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News from Bulgaria, 96-07-24

Bulgarian Telegraph Agency Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Embassy of Bulgaria <>



24 July, 1996




    Sofia, July 23 (BTA) - Nikolaos Papakiriasis, Co-Chairman of the EU-Bulgaria Joint Parliamentary Committee, arrived here today. Papakiriasis will take part in the third meeting of the Committee from July 24 through July 26. Participating will be the Committee's Co- Chairman for Bulgaria Nikolai Kamov, MP of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and other Bulgarian national representatives.

    The forum is expected to be used for exchange of opinions among representatives of Ireland - the current EU President, the Bulgarian Government and the European Commission. Among issues on the agenda are the progress of the EU intergovernmental conference, the political and economic situation in Bulgaria, the initiatives of the EU and Bulgaria for the stabilization of Central and Southern Europe, the economic relations between Bulgaria and the EU and in particular issues concerning agriculture, textile production, industrial goods and the harmonization of Bulgarian legislation with the European laws, the social situation and the development of the civil society in Bulgaria, as well as some visa problems.

    Bulgarian MP Elena Poptodorova is drafting together with Wilmia Zimmerman, MEP and Deputy Chairman of the EC-Bulgaria Joint Parliamentary Committee, a joint report on the visa issues. Bulgaria insists on its removal from the EU visa blacklist. An expert group which was in Bulgaria in June has already prepared their estimates. It is expected Poptodorova and Zimmerman's report to make a recommendation for specifying clearly the criteria and the requirements to Bulgaria in connection with the visa regime and the emigration policy.

    Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski, Minister of Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Atanas Paparizov are expected to address the meeting. The participants in the forum will be received by President Zhelyu Zhelev.


    Sofia, July 23 (BTA) - Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko arrived today on an official two-day visit to Bulgaria. This is the first official visit abroad of the newly-appointed Ukrainian PM and the first prime minister's visit here since 1991.

    "We shall seek together ways to the most active participation in the regional, European and world integration processes," Bulgarian Prime Minister Zhan Videnov said upon the guest's arrival. He said the prospects for development of regional cooperation, including Black Sea Economic Cooperation, the Danube cooperation and the European integration, will top the visit's agenda. Talks will focus on the promotion of bilateral relations in politics, economy and culture, as well as on the problems of the Bulgarians living in Ukraine. Of all Bulgarians living outside Bulgaria, those in Ukraine are the most (240,000).

    The Ukrainian Prime Minister voiced hope that during his visit the sides will find new approaches to settling the economic problems facing the two states. "I hope this visit will contribute to the strengthening and improving of the traditionally good centuries-old relations between Bulgaria and Ukraine," Mr Lazarenko said. The Ukrainian delegation includes representatives of all ministries and departments. The delegation has come with concrete proposals and this visit provides an opportunity to sign the agreements necessary for promoting bilateral relations, the Ukrainian Prime Minister added.

    The visit of the Ukrainian delegation will end tomorrow after the sides sign six intergovernmental and interdepartmental documents.

    "I am satisfied with the beginning of the talks," Prime Minister Lazarenko said. Although the open problems outnumber those that have already been settled, he sees a tangible progress in addressing the major questions referring to the Yamburg agreement and Krivoi Rog. The Ukrainian Prime Minister sees a tangible chance that bilateral trade grow to USD 500 million as early as this year. He described the USD 357 million-worth commercial exchange in 1995 as unsatisfactory.

    Prime Minister Videnov confirmed that progress has been made on the Krivoi Rog project and the Yamburg agreement, both of which are of particular importance for the Bulgarian economy. The sides also considered the import of Ukrainian wheat to Bulgaria. Prime Minister Lazarenko sees feasible opportunities for supply of Ukrainian coal despite the problems in this country's mining industry.


    Sofia, July 23 (Iva Toncheva of BTA) - Bulgaria is drafting an answer to Amnesty International, prompted by the organization's report on occurrences of police brutality in Bulgaria. The answer will be sent by the week's end to the headquarters of Amnesty International in London, Vladimirov Sotirov, Head of the Human Rights and Social Cooperation Department with the Foreign Ministry, told a news conference here today. Sotirov spoke in detail about the radical change in respecting human rights in Bulgaria over the past few years. He stressed this country's goodwill and willingness to co-operate with international organizations, both governmental and non-governmental. The answer, drawn up after an investigation into the cases, will be delivered to Amnesty International President Pierre Sanne, with a hope for further co- opretaion with the organization, Sotirov said.

    The 30-page report, which Amnesty International publicized in early June, covers the period between 1992 and 1995. The document mentions 30 concrete instances of murders and tortures in the Bulgarian remand centres and prisons. Bulgaria is accused of leaving uniformed offenders go unpunished.

    It is not a commonplace practice for countries to comment on Amnesty International reports, but taking into account the importance of the issue in Bulgaria, this country decided that it should provide an answer.

    The report contains a number of recommendations for the Bulgarian Government although, due to the separation of powers, many of the cases are not directly connected to the actions of the Cabinet. The report cites as a major problem the absence of official information from the Bulgarian authorities. Amnesty International appeals to the Bulgarian authorities to investigate all cases cited in the report, publicize the results and turn over to the judiciary the persons responsible for human rights violations. The Bulgarian authorities have launched an investigation into the individual cases cited in the report. There is concrete information about 19 of them. Evidence is expected on others as well.

    Law enforcement officers have already been imposed disciplinary punishments; investigations have been launched against others; administrative checks are underway. Speakers at the news conference recalled the sentencing of the three policemen who last year beat to death a detainee in a police station, the dismissal of another three policemen over a man's death, and other punishments of policemen. These recent events, which received comprehensive mass media coverage and got public approval, are only part of the evidence which refutes Amnestyís claims in the report of systematic impunity of law enforcement officers, Sotirov said.

    Amnesty International collects information from the press in Bulgaria which is often misleading, acting Judge Advocate General Colonel Nikolai Kolev said. He provided data, according to which there are only two to four murders annually in Bulgarian remand centres. According to Kolev, the authorities have opened legal proceedings on 20 of the total of 30 cases cited in the report. The charged persons include commandos who have inflicted bodily damages during police raids.


    Sofia, July 23 (BTA) - Parliament today passed on a second reading amendments to a law on the judiciary returned by President Zhelyu Zhelev for further consideration. The amendments passed 127 votes against 93, with no abstentions. The parliamentary majority voted for the amendments, the opposition against.

    The amendments envisage that chairmen of the Supreme Court of Cassation and the Supreme Administrative Court, as well as judges in the courts of appeals, shall be appointed only after the passage of a law on the Supreme Administrative Court and laws on procedures regulating three-instance structure of justice.

    Before passing the amendments, Parliament adopted a decision to that effect in response to the appointment of Roumen Yankov and Vladislav Slavov as chairmen of the Supreme Administrative Court and the Supreme Court of cassation respectively. The decision was challenged by Prosecutor General Ivan Tatarchev who asked the Constitutional Court to interpret the constitutional provisions regulating the issue of presidential decrees. On July 25 the Constitutional Court judges are expected to say whether, and by who, presidential decrees must be countersigned, and also whether a refusal to countersign a decree affects its validity.


    Sofia, July 23 (BTA) - Today's press reports a weakening of the dollar against the Bulgarian lev on the inter-bank market and at the foreign-exchange offices. According to "Troud," the dollar yesterday fell 10 leva on the cash market. On Friday, the US currency closed at 195- 197 leva, and yesterday fell to reached 185-187 leva. On the inter-bank market, the dollar yesterday opened at 189-190 leva. The National Bank of Bulgaria (BNB) immediately started buying dollars for the foreign debt payments of some 130 million dollars, due on July 28, 1996. The Deutschemark also cheapened, by 6 to 9 leva, according to "Continent." The main reason for the dive of the dollar is the IMF loan made effective on Friday, according to "Standart News."


    Sofia, July 23 (BTA) - No cases of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) have been registered in Bulgaria so far, Director of the National Veterinary Service (NVS) Yordan Kostadinov told a news conference here today. According to him, the epizootic situation in Bulgaria is alarming because of the FMD outbreak in neighbouring countries. The NVS introduced measures to prevent a spreading of the disease to Bulgaria immediately after the FMD outbreak in Albania in late May this year and in the European part of Turkey in early July.

    A draft decree on minimizing the consequences of FMD outbreaks in neighbouring states has been submitted to the Cabinet today, Kostadinov said. The veterinary authorities suggest the introduction of a ban on the imports of meat, animal products and animal fodder components from Albania, Serbia, Macedonia, Turkey and Greece. The vets also propose a full ban on grazing in the 2-km border area and in a 500-metre distance from the major trunk roads in and out of Bulgaria. Bulgaria will propose the setting up of a special immune zones along the border where the authorities will conduct mandatory vaccinations of animals. Animals in Bulgaria have not been vaccinated since several years, in line with the requirements for the export of live animals and meat to European Union member-states.

    Representatives of the European community, the International Office of Epizootics and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization will arrive in Haskovo (Southern Bulgaria) this evening, BTA local correspondent said, citing Georgi Tonchev, Head of the regional office of the State Veterinary and Sanitary Control Directorate. The experts will visit the Kapitan-Andreevo border checkpoint tomorrow to familiarize themselves with the measures introduced by Bulgaria to prevent the spreading of the disease to this country.

    "We shall do our best so that Bulgaria remain the only FMD-free country on the Balkans, Head of the Border Veterinary and Sanitary Control Directorate Georgi Yazyanov told BTA.


    Sofia, July 23 (BTA) - The stand taken by the leadership of the Alliance for Social Democracy (ASD, an ideological platform, fraction, in the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party) that the presidential campaign of BSP candidate Georgi Pirinski should be considered an attack against Prime Minister Zhan Videnov's Cabinet under the formula "New Policy, New Government", is illogical and ill-grounded, BSP floor leader Krassimir Premyanov said. Premyanov said that the BSP rejects the line of conduct of some in ASD's political leadership. According to Premyanov, there was no radical divergence as regards the party decisions on the BSP's policy.

    In a document capped "The Political Situation in Bulgaria and the Alternative We Offer", the ASD condemned on Sunday the performance of the Cabinet and demanded Videnov's resignation for "inadequate governance and the need to restore the confidence in the BSP".

    "This is not a way to resolve the problems in a party," Premyanov said. According to him, Pirinski's candidacy was fielded by the entire BSP and not only by the ASD which makes similar ideas for action "at least inappropriate".

    Meanwhile, it emerged that Pirinski, who is a member of the ASD, did not attend the Sunday meeting of the Alliance. The ASD also demanded that Videnov resign before the presidential elections in late October. It also insisted on a broad discussion with the other political forces on the issues related to the reform in Bulgaria as well as on an extraordinary congress of the BSP. The national dailies described ASD's document as "the first outright rebellion among the Socialists".


    Sofia, July 23 (BTA) - Today the Constitutional Court interpreted the constitutional term "naturally-born Bulgarian" and de-facto ruled on the citizenship of Georgi Pirinski, presidential candidate of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and Minister of Foreign Affairs in the incumbent Cabinet.

    "Bulgarian citizenship by birth (by descent or place of birth) is acquired at birth and is not preceded by any other citizenship," reads the Constitutional Court ruling. "Naturally-born Bulgarian under article 93 of the Constitution is only a person who in the moment of his birth acquires Bulgarian citizenship by descent or by place of birth under the then effective Bulgarian legislation," according to the Constitutional Court.

    The Constitutional Court pronounced itself on a case that was instituted proceeding from a petition filed by 54 opposition Mps, who inquired "when a person is a Bulgarian citizen by birth and under the provisions of which act this shall be defined". Nine of all 12 Constitutional Court judges voted for the decision; three of them, Mladen Danailov, Alexander Arabadjiev and Pencho Penev, had reservations, Constitutional Judge Ivan Grigorov, who was a rapporteur on the case, said. Grigorov noted that the Bulgarian theory of law provides the same interpretation. "The only serious and comprehensive treatise on Bulgarian citizenship has been written by Velko Vulkanov (now an MP of the BSP) in 1978 and published by the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. There Vulkanov develops the same thesis," Grigorov stated. "The decision is useful and topical. It is taken well in advance of the presidential elections," Grigorov said. Late last week the Parliament scheduled the presidential elections for October 27, 1996. The decision does not refer to or name concrete persons, the Constitutional Judge noted.

    However, the petition was filed in connection with controversies over the citizenship of Georgi Pirinski. The purpose of the petitioners was to be told on what grounds Pirinski acquired Bulgarian citizenship. Under the effective Constitution "eligible for President shall be any natural-born Bulgarian citizen" and "a Bulgarian citizen shall be anyone born of at least one parent holding a Bulgarian citizenship, or born on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria, should he not be entitled to any other citizenship by virtue of origin". The Bulgarian Nationality Act contains the same formulation.

    Pirinski was born in 1948 in New York, to a Bulgarian political emigrant and a non-Bulgarian mother. In compliance with the US legislation in force at the time of Pirinski's birth he acquired US citizenship. In 1974 he renounced his US citizenship, which fact is not questioned.

    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".

    Asked whether he is not afraid that the Constitutional Court decision will be defined as political, Ivan Grigorov said that he, himself, was not worried by this fact. "The issue is within the area of jurisprudence. The petition is legitimate from the point of view of the Constitution and the laws and is in the interests of everyone," he added.

    According to the presidential elections procedure, the presidential candidate should file his documents with the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) which decides whether to register his candidacy. The CEC decision is subject to appeal before the Supreme Court and the ruling of the latter is final. The Constitutional Court can be petitioned only after the presidential elections are held.

    "Georgi Pirinski and Ivan Marazov will remain the presidential and vice-presidential candidates of the BSP and its coalition partners regardless of the decision of the Constitutional Court," BSP Spokesperson Klara Marinova told a news conference today. The news conference was held before the Constitutional Court announced its ruling.

    "Georgi Pirinski's campaign is serious and has solid political basis," Vassil Kalinov of the BSP top leadership said at the news conference. In spite of accusations that the BSP candidates' campaign was launched rather late and lacked vigorousness the presidential tandem has been increasing its popularity, Kalinov stated. Regional campaign centres have been set up already and operate actively, he added. The partners in the coalition of the Democratic Left, the BSP, the Alexander Stamboliiski Bulgarian Agrarian National Union and the Ecoglasnost Political Club, are expected to sign a coalition agreement on the presidential elections by the week's end, Kalinov stated.

    If the BSP was a nationally responsible party it would have petitioned the Constitutional Court on its candidate's legitimacy to run for the elections before nominating him, Ivan Kostov, leader of the opposition Union of Democratic Forces (UDF), told a news conference today. The UDF leaders said they are very much interested whether BSP will withdraw Pirinski's candidacy. If the UDF's purpose was not simply to win the presidential election but defeat BSP Pirinski is a convenient candidate, Kostov stated. "This is just what we want to defeat," he added.

    "We are worried by the confrontation between the incumbents and the state institutions; in this way they want to divert the attention from the disastrous condition of the people," reads a declaration of the UDF National Executive Board prompted by the Constitutional Court ruling. The declaration was sent to BTA later in the day. BSP involves the Constitutional Court of Bulgaria in its intraparty problems and does not behave as a nationally responsible political force, the declaration says. The Socialists created political tension picking up a presidential candidate about whose Bulgarian citizenship they and he, himself, had doubts in advance, according to the UDF.

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