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News from Bulgaria, 96-07-09
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From: Embassy of Bulgaria <email@example.com>
EMBASSY OF BULGARIA - WASHINGTON D.C.
BTA - BULGARIAN TELEGRAPH AGENCY
9 July, 1996
 GOVERNMENT COMMITTEE ON EUROPEAN INTEGRATIONSofia, July 8 (BTA) - At an enlarged meeting with heads and representatives of all ministries and central government departments, including the National Bank of Bulgaria, the Government Committee on European Integration today considered the Bulgarian answers to the European Commission Questionnaire to accession candidate countries, which was circulated three months ago, the Government Press Office said. On the basis of this Questionnaire the Commission will prepare its opinion on Bulgaria's application for full EU membership. The meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Zhan Videnov. The Bulgarian answers concern the areas of the customs union and taxation, agriculture, employment and social development, transport, energy, industry, environment, financial control, education, foreign policy, justice and internal affairs, statistics and foreign economic cooperation, the Government press release says.
The Government Committee also considered a report by Deputy Foreign Minister Irina Bokova on the visa requirements to the countries on the Schengen blacklist. It was recommended that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs propose the appropriate amendments to the legal framework on immigration regulations of the Republic of Bulgaria.
 BULGARIA AT OSCE FORUMSofia, July 8 (BTA) - The three initiatives brought forth by Bulgaria are included in the resolutions of the 5th annual session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said the parliamentary press office.
Bulgarian National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov, who headed the Bulgarian delegation to the session, addressed the forum during the discussions on one of the major topics - the new security model in Europe in the 21st century. Having stressed the positive changes taking place in Southeastern Europe, that provide preconditions for restoring Balkan cooperation, Sendov dwelled on the results of the Sofia meeting of foreign ministers of Southeastern Europe. He said its success was due to the fact that it was a product of the shared aspirations and interests of all Balkan states, and was consistent with the all other initiatives for regional cooperation in this part of the continent.
 DEFENCE MINISTRY SPOKESMAN DENIES EX-YUGOSLAV GENERAL'S ALLEGATIONSSofia, July 8 (BTA) - "There were no foreign bases on the territory of Bulgaria during the existence of the Warsaw Treaty Organization, nor are there any such bases now," said Navy Captain Tsvyatko Donchev, Chief of the Bulgarian Defence Ministry Press Centre, reacting to allegations by Colonel General Todor Atanasovski (Ret.) of the Army of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
Bulgarian National Radio correspondent Kostadin Filipov reported for BTA from Skopje that at a discussion on Macedonia's participation in the global security systems held in the Macedonian capital, the transcript of which has been partly published by the "Nova Makedonija" daily, Colonel General Atanasovski claimed that in Bulgaria the Russians already have their bases as they have never withdrawn them.
Navy Captain Donchev said that "Military installations on Bulgarian territory are under strict control in compliance with the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe and the Vienna Document.
Almost all of them have been verified. No inspection team has found any foreign bases in this country's territory or units or depots guarded by foreign troops. All this shows that the allegations of General Todor Atanasovski (Ret.) do not correspond to the truth and are not in the interests of bilateral relations," Captain Donchev said.
 TEXT OF SOFIA DECLARATION: MEETING OF THE MINISTERS OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF COUNTRIES OF SOUTH EASTERN EUROPE
MEETING OF THE MINISTERS OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF COUNTRIES OF SOUTH EASTERN EUROPE
SOFIA, 6 - 7 JULY 1996
SOFIA DECLARATION ON GOOD-NEIGHBOURLY RELATIONS, STABILITY, SECURITY AND CO-OPERATION IN THE BALKANS
Representatives of Austria, as Chairman-in-Office of the CEI; Croatia; France; Germany; Hungary; Ireland, as Presidency of the EU; Italy; Russian Federation, also in its capacity of Chairman of the BSEC; Slovenia; Switzerland, as Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE; United Kingdom; United States of America; the High Representative Carl Bildt, the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe Daniel Tarschys, representatives of the UN, UNECE, European Commission, EBRD and the World Bank also attended.
The Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria, Mr. Jean Videnov, addressed the meeting.
Messages to the Meeting were received from Russian President Boris Yeltsin, US President William Clinton, UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, French Prime Minister Alain Jupe, President of the EC Jacques Santer, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chairman of BSEC Evgueni Primakov, Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chairman-in-Office of the CEI Wolfgang Schussel.
The Ministers of Foreign Affairs convened their meeting at a time of crucial importance for the future of the region. Time has come for a new beginning of inter-State relations between the countries of the region and for developing a comprehensive multilateral co-operation. They pointed out that as a result of the profound changes in Europe which started in 1989 the principles of democracy and market economy, respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms and the rule of law have become common values. With peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina a window of historic opportunity opens to fulfill the hopes and expectations of their peoples to live in lasting peace and prosperity.
The Ministers pointed out that multilateral co-operation in the Balkans has its pre-history and traditions. The meetings of the Foreign Ministers of the Balkan countries in Belgrade 1988 and in Tirana 1990, indicated substantial interest and introduced prospects to engage in a broad range of activities in the political, economic and humanitarian fields.
Taking into consideration positive past experience and new developments, the Ministers committed themselves that every effort shall be made to transform the region into an area of stability, security and co- operation in line with the general developments throughout Europe.
These endeavours are aimed at contributing to the construction of a new Europe - a Europe of democracy, peace, unity and stability, thus enabling all nations in the region to live together in peace with each other as good neighbours.
The Ministers agreed to launch a comprehensive process of multilateral co-operation in the following areas: enhancing good-neighbourly relations including confidence and security-building measures; development of economic co-operation through cross-border co- operation, upgrading transport, telecommunications and energy infrastructures, trade and investment promotion; development of humanitarian, social and cultural contacts; co-operation in the field of justice, combat of organised crime, illicit drug and arms trafficking and elimination of terrorism.
The Ministers stressed the importance of the improvement of multilateral political dialogue and co-operation at all levels and on all issues of common interest. They took note of the idea to establish a Consultative assembly of the Parliaments of the participating states.
The Ministers considered the prospects for multilateral co-operation in European perspective and as deriving from the common aspirations of each country of the region to integrate into Europe. In this connection they expressed their readiness to interact with other initiatives for regional co-operation in South-Eastern Europe with mutually reinforcing effect, stressing particularly the significance of the initiative of the European Union as well as the South-East European Co-operative Initiative. They also stated their willingness to develop co-operation on matters of common interest with the countries of the Black Sea Economic Co-operation and the Central European Initiative.
ENHANCING STABILITY, SECURITY AND GOOD-NEIGHBOURLINESS
GOOD-NEIGHBOURLY RELATIONSThe Ministers pointed out that lasting good-neighbourly relations between the countries of the region based on universally recognised principles of inter-state relations set forth in the United Nations Charter, the Helsinki Final Act and the Paris Charter for a New Europe, are indispensable prerequisites for promoting the comprehensive process of multilateral co-operation. In this respect they expressed their determination to respect and put into practice all ten principles - sovereign equality, respect for rights inherent in sovereignty, refraining from the threat of use of force, inviolability of frontiers, territorial integrity of States, peaceful settlement of disputes, non-interference in internal affairs, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief, equal rights and self-determination of peoples, co-operation among States, fulfillment in good faith of obligations under international law. They stressed that all principles apply equally and unreservedly, each of them being interpreted taking into account the others. They focused on the importance of implementing UN Resolutions 48/80-B and 50/80-B on developing of good-neighbourly relations among Balkan States.
They also expressed support to the ongoing process of full normalisation of the relations between the countries of the former Yugoslavia and the favourable conditions it creates for promoting good-neighbourly relations.
Confidence- and Security-Building MeasuresThe Ministers shared the view that confidence- and security-building measures (CSBMs) are of particular importance for enhancing peace and stability in the Balkans. They stressed the significance of bilateral CSBM agreements signed so far, complementary to the Vienna Document 1994.
They agreed on the need for exploring the potential for developing CSBMs with a regional scope of application. They expressed support for a meeting of the Ministers of Defense of the Balkan States to be held in Sofia.
Overall Implementation of the Peace AgreementThe Ministers stressed the importance of the General Framework Agreement for peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina for enhancing stability and security in the region and the need for its full and strict implementation by the signatory parties. They confirmed the willingness of their respective countries to contribute to the consolidation of the peace process in all its aspects. They shared the view that multilateral co- operation in the Balkans will effectively contribute to the success of the Peace implementation process. They expressed their understanding that constructive joint efforts by both the international community and the countries of the region, give new prospects for solving unsettled issues and differences and for transforming this part of Europe into a region of lasting peace and co-operation.
The Ministers emphasized that rapid reconstruction and economic recovery, with equal respect for interests and needs of all parties, is of prime importance for the lasting peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Ministers stressed the importance of holding the elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina within the deadline set in the Peace Agreement. Free and democratic elections represent a foundation of bodies and institutions, rebuilding confidence and common life in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Ministers commended the signing of the Agreement on the Sub- regional Arms Control in Florence on 14 June 1996 which they assessed as a major contribution to the implementation of the Dayton Agreement and the strengthening of the peace process.
They stressed that the countries of the region have the potential to contribute to the success of the economic reconstruction through appropriate arrangements.
DEVELOPING MULTILATERAL REGIONAL ECONOMIC CO-OPERATIONThe Ministers noted the existing potential for developing multilateral economic co-operation, despite the difficulties of economic transition or post - conflict reconstruction that various countries of the region are facing today. They emphasized the importance of accelerated development of regional economic co-operation for achieving lasting stability in the whole region. Efforts should be made for introducing European norms and standards in the field of production, investment, transfer of technologies, financing and trade with the objective of integrating most of the economies of their countries into the European economy.
Cross-Border Co-operationThe Ministers agreed to promote the development of cross-border co- operation on a bilateral and multilateral basis in the framework of the relevant EU programmes, including the elaboration of a regional programme for its development with the assistance of the EU and other international organisations and institutions. Such a programme will be directed towards the implementation of projects for improving border infrastructure, including road and railway communications with the border-crossing points, opening new border-check points, promotion of cross-border trade and tourism, protection of the environment. This co- operation will be developed on three different levels: State to State; region to region; people to people. The Ministers recommended to hold a meeting of the aid co-ordinators from their countries to analyse the state of implementation of existing programmes, identify priority projects of trans-regional dimension, identify the national contributions of the different countries and elaborate new joint projects to be submitted for possible financing to the European Commission.
Transport, Telecommunications And Energy InfrastructureThe Ministers stressed the necessity of accelerated infrastructure development in the region as an important factor for trade expansion, economic growth, as well as for overall regional stability. They reaffirmed the readiness of their countries to upgrade and modernise the transport, telecommunications and energy infrastructure in the region in interaction with the countries of the Black Sea Economic Co-operation and the Central European Initiative .
To this end they expressed their support for setting up a Trans-regional Centre for Transport Infrastructure in Sofia.
They also stressed the importance of the meeting of the Ministers of transport of the BSEC participating States and the countries of the CEI, which will be held in November 1996, according to the decisions of the BSEC Ministerial in Bucharest. They focused on the importance of the European Crete corridors passing through the region. They agreed to work jointly with the EU, G-24 and ECE on the issues of infrastructure development, attracting investments and integrating the region in the Trans-European Networks.
The Ministers also noted the importance of developing the transport infrastructure of the region and expressed their appreciation to the relevant UNECE agreements; harmonising the transport legislation of the countries of the region with the EU legislation in that field, facilitating transport operations on bilateral basis , etc.
The Ministers took note of the idea for the establishment of a Balkan Agency for Transport Safety, which would be based on the European policy of integration and harmonisation of the system of flight control.
The development of co-operation in the field of telecommunications and postal services, was defined as encouraging, as well as the steps to set up a Telecommunications co-ordination committee, a Balkan Postal pool and other initiatives, undertaken at the April 1996 Meeting of the Ministers of the Balkan countries responsible for posts and telecommunications.
Promotion Of Trade And InvestmentThe Ministers discussed questions related to the promotion of trade and investment. They recommended the elaboration of measures for further trade facilitation, harmonising of trade practices and in general encouraging regional trade.
The Ministers agreed to improve Customs Authorities co-operation through the conclusion of relevant agreements in order to establish more efficient customs clearance procedures. They also noted that a positive contribution to further promotion of regional co-operation could be the conclusion of bilateral agreements on free trade areas in conformity with EU regulations as applicable, and in line with the provisions of the World Trade Organisations agreements.
The Ministers agreed to support the activities of the Association of the Balkan Chambers of Commerce as an important venue for promoting the common interests of the business community in the region to expand and liberalise trade and for economic co-operation. The idea of creating a Regional Centre for trade promotion in one of the participating countries, to analyse trade policies in view of their harmonisation and further liberalisation was supported.
The Ministers confirmed the necessity for joint efforts aimed at creating a climate more conducive to attracting investments to the region encouraging and promoting economic growth throughout the region.
They underlined the importance of concluding agreements in the fields of protection and encouragement of investments and prevention of double taxation among the countries of the region.
The Ministers called for the international financial institutions, the EU and individual countries with a considerable investment potential to take part in this process through joint initiatives including economic conferences, business fora, etc.
PROTECTION OF THE ENVIRONMENTThe Ministers confirmed the necessity of promoting regional co- operation in the environmental protection on the basis of bilateral and multilateral instruments as well as the Declaration of the Ministers of environment from the region of the ECE, adopted by the Third Ministerial conference Environment for Europe of October 1995. The need for common endeavours was noted with regard to the trans- boundary impact of air pollution and the effects of industrial and nuclear accidents as well as transshipment of hazardous wastes. In this respect the importance of assessing the trans-boundary environmental impact was emphasized.
In this context the Ministers called on the IFIs, G-24 and other relevant international organisations to support initiatives and projects of the countries in the area.
PROMOTION OF HUMANITARIAN, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL CO-OPERATIONThe Ministers expressed their conviction that the protection of human rights and the promotion of free personal and professional contacts, represent an essential element for lasting stability and a climate of confidence in the region.
The Ministers stated their readiness for the promotion of social and cultural co-operation, for widening the scope for humanitarian co- operation and personal human contacts on the basis of their international obligations and universally recognised human rights and principles such as: freedom of travel for personal or professional reasons, free access to and dissemination of information, freedom of contacts on the basis of family ties, facilitating the reunification of divided families and promotion of free individual contacts in the field of science, culture, sports and tourism. Examining ways towards the elimination of visas in all South-Eastern European countries would be a positive step in this direction, taking into account their international obligations.
The Ministers recalled their statement in the Tirana Joint Communiqu) that persons belonging to national minorities, have the right, within the existing constitutional order of their country, which guarantees equal rights and status for all, to freely express, preserve and develop their ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious identity, and to enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms in full equality with other citizens.
Desire was expressed for promoting and expanding the cultural, scientific and educational co-operation between the countries in South-Eastern Europe and their institutions, competent in those spheres, not only in multilateral projects and initiatives within the region but also under the aegis of inter-governmental organisations in the spheres of culture, science and education.
Particular interest was expressed in the various forms of exchange in the areas of the arts and education.
The Ministers underlined the importance of youth exchange as well as the development of direct contacts between cultural, scientific and educational institutions and the setting up of networks for co-operation in specific fields.
The respect for the cultural heritage and the exchange of information on the illicit traffic of objects of cultural value were also taken into consideration.
The important role of the mass media for overcoming the negative stereotypes of the past, for free flow of information and for better mutual acquaintance with the cultural diversity of the region was underlined.
The Ministers agreed to encourage the involvement of non-governmental organisations and unions on the basis of professional, cultural and scientific interest into this process with the participation of representatives of all countries of the region.
ILLICIT DRUG AND ARMS TRAFFICKING AND CO-OPERATION IN THE FIELD OF JUSTICE, COMBAT OF ORGANISED CRIME, ELIMINATION OF TERRORISMThe Ministers stressed the need for closer co-operation in the field of justice, combat of organised crime, illicit drug and arms trafficking and elimination of terrorism. They agreed to elaborate a regional programme which will complement national efforts in this respect.
This programme should envisage inter alia the accession of all countries of the region to the relevant international conventions and their effective implementation; exchange of information on the legislation of the countries and the changes taking place in them; creation of modalities between the competent institutions for a quick response to requests for legal assistance.
The Ministers expressed their condemnation of all acts, methods and practices of terrorism, regardless of their motivation, in all its forms and manifestations and pointed out the need to take all necessary and effective measures, in accordance with relevant provisions of international law and international standards of human rights.
The Ministers underlined the importance of strengthening border controls and called for joint action against illegal and irregular migration. They proposed a semestrial review of the co-operation in this field. They encouraged the conclusion between States of the region of agreements concerning the re-admission of persons, illegally residing in each States territory.
A common concern was expressed with regard to the proliferation of drug related criminal activities adversely affecting the countries of the Balkan region. A regional conference on combating the illicit cultivation, production, processing, trafficking, trade and use of narcotic drugs and psycho-tropic substances was proposed as a starting point for a more comprehensive co-operation among the participating countries and with the involvement of the relevant international bodies and programmes such as the UN International Drug Control , the relevant PHARE programmes and the Council of Europe Pompidou Group.
The Ministers expressed their belief that the above agreements shall contribute to the overall objective of stability, security and co-operation in Europe. They are convinced that they are in consonance with the EU Platform for action and the Royaumont process and accordingly expect that they will be fully supported by the European Union.
The Ministers expressed satisfaction with the results achieved and constructive spirit of their meeting. They shared the view that this represents a new beginning of multilateral regional co-operation. With that in view the Ministers decided to hold a meeting of their representatives in Sofia to examine the proposals presented during their meeting as well as to co-ordinate future action. It was agreed to hold the next meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the countries of South-Eastern Europe in 1997 in Greece.
Sofia, 7 July 1996
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