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News from Bulgaria / May 21, 96
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From: Embassy of Bulgaria <email@example.com>
EMBASSY OF BULGARIA - WASHINGTON D.C.
BTA - BULGARIAN TELEGRAPH AGENCY
21 May, 1996
 BALKAN FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET IN SOFIA JUNE 8,9Sofia, May 20 (BTA) - Foreign Ministers from Balkan countries will meet in Sofia on June 8 and 9, on the initiative of the Bulgarian Government. Most Balkan countries have agreed to meet in the Bulgarian capital on June 8 and 9, the Chief of the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry Southeastern Europe department Strahil Chervenkov told journalists today.
Albania have not yet confirmed its participation, and Turkey has suggested different dates, June 24 and 25, the Bulgarian National Radio said in its evening newscast. "The ministers will discuss measures for improving the region's security, transport and telecommunications links and cooperation in fighting drug trafficking," Reuters quoted Chervenkov as saying.
 BULGARIA, CHINA EXPAND RELATIONSBeijing, May 20 (BTA exclusive by Atanas Matev) Bulgaria and China signed six documents in different fields of cooperation in the first day of the official visit here by Bulgarian Prime Minister Zhan Videnov.
The documents include an extradition agreement, an accord on cooperation between the two countries' Foreign Ministries, the Ministries of Education and the patenting offices.
The ceremony of welcome was immediately followed by official talks between Zhan Videnov and his Chinese counterpart Li Peng. The Chinese side stressed the links of friendship between the two nations and the support Bulgaria had offered to China in earlier periods of hardships. These talks should be followed by more meetings, at a lower level, to give a practical dimension to the development of bilateral relations, said Premier Li Peng. He believes that industry and particularly military industry, including its conversion, the policy on youth and children and NGOs offer ample space for cooperation. It emerged after the talks that Bulgarian Defence Minister Dimiter Pavlov is likely to visit Beijing this autumn to sign an agreement on cooperation in the military-industrial field.
Exchanging views on international issues with the guests, the Chinese side declared its firm support for a multi-polar model for world development. Beijing is convinced that the Dayton agreements on Bosnia and Hercegovina have a serious potential for peace and stability, and expects to be asked to join their implementation. Li Peng evaluated in highly positive terms the Bulgarian attitude to Taiwan and Hong Kong and its decision to stick to informal relations.
En route to Beijing, the Bulgarian Prime Minister stopped over in Tashkent. There Videnov met Uzbeki Deputy Prime Minister in charge of economy and finance Bahtiyar Hamidov. The two voiced a shared desire for expanding business and commercial ties between the two countries and agreed that practical steps to that end need to be taken very soon.
 A HOUSE REFURNISHMENT COSTS 100,000 LEVASome 100,000 leva are needed for the repair of a house of 70 to 80 sq.m., "Douma" writes. According to the paper, the considerable increase of the prices of Bulgarian building materials was prompted by the surge of the US dollar. This is a major blow in the season when house refurnishments are usually made, "Douma" says. The prices of imported materials go up with the US dollar's rally. According to sellers, these who have to make renovations will purchase building materials regardless of the prices, "Douma" writes. It is better to wait until the forex market calms down so that prices of materials stabilize, the paper says.
 SURGE OF INFLATIONPeoples' savings and real incomes will pay the price of readjustment, "Pari" writes. The rate of inflation will become clear during the next two or three weeks and will depend on the actions of the incumbents, "Pari" says. Since the largest debtor in the state is the state itself, it is clear that to curb inflation is not in its interest as prices are in inverse proportion to the debts, the paper writes. Only the National Bank of Bulgaria is trying to control inflation as far as it is independent in its actions, the paper says.
The US dollar/lev exchange rate which has been determining the market prices for years, including those of Bulgarian goods, soared again in the middle of the previous week. No one could project how many times and how much will the US dollar rise. Taxes on people's incomes are adjusted to inflation unlike the wages they draw, the paper notes.
"Pari" writes that the delayed closure of loss-making banks will be paid by the people's savings. According to the paper, this is not a new thing and has been experienced by the various countries in one period or another. This is the road to industrial development, but it brings little relief to Bulgaria, the paper states.
 BULGARIA, MOROCCO TO SIGN FOUR INTERGOVERNMENTAL AGREEMNTSSofia, May 20 (BTA) - Agreements on avoiding double taxation, reciprocal investment promotion and protection, trade and cooperation in tourism are expected to be signed at the sixth session of the Bulgarian-Moroccan commission for economic, industrial, trade and technological cooperation. The session was opened today at the Boyana government residence under the co-chairmanship of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Regional Development and Construction Doncho Konakchiev and Mohammed Hama, Minister Attached to the Prime Minister's Office in charge of Economic Development of Morocco, the leaders of the two delegations.
Mr Hama said that the session is well timed as it is taking place immediately after Morocco's association to the European Union and Bulgaria's integration into the economy of the European community. Both ministers noted that bilateral economic and trade cooperation showed a decline over the past few years. Mr Hama said this was to a great extent due to the old contractual basis regulating economic contacts between the two countries dating back to the 60s. Seven working groups will discuss trade and finance, construction and mining, agriculture and irrigation, health care, tourism, education and foreign policy issues within the framework of the two-day session.
 APPLE ROAD-SHOW ARRIVES IN SOFIASofia, May 20 (BTA) - Bulgarian Business Systems, Apple Computer's official representative for Bulgaria, is staging its traditional spring road-show from May 9 to 21. The show started in the Black Sea city of Varna, passed through Bourgas and Stara Zagora and will end in Sofia. The company's slogan is "Making difficult things easy". A mere 15 per cent of people worldwide use computers now, said Apple representatives. Their ambition is to give more people access to new computer technologies and software.
Multimedia technologies are the main draw of the exhibition. Quick Draw 3D, the winner of the prestigious awards Byte and MacUser, was demonstrated for the first time in Bulgaria. A wide range of products for access and uploading on the Internet, desktop publishing systems and business applications are also on display. A major advantage of the products is that one can work directly in Bulgarian. Apple representatives said all products become available in Bulgaria almost immediately after their release.
Apple has a 5 per cent market share in Bulgaria. In view of the unfavourable business climate, its aim is to keep it which is more realistic than trying to increase it, said Nikolai Savov, Manager for Bulgaria. Demand for high-class computers is limited in time of crisis, he told "Daily News", adding that lowest-class computers are mostly in demand in Bulgaria now. Yet compared to other countries, Apple's market share in Bulgaria is larger due to its early entry with almost the same investment as in other Central and East European countries.
 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS: OPPOSITION PRIMARIESSofia, May 20 (BTA) - Ten days before the primaries intended to elect a single opposition contender for the presidential race in late 1996, pollsters are reluctant to predict the result. The primaries will be held on June 1, according to an agreement among the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF), the Popular Union, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) and several smaller parties. Running are UDF nominee Peter Stoyanov and incumbent President Zhelyu Zhelev, supported by the Popular Union. The MRF does not officially support any of the two.
Peter Stoyanov has a lead at this point, pollsters from the private agencies MBMD and SOVA-5 told the media today. Kuncho Stoychev from Gallup does not think it is possible to predict the winner, or the number of people who will vote, due to the procedure chosen. A similar view is held by the Director of the National Centre for Public Opinion Research Assen Yossifov.
According to Boryana Dimitrova of MBMD, polls show that in Bulgaria, a choice is made on the basis of the party line. "UDF backers are more willing to vote in the primaries that Popular Union sympathizers. Stoyanov has a larger support base than Zhelev, and in this sense a better chance of success," Dimitrova says.
Assen Yossifov of the National Centre for Public Opinion Research says at the start of the campaign (a month ago) Zhelev had an overwhelming lead. If more than 400,000 people go to the polls, Zhelev will retain his advantage, Yossifov thinks.
Polls show that the majority of MRF voters support Zhelev. Gallup surveys indicate nine in ten MRF supporters would vote for the President. According to MBMD, it is unclear how many of these voters will turn up at the polls, with the degree of mobilization among them low at this point.
 LABOUR ORGANIZATION PROPOSES NATIONAL MEETINGSofia, May 20 (BTA) - The influential Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria (CITUB) suggests that a national meeting be held by May 30 to discuss the economic and social instability. Invited to the meeting are the political forces represented at Parliament, the President, the Prime Minister, the central bank Governor, the Supreme Court President, the Prosecutor General and the social partners, CITUB leader Krustyu Petkov told a news conference here today. The decision to propose such a meeting was taken at a sitting of the CITUB Executive Committee.
The Executive Committee refused the CITUB delegation to the National Council for Trilateral Cooperation (of labour organizations, employers and the government) a mandate to negotiate the closure and financial isolation of enterprises after the government failed to respond to the proposals and conditions the CITUB submitted as a memorandum to the National Council on May 15.
The Cabinet's decision to close down 64 enterprises was not given publicity and was taken without consultations with managers and the trade unions, CITUB said in the memorandum. Although it is in favour of structural reform, CITUB will oppose this administrative approach and forcible liquidation as an end in itself which will affect directly or indirectly 250,000 jobs, the document said.
CITUB said it would take part in national negotiations about the social consequences of liquidation on condition that alternative employment is offered and compensations are paid to laid-off workers from different sources, including the international financial institutions, for five years. The National Council and the other influential trade union, Podkrepa, made the same demands. Last Thursday Milcho Dimitrov, Director of the National Employment Service and Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, ordered that special teams gather information on the workforce of the enterprises on the two lists.
 MONDAY NEWS BRIEFSSofia, May 20 (BTA) - The Kozlodoui N-plant (on the Danube), which meets 40% of Bulgaria's electricity requirements, is working at 35% of its capacity, the N-plant's public relations office said. Only generating units two, four and six are working, generating 1,285 MW of electricity. The N-plant is currently undergoing repair and safety checks. The laboratory analyses of the templets taken from the metal casing of generating unit one should be ready by September. Generating units three and five have been stopped for planned repair.
In cooperation with the Bulgarian Foreign Aid Agency, the US Embassy in Sofia donated four automobiles to Bulgarian charity organizations in Sofia, Plovdiv (Southern Bulgaria) and Varna (on the Black Sea).
The Central European Initiative will grant full membership to five associated members, including Bulgaria, in Vienna on May 31, Dimiter Dimitrov of the Western Europe department of the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry announced today. Bulgaria believes its membership is certain, as there is a consensus on the issue.
Bulgaria and Romania agreed on the restoration of Bulgarian historical and cultural monuments in Romania, Hristo Georgiev, Chief of the Cultural Cooperation Department of the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry, told the media today. The monuments include the tomb of the Evlogi and Hristo Georgievi brothers, who donated the money to build Bulgaria's oldest university, St Kliment Ohridski in Sofia.
Presidential spokesman Valentin Stoyanov described a statement by the mayor of Plovdiv (Southern Bulgaria, the second largest Bulgarian city), Spass Gurnevski, nominated by the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF), that he would not meet President Zhelev in the city as a gross violation of statehood. Gurnevski's call to Simeon II "to head his people in the most difficult period of Bulgaria's history" is a gross violation of the Constitution, the presidential spokesman said. Gurnevski made the statement at an opposition rally in Plovdiv last week.
The polling districts for the preliminary intra-opposition elections to render-up a single presidential candidate have been approved, the local BTA correspondents reported. The two contestants will be incumbent President Zhelyu Zhelev, nominated by the opposition Popular Union, and Peter Stoyanov, nominated by the UDF. "Bulgarians should show high civic responsibility and vote in the forthcoming preliminaries. Thus, apart from electing a presidential candidate of the opposition, they will also vote no-confidence to the ruling cabinet," representatives of the Accord for Bulgaria civic association supporting the candidature of President Zhelyu Zhelev, said today.
The mayor of Silistra (Northeastern Bulgaria) was the first to join the sign-in launched by the leader of the extraparliamentary Civic Alliance for the Republic (CAR), Alexander Tomov, former MP and now presidential contender, for stopping armed terror in Bulgaria. The sign-in insists on amendments to the Control of Explosives, Weapons and Ammunition Act, to the Penal Code and to the Code of Criminal Procedure. "Our vote against arms is a vote against crime, a vote against terror, our duty to the future," the sign-in says.
The Vidachim chemical combined works in Vidin resumed operation today after 20-day overhaul that cost 33.8 million leva. In June Vidachim is expected to launch the production of three new sizes of metal cord tyres. Its 175/70/13 automobile tyre with a metal cord breaker won a gold medal at the International Fair in Plovdiv. After the overhaul, Vidachim is expected to save 15 million leva a year.
The Minister of Education, Science and Technology Ilcho Dimitrov today met the ambassadors of countries whose language is studied at Bulgarian schools. They discussed problems of foreign language education in Bulgaria. The guests were familiarized with a new teaching system intended to develop foreign language communication skills. The diplomats pledged support for foreign language schools, by assisting the exchange of teachers, information, teaching aids and joint projects.
A four-day agricultural exhibition opened today in Gorna Oryahovitsa. It is attended by 140 farm producers and manufacturers of farming equipment from the Veliko Turnovo, Gabrovo and Bourgas regions. The foreign participants include Moto Pfohe, the Bulgarian- American Flag Consortium, Sianamid and Kemin. The exhibition showcases new technology in plant growing, stock breeding and agricultural equipment, the food industry, fishing and hunting gear and environmental protection and reproduction technology.
On May 17 and 18 Slatina, Romania, hosted a two-day meeting of the chiefs of the civil defence services of Bulgaria and Romania, government officials and governors of the Danubian regions, the Civil Defence Press Office said. The participants appointed the members of a Bulgarian-Romanian interaction commission and liaison officers on the regional and national level.
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