bring to the attention of the Consultative Council on National Security such an issue as the return of land to its owners. The Agriculture Minister said that the citizens of Bulgaria will abide by the laws and will not yield to appeals for division of the nation. He assured that the Bulgarian Government will remain true to its constitutional obligations, as this is is the only guarantee for keeping the civil peace in the country.


    Sofia, February 23 (BTA) - Gazprom CEO Rem Vyahirev on February 26 through 28 will pay a visit to Bulgaria that was expected to take place earlier, "Troud" writes quoting official Gazprom sources. In Sofia Vyahirev is expected to discuss with his Bulgarian partners questions pertaining to the Topenergy Bulgarian-Russian gas partnership. The sides will consider the terms for supply of Russian natural gas to Bulgaria and neighbouring countries by the year 2010. Prices, quantities and transit fees will also be on the agenda.

    The sides will also review the implementation of an autumn 1994 agreement regulating the incorporation of Topenergy. A new bilateral agreement is not scheduled to be signed, "Troud" also says.

    Dailies report last night's promotion of VISA cards at TSBank. The debit cards will be used only by companies and will facilitate overseas settlements. The minimum amount in the account of a VISA card holder should be USD 200.

    The Central Cooperative Bank is planning to attract foreign investment in mass privatization, said chief Stoyan Alexandrov quoted by "Standart News". The bank is also planning to launch joint ventures with foreign interest. Negotiations with a view to this have been held with banks and major companies of Germany, Austria, Italy and Russia. Turkish institutions, too, are reportedly interested in joint projects with this Bulgarian bank. According to Alexandrov, a former finance minister, privatization funds that do not involve financial institutions are doomed to fail.

    IBM will launch a computer superhighway in Sofia, the Bulgarian National Radio yesterday was told by the CEO of this computer giant, Reinhardt Paul, quoted by today's "24 Chassa".

    The Governing Board of the central bank is set to provide maximum guarantees for the deposits of members of the public whatever the problems in the banking system, central bank Governor Lyubomir Filipov said quoted by "Pari". He specified the central bank is pledging to guarantee the money of the public and not the survival of banks.


    Sofia, February 23 (BTA) - The new stand-by agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) may be signed within the first six months of this year, Finance Minister Dimiter Kostov told a news conference today.

    Negotiations with the IMF mission will start on February 28. The budget and the adopted instruments for acceleration of privatization give grounds to believe the talks will be successful, Kostov stated. "If the IMF Board approves the parameters of the government program we may receive the first tranche of the worth of 150-200 million leva in the last quarter of the year," he said. The precise amount will be fixed by means of special formulas depending on Bulgaria's quota in the international lending institution and the balance of payments deficit, according to Kostov.

    "In the more distant future we plan to restore our direct access to the international financial markets," Finance Minister Kostov said. The Government is drawing up a strategy for issuing state securities, like the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and other countries in transition, which already released bonded debts on the financial markets, he added.

    According to the Finance Minister, the problem is to choose the right time for the issuing in order to achieve best results. Then Bulgaria will commission a country rating, he added. However, this could not be done within 1996 due to the delay in processing the balance of payments and the gross domestic product data, the Finance Minister stated.

    It is possible to increase the base interest rate without influencing negatively the budget indicators, Kostov told journalists.

    Budget expenditures are not determined depending only on the base interest rate, they are also based on LIBOR levels this country's foreign debt payments are linked to. The budget projections have been made on the basis of higher foreign interest rates than the current ones and Bulgaria will spent less on interest payments than budgeted, Kostov said. These allocations will be transferred to service the internal public debt at a higher interest rate. It is not necessary to stick to the 25 percent interest rate, set in the budget, throughout the whole year, Kostov stated.


    Sofia, February 23 (BTA) - "The list with 2,315 names on it is not a fact sheet about bandits but a list of persons about whom the Ministry of the Interior has presented specific and well-documentated evidence for arrest," Interior Minister Lyubomir Nachev told a news conference today. the list was submitted to Prosecutor general Ivan Tatarchev yesterday.

    The list of criminals was drawn up in accordance with a circular issued by Prosecutor general Ivan Tatarchev, National Investigative Service Director Boyko Rashkov and National Police Director Ivan Dimov. Minister Nachev announced its intention to present the list of criminals to the Prosecutor General on January 26, on the day he gave a news conference in connection with Zhan Videnov's Cabinet first year in office.

    "The list is by no means a whim or a desire to shift responsibility. It is an expression of the desire for a more efficient work of Interior Ministry, investigative authorities, prosecuting magistracy and justice," Nachev said yesterday.

    "Of all those persons 418 are under arrest, 745 are pending cases and cannot be detained," said Georgi Popov, Head of the Investigative Supervision Department with the Prosecutor General's Office. In his opinion, when the list is unveiled some of the wanted criminals may go into hiding.

    "I ordered to check each one of the names on Nachev's list, but it will take no less than a month," Tatarchev said on national television yesterday. In his view, the fact that the executive has made up a list of more than 2,000 criminals by regions means nothing in itself.

    Fifteen persons who are on the list are prosectuted in 10 cases, 18 - in eight, nine or ten cases. Five, six or seven cases of proceedings have been instituted against 121 persons, 359 face three prosecution cases. Most numerous, 883, are people prosecuted in two cases.

    Data released by Interior Minister Nachev show that 296 of the criminals on the list are under 20, 812 are between 20 and 25, 540 are from 26 to 30, 456 from 31 to 40 and 211 are over forty. "Ever younger people have been geeting a criminal record," Nachev said.


    Radnevo, Southeastern Bulgaria, February 23 (BTA) Prime Minister Zhan Videnov today inaugurated the 215 MW Unit Eight of the Maritsa Iztok 2 Thermoelectric Power Station (Southeastern Bulgaria), the final component of the complex. The 1,450 MW Maritsa Iztok 2 is the largest coal-fired power plant in the Balkans. Tenders have been invited for the award of a contract for construction of a desulphurization of the emissions from the new generating unit. "This is a step towards compliance with environmental standards," the Prime Minister said. "It involves heavy investment which we make in line with the international commitments assumed by Bulgaria," the PM added. "We will continue to build a versatile power industry in Bulgaria, developing thermoelectric along with nuclear and hydroelectric facilities," Mr Videnov emphasized. Later in the day the Prime Minister attended a regional conference in Haskovo on the problems of the power industry. Meeting the press after the conference, he said that the Government will be looking across Europe and beyond for financial commitments to investment in the Bulgarian energy sector with prospects for the 21st century. "Bulgaria has an exceedingly large potential in the power industry," Mr Videnov said, "because we are midway between the relatively cheap and guaranteed large quantities of energy resource in the East - oil, gas, electricity and coal, and the energy-poor Balkans, Mediterranean and, above all, industrialized Europe. The interest is not only Bulgaria's but also of our European and world neighbours." Electricity prices will rise by some 20 per cent as from this April, the Prime Minister said, describing the hike as "a macroeconomic must." Haskovo Regional Governor Angel Naidenov said that substantial questions have been settled at the conference, including Government support for a 1,500 million leva loan from the State Fund for Reconstruction and Development for working of the ground between the Troyanovo-North and Troyanovo-1 coal mines.


    Rousse, February 25 (BTA) - A Bulgarian parliamentary delegation headed by National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov departed on a visit to Romania. The visit was agreed with the speaker of the Romanian Parliament during our meeting in Strasbourg and Warsaw, Sendov told a BTA reporter before his departure today. The years-long good relations between Bulgaria and Romania have to be strengthened by closer parliamentary contacts, Sendov said.

    The schedule of the Bulgarian parliamentarians includes meetings with the Romanian President, Prime Minister and the co-chairmen of the chamber of deputies and of the senate.

    The Bulgarian delegation includes MPs of Silistra and Rousse who will hold talks with Romanian officials on the environmental problems of the Lower Danube, MP Dimiter Dichev said.

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