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News from Bulgaria, 96-07-10

Bulgarian Telegraph Agency Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Embassy of Bulgaria <>



10 July, 1996




    Sofia, July 9 (BTA) - President Zhelev of Bulgaria and the delegation he led returned from Salzburg late last night. They attended the Central and Eastern European Economic Summit, organized there by the World Economic Forum. "Both government and business participanting in the forum showed interest in Bulgaria," Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Minister Paparizov said, back from Salzburg. In his view, Bulgaria attracted almost as much interest as the Visegrad countries. In bilateral talks President Zhelev and Mr Paparizov expressed Bulgaria's willingness to take part in a similar forum, which will be organized by the Slovak political and business circles in Bratislava in Septmeber. This was welcome by the members of the Slovak delegation, Mr Paparizov said. One of the issues which topped the agenda of the meeting was Russia's development after the presidential elections as "a matter which affects all countries in Eastern Europe," Mr Paparizov said. During the forum President Zhelev met with president Sali Berisha of Albania and Michal Kovac of Slovakia and was received by the patron of the forum, President Thomas Klestil of Austria. Dr Zhelev did not make any statements for the press on his talks in Salzburg when he arrived in Sofia.


    Sofia, July 9 (BTA) - At its meeting today, the parliamentary Committee on Foreign Policy and European Integration discussed questions related to the legislative and constitutional obstacles for foreign investment in Bulgaria. After the meeting, Chairman of the Committee Nikolai Kamov, MP of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party, said that the MPs intend to continue the discussion with members of other parliamentary committees relat% to the investment question. After the discussions, the MPs will draft a common parliamentary statement on the priorities guaranteeing most favourable conditions for investment in Bulgaria. The Foreign Investment Agency presented its strategy for attracting foreign investment in Bulgaria which is the key objective of every Bulgarian Government, Kamov said.

    MP of the opposition Union of Democratic Forces Assen Agov, Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Policy and European Integration, said that foreign investment in Bulgaria in the first quarter of 1996 amounted to USD 60 million. Another USD 60 million are expected to be invested in the second quarter. Foreign investment in Bulgaria totalled USD 105 million in 1995. "A sad figure," Agov said.


    Sofia, July 9 (BTA) - Today, the Constitutional Court instituted a case proceeding from the petition of 54 opposition MPs demanding that it rule on when a person is a natural-born Bulgarian and which act determines the issue. The Court will announce its judgement on July 23.

    The judges defined as parties to the case the Parliament, the Cabinet, President Zhelev and Justice Minister Chervenyakov. They have to file their statements within a sevendays.

    "The constitutional case will not be settled with a view on any given person," Constitutional Judge Ivan Grigorov, who will report on the case said, adding that it has nothing to do with the question about the Bulgarian citizenship of Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski who is also a candidate of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) to run in the forthcoming presidential elections. "The Constitutional Judges know no facts about Pirinski. The petitioners want that the Court rule on the acts passed from 1948 until the present time. I shall deal with the acts passed since 1900 because it may be that a 70-year-old person decides to run for President," Grigorov said.

    Despite the judge's claim that the case has nothing to do with the citizenship of the BSP's presidential candidate, the legitimacy of Pirinski's candidacy depends on the Court's judgement. "To us, the key issue is on what grounds the incumbent foreign minister acquired Bulgarian citizenship," Yordan Sokolov, floor leader of the opposition Union of Democratic Forces (UDF), said.

    The Constitution postulates that "eligible for President shall be any natural-born Bulgarian citizen," while the Bulgarian Nationality Act says that "a Bulgarian citizen shall be anyone who has at least one parent who is a Bulgarian citizen or who was born in Bulgaria, provided that they do not acquire other citizenship by birth".

    Pirinski was born in 1948 in New York, to a Bulgarian political emigrant and a non-Bulgarian mother. Under the then effective U.S. legislation, Pirinski is a citizen of the USA. In late April Pirinski said that in 1974 he revoked his U.S. citizenship under the respective procedure. This fact is not questioned by anybody.

    Under the previous act on the Bulgarian nationality, effective in 1948, "a person who was born abroad and who has at least one parent who is a Bulgarian citizen, shall be considered a Bulgarian provided that the country of the other parent or that in which the person was born does not consider them their citizen".

    The MPs' petition thus asks the Court to rule which date shall be taken in consideration when deciding on a person's citizenship: their date of birth (i.e. under the previous act on the Bulgarian nationality) or the date when the presidential elections are held (i.e. under the effective Bulgarian Nationality Act).

    Sokolov said yesterday that the UDF will ask Defence Minister Dimiter Pavlov why Pirinski did not serve in the Army and whether this was caused by health or other reasons. "The question is within the context of the clarification of the issue about the citizenship of the BSP's presidential candidate," Sokolov said.


    Sofia, July 9 (BTA) - Forty-five thousand people have already transferred their voucher books to privatization funds, Iliya Bozhinov of the Centre for Mass Privatization is quoted by the press as saying on National Radio yesterday. Ninety thousand people have transferred their investment vouchers to relatives. The closing date for voucher transfer is July 31, 1996, and there are more than 3 million holders (out of a population of 7.5 million), "Standart News" notes. Most people will take part in mass privatization through a fund or an agent, or will transfer their vouchers to relatives, experts predict according to the daily. Representatives of the privatization funds say the deadline will be extended, but Mr Bozhinov denied this. The Centre for Mass Privatization will not circulate figures on which fund has attracted the most vouchers, sources of the Centre told "Standart News." It cites the funds which have already raised the capital required for their operation.


    Sofia, July 9 (BTA) - Inflation in June was 20.3% adding up to 47.5% since January, said the National Statistical Institute (NSI). The January-June price rise was most dramatic in transport and telecommunications (89.2%), alcohol (77.2%), furniture (52.1%), tobacco products (44.6%), medicines (43.2%) and energy for household needs (41.8%). Foods rose 23.1% in June, nonfoods 22.1% and services 7.5%. Petrol and diesel fuel soared by 70.5% and 36.3% respectively; medicines by 19-33%.

    The June inflation rate is close to the record high figure registered since 1994. In April 1994 it fetched 21.4% pushed up by a plummeting lev. The hike of fuel and electricity prices, the markup of the VAT tax and the higher tax and customs rates will keep inflation up in July and August, statisticians say. Georgi Choukalev of the NSI Price Statistics Department said inflation is likely to approach 100% by year's end. It was 33% last year.


    Sofia, July 9 (BTA) - The Privatization Agency signed only 19 deals in April-June 1996, journalists were told by Peter Harizanov of the Agency's Supervisory Board. This is 14.6% of the 130 target for 1996. The Supervisory Board believes the delay in the implementation of the annual schedule is attributable to the instability of the banking system, the steep rise of the dollar and the requirement for a government approval for each deal.

    The contracted revenues for the second quarter are 3,400 million leva. Of these, 1,330 million are cash payments and the remaining will be paid in government bonds. Of the total of 17,000 million, planned for the entire year only 4,400 million have been contracted so far.

    Since the beginning of the year buyers have taken over 1,588 million of the debts of enterprises, which is 130 per cent of the planned, Harizanov said. A total of 2,080 million of investments have been contracted in the denationalized enterprises. Of these, 276 million will be utilized by the end of the year. A total of 1,319 new jobs have been contracted since the beginning of the year.


    Sofia, July 9 (BTA) - Since the beginning of this year, foreign nationals have filed 172 applications for adoption of Bulgarian children, Ognyan Bakalov, Head of the Justice Ministry's International Legal Cooperation and International Legal Assistance Department, told a news conference. Three hundred and forty-five Bulgarian kids were adopted by foreigners in 1994, and 349 in 1995. A large part of the Bulgarian children adopted by foreigners are not ethnic Bulgarians, and a very big proportion of them have medium or serious handicaps. Mr Bakalov stressed that he can cite a number of cases in which terminally ill children have miraculously recovered when taken abroad. Would-be adopters are mainly from Italy (52 applications this year), France (49 applications) and the US (41 applications). Those countries' legislation and practice of are stable, and if requirements are complied with there are no risks to the future of Bulgarian children, Mr Bakalov said. Bulgarian children are also adopted by citizens of Sweden, Cyprus, Greece, Switzerland and Germany. The procedure for adoption of Bulgarian kids by foreigners is complicated and involves administrative and judicial components. Only children whose adoption in Bulgaria is impossible are available. Once an application is filed, foreigners have to obtain the consent of the head doctor or principal of the institution which has custody of the child. The adopters have to submit the required documents to the Ministry of Health which gives an opinion. If the Minister of Justice grants his consent, the court delivers a determination on adoption.

    Mr Bakalov said that adoption is denied in very rare cases. This year there have been ten denials. The court fee which foreign candidate adopters are charged is 160,000 leva (some 800 US dollars). Until recently the fee was 80,000 leva. "It is an open secret that there exists trafficking in people, but we cannot call into question the integrity of foreigners and agencies working in this field, once they follow the legal procedures for adoption," said Mr Bakalov, who has been involved in this sphere for three or four years. Representatives of the Central Service for Organized Crime Control emphasized that there is no evidence of Bulgarian children being smuggled abroad for adoption. They reacted to recent allegations by representatives of SOS- Kinderdorf that children belonging to the minorities are illegally taken out of Bulgaria and offered for adoption abroad.


    Sofia, July 9 (BTA) - The first sitting of the alternative Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, also known as Pimen's Synod, issued an address to the official Holy Synod today. On July 3, following a three-day convention of the clergy and laity called by the alternative Holy Synod, interim chairman and former metropolitan Pimen was ordained as patriarch.

    "The official Holy Synod and quasi-Patriarch Maksim followed the party, not the church, dogmas," reads today's address of Patriarch Pimen. "For the past 43 years the leadership of the Orthodox Church have not been held to account for its work and performance before the Bulgarian nation. The prestige and role of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church were debased. Party-affiliated church leaders took away the faith and hope of Bulgarians in the difficult years of totalitarian atheist rule," the address goes. It further describes the church headed by Patriarch Maksim as "The Church of Silence".

    Interviewed by the Bulgarian National TV on Sunday, Patriarch Maksim, enthroned on June 4 1971 by a patriarchal electoral convention, said he was elected to this office by the Holy Synod and has all his life stood up for the interests of the church. He also said the church exists separately from the state and interfering in its affairs is illegal and harmful, both for the church and for the state. Patriarch Maksim believes the spiritual crisis should be overcome and the church should play a major role in unifying the nation, like it has done before.

    The legality and canonicity of the election of Patriarch Maksim are contested by the alternative Synod which was established in the spring of 1992 while the anti-communist Union of Democratic Forces was in power.

    The alternative Synod was registered by the then Director of Religious Affairs Metodi Spassov who determined that Patriarch Maksim had been elected unlawfully. The following Director of Religious Affairs Hristo Matanov, appointed in 1993, later on reversed the decision of his predecessor and voided the registration of Pimen's Synod. Patriarch Maksim's Synod meanwhile condemned Pimen as dissenter and sentenced him to deprivation of dignity without excommunication.

    Prosecutor General Ivan Tatarchev said yesterday he sees the official Holy Synod as absolutely unlawful because it had been appointed rather than elected, and had never been registered. Tatarchev also said a refusal of the Religious Affairs Directorate operating with the government, to register Pimen as Head of the Bulgarian Church, will be challenged by the Supreme Court. He said registration can not be granted for two leaderships of one and the same denomination.

    Pimen's Synod is preparing the minutes of the recent convention of the clergy and laity and the Statutes it adopted, to introduce them at the Religious Affairs Directorate for registration. Today's first sitting of the alternative Synod elected a reduced leadership of nine that will sit almost every day. As a rule, the Holy Synod has 36 members.

    "The so-called convention of the clergy and laity, which the followers of former metropolitan Pimen have been holding, is an unprecedented case in the history of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church," Socialist Prime Minister Zhan Videnov said last week in an address congratulating Maksim on the 25th anniversary of his enthronement. The anniversary coincided with the enthronement of Pimen. The Prime Minister further rejected and refused to recognize the results of the alternative Synod's convention. His stance is shared by Directorate of Religious Affairs Matanov who told a BTA reporter that if documents are filed, "it will be in practice application for registration of a new Orthodox Church, and so far we have never registered two leaderships of one and same denomination". The Religious Affairs Directorate will deny registration but as this denial will be appealed, the matter will go to the Supreme Court, Matanov also said.

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