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News from Bulgaria / Apr 18, 96

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

Bulgarian Telegraph Agency Directory

EMBASSY OF BULGARIA - WASHINGTON D.C.

BTA - BULGARIAN TELEGRAPH AGENCY

18 April, 1996


CONTENTS

  • [01] BULGARIA CONTINUES CONSULTATIONS WITH NATO

  • [02] BULGARIA'S NEW PROGRAMME FOR PFP PARTNERSHIP

  • [03] BULGARIA CAN COUNT ON DIPLOMATIC SUPPORT OF FRANCE

  • [04] PMs VIDENOV OF BULGARIA AND SANGHELI OF MOLDOVA SIGN AGREEMENTS

  • [05] UPCOMING FOREIGN POLICY CONTACTS

  • [06] PRESIDENT ZHELEV VETOES LOCAL TAXES AND RATES ACT

  • [07] DEMOLITION OF "ALYOSHA" MONUMENT IN PLOVDIV WOULD CONTRAVENE AGREEMENT

  • [08] WEDNESDAY NEWS BRIEFS


  • [01] BULGARIA CONTINUES CONSULTATIONS WITH NATO

    Sofia, April 17 (BTA) - Bulgaria will take part in multilateral consultations with representatives of NATO in Brussels on April 18, Georgi Dimitrov, Head of International Organizations Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told today's regular news conference of the Ministry.

    Bulgaria has been invited to participate in NATO's bilateral consultations on May 6; taking place along the formula 16 plus 1, i.e. the 16 members of NATO and a non-member country, such consultations will be held with all the 11 states that expressed desire for enhanced dialogue with NATO.

    There are three main points in the document confirming Bulgaria's desire for enhanced dialogue with NATO. It was handed over at NATO's Headquarters in brussels on April 10. According to Mr Dimitrov, the questions raised are how NATO's expansion will affect the overall architecture of security in Europe, NATO's relations with the Organization for Security and Cooperation with Europe, the European Union and the Western European Union, NATO's relations with Russia, the impact of NATO's enlargement on the structures and mechanisms of the organization itself and on each partner. Mr Dimitrov explained that at this stage the issue was not Bulgaria's membership in NATO but its participation in the dialogue on its expansion.

    Anwering a question of BTA whether the internal political debates on Bulgaria's membership in NATO has produced a negative effect at the headquarters of the organization, Mr Dimitrov said that the debates were not in Bulgaria's favour but they were not seen as something dramatical either. A Bulgarian delegation met with NATO's Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs Gebhard von Moltke, who described the Bulgarian Government's position on the enlargement of NATO as mature.

    [02] BULGARIA'S NEW PROGRAMME FOR PFP PARTNERSHIP

    Sofia, April 17 (BTA) - The new three-year programme for Bulgaria's participation in the Partnership for Peace (PfP) initiative entered into force on April 11, expert on NATO issues in the International Organizations Department with the Foreign Ministry Plamen Bonchev said. Mr Bonchev told a regular news conference today that the programme envisages Bulgaria's participation in 300 concrete projects in 18 fields, including air defence, command, control, communications etc.

    In June Bulgaria will host exercises of the land forces, and in September it will host two seminars: a course for army officers and civilian officials from the defence ministries of the states participating in the PfP initiative and a seminar on the problems of democratic control.

    Despite its financial and other restrictions, in 1995 Bulgaria was a very active participant in the Partnership for Peace, was the evaluation given by NATO at the meeting of the organization's political committee on March 18. Bulgaria is in position to cooperate very well with NATO's command, which would be of particular importance for the future joint military actions between this country and NATO, Mr Bonchev said. In his view the only problem is the inadequate language training at an expert level.

    [03] BULGARIA CAN COUNT ON DIPLOMATIC SUPPORT OF FRANCE

    Sofia, April 17 (BTA) - Bulgaria can count on France's support for its integration with the European structures, French Ambassador in Sofia Marcel Tremeau told journalists today. He was introduced to the Diplomatic Club of the Union of Bulgarian Journalists which organizes meetings with foreign diplomats periodically.

    France gave diplomatic support to Bulgaria when the candidacy of the ex-socialist countries for the European Union were discussed by the member-states; France was one of the EU members that insisted on an equal start for the candidates, Mr Tremeau said. Unfortunately, the economic relations between Bulgaria and France are not at such a good level as cultural ties, for instance, Mr Tremeau observed. In his words, the main obstacles to French investors are the lack of preferences and administrative sluggishness. This is also the view expressed by the French Minister Delegate for Finance and Foreign Trade attached to the Minister of Economy and Finance, Mr Yves Galland, at his meeting with Bulgarian Minister of Finance Dimiter Kostov during the annual meeting of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

    Irrespective of the difficulties investors are facing in Bulgaria, so far the country has been visited by representatives of about 25 French companies and enterprises who wanted to get first-hand knowledge about its investment climate, Mr Tremeau said. He believes that the incentives Bulgarian Prime Minister Zhan Videnov offered to investors at the EBRD annual meeting will probably yield good results.

    [04] PMs VIDENOV OF BULGARIA AND SANGHELI OF MOLDOVA SIGN AGREEMENTS

    Sofia, April 17 (Ani Parmaksiziyan of BTA) - A consular convention, an agreement on air communications, agreements in tourism and on mutual protection and encouragement of investments were the four intergovernmental accords which Bulgarian Prime Minister Zhan Videnov and his Moldovan counterpart Andrei Sangheli signed today. Mr Sangheli, who was on a one-day official visit here, also met with President Zhelyu Zhelev and with National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov. On the Moldovan delegation were Deputy Prime Minister Valentin Kounev, the ministers of foreign affairs, of economics and of industry, as well as the Governor of the Tarakliyska district, which is inhabited by a compact group of Bulgarians.

    At a joint news conference the two prime ministers Videnov and Sangheli, who had meetings in the morning and before the signing of the accords, emphasized that the visit was fruitful and voiced conviction that it will contribute positively to the promotion of bilateral relations. "The visit was a manifestation of our common willingness to deepen the political dialogue between the two states which have traditionally friendly relations," the Bulgarian Prime Minister said. After the morning meeting, the Moldovan Prime Minister expressed hope that Mr Videnov will visit his country in the nearest future. Mr Videnov told the news conference that the two states have enormous potential for cooperation in economy, science, culture and politics and that there are no impediments to realize the maximum of this potential.

    The two prime ministers identified the priorities of the short-term trade and economic relations. The prospects for joint energy production, for transiting energy and energy sources were also on the agenda, as well as the problem of cooperation in transport. "European transport corridor No 9, known as the Baltic-Adriatic crosses Bulgaria and Moldova," the Bulgarian Prime Minister explained. Mr Videnov said that he has discussed with his Moldovan counterpart the prospects for cooperation in the construction of transportation hoists, farm machinery, in electronic industry, deliveries for small food-processing enterprises, and in different branches of chemistry.

    During the talks the two officials emphasized the necessity to fill in the loopholes in the legal framework between the two states. So far 13 bilateral agreements have been in force between Bulgaria and Moldova..

    The two PMs discussed also and found they share similar vies on key international issues, on Balkan cooperation, on the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and on the Central-European Cooperation, as well as on the development of the integration processes in Europe. "We confirmed the willingness of our states to become factors for the stability in the region and to pursue more operative cooperation in the international organizations. In that connection the consultations between the two foreign ministries are very important," the Moldovan Prime Minister said.

    Prime Ministers Videnov and Sangheli also talked about some 90,000 ethnic Bulgarians living in Moldova, who, according to the Bulgarian PM provide a historical, spiritual and cultural bridge between the two states. Mr Videnov emphasized that the laws in Moldova provide ample opportunities to the Bulgarian national minority. He said that the Bulgarian Government will offer support to the Bulgarians living in Moldova in culture, church affairs and in the establishment of direct contacts between the regions in the two states. He emphasized that the consular convention signed today will be a contribution to that end.

    Prospects to increase the Bulgarian assistance to Moldova in higher education wre also discussed. At present 240 Moldovans of Bulgarian origin study in Bulgaria. "In addition to experts in humanities, agriculture and food-processing, which are traditionally trained here we shall seek opportunities to train personnel in construction engineering, chemistry and other priority for the Government of Moldova spheres," Videnov stated.

    The issue about the Bulgarians in Moldova was on the agenda of Mr Sangheli's talks with President Zhelyu Zhelev. Zhelev thanked for the favourable opportunities offered to the Bulgarians in Moldova to promote their national, cultural and spiritual identity. According to the Moldovan Prime Minister, teachers in Bulgarian languages will be needed in larger numbers because this language may be introduced as a subject in many Moldovan schools, Presidential advisor Kamen Velichkov said after the meeting.

    In 1992 Bulgaria and Moldova signed an agreement on friendly relations and cooperation. In 1995 the two-way commodity exchange doubled, equalling 60 million US dollars. Bulgaria ranks third in the number of representation offices and companies in Moldova, following Romania and Germany.

    [05] UPCOMING FOREIGN POLICY CONTACTS

    Sofia, April 17 - On April 22-23 Bulgarian Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski will attend in Bonn the constituent meeting of the Bulgarian-German Forum, Foreign Ministry's Spokesman Pantelei Karasimeonov said today. The organization is established with the purpose to intensify Bulgarian-German relations through centralization of the institutions, dealing with the expansion of bilateral cooperation. During his visit to Bonn Minister Pirinski will have chances to confer with prominent German politicians, including his German counterpart Klaus Kinkel.

    Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski will take part in the meeting of foreign ministers of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation states on April 27 in Bucharest, Foreign Ministry's Spokesman Karasimeonov said.

    Deputy State Secretary of the Italian Foreign Ministry Luigi Vittorio Ferraris will pay a visit to Bulgaria on April 18-19. Mr Ferraris is a key figure in the framework of Italy's presidency of the European Union, Foreign Ministry's Spokesman explained.

    The official visit to Bulgaria of NATO Secretary General Javier Solana on May 2 has been confirmed. Mr Solana's schedule includes meetings in succession with Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski, Defence Minister Dimiter Pavlov, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, President Zhelyu Zhelev, National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov and representatives of the parliamentary committees on Foreign Policy and on National Security.

    Bulgaria will take part in an extended meeting of the Western European Union on May 6-7 in Birmingham, Foreign Ministry's Spokesman said. The meeting will be attended by representatives of 27 states at the level of foreign ministers and defence ministers. Bulgaria will be represented by Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski and Defence Minister Dimiter Pavlov.

    [06] PRESIDENT ZHELEV VETOES LOCAL TAXES AND RATES ACT

    Sofia, April 17 (BTA) - Today the Press Office of the Presidency gave BTA President Zhelyu Zhelev's reasonings for imposing a suspensive veto on the Act Amending the Local Taxes and Rates Act passed by the National Assembly on March 29, 1996. President Zhelev has objections against several paragraphs. One of them relates the rate of inhabited house tax to the actual purpose a building is used for. According to the President, if the lawmakers want to apply a differentiated approach to taxes depending on the use of a building, this should be done through another law imposing tax on incomes derived from buildings intended for dwelling and used for business purposes. The President says in his reasonings that Paragraph 14 which makes the amendments retroactive (under it they are effective as of January 1, 1996) contradicts this country's law and legislative practice.

    [07] DEMOLITION OF "ALYOSHA" MONUMENT IN PLOVDIV WOULD CONTRAVENE AGREEMENT

    Sofia, April 17 (BTA) - Bulgaria signed with Russia an agreement for bilateral relations and cooperation in 1992 and intergovernmental accords in education and culture in 1992, which regulate the protection of cultural values. As a country, which has taken commitments on these accords, Bulgaria must observe them, Foreign Ministry's Spokesman Pantelei Karasimeonov said in connection with last week's decision of the city council in Plovdiv (Southern Bulgaria, the second largest city in the country) to dismantle the monument to the Soviet Army in this town, known as "Alyosha".

    The city councilors of the opposition Union of Democratic Forces (UDF), the Popular Union and the ethnic Turks' Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), who voted in favour of the demolition motivated themselves with the claim that the monument symbolizes the Soviet invasion in the country and has no historical value.

    The monument was built in 1957 in memory of the Russian soldiers who took part in World War II and passed through Bulgaria in 1944 (when the Communist Party came into power and ruled until November 10, 1989). Monuments of the kind of "Alyosha" in Plovdiv are symbols of a force which had a decisive role for the defeat of Fascism and also of the sacrifice of the Russian people, the Foreign Ministry's Spokesman said today. The Foreign Ministry believes it is inadmissible to attack these symbols, moreover that a number of Western states treat such monuments with the due care and respect, Mr Karasimeonov said.

    Voicing the official stand of the Foreign Ministry, the Spokesman emphasized that the attack against these symbols seeks to question the historical truth about the role of the then Soviet Union for the victory over Fascism and is thus insulting the memory of the Russian people. The Russian Embassy in Bulgaria sent a note to the Foreign Ministry in which it protested against the decision of the Plovdiv city council and also motivated itself with the fact that bilateral agreements are being violated.

    Protest against the violation of bilateral agreements between Bulgaria and Russia for protection of cultural values was voiced today also by Russia's General Consul in Plovdiv Henrih Plihin, who had a meeting with Plovdiv Mayor Spas Gurnevski. Before the Russian Consul Mr Gurnevski repeated his view that the monument is a symbol of the Soviet invasion in the country. He also familiarized Mr Plihin with the project to enclose the "Alyosha" monument in a sun- resembling disc, BTA's correspondent in Plovdiv said.

    Mincho Minchev, leader of the Fatherland Party of Labour said today that his people will commit themselves to keep guard of the monument to the Soviet Army in Plovdiv. He emphasized that his party has never denied its pro-Russian orientation. Minchev believes that the anti-Russian hysteria has been recently activated in the country and is straining the relations with Russia.

    [08] WEDNESDAY NEWS BRIEFS

    Sofia, April 17 (BTA) - Today Colin Long of the Coder Bros. consultancy company and legal advisor with the British Parliament, met with Lyubomir Kolarov, Chairman of the Committee of Posts and Telecommunications. Mr Long expressed readiness to provide legal advice on the implementation of the reform and privatization procedures in Bulgarian telecommunications.

    Committee of Posts and Telecommunications Chairman Lyubomir Kolarov met with Sevda Sevan, Charge d'Affaires of the Armenian embassy in Sofia at her request. The two sides expressed a will to strengthen relations in the filed of telecommunications and decided on the signing of bilateral agreements between the respective departments in the nearest future.

    The Committee for Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy will propose a project under PHARE on cooperation with French nuclear experts in the exploitation of two simulators for the training of operators for the nuclear power plant at Kozlodoui, the Committee's Chairman Yanko Yanev said. Today the Government of France donated the two simulators. The equipment cost FFr 7.5 million. The donation is an expression of our common will to work together, French Ambassador to Bulgaria Marcel Tremeau said. The simulators were designed specially for the Kozlodoui plant.

    This morning 45 Muslims departed from Rousse (on the Danube) for Mecca and Medina in connection with the celebration of Bairam. There are 11 Romanians among the pilgrims. The Rousse Muslims Theological Council assisted the Romanian muslim community to curb the influence of islamic fundamentalism and sects, the Council's Chairman Hadji Negib Daoudov said. Initiatives to this effect were specified two weeks ago with Romania's chief mufti.

    In a letter to the Regional Governor of Lovech (Central Bulgaria) the Russian Consulate General in Rousse Yuri Popov proposes that the Ryazan and Lovech areas sign a treaty of friendship. The Russian side shows interest in the establishment of joint ventures. The issue has already been discussed during the visit of Popov in Lovech companies.

    On April 17 the retail prices of foodstuffs marked a 1.3 percent increase and city transport fares, a 5.2 percent increase, as from March 29, according to figures of the National Statistical Institute.

    Joint Hungarian-Bulgarian naval exercises started along the Bulgarian Black Sea coast today. The exercises are held within the program for bilateral military cooperation. The joint events will last until April 20.

    Foreign Ministry Spokesman Pantelei Karasimeonov rejected allegations that the ministry deliberately delays the extending of the passport of the exiled Bulgarian monarch Simeon II, living in Madrid. According to Karasimeonov, the Foreign Ministry does not want to complicate this problem. "Bulgarian authorities would rather like that Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha states he recognizes the Constitution and the 1946 referendum that established the republican form of government in Bulgaria," the Foreign Ministry Spokesman said. However, these are wishes and not conditions, he specified. Late last year a group of intellectuals wrote a letter to Simeon II inviting him to visit Bulgaria. Through his press office in Sofia the king officially announced that he will come to the country on May 25, 1996.

    The four Bulgarians who were held for three days in the prison of the Serb town of Cupria and were sentenced to one year imprisonment on probation, returned to Bulgaria, BTA correspondent in Vidin (Northwestern Bulgaria) said. The four will be denied the right to visit Yugoslavia for three years. The Regional Court in Parcin found them guilty of having prevented four Yugoslav policemen of fulfilling their duties in the small hours of April 13, 1996 and of having violated the public order of Yugoslavia. One of the convicted said that the charges of insulting Yugoslav policemen were false. On the contrary, the Bulgarians were the ones that were beaten and badly treated, he stated. Witnesses say that the four had bruises on their faces, swellings around the eyes and weals caused by beating with clubs.

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