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News from Bulgaria / Apr 22, 96

From: (Embassy of Bulgaria)

Bulgarian Telegraph Agency Directory



22 April, 1996














    Sofia, April 19 (BTA) - Review of the relations between Bulgaria and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), as well as of the programme for the future joint operation was made here today at a meeting in the Council of Ministers between Prime Minister Zhan Videnov and EBRD President Jacques de Larosiere. The meeting was also attended by central bank Governor Lyubomir Filipov. Mr Larosiere is in Bulgaria in connection with the 5th annual meeting of EBRD which was held in Sofia on April 15-16.

    "EBRD's policy towards Bulgaria will not change significantly, but we shall do our best to make this policy serve better your country's needs," Mr de Larosiere said for "Daily News" after his meeting with PM Videnov. The bank can work for Bulgaria very efficiently, EBRD President believes. ECU 200 million have already been put into operation in this country, he reminded and said that there is still a lot more that can be done. Currently the EBRD is drafting various projects connected with Bulgaria in the field of mass privatization and infrastructure. The Government's programme for rehabilitation of the banking system and the structural adjustment programme were not on the agenda of the meeting. "We discussed various projects, including projects in the banking sector, but we did not go into details on the reconstruction of the banking system," Mr de Larosiere said.

    EBRD's President expressed satisfaction with what he saw in Bulgaria last week. In his view the bank's annual meeting in Sofia, which gathered more than 4,000 guests, is a great technical achievement for Bulgaria. Mr Larosiere voiced conviction that the measures which the Bulgarian Government has undertaken and the reforms in the country will result in the nearest future in the signing of concrete contracts with the international financial institutions. In late afternoon today Mr de Larosiere departed from Bulgaria.


    Sofia, April 19 (BTA) - A final plenary meeting was held in the Council of Ministers today with the participation of ministers, committee chairmen and World Bank experts, reads a press release of the Government press office. The participants harmonized details on the utilization of the funds extended to Bulgaria by the World Bank. In the past three days the World Bank representatives and the Bulgarian Government made a general review of the projects to be financed by the Bank. According to the experts' data, if the projects' realization is speeded up, not less than 80 million dollars will be utilized by the year's end, the press release says.


    Sofia, February 19 (BTA) - "Being an EU associate member, Bulgaria should focus on its dialogue with the EU member-countries," Italian Deputy Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Luigi Vittori Ferraris said at a news conference before his departure today. Yesterday Ferraris arrived on a two-day official visit here. During his stay in Bulgaria he was received by Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski, Deputy Foreign Minister Irina Bokova, MPs and President's Advisor on Foreign Policy Issues Kamen Velichkov. In order to operate normally and efficiently EU needs advice and directions by its associate members, he stated at the news conference.

    The process of EU enlargement is equally difficult both for countries like Bulgaria and for the Union itself, Ferraris noted. According to him, Europe has not yet got used to its new borders due to the difficulties in adjusting its economy to a new, wider range. "Apart from administrative problems, there are difficulties in providing and protecting the stability and security. The efforts to this effect not only of politicians, diplomats and businessmen, but also of all citizens are of particular importance," Ferraris stated.

    In its capacity as holder of EU presidency, Italy approves Bulgaria's willingness to become a guarantee of security in Southeastern Europe and the country's initiative for a meeting of the foreign ministers of the region in Sofia, Luigi Vittori Ferraris stated. "What is interesting in the Bulgarian position and what concerns Italy in particular is that the will for stability and security should emerge in the region, itself, and not be imposed from the outside," he added.

    Problems of bilateral interest between Bulgaria and Italy may be discussed and resolved, but they should be considered from another point of view as well, Ferraris stated. "The new point of view is made necessary by the formation of new European structures which require maintaining of bilateral relations on the basis of regular consultations. This attaches to my visit here particularly high importance," he stated.

    "Italy and EU praise Bulgaria's role in building up a new united Europe in a moment when Russia is considered not as enemy, but as partner of the Union, Ferraris said. According to him, relations with Bulgaria could promote dialogue between EU and Russia, taking into account that Russia is against NATO's enlargement, but not against EU enlargement. Ferraris highly assessed Bulgaria's document on enhanced dialogue with NATO, handed in NATO's headquarters on April 10, 1996. The document treats three major points: how will NATO's enlargement reflect on Europe's overall security structure, including relations among NATO, the Organization for Security and Cooperation and Europe, EU and the Western European Union; relations between NATO and Russia and NATO's enlargement and the mechanisms of the organization as a whole.


    Sofia, April 19 (BTA) - "Over 100 loss-making state enterprises will be closed down soon," Ivan Angelov, economic advisor to the Prime Minister, told a news conference today. They will be closed in implementation of the rehabilitation programme launched by the Government. "It is planned to close down hopeless loss-makers and rehabilitate promising enterprises," Prof. Angelov said.

    Statistics show that 3,284 enterprises closed 1995 with a profit. and 2,444 incurred losses totalling 52,700 million leva. In 1992-1995 losses in the real economy sector reached 162,000 million leva. About 60 percent are non-performing debts, as a result of which banking is also in a crisis.

    "The structural reform must not be delayed any more," Prof. Angelov said. "Putting off reforms only pushes up their costs. If no drastic measures are urgently taken, things will get worse, the banking system will collapse and there will be a new upsurge of inflation," Prof. Angelov warned.

    The list of enterprises subject to closure will be finalized in one or two weeks. Their winding up should begin in May this year. There are 106 entities on the liquidation list at the moment. They account for a loss of 6,700 million leva in 1995. Largest are the losses incurred by industrial enterprises, 5,400 million leva. The worst losers are in the ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgy (with losses amounting to 504 million and 324 million leva respectively), mechanical engineering (722 million leva), electronics (563 million leva), the chemical industry (180 million leva), the textile industry (452 million leva).

    These enterprises employ 17,000 people. On becoming redundant, they will be paid compensations with funds provided by the World Bank which undertook to help along the process by floating 80- 85 million dollars.

    Fifty eight enterprises, which posted a loss of 28,600 million leva, will enter the Government's rehabilitation list. The measures applied are expected to cut their losses down to 50 percent. Rehabilitation controls include the isolation of loss-makers from banks, a scale-down of operations, rechanneling of resources, a search for new markets and cuts down of staff. The rehabilitation programme will cost 300 million dollars, economists say.

    "The first positive results of the rehabilitation programme can be expected by mid-1997; there will be a most tangible effect in 1998," Prof. Angelov said. In his opinion, however, if the measures do not produce the expected effect, part of these enterprises will also have to be closed.

    Besides the radical measures aimed to improve the real economy, it is planned to rehabilitate banking. The list of state-owned banks subject to closure will become known next week. For the time being experts are unwilling to name the banks or enterprises that will be wound up. "It's all too delicate, we shouldn't be in a hurry," Ivan Angelov said.

    According to Prof. Angelov's projections, it is possible to conclude arrangements with the international financial institutions by the middle of this year. The funds will be received immediately, provided the Government takes real action for the restructuring of the economy and the rehabilitation of banking.


    Sofia, April 19 (BTA) - Bulgarian Prime Minister Zhan Videnov today cabled condolences to his Lebanese counterpart Rafiq al-Hariri and the families of the victims of the Israeli shelling of a UN base in southern Lebanon. The Bulgarian Government supports the UN Security Council Resolution of April 18 1996, urging an immediate end to hostilities on the Israeli-Lebanese border, says the telegramme, whose text was received at the BTA. "We hope political will and reason will prevail and the international community will find a mutually acceptable solution and end the armed confrontation which jeopardizes the peace process in the Middle East," the telegramme says.


    Shoumen, April 19 (BTA correspondent) - On the second day of his visit to Shoumen region (northeastern Bulgaria), President Zhelyu Zhelev met with city council officials and political leaders who briefed him on economic development and social problems in the area. With officers in the Shoumen garrison, Zhelev discussed the Defence and Armed Forces Act and the regulations for its implementation. Zhelev met with students and members of the academic community of the Konstantin Preslavksi University and read a lecture on "Civil Society and the Individual".

    Meeting with the local media, he said the Bulgarian Socialist Party had failed to name a single feasible candidate for the presidency; the election of a Socialist president would isolate Bulgaria from democratic Europe. The President went on to say that the BSP has not yet evolved into a Western-style party.

    Addressing the Shoumen public, Zhelev said the Government and the leftist majority in Parliament have slowed down privatization and the land reform. Zhelev sharply criticized the BSP and the Government on its lack of a clear-cut position on NATO membership.

    The President also met with leaders of political parties sitting on the city council and activists of the five parties which were the first to put up his candidacy for the presidency.


    Bonn, April 19 (BTA exclusive by Simeon Vasilev) - At a working meeting today Bulgarian Deputy Foreign Minister Konstantin Glavanakov and State Secretary at German Foreign Ministry Hartmann discussed today the prospects for joint participation of the two states in the reconstruction of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The talks focused on the advantages, which Bulgaria offers in the triangular operations on the restoration of Bosnia in compliance with the Dayton peace accords and the two subsequent conference. According to the Bulgarian Deputy Foreign Minister, "interest has been shown in Bulgaria's experience mainly in civil construction projects and in the construction of infrastructure."

    Kostantin Glavanakov also met with the Chairman of the Bulgarian-German parliamentary friendship group Gernot Erler, MP of the Social Democratic Party of Germany in the Bundestag and with the MPs of the Christian Democratic Union Klaus Franke and Schmaltz. They discussed the European integration processes and the establishment of a Bulgarian-German Forum due on April 22 in Bonn, which Bulgarian Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski has been invited to attend.

    In the meantime Gernot Erler received a written answer from the Federal Government to his inquiry of April 2, 1996 about Cabinet measures to drop Bulgaria from European Union visa black lists. The answer says that for the time being the removal of Bulgaria from visa list is considered premature by all members of the Union. The Federal Government shares this view. Germany, however, as a party to the Schengen agreement, recently introduced visa-free entry for holders of Bulgarian diplomatic passports. The answer also says the Federal Government appreciates Bulgaria's efforts to bring its visa policy into line with European standards. The EU nations agree on the need to closely follow Bulgaria's further social-economic development and its immigration visa policy. The EU member countries and Bulgaria, as well as other associated countries, have pursued a structured dialogue in these issues. The visa policy toward Bulgaria is continuously discussed in the framework of the Schengen agreement, although an independent decision by the Schengen partners cannot be expected, as a result of the effective EU decision.


    Sofia, April 21 (BTA) - The Himco state-owned chemical plant in Vratsa received an international award for excellent image and quality. The award was conferred to the company's director at a ceremony in Madrid, BTA correspondent in Vratsa reported. The G Ban Imagine international organization granting the award is supported by the diplomatic corps in Spain and top US and European businessmen. Himco trades with some 60 countries. More than 90 percent of its carbamide is offered on the international market. In March alone the company manufactured 70 tons of this product. The company's gross profit in January-March 1996 equalled 1,370 million leva.

    Ten British companies, members of the British Consultancy Bureau, arrive here next week to meet potential partners. On April 23 the companies will host a seminar on: "Success Through Partnership", British Embassy in Sofia said. The British companies, Sir William Halcrow & Partners Ltd, Murtz and McLylon, Power Consult, Quality and Safety Service Ltd, British Nuclear Fuels and others, will be presented at the seminar. The event will be attended by Bulgarian companies in power engineering, transport, environment, construction, etc.

    A one-month management and marketing course, organized with the financial support of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce, ended in the town of Sliven. The 11 students who took successfully the theoretical course will receive a 10-day training in Austria.

    The Austrian Creditanstalt-Bankverein will purchase the enterprise for the production of metal-cutting tools and measuring instruments in Gabrovo (Central Bulgaria) for the Austrian giant, Plansee. Through the mediation of this bank the Tsarevichni Prodoukti company was sold to the Amilum Belgian company. Creditanstalt- Bankverein will probably take part in the privatization of the Sodi chemical plant in Devnya (Northeastern Bulgaria).

    Samples of the Almous beer, made in the town of Lom, were sent to Belgium for the 35th edition of the Monde Selection world exhibition of foodstuffs. In 1995 the Lom brewers won a bronze medal in the Belgian exhibition.

    Mr Thomas Muler, representative of the Forst German company and the Association of German Chambers Of Industry and Commerce, arrived in Montana (Northwestern Bulgaria). As consultant in the field of agriculture and food-processing industry, Muler will help agricultural partnerships and organizations establish trade contacts and expand their market in Germany. He will deliver lectures, provide consultancy for local farmers and promote cooperation between Montana and Brandenburg. The German expert plans to organize production of dark ale on German technology in one of the region's breweries. The project will be carried out with the financial assistance of the Kontex German consultancy company and the Transform program.


    Sofia, April 21 (BTA) - An earthquake measuring 3.6 on the Richter scale was registered late last night, at 22.56 local time, reported the seismologist on duty with the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences Seismological Institute. The quake was epicentred some 20 km northeast of Sofia on the country's territory and was felt in Western Bulgaria. A second tremor occurred seven minutes later, at 23.03 local time, epicentred some 10 km northeast of Sofia with a magnitude of 3.3 on the Richter scale.


    Sofia, April 21 (BTA) - "The Democratic Left declares itself against the use of the tragic lessons of the past for base political purposes; the violation of historical memory defiles the democratic development and tarnishes Bulgaria's international prestige," reads a a declaration adopted today at a plenum of the parliamentary group of the Democratic Left and the leaderships of the Bulgarian Socialist Party and its coalition partners, Alexander Stamboliiski Bulgarian Agrarian National Union and Ecoglasnost Political Club. The declaration was prompted by the destruction of monuments and the recent Supreme Court's decision to vacate the sentences passed on 124 members of the 25th National Assembly by the so-called "People's Court". The court was established after the communist take-over in 1994 under the Statutory Ordinance on the Trial by People's Court of the Culprits for Involvement of Bulgaria in the War against the Allied Powers and for the Related Crimes. The Left definitely opposes to the attempts to justify the policy of the fascist regime during WW II, the declaration says. "The crimes against the people, the state and the humanity are not subject to prescription and are beyond the powers of the incumbent legislative authorities in Bulgaria. The final judge of the past is history," the declaration says.


    Sofia, April 21 (BTA) - Bulgarian official delegation, led by Environment Minister Georgi Georgiev, left for Russia to take part in Days of Bulgaria in St Petersburg. The program includes staging of a trade and industrial exhibition and holding of business meetings. Round-table talks on: "120th Anniversary of the April Uprising" will also be held, the Government press office said.

    At a meeting today the parliamentary group of the Left discussed its legislative priorities. They include the bills on the presidential elections, national symbols, radio and television, national budget and bills in the economic sphere.

    Today the children of Sofia celebrated Walt Disney's Day. Elton John's music from the film, "King Lion", had its premiere in the National Palace of Culture. It was directed by Stratford Freeze, music director of Disneyland, California.

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