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News from Bulgaria, 96-07-23
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From: Embassy of Bulgaria <email@example.com>
EMBASSY OF BULGARIA - WASHINGTON D.C.
BTA - BULGARIAN TELEGRAPH AGENCY
23 July, 1996
 WASHINGTON GRANTS BULGARIA PERMANENT MOST FAVOURED NATION TRADING STATUSSofia, July 22 (BTA) - The United States granted Bulgaria a permanent most favoured nation (MFN) trading status, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said. The respective congressional Bill was signed on July 18 by US President Bill Clinton. It guarantees non-discriminatory treatment of Bulgarian commodities. Up to now, Bulgaria enjoyed an MFN status, which was revised and renewed every six months. President Clinton is expected to sign another document to implement this status on a permanent basis.
¿ statement by the President Bill Clinton said, in particular, "This is an important milestone in U.S.- Bulgarian relations...The legislation signals Americaís confidence in the political development of Bulgaria and reaffirms Americaís commitment to Bulgaria as it continues its difficult and historic economic transformation".
 SNEZHANA BOTOUCHAROVA, AMBASSADOR OF BULGARIA TO THE US- ADDRESS AT THE INAUGURATION OF THE MONUMENT OF VASIL LEVSKI IN WASHINGTON D.C. JULY 18, 1996.Dear fellow Bulgarians and friends of Bulgaria,
Welcome to all of you to our Embassy and to the ceremony of dedicating a monument to one of the greatest heroes of our nation - Vassil Levsky. I have the pleasure to convey to you the greetings and best wishes of the President of Bulgaria, Dr. Zhelyu Zhelev, who has supported this noble undertaking since its very beginning.
Each year on this day Bulgaria celebrates the birthday of Vassil Levsky. It is a day that brings together Bulgarians of all generations, occupations and political affiliations.
Already in his lifetime Levski was admiringly called by the people the Apostle of Freedom. His dream and lifelong struggle to establish "a pure and sacred republic" in which all citizens would be equal before the law, remain a model and a source of inspiration for all of us. His ideas of democracy and humanity remain relevant today and will persist in the future.
I am sure Washington is a natural place for this monument of liberty. The United States symbolized then, and always will, a free republic providing equal rights to all - the goal to which Levski dedicated his life.
The monument we are about to unveil becomes a reality thanks to the efforts of many Bulgarians, and most of all to the dedication of the management and the members of the Vassil Levsky Foundation, the "13 Centuries of Bulgaria" Fund, Mr. Ginovski, the sculptor and Mr. Ivan Batrakov, the architect of the bust.
I would like also to express our sincere gratitude to the Municipality of Washington, D.C. for providing the necessary support and arrangements for this historic event.
 BOIAN KOULOV, THE AMERICAN UNIVERSITY, WASHINGTON D.C. - ADDRESS AT THE INAUGURATION OF THE MONUMENT OF VASIL LEVSKI IN WASHINGTON D.C. JULY 18, 1996.Dear Madam Ambassador,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First, I would like to thank you for the honor, a once on a lifetime honor, to speak on such a wonderful occasion - the unveiling of the first Bulgarian monument in Washington, D.C. Most important, itís the unveiling of the monument, dedicated to one of the greatest Bulgarian heroes -- Vasil Levski.
For some, incomprehensible for me, reason it seems very difficult to speak or write about Levski. Especially, for Bulgarians. I will always remember in my high school years the author's presentation of the book about Levski by the British writer, and a long time school teacher in Bulgaria, Mercia MacDermoth. I could not comprehend this woman's passion when speaking & writing about Levski. I even remember thinking: "I have never read in Bulgarian anything that personal, anything that comes close to such deep affection, to such adoration. Why is that the case? She must know about other people like him. May be, being a foreigner, she idealizes him too much? Or, may be foreigners see in him features that we cannot see?"
What is Levski for us, especially for those of us who live so far away from Bulgaria? Can he teach us anything? Can we draw on his words and deeds in any way now -- nearly a century and a half after his death?
"Today I borrowed from the Committeeís money to buy some olives. I was hungry." - reads a line in his notebook.
About 160 years ago, almost in the geographic center of Bulgaria, in one of the most Bulgarian places, the Valley of Roses, just below the highest peak of the Balkan mountains, was born a man who was hanged at the age of 37. Younger than me. I remember laying wreaths at his monument in his native Karlovo, visiting the simple house, now a museum, standing guard at his monument in Sofia.
One of the things that amazed me was the astounding geographic scope of his revolutionary activities. Wherever I went, across Bulgaria, there would be places that he visited: reading rooms, monasteries, churches and schools: places, touched in one way or another by his revolutionary energy. And now, here I am in Washington DC, at the inauguration of his monument. Why is that the case?
Levski was certainly a great Bulgarian patriot: he fought and died for the freedom of his people. Levski was also a brilliant revolutionary strategist, who aimed at the complete independence of Bulgaria. His liberation strategy relied exclusively on the internal strengths of the Bulgarian people, not on help from the Great Powers. He was certainly one of the great fathers of the modern Bulgarian state.
However, most important, Levski was a bearer of the best humanist ideals, a real internationalist, a true citizen of the world, in the best sense of the word. He waged a struggle, not just for the freedom of his own kin, not only for the freedom of the other Balkan peoples, but also for a just political order, for equality & brotherhood among all people: "Bulgarian, Turks, Jews and others", as he himself mentioned.
This is why, his monument is in the capital of the United States: Because it demonstrates Bulgariaís contribution to the world.
Not to hate one's oppressor is not easy. To be oppressed and retain your tolerance and humanity is even more difficult. As a nation, we have given many examples in crucial historical periods that we cherish and follow Levski's testaments. The Armenian people know it and have commemorated it, the Jewish people know it and have commemorated it in the Holocaust museum very close nearby, even the Turkish people know it.
I view this monument as a chance for us to constantly return to our roots. We now have a piece of Bulgaria here with us, we have our sacred place, sacred for everybody who treasures tolerance, human rights and civil liberties. We now can bring here our sons and daughters, our grandchildren and be able to say: This Bulgarian gave his life for the freedom and brotherhood among all people.
Thus, I would like to congratulate you with this contribution to the beauty and cultural diversity of Washington, D.C. Let it be a perpetual symbol of what makes us Bulgarians, of what makes us Europeans, of what makes us part of the Western civilization. Let it always remind us what we could do for our people, for our debt to Bulgaria.
We live in dynamic times, we have different histories, geographies and ideologies. Let's hope this monument will become a constant reminder of what is most important in life and keep together. In the name of Mother Bulgaria!
 BULGARIA PARTICIPATES IN COOPERATIVE PARTNER '96 EXERCISESofia, July 22 (BTA) - Two coastal mine-sweepers of the Bulgarian Navy are taking part in the exercises "Cooperative Partner '96" under the Partnership for Peace initiative, which started today in Romania. This year's military exercises will be a continuation and expansion of the tactical achievements of "Cooperative Partner '95", held in Bulgaria last year.
The exercises, hosted by the Romanian Naval Forces and the town of Constanta, will be monitored by NATO's Allied Forces Southern Europe Admiral Mario Angelli. Two basic operations, naval and of evacuation, will be held in the framework of the exercises in which the Bulgarian mine-sweepers will also take part, the Defence Ministry said.
 FIRST CONSIGNMENT OF RUSSIAN TANKS ARRIVE IN BULGARIASofia, July 22 (BTA) - The first consignment of 25 T-72 tanks and 50 armoured infantry fighting vehicles BMP-1P arrived in the Black Sea port of Varna (Northeastern Bulgaria) today. They are part of the military equipment (100 tanks and 100 armoured vehicles) which Bulgaria is to receive under an agreement with the Russian federation of July 29, 1995.
The equipment was handed over to the Bulgarian side at a ceremony attended by Defence Minister Dimiter Pavlov, Chief of General Staff of the Bulgarian Army Col. Gen. Tsvetan Totomirov, First Deputy Defence Minister of Russia Andrei Kokoshkin, Deputy Foreign Minister Nikolay Afanasievsky and Russian Ambassador Aleksandr Avdeyev.
The Bulgarian defence Minister thanked for the donation which he described as tangible aid in the country's difficult transition to democracy and a market economy. "A reform is being carried our in the Bulgarian army and this is a timely and valuable act," he said. Minister Pavlov spoke about Bulgaria's contribution to the strengthening of stability and confidence-building in Europe. "Now the main efforts are directed towards the forthcoming meeting of defence ministers of Southeastern Europe in Sofia. This will be the beginning of a comprehensive discussion on the problems of security in the region and the initiative has been approved by all the countries in it, by Russia, the United States and other countries," Minister Pavlov said.
Deputy Minister Kokoshkin described the event as a significant one in Russian-Bulgarian relations. At the talks with his Bulgarian colleagues, the Russian Deputy Defence Minister was reassured that relations between the armed forces and the defence ministries of Russia and Bulgaria were developing well and to the interest of European security and peace in the Balkans. "The handing over of the military equipment is not only Russian President Boris Yeltsin's personal decision," Mr Kokoshkin said. "This act shows that Russia attached great importance to its relations with Bulgaria," he pointed out.
"If we were to buy this equipment, it would have cost us 500 million dollars," Minister Pavlov said. The tanks and vehicles are almost new, with 10 to 30% of their resource used. When all of them are received, Bulgaria will scrap the same amount of outdated equipment.
 UKRAINIAN P.M. LAZARENKO ARRIVES ON OFFICIAL VISITSofia, July 22 (Ekaterina Kazassova of BTA) - Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko arrives on a two-day official visit to Bulgaria on July 23, at the invitation of his Bulgarian counterpart Zhan Videnov. This is the first visit to Sofia of an Ukrainian premier.
The Bulgarian and Ukrainian officials are expected to sign important documents on the promotion of bilateral relations: a consular convention, agreement on commercial sea shipping, agreement on cooperation in health care and medical science and an agreement on cooperation in tourism. The sides have drafted protocols on cultural cooperation and educational exchange in 1996-98. The sides will hold consultations on drawing a programme for cooperation in special production.
In the period of less than five years since Bulgaria and Ukraine established diplomatic relations, the two countries have already concluded a number of key documents: an agreement on friendly relations and cooperation, signed by presidents Zhelyu Zhelev of Bulgaria and Leonid Kravchuk of Ukraine, a trade accord, as well as agreements on avoidance of double taxation and income and property tax evasion, on mutual protection and promotion of investment, on cooperation between the two countries' defence ministries and education ministries.
Bulgarian governmental delegations paid a number of visits to Ukraine. In 1992, a Bulgarian delegation headed by the then vice- president Blaga Dimitrova visited Ukraine; the then Ukrainian president Leonid Kravchuk paid an official visit to Sofia. At the time, the sides signed an Agreement on the Protection and Promotion of the Ethnic and Cultural Identity of Persons with Bulgarian Nationality in Ukraine which determined the rights of the some 234,000 Bulgarians living there.
The potential for the development of the economic ties between Bulgaria and Ukraine has been reviewed within the framework of the second session of the Bulgarian-Ukrainian intergovernmental commission for trade and economic cooperation held from July 9 to through 11 in Kiev. After the Bulgarian Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Construction Lyuben Petrov, who headed the Bulgarian delegation, returned from Kiev, he said that Bulgaria will receive 1,220 million cu m of natural gas and 335,000 t of ferrous concentrate from Ukraine. . The sides have also agreed to increase the coal supplies to Bulgaria in 1997, after signing an agreement to this end. Statistical data put the 1995 commercial exchange between Bulgaria and Ukraine at USD 357 million.
 I.M.F. DEAL STRENGTHENS LEVSofia, July 22 (Alexander Kirov of BTA) - The dollar eased by some four leva on the interbank market today, dropping to 191-192 leva/USD 1, Ivailo Bouyukliev, dealer of the Bulgarian Post Bank, told "Daily News". He attributed the strengthening of the national currency to the deal signed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on July 19, under which Bulgaria will receive SDR 400 million (about USD 582 million) by the end of 1997. Trading in dollars is brisk; the US currency sells below 190 leva/USD 1 on the cash market, Buoyukliev said. If the expectations about a longer stabilization of the lev come true, the National Bank of Bulgaria (BNB, the central bank) may reduce the basic interest rate. This, however, will not happen before the end of July, Bouyukliev said.
The inflationary shock and the steep depreciation of the domestic currency that followed necessitated an updating of the 1996 national budget drawn up at a 70-80 leva/USD 1 exchange rate, financial analysts said. The revised budget the government approved yesterday envisages a deficit equal to 4.8% of the GDP, a 100% annual inflation, a lev/dollar exchange rate staying at its current levels and lower base rate. Finance Minister Dimiter Kostov said the budget expenses have been drafted in a view of the capacities, rather than the needs for financing the structural adjustment of the enterprise sector of the economy. Updating the budget is one of the measures the cabinet pledged to undertake before the IMF if it is to get all tranches of the fourth standby agreement.
 BUSINESS PRESSSofia, July 22 (BTA) - The banks will start exchanging information about their borrowers as early as this autumn, "Continent" writes. "The system should be introduced in early 1997 but we will do our best to speed up its setting into operation," Dimiter Dimitrov, Vice Governor of the National Bank of Bulgaria (BNB), says. According to Dimitrov, the bad debts which present a serious problem for Bulgaria could have been 30 percent less if the banks had had in advance the adequate information about their borrowers.
Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Mincho Koralski proposes that families with more than two children pay a lower income tax, "Continent" writes. Koralski moved a proposal to this effect with the cabinet but the latter has not considered it yet.
More than 700,000 animals will be ear-marked in the autumn, "24 Chassa" writes referring to National Veterinary Service (NVS) Director Yordan Kostadinov. This was prompted by the spreading of foot-and- mouth disease (F.M.D.) in the Balkans. The tagging will divide the country in regions and in cases of epidemics the disease could be contained within on e region only. If this measure was taken earlier the EU would not ban the import of live lambs from Bulgaria, experts says. The Union imposed the ban several years ago due to cases of sheep pox in the region of Bourgas (on the Black Sea).
The F.M.D. picture along the Bulgarian border in connection with the spreading of the disease in neighbouring countries is calm, NVS Spokesperson Ivan Sterev says quoted by "Demokratsiya".
 ON BULGARIA'S GRAIN SUPPLYSofia, July 22 (BTA) - Bulgaria will apply for a US commodity credit of 25 million US dollars for the import of American wheat. At yesterday's meeting the Council of Ministers decided to propose to Parliament to ratify the commodity credit. The credit is repayable over three years at an interest of five or six percent.
Bulgaria ihas been experiencing bread wheat shortages of late. Agriculture was not spared the crisis which holds the country's economy in a grip. According to Prof. Tyanko Yordanov, an economic geography expert, in 1995 the output of farming dropped over 30 percent compared to 1989, and there will be a further decline this year. For 15 years Bulgaria was seventh in the world by the per capita production of grain, following Canada, Denmark, Australia, the United States, France and Hungary. In the 1980s, Prof. Yordanov says, Bulgaria was third after France and Denmark by the average yield of wheat. In 1993-1995 grain production dropped down to 6.3 million tons. To meed this year's requirement for bread and baker's goods, the country needs 1.6 million tons of wheat.
One hundred sixty four companies exported 685,000 tons of wheat, while the quota was 540,000 tons, the papers wrote. Wheat prices began to climb up and flour disappearing from the shops. The opposition blamed the Socialist Government for the grain crisis, which the opposition papers said was caused by speculators manipulating the grain market.
By a recently adopted Government decision, the State Savings Banks will float targeted loans to flour mills for the purchase of grain. Only about 100,000 tons of the nearly one million harvested grain has been purchased by the Agriculture State Fund so far. According to Agriculture Minister Krustyu Trendafilov, Bulgaria will have to import 500,000 tons of grain to provide an adequate supply.
 ECONOMISTS EXPECT ECONOMIC DECLINE IN 1996Sofia, July 22 (BTA) - A team of economists from the Institute of Economics with the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences expects the Bulgarian economy to shrink 1-2 per cent in 1996. According to Prof. Ivan Angelov, former economic advisor to the Prime Minister, growth may recover only next year. At a news conference here today, he expressed expectations of Bulgaria's economic development which diverge to a certain extent from the Government's projections. According to Prof. Angelov, economic growth is possible only provided the financial sector stabilizes and the loss-making state-owned enterprises,are barred from borrowing. The professor's prediction of the average annual exchange rate, 150-160 leva per US dollar, differs more substantially from the Government's projection, 123 leva. According to Prof. Angelov, if the Central bank and the Government continue their unwise foreign-exchange policy, this level may be surpassed. He singled out the "negligence of the central bank and the Government in 1995" as the main reason for the foreign-exchange crisis.
Prof. Angelov fears that the budget deficit will be larger than the Cabinet projection and will reach 5-5.1 per cent of the gross domestic product. Next year the deficit may be brought down to 3-3.1 per cent of GDP. The economists expect a substantial erosion of real personal income. According to Vassil Tsanov of the Institute of Economics, wages in the state-financed sector will be reduced in real terms by 20-30 per cent in 1996, while income in both the public and private sector will fall an overall 20-25 per cent.
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