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News from Bulgaria / Apr 9, 96

From: bulgaria@access1.digex.net (Embassy of Bulgaria)

Bulgarian Telegraph Agency Directory

EMBASSY OF BULGARIA - WASHINGTON D.C.

BTA - BULGARIAN TELEGRAPH AGENCY

9 April, 1996


CONTENTS

  • [01] BULGARIAN AMBASSADOR IN RUSSIA DELIVERS A VERBAL NOTE

  • [02] BULGARIA HAILS NORMALIZATION OF YUGOSLAV-MACEDONIAN RELATIONS

  • [03] HEADS OF STATE and GOVERNMENT EXPECTED TO EBRD MEETING

  • [04] BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT TO PRESENT REPORT ON ENHANCED DIALOGUE WITH NATO

  • [05] COUNCIL OF MINISTERS DECISIONS

  • [06] BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT REGRETS ROVER'S FAILURE

  • [07] FOREIGN INVESTMENT WILL EXCEED 1,000 MILLION LEVA

  • [08] BULGARIA, LITHUANIA TO SIGN FRIENDSHIP and COOPERATION TREATY

  • [09] PROF. YUHNOVSKI ELECTED ACADEMY OF SCIENCES PRESIDENT

  • [10] BULGARIA'S ECONOMIC MODEL NOT CLEAR?

  • [11] PROSOFT RAISES CAPITAL

  • [12] MONDAY NEWS BRIEFS


  • [01] BULGARIAN AMBASSADOR IN RUSSIA DELIVERS A VERBAL NOTE

    Sofia, April 8 (BTA) - The Foreign Ministry received a confirmation from Bulgarian Ambassador to Moscow Hristo Miladinov that he delivered a note to the Russian Foreign Ministry. The note was prompted by Russian President Yeltsin's statement of March 29 that Bulgaria may join the new union of former Soviet republics, Bulgarian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Pantelei Karasimeonov said. It was delivered to Russian deputy foreign minister Krilov.

    [02] BULGARIA HAILS NORMALIZATION OF YUGOSLAV-MACEDONIAN RELATIONS

    Sofia, April 8 (BTA) - Bulgaria hails the normalization of relations between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Macedonia, Bulgarian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Pantelei Karassimeonov told journalists today. According to him, each step toward normalization of contacts between the two countries would contribute to the stabilization of the climate in the Balkans, to security-building and stability in the region. The Foreign Ministry Spokesman recalled that Bulgaria was the first country to recognize the sovereignty of Macedonia and said this is sure to affect positively the environment on the Balkan Peninsula.

    [03] HEADS OF STATE and GOVERNMENT EXPECTED TO EBRD MEETING

    Sofia, April 8 (BTA) - The annual meeting of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in Sofia in mid-April is expected to be attended by Heads of State and Government. Polish President Alexander Kwasniewski will be the Polish reporteur at the EBRD meeting, said Foreign Ministry Spokesman Panetelei Karassimeonov. The Polish Head of State is expected to meet his Bulgarian counterpart Zhelyu Zhelev and Prime Minister Zhan Videnov. Attending the EBRD meeting will also be Italian Prime Minister Lamberto Dini, who will arrive here in his capacity as Chairman of the EBRD Board of Directors, Moldovan Prime Minister Andrei Sangheli and Moldovan Foreign Minister Mikhai Popov, former German foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher. The Moldovan Prime Minister will start an official visit here immediately after the EBRD forum.

    [04] BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT TO PRESENT REPORT ON ENHANCED DIALOGUE WITH NATO

    Sofia, April 8 (BTA) - The head of the International Organizations Department in the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry Georgi Dimitrov will present the Bulgarian Government's report on the start of enhanced dialogue with NATO in the organization's headquarters in Brussels on April 9, Bulgarian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Pantelei Karassimeonov told a briefing here today. The document will be delivered to NATO Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs Gebhardt von Moltke. The report will be high on the agenda of the May 2 visit to Bulgaria of NATO Secretary General Javier Solana, Karassimeonov said.

    [05] COUNCIL OF MINISTERS DECISIONS

    Sofia, April 8 (BTA) - Today's closed-door sitting of the cabinet again considered options for a markup of electricity, heating and solid fuel prices, and for cost-of-living adjustments. A final decision is expected to be taken on Thursday after the issue is discussed by the social partners, cabinet spokesman Nikola Baltov told a news conference today.

    The cabinet sitting adopted an ordinance regulating the duplication and distribution of sound and video recordings. The ordinance is aimed at harmonizing the Bulgarian and European legislation in this field. It is consistent with Bulgaria's commitments under the 1961 International Convention for the Protection of Performers and Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations, known as the Rome Convention, and the 1971 Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms against Unauthorized Duplication of Their Phonograms, known as the Geneva Convention, both of which Bulgaria ratified last year.

    The ordinance introduces a specific mechanism for the implementation of the effective legislation in this field. Under the approved rules, contracts awarding a right for the duplication and distribution of sound and video recordings should be registered with the Copyright Department of the Ministry of Culture. The ordinance also regulates the rights of those who concede copyright for the duplication and distribution of phonograms and those who take over a copyrights. Foreigners conceding copyright for the distribution of phonograms, too, should register with the Ministry of Culture. Access to the copyright registers will be free and they will be open for reference. Persons who own facilities for duplication of phonograms should also register with the Ministry of Culture.

    [06] BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT REGRETS ROVER'S FAILURE

    Sofia, April 8 (Ekaterina Kazassova of BTA) - The withdrawal of Rover from the Rodacar joint venture was commercially motivated, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development Roumen Gechev told a news conference here today. Rodacar was set up by Rover Group of Britain and Daru Car, the Bulgarian official dealer of BMW, Rover and Land Rover, for the production of Rover Maestro. On April 4 the representatives of Rover Group announced a decision to suspend their business in Bulgaria.

    During the one year of its existence, the Rodacar plant assembled some 2,200 Rovers selling a mere 200 of them, according to figures of the company. The business plan envisaged that the 1997 output reach 10,000 cars. Deputy Prime Minister Gechev dismissed accusations that the Bulgarian government is responsible for the decision of Rover Group. Nothing in Bulgaria's foreign investment legislation has changed from the time when Rover Group came to Bulgaria, said Gechev. With no action or inaction did the government change the conditions under which the joint venture started operating, he said. 'We regret that the project failed as it is not only a failure for the joint venture but for us as well," said Gechev. The Bulgarian partner in the joint venture, Daru Car, practically ceased to exist after the Bank for Agricultural Credit, faced with serious troubles, suspended the financing of the project. This alone is sufficient for closing down the partnership, said Gechev. According to Gechev, whose view is shared by the British company, one of the major causes for the problems with the production of Rover in Bulgaria is the difficult, if not impossible selling of the product on the Bulgarian market. Costing nearly 650,000 leva (some USD 8,200 at the current exchange rate), the model is too old and inviable and there is no demand for it in Bulgaria.

    The suspension of Rover Group's business in Bulgaria is not an isolated case, according to the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria (CITUB) which is one of this country's two major labour organizations. CITUB believe the decision of the British company is symptomatic of the aggravating economic conditions in Bulgaria and other foreign investors here will soon follow suit. According to CITUB, the major reason for what has happened is the high tax payable on the import of parts and components and the unfair competition.

    Rodacar blackmailed the government with a weak project, the popular "Capital" weekly wrote today. According to this daily, the British car manufacturer wanted from the Bulgarian government what it has been denied by the Thatcher government. "Rodacar's idea was to sell its cars to government institutions, in other words to get Bulgarian taxpayers financing the British carmaker," the story reads further. "It is preposterous to expect the Bulgarian government to offer market support to the company," Gechev said today. Rover is not withdrawing completely from Bulgaria, according to Gechev. It could launch other projects. Meeting Rover officials last week the government voiced readiness to help the British company find another Bulgarian partner, including a state-owned company. According to Gechev, Rover is interested in cooperation that would minimize the risks accompanying production. Another way of boosting joint businesses in Bulgaria is through the contemplated reduction of duties for the import of parts and components for products assembled in Bulgaria, Gechev also said.

    [07] FOREIGN INVESTMENT WILL EXCEED 1,000 MILLION LEVA

    Sofia, April 8 (BTA) - Direct foreign investment in Bulgaria reached about USD 60 million in January-March, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development Roumen Gechev told a news conference here today. The ten biggest investors in 1996 include the Eaststarch K.V. of the Netherlands with USD 30 million, Vnyeshekonombank of Russia with USD 7,800,000, Luxkraft Trading Ltd. of Luxemburg with USD 6,225,000, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development which invested USD 4,500,000. Companies which have already established themselves in Bulgaria and seek to expand their presence account for the greatest amount of investments made so far, Gechev said. The Coca Cola-Clarina holding, Delta and Tsaramil-Razgrad companies made large additional investments.

    According to Gechev, the dynamics of foreign investment in January-March is almost two times higher than the average one for 1995. The amount of foreign investment in the first three months of 1996 is the highest since the start of the reform in Bulgaria, he stressed. According to Gechev, there has been a growing interest recently towards the Bulgarian financial sector and the banking system. Investments in financial institutions amounted to more than USD 11 million, or about 20 per cent of the total investment in January-March. With 35.5 per cent of the total amount of investment in Bulgaria Germany tops the list of foreign investors, followed by the Netherlands - 10.7 per cent, Switzerland 6.3. per cent, and Belgium - 7.1. per cent. The bulk of foreign investments went to industry - USD 258 million, followed by trade - USD 112 million, transport USD 68 million, finance - USD 51 million and tourism - USD 44 million. Direct foreign investment in Bulgaria since 1990 totals USD 578 million, while direct and indirect investment amounts to USD 900 million. Taking into account the preliminary applications made by foreign companies, foreign investment in Bulgaria in 1996 is expected to total USD 1,200 million.

    [08] BULGARIA, LITHUANIA TO SIGN FRIENDSHIP and COOPERATION TREATY

    Sofia, April 8 (BTA) - Bulgaria and Lithuania will sign a treaty on friendship and cooperation during the upcoming official visit here of Lithuanian President Algirdas Brazauskas. The Lithuanian President is expected here on April 10 at the invitation of his Bulgarian counterpart Zhelyu Zhelev. The sides are also expected to sign agreements on economic, scientific and technical cooperation, on the introduction of a visa-free regime and on cooperation in education, culture and science. During his visit here the Lithuanian President will meet National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov and Prime Minister Zhan Videnov and will address the Bulgarian Parliament.

    [09] PROF. YUHNOVSKI ELECTED ACADEMY OF SCIENCES PRESIDENT

    Sofia, April 8 (BTA) - Prof. Ivan Yuhnovski today was elected President of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS). The former BAS vice president was elected by 105 of the 114 members of the BAS General Assembly.

    The newly elected BAS President believes it is important now that research institutes, production units, business circles and society pool efforts for the development of fundamental and applied science in the conditions of the transition. According to him, the Academy should attract more young researchers. An academic centre for PhD course trainees is due to start operating with the Academy by year's end. "It will be good if each of the 1,600-plus degree-holding scientists at the BAS take over the training of at least one PhD course member," said Prof. Yuhnovski. A total of 260 young researchers have entered PhD programmes at the BAS. The BAS President believes it is essential for the Academy to address its financial problems to ensure its normal functioning.

    The 59-year-old Yuhnovski has been working at the BAS since 1963 and was appointed its vice president in 1989. He is member of the Presudium of the Supreme Commission for Academic Awards and chairs the National Fund for Scientific Research. He is also member of the Nobel committee on chemistry and the US-based International Scientific Foundation. Prof. Yuhnovski's 32-year research career is linked with the BAS, its Institute of Organic Chemistry and the centre of photochemistry operating with it. He founded a laboratory on structure organic analysis with the Institute and in 1989 was appointed its chief. Prof. Yuhnovski was awarded a PhD in 1982, became a Professor in 1984 and BAS corresponding member in 1989. He is the author of over 135 research papers, including a series of monographs on Chemistry of Functional Groups. He holds 18 copyright certificates and 15 of his inventions have been implemented in industry. Prof. Yuhnovski is winner of the Honorary Inventor and many other national awards.

    [10] BULGARIA'S ECONOMIC MODEL NOT CLEAR?

    "Euromerchant Balkan Fund (EBF) may participate with between 500,000 USD and 4 million USD in any individual project in Bulgaria and it has been our policy to always take a minority share in the company, or less than 50 per cent," Dr Hristos Katsanis, regional director of the Greek company Global Fiance (GF) in Bulgaria says, interviewed for "Pari". GF is investment advisor to EBF. The latter was set up with the intention to invest in shares in enterprises, mainly in Bulgaria. Up to 30 per cent of its funds the EBF may invest in other Balkan states. The EBF was established in 1994 in Luxembourg. Investors in the fund are the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the international financial corporation of the World Bank, several major US pensions funds and several Greek banks.

    "Through GF we have prospects for unlimited contacts with potential foreign investors," Mr Katsanis said. "We not only mobilize capitals, but also coordinate the activities of other investors, so that we can raise more money than we alone can invest in the enterprise," he adds. Together with another three deals whose signing is upcoming, the total financing for Bulgaria provided by the GF will amount to 7 million US dollars," Mr Katsanis emphasized. "The European Commission nominated the GF to act as mediator in investing funds, granted by the EU under the PHARE programme," Mr Katsanis said. In his view this will practically double the amount of capitals on the different projects.

    "The GF shows considerable interest in the process of mass privatization in Bulgaria in two lines: the company may act as investment manager and in the post-privatization period it can meet the companies' needs for fresh capitals," Mr Katsanis says. In his view, if 65 per cent of one enterprise have been privatised by vouchers, the GF may pay the remaining 35 per cent.

    "Despite the availability of all these prospects, however, it should be taken into consideration that Bulgaria is still a country difficult to invest in, because the rules of the game are not clear," Mr Katsanis believes. In his view it is not difficult to see a chaotic tax legislation and banking system. He believbes that until an agreement is signed with the IMF, the investment risk in Bulgaria will remain sserious. "The weakness of the private sector in Bulgaria is easily seen, but the state's strength in pursuing some definite policy is not observed," Mirolyub Voutov, Director of GF's representation office in Bulgaria said, also interviewed for "Pari".

    [11] PROSOFT RAISES CAPITAL

    quot;ProSoft is currently the largest Bulgarian company dealing in computers, and has a significant advantage over the others on the market," ProSoft President Yulian Genov says, interviewed for "Pari". "For the third year now we have been assembling our own type of computer, which has already established itself in the market and, according to preliminary figures, was 1995's best selling computer," Mr Genov claims. "After ProSoft was registered as a joint stock company in the summer of 1995, in the second half of 1996 we are ready to take a more active part on the capital market," he says. According to Mr Genov, however, before issuing securities, ProSoft will improve its structure and the quality of its products will have to be assessed by western experts. The company is also going to raise its capital, which will guarantee its future growth. The company's capital now adds up to 555 million leva, Mr Genov says.

    [12] MONDAY NEWS BRIEFS

    Sofia, April 8 (BTA) -A Union of Muslim Trade Unions was established in Plovdiv (Southern Bulgaria) today. Union member Ashim Assan said that the organization will seek to protect the interests of the Muslim workers in Southern Bulgaria. Assan said further that the Union will hold negotiations with the newly set up national Romany trade union Spravedlivost [Justice] so that the two organizations coordinate their activities.

    Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski today issued an order warning Bulgarian Ambassador in Britain Stefan Tafrov of his dismissal, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Pantelei Karassimeonov said. The order was prompted by Tafrov's third coming to Bulgaria without the Ministry's permission, the ambassador's systematic breach of the working discipline and of the Labour Code. The Ministry reserves the right to introduce more stringent measures if Tafrov commits another breach of discipline, Karassimeonov said. Pirinski issued a similar order to Bulgarian Ambassador in Cyprus Alexei Podlesni.

    The Foreign Ministry has received seven approvals of ambassadors' appointments, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Pantelei Karassimeonov today said. Future ambassador in Switzerland Professor Todor Vulchev also received an approval. It is not clear when Vulchev will depart for Switzerland as the President is yet to issue a decree relieving Elena Kircheva of her post as Bulgarian Ambassador to Bern, Karassimeonov said. He went on to say that according to information in the Swiss press, Kircheva plans to give a news conference in the Bulgarian Embassy on Wednesday during which she is expected to strongly criticize the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry and the Cabinet.

    The President was presented a list of 11 future ambassadors. Three European countries are yet to confirm the approval of Bulgarian ambassadors: the Netherlands, Belgium and the Czech Republic, Karassimeonov said.

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