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News from Bulgaria / Apr 30, 96

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

Bulgarian Telegraph Agency Directory

EMBASSY OF BULGARIA - WASHINGTON D.C.

BTA - BULGARIAN TELEGRAPH AGENCY

30 April, 1996


CONTENTS

  • [01] GOVERNMENT MAPS OUT LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES

  • [02] PM ON TWO-DAY VISIT TO AUSTRIA

  • [03] P.M. VIDENOV: NO CABINET OVERHAUL TO BE CONSIDERED BEFORE JUNE

  • [04] PM VIDENOV: "EUROPE IS THE PRIORITY OF BULGARIA'S FOREIGN POLICY"

  • [05] GOVERNMENT APPROVES SECOND PROTOCOL

  • [06] NEXT MONTHS EXPECTED TO BE CRITICAL FOR DAYTON ACCORDS

  • [07] BUSINESS PRESS

  • [08] OVER 2 MLN REGISTERED FOR MASS PRIVATIZATION

  • [09] TRADE UNION LEADER ASKS PM TO RESIGN, OR MAKE POLICY TURN

  • [10] U.D.F. PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE STOYANOV FAMILIARIZES DIPLOMATS WITH HIS FOREIGN POLICY PROGAMME


  • [01] GOVERNMENT MAPS OUT LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES

    Sofia, April 29 (BTA) - The Council of Ministers considers the rehabilitation and restructuring of banking and state-owned enterprises and the stabilization of the banking system as its most important legislative initiatives to be launched during Parliament's summer session. The other priorities include the strengthening of statehood, tightening control over crime and the judiciary, the market economy and the land reform, the Government Press Office said.

    The Government will introduce into Parliament draft laws on insurance; the structure of the national budget; the protection of agricultural land; municipal-owned and state-owned property; profit tax; the national coat of arms and the national flag; measures preventing money laundering and illicit business; the state bank for investment and development.

    The Government will submit draft amendments to the Property Act, the Local Taxes and rates Act, the Commercial Code and the Banks and Lending Act. The Government will adopt a plan for its legislative initiatives during the summer session of the 37th National Assembly.

    [02] PM ON TWO-DAY VISIT TO AUSTRIA

    Sofia, April 29 (BTA) - Prime Minister Zhan Videnov today left on a two-day visit to Austria. "The visit has been planned as unofficial, but the Austrian side showed interest, and we have scheduled talks with Chancellor Franz Vranitzky, President Thomas Klestil and the leader of Parliament's National Council (lower house) Heinz Fischer. This interest makes us happy, as traditionally close relations with Austria needed boosting on a high political level," Videnov said before his departure.

    This afternoon Videnov will deliver a report on "Bulgaria and Europe" before the Bruno Kreisky forum. Tomorrow morning he will have official meetings with the Federal Chancellor and President and later on deliver a report on the conditions for foreign investment in Bulgaria and political and economic climate in this country, before the Austrian chamber of trade.

    [03] P.M. VIDENOV: NO CABINET OVERHAUL TO BE CONSIDERED BEFORE JUNE

    Sofia, April 29 (BTA) - "No changes, whatever important they might be, including ones in the Council of Ministers, may be discussed before June," Prime Minister Zhan Videnov said today upon his departure for Vienna when asked about possible changes in the Cabinet. Mr Videnov also said that this issue will be discussed only after the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party specifies its measures for solving its key economic task to achieve financial stabilization in the country and of its key political task to win the presidential elections.

    Asked about today's decision of the Government to raise the prices of petrol products, Videnov said that the prices have been set on the basis of the methods for liquid fuels pricing which the Council of Ministers worked out last year. "Over the past month and a half the prices of petrols in the Balkans have been growing up in spikes and the mentioned pricing method has distributed the markups more evenly over time, ensuring better protection for the Bulgarian consumers," the Prime Minister said.

    [04] PM VIDENOV: "EUROPE IS THE PRIORITY OF BULGARIA'S FOREIGN POLICY"

    Vienna, April 29 (BTA) - "Europe is undoubtedly the priority of Bulgaria's foreign policy," Bulgarian Prime Minister Zhan Videnov said in a lecture on: "Bulgaria and Europe", delivered at Bruno Kreisky Forum in Vienna. The consensus of the Bulgarian society in favour of European integration is a consensus on the understanding that the association with and the road to full membership in EU are in line with the concern over the country's national security and the desire to create more favourable conditions for its economic development, Videnov stated.

    Dwelling on the building up of new European security and cooperation architecture, Bulgaria's Prime Minister said that it would not be solid and viable, "if the existing different degrees of security, stability and prosperity in the various parts of the continent are preserved and more over if the current imbalances and inequalities in the economic, political and military sphere are aggravated". He noted that the new security architecture has to be based on a comprehensive approach and common values.

    Prime Minister Videnov focussed on regional aspects of Bulgarian policy, defining them as "continuation and integral part of the European priorities of Bulgaria's foreign policy". Bulgaria's chances to become EU full member is proportional to the stability of the Balkan region, Videnov stated. The idea of multilateral cooperation in the Balkans, parallel to the promotion of bilateral relations, has always been on the agenda, he said. Bulgaria supports a number of economic initiatives to this effect: crossborder and infrastructure cooperation, interaction in developing regional infrastructure related to infrastructure corridors in Southeastern Europe, stimulation of trade and investments, Videnov stated. He focussed on Bulgaria's proposal for a meeting of the Balkan foreign ministers.

    The European priorities of Bulgaria's foreign policy are not isolated from its general priorities, Prime Minister Videnov said. Bulgaria not only maintains relations with the EU member-countries, but also tries to restore and activate cooperation with its traditional partners, as Russia the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States, Central and Eastern Europe, he added. "Bulgaria makes full use of its associate partner status with the Western European Union (WEU). Cooperation with and further integration into NATO, within the North Atlantic Cooperation Council and Partnership for Peace, is a part of the process of Bulgaria's integration into the European economic, political and military organizations and the Euro-Atlantic security structures," Videnov stated. According to him, the enlargement of EU, NATO and WEU should be considered as one, but not the only element of the new architecture of European security. Bulgaria supports the stand that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe should be strengthened independently from NATO's enlargement, Videnov said. "The role and place of Russia in the European security system is one of the main open questions of the transition to a new security architecture. The development of constructive relations between NATO and Russia will be one of the crucial components of this architecture," the Bulgarian Prime Minister stated. Probably this is the first time that Europe and the world stand real chances to set up relations based on cooperation and solidarity, Videnov said. He expressed his hope that the challenges of time are met, showing wisdom and will.

    [05] GOVERNMENT APPROVES SECOND PROTOCOL

    Sofia, April 29 (BTA) - At today's meeting the Government approved the second protocol to Bulgaria's Europe Agreement with the European Union and the Interim Agreement on Trade with the EU and the European Coal and Steel Community, the Government Press Office said. The protocol is a concrete expression of the European Council's decision made in Essen in December 1994 to provide the associated countries with equal starting opportunities for full integration with the EU. It is a sign the EU is ready to treat Bulgaria in trade on an equal footing with the Visegrad Four, the Press Office said.

    [06] NEXT MONTHS EXPECTED TO BE CRITICAL FOR DAYTON ACCORDS

    Sofia, April 29 (BTA) - The next three or four months are likely to be critical for the application of the Dayton agreement, William Montgomery, Special Adviser to the President and the Secretary of State on Bosnia Implementation Issues and former US ambassador to Bulgaria said during his meeting with President Zhelyu Zhelev when speaking about the latest developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mr Montgomery repeated this view later before reporters.

    Before President Zhelev Montgomery spoke about the great challenges to the peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He believes that the major challenges may be expected during the upcoming elections in the former Yugoslav republic. In his view at the present moment they arise from the problems of the refugees, the tracking down of war criminals and their handing over to the International Court. Speaking on the post- war problems of former Yugoslavia Mr Montgomery commended Bulgaria for its position for non-involvement in any way in the conflict as well as for the lasting ethnic peace in this country.

    Mr Montgomery's short visit to Bulgaria and meeting with President Zhelev are part of his shuttle round the Balkan states, Presidential Advisor Kamen Velichkov said after the meeting. He said that President Zhelev wanted to know when the Dayton agreement may be expected to produce practical results. Mr Montgomery, however, would not commit himself to a projection. According to Mr Velichkov, Montgomery stated no specific demands for Bulgaria in the application of the peace plan.

    The development of the peace process in Bosnia and Herzegovina since the signing of the Dayton agreement was discussed today by Prime Minister Zhan Videnov and William Montgomery. The two agreed on the success which has been achieved in a number of fields, despite the serious difficulties in the realization of the peace process, the Council of Ministers' press office said. Prime Minister Zhan Videnov said that the general atmosphere in the Balkans is in favour of the continuation of this process and its successful completion.

    For his part Mr Montgomery appreciated Bulgaria's moderate and constructive foreign policy throughout the Yugoconflict and pointed out that this policy has contributed for the country achieving higher authority abroad. He supported the idea for a meeting of the Balkan foreign ministers in Sofia.

    Dwelling on the all-Balkan process, the Bulgarian Prime Minister stressed the common willingness for cooperation in the economic field, as well as the progress of multilateral contacts in communications, transport and power engineering. According to Videnov, the planned meeting of foreign and defence ministers will contribute for the political relations to acquire concrete dimensions. Balkan cooperation should always be viewed as part of the relations with the European Union and the Central European Initiative, the Prime Minister said.

    He emphasized the willingness of the Bulgarian Government to radically change the approaches and the results from the bilateral contacts with the U.S. as well as the efforts for their promotion on a long-term basis.

    The problems of the tactical application of the Dayton peace accords for termination of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina was the topic of the lecture, read tonight by Mr Montgomery. The lecture was organised by the Atlantic Club in Bulgaria, in whose board of directors Mr Montgomery is an honorary member.

    [07] BUSINESS PRESS

    Sofia, April 29 (BTA) - The future oil pipeline connecting Bourgas and Alexandroupolis will put an end to the monopoly of oil transportation through the Bosporus, Greek Commercial Attache to Sofia Georgius Doudoumis says, interviewed by "Standart News". The construction of the 275-km oil pipeline will amount to USD 650 million. A total of 30 million t of oil will run through the facility annually, provided that it is operated at full capacity. The project will link Bulgaria and Greece into a common energy area, Doudoumis says.

    The Greek official is optimistic about the commercial relations between Bulgaria and Greece. Five years ago, Greek exports to Bulgaria amounted to only about USD 50 million, whereas the figure has grown tenfold now, Doudoumis says. Albeit slower, Bulgarian exports to Greece is also growing; it now stands at some USD 400 million. Greece exports to Bulgaria foods, tropical fruit and concentrates, dyes, ready-to- wears, auto spare parts. Bulgarian exports to Greece mainly consist of raw materials like metals and timber. A total of 600 Greek companies have set up businesses in Bulgaria. Upwards 11 per cent of foreign investment flowing into Bulgaria come from Greece. "In reality, Bulgaria serves as a kind of Greece's economic bridge to Central Europe, Ukraine, Belarus and Russia," Doudoumis says.

    [08] OVER 2 MLN REGISTERED FOR MASS PRIVATIZATION

    Sofia, April 29 (BTA) - Nearly 2.1 million Bulgarians have to date registered for mass privatization. Days before the expiry of the registration deadline, May 8, about a third of those eligible to participate in mass privatization have joined the process.

    According to figures of the Mass Privatization Centre some 350,000 Sofianites have bought voucher books to use them in the mass privatization rounds. The like figure is 186,000 in the Black Sea cities of Varna and Bourgas and 130,000 in Montana, Northwestern Bulgaria. The lowest figures are reported in the Razgrad, Northeastern Bulgaria, and Vidin, Northwestern Bulgaria, districts. The number of voucher books sold to students, pensioners and servicemen remains highest. The above are entitled to 100 leva voucher books, much cheaper than the normal 500-leva ones.

    The pace of registration slackened pronouncedly after the initial registration deadline was extended, BTA correspondent across the country report. Experts expect a rise of voucher book sales and believe a peak in the registration activity is likely with the approaching of the deadline.

    A total of 6.3 Bulgarians are eligible to participate in the denationalization of state-owned enterprises, according Mass Privatization Centre figures. Experts of the Centre say the number of participants in the process is likely to go beyond 3 million.

    The final version of the list of enterprises subject to mass privatization will be drawn up by mid-June, BTA learned from Kalin Mitrev, Director of the Centre for Mass Privatization. The updated version will state the assets and price of the enterprises. Of 5,500 state- owned enterprises in Bulgaria, 1,063 are on the list, with fixed assets totalling 200,000 million leva, 47 per cent of all state-owned enterprises. Some 25 companies on the list will be wound up as they have long become defunct, Mitrev said. Eighty-three are to submit their legal analyses and 200 should have their analyses updated. Land ownership problems remain unresolved and 10 per cent of the enterprises will be privatized before a solution has been found.

    [09] TRADE UNION LEADER ASKS PM TO RESIGN, OR MAKE POLICY TURN

    Sofia, April 29 (BTA) - In an open letter to Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, the leader of the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria (CITUB) Krustyo Petkov suggests that the Prime Minister and his team either resign, or implement a nonstandard radical programme to rescue Bulgaria's economy. The letter was circulated among reporters at a joint news conference today of the two largest trade union amalgamations, CITUB and the Podkrepa Labour Confederation.

    Petkov recommends a flexible, liberal trade and customs regime, to help attract fresh foreign capital, speed up the establishment of a real market economy, bring back exported capital and raise living standards. The letter to the Prime Minister suggests that the foreign debt service terms and deadlines be revised. This, however, should not mean a moratorium on foreign debt service. In his letter, Petkov also urges legislative and tax support to the private sector and financial assistance to genuine agricultural cooperatives.

    [10] U.D.F. PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE STOYANOV FAMILIARIZES DIPLOMATS WITH HIS FOREIGN POLICY PROGAMME

    Sofia, April 29 (BTA) - Today Peter Stoyanov, the presidential nominee of the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF), familiarized diplomats accredited to Bulgaria with his foreign policy programme at a cocktail party in Sofia's Sheraton Hotel. Stoyanov is back from a campaign tour in the country. "My foreign policy programme is unveiled officially for the first time," Stoyanov told BTA.

    "My principal goal as president will be to harmonize the positions of the main political forces into a public aspiration for accelerating Bulgaria's full integration into the European and Euro-Atlantic structures," Stoyanov told the ambassadors and the other attending dipolmats. He accentuated the necessity of Bulgaria's accession to full membership in NATO. "The question of this country's membership in NATO will be resolved in Sofia," Peter Stoyanov stated, adding that he does not see how the Bulgaria's NATO membership could harm its good relations with Russia. "We highly appreciate our friendly relations with that great country and desire to promote them steadily on the basis of mutual benefit and non-interference in each other's internal affairs," the UDF presidential candidate said.

    Peter Stoyanov pointed that Balkan cooperation should be developed within the context of the all-European process and pledged his readiness to conduct an active policy for the European integration of all the Balkan states. He said that in this sense he supports the Government initiative for a meeting of the Balkan foreign ministers in Sofia. "I am definitely against any theses on the Balkan countries forming axes, triangles, squares or other geometrical figures," Stoyanov stated.

    The UDF presidential contender appealed for more vigorous efforts by the European Union to remove Bulgaria from its visa blacklist. "I will insist on prioritizing Bulgaria's inclusion in the international projects for the post-war reconstruction of the former Yugoslavia as a means of partial compensation for the lossess it sustained as a result of the strict observation of UN sanctions," Stoyanov said.

    Italy, Great Britain, Germany, Switzerland, Croatia, Macedonia, Albania, China, South Africa and Argentina were among the countries represented by their ambassadors at the cocktain party.

    In a brief interview for national radio this morning, Stoyanov said: "We understand the importance of growing interdependence among economies, states and whole regions. The tendencies towards globalization and transition to the information era are vital for us. Why? Well, about 70 or 80 years ago Bulgarian writer Anton Strashimirov said that Bulgaria's tragedy was that it lies at a crossroads. This one-time disadvantage has become an advantage. Being at a crossroads in the new era is of paramount importance. Now that international routes connecting the north and the south and the east with the west are being built up, crossroads should be organized in the best way. I think that if Bulgaria's political elite follows a balanced, intelligent and nationally responsible policy, the country stands a fair chance of turning into such a crossroads."

    Asked about the team which had drawn up the UDF foreign policy programme for the presidential elections, Stoyanov said: "The team behind the the programme is a very serious one composed of experts and I should admit that most of them do not even belong to the UDF inner circle. They are independent foreign policy experts. I listened carefully to their opinions and then finalized the programme myself."

    "When Bulgaria's foreign policy is concerned, when its image before the world is at stake, let me state that I'm not one to regard it with malicious pleasure politically. I am sorry about each failure of Zhan Videnov's Cabinet in the field of foreign policy because it is Bulgaria's failure and builds it a negative international image," Stoyanov said in the end of the interview.

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