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News from Bulgaria, 96-09-12
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From: Embassy of Bulgaria <firstname.lastname@example.org>
EMBASSY OF BULGARIA - WASHINGTON D.C.
BTA - BULGARIAN TELEGRAPH AGENCYSeptember 12, 1996
 BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY'S SEPTEMBER SCHEDULESofia, September 11 (BTA) - The Bulgarian Foreign Ministry presented today the events on its schedule for September. Consultations between the foreign ministers of Bulgaria and Ukraine in connection with the 51st General Assembly of the United Nations opening on September 17 will be held on September 11-12 in Kiev. The Bulgarian delegation will be led by Deputy Foreign Minister Konstantin Glavanakov. On September 12-13 a delegation of the Foreign Ministry led by Deputy Foreign Minister Ivan Hristov will hold talks with the Foreign Ministry of Macedonia. The talks are expected to focus on the UN's General Assembly as well as on bilateral relations and the prospects for their intensification.
Meetings of the subcommittees on transport, customs issues and agriculture with the EU will be held in Sofia on September 13. Sypke Prauer of the European Commission will come here on September 17 on a visit in connection with the preparatory meeting of the EU- Bulgaria Association Council. The Council will hold its regular meeting on October 22 in Brussels.
The CEFTA meeting in Slovakia on September 13 - 14 will be attended by Prime Minister Zhan Videnov.
Swedish State Secretary of Foreign Affairs Yan Eliasson will be on a visit here on September 17-18. Security, regional cooperation and Bulgaria's integration in the European Union will be on the agenda of his talks here.
Technical consultations on the exports of black metals from Bulgaria will be held on September 25-26 in Sofia. A meeting of the subcommittee on agriculture is due on September 27 and a meeting of the subcommittee on government support will be held on September 30.
At the invitation of the Bulgarian Government Japanese Princess Sayako will be on a visit here between September 29 and October 3. On the schedule are top-level meetings.
A summit meeting of the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe will be held in Lisbon on December 2. Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski is expected to attend the meeting.
The Bulgarian Foreign Ministry will not answer a protest letter of the embassy of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) in Sofia sent to the Bulgarian National Television with a copy to the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry's Spokesman Pantelei Karasimeonov said at a news briefing today in connection with press publications. It is the national television that should answer the accusations, if it finds it necessary, Karasimeonov added.
The letter protests against the "biased and unprofessional", as the FRY embassy here has put it, coverage of the visit of FRY Prime Minister Radoje Kontic to Macedonia on September 3, 1996. Belgrade accuses the Bulgarian television of distorting reports about Serbia and Macedonia. The letter is written in the Serb language and is part of the regular bulletin of the embassy, the Foreign Ministry Spokesperson said.
 PARLIAMENT PASSES LAND TENURE ACT AMENDMENTSSofia, September 11 (BTA) - Parliament today passed for a second time amendments to the Land Tenure Act returned for further consideration by President Zhelyu Zhelev. It is the second of four laws returned by the President, to be put to a second vote within a two-week deadline expiring tomorrow. 122 MPs of the ruling Left voted for the amendments and 77 MPs of the opposition against. The Bulgarian Business Bloc did not vote.
In early August the President returned the amendments claiming that they encroached on the rights of farm land owners and delayed land restitution.
Supported by the opposition, Dr. Zhelev protested against the way the amendment offered for settling problems with land in suburban areas. The old version of the law envisaged that farm land that have fallen within the limits of population centres be returned to the lawful owners except for built-up land plots. The amended version adds such land shall not be returned also "in cases of other events preventing the restitution of property". The President argues the above provision gives room for far-fetched and frivolous interpretations threatening to deprive many land owners of the opportunity to have their property back.
The President also did not accept the provision giving land owners an opportunity to demand adjacent land plots "provided that it does not infringe on the rights of other persons". The Head of State sees this as an attempt at forcible land consolidation to the detriment of other owners. The opposition believes there should be a separate law regulating land consolidation.
The Socialist majority in Parliament backed the stand of the parliamentary Agriculture Committee that rejected most of the motives for not passing the amendments. The opposition is likely to challenge the constitutionality of this Land Tenure Act version at the Constitutional Court.
The Land Tenure Act was passed on February 22, 1990 at the 100th sitting of the Grand National Assembly. It got off the ground both the land reform and the economic reforms in general. But it also turned into the apple of discord. Ever since its passage it has been amended 13 times and the Constitutional Court has declared unconstitutional two of its amendments. Five years after it was passed, the law's only unamended article is the first one that says the law regulates land tenure.
 PARLIAMENT OVERRIDES PRESIDENTIAL VETO OF AMENDMENTS TO 1996 BUDGET ACTSOFIA, September 11 (BTA) - The National Assembly today revoted an Act to Amend the 1996 National Budget Act, which President Zhelyu Zhelev returned to Parliament for further deliberation in late July.
As amended, the Act defines any amounts due from juristic persons and sole traders for the sale of natural gas delivered under commercial contracts and under international agreements, including the Yamburg Agreement, to which Bulgaria is a party through its representative Bulgargas Inc., as government claims and bans their reduction by assignment with valuable consideration to third parties or their furnishing as security for debt.
The bill was apparently occasioned by a highly controversial assignment contract of September 1994, whereby Bulgargas transferred to the Credit Bank and Discount House the unpaid bills of the country's largest fertilizer manufacturer, Chimco of Vratsa, and the largest iron and steel works, Kremikovtsi of Sofia, for gas delivered between 1991 and 1993.
Under the bill which has now become law, payments effected to budget revenue discharge the debtor, and the State does not assume liability to third parties for any sums credited to budget revenue. The legislation thus voids the assignment contract which has been challenged by three successive governments as infringing on the interests of the State.
Chimco and the two financial intermediaries (which are affiliated to the private conglomerate Multigroup) are locked in a legal battle over the contract. The assignee argues that the agreement is perfect and insists on its performance. It is suing Chimco for default, claiming 1,000 million leva. The debtor wants the contract voided, claiming that it has already paid the Exchequer the full amount of principal and almost all interest on its debt to Bulgargas. Multigroup won the case at the first-instance district court, and the Arbitration Court also issued an award in its favour. The case has now gone before the Supreme Court for appellate review.
One hundred and thirty-seven MPs out of a total of 206 who voted today overturned the President's veto which was motivated by the fact that the legislation prejudges the legal dispute. It is inadmissible to pass an express statute for re-settlement of commercial relationships, Dr Zhelev argued. Only the court can defend the interests of the State if infringed, he believes. Some opposition MPs accept his reasoning.
The majority of the Democratic Left was joined in the vote by some MPs of the opposition Union of Democratic Forces, who agreed that the contract directly invades the interests of the State and benefits an economic conglomerate at the expense of the public purse.
 DAEWOO REGISTERS INTEREST IN SELL-OFFSSofia, September 11 (BTA) - Talks with South Korea's Daewoo for the sale of Balkancar Holding, the Bulgarian industrial truck maker, will resume on September 20, says "Standart News" quoting Industry Minister Lyubomir Dachev. Daewoo, which is showing interest in the Balkancar plants in Lom (on the Danube) and Lovech (Northern Bulgaria), is expected to make a specific offer. If the deal is closed, the Lovech plant will start assembling cars. Foreign Investment Agency Director Daniela Bobeva spoke about this project recently. Deputy Prime Minister Roumen Gechev will assist in the launching of joint car manufacture.
Daewoo is also eyeing Chimco, the chemical plant in Vratsa (Northwestern Bulgaria) and has already talked with its director Kiril Petrov.
Daewoo is expected to make a 100-million-dollar investment in Bulgaria, central bank experts claim. It acquired a 67 per cent stake in the Sheraton Hotel for 22.3 million dollars and will try to buy Mineralbank, now under special supervision. The bank is a creditor of some of the larger industrial enterprises, Balkancar included, the daily says.
 PODKREPA TRADE UNION ENCOURAGES NATION-WIDE PROTESTSSofia, September 11 (BTA) - The Podkrepa Labour Confederation will support and encourage all protests and strikes in Bulgaria. A decision to that effect was taken today at a sitting of the Podkrepa leadership. Podkrepa, which is one of this country's two major labour organizations, today also issued an address to the nation under the heading "Bulgaria In Crisis, Bulgaria Before Elections".
Podkrepa will follow the wave of social discontent and when working people decide, it will take the responsibility for nation-wide protests with no respect to the political moment, the address goes. The way out of the crisis goes through a new parliamentary majority, according to Podkrepa. They believe overcoming the crisis will also take joint political and trade union action.
Yesterday Podkrepa officially announced that in the upcoming presidential elections it will back the opposition's tandem, Peter Stoyanov and Todor Kavaldjiev.
Furthermore, Podkrepa decided to propose to the social partners that cost-of-living adjustments to those employed in the real economy be provided on a monthly basis.
Podkrepa also said it is concerned over reports from its members that the Ministries of Education and Health Care have unilaterally annulled collective contracts of employment in the respective fields.
 BULGARIAN DEFENCE MINISTRY DENIES ALLEGATIONS OF SOVIET NUCLEAR INSTALLATION IN BULGARIASofia, September 11 (BTA) - An official of the Bulgarian Defence Ministry today denied allegations that Soviet nuclear warheads were kept at a Bulgarian military base 60 km away from Sofia.
"There have never been nuclear warheads on the territory of Bulgaria. The allegations that a military base and a depot situated in the region of [skiing resort] Borovets and its ski runs kept nuclear warheads guarded by Soviet officers and soldiers, do not correspond to the truth and are a gross fabrications," the Defence Ministry official said. The Defence Ministry statement comes in response to a story in today's issue of the "Komsomolskaya Pravda" Russian newspaper quoted in a dispatch by the Moscow correspondent of the Horizont programme of the Bulgarian National Radio.
"Neither does the statement by an unnamed officer of the former Soviet army of the existence of three military units storing and servicing nuclear ammunitions on Bulgarian territory, correspond to the truth," the Defence Ministry official also said.
These allegations are irresponsible and can be seen as an attempt at disgracing Bulgaria. They serve the interests of people who belong to a past era, the Defence Ministry said.
There have been no nuclear weapons or nuclear installations on Bulgarian territory, said Colonel General Tsvetan Totomirov, Chief of the General Staff of the Bulgarian Army, when asked by journalists to comment on today's story in "Komsomolskaya Pravda" after a meeting with President Zhelyu Zhelev.
Dr Zhelev and General Totomirov told journalists that the story in this Russian daily was hardly plausible. "Someone may be trying to work up our neighbours, Greece and Turkey, against us," General Totomirov said. Both countries were mentioned in the story as possible targets of a possible Bulgarian nuclear attack. "Our neighbours should know that we have always attached great importance to our good relations with them," Zhelev and Totomirov said.
"I do not have to comment all kinds of journalistic fabrications," Bulgaria's former communist leader Todor Zhivkov (85) told National Television in a phone interview prompted by the story in today's "Komsomolskaya Pravda".
Zhivkov was asked to comment on the allegations of this Russian daily that there was a Soviet nuclear installation in the 80s not far from the Borovets skiing resort. "If there was a chance and I did not take it than I was not a good enough leader," Zhivkov said.
Dobri Djourov, who was defence minister till 1989, declined to comment proceeding only from the copy of the story he received by fax.
 PM VIDENOV MEETS SIEMENS, COUNCIL OF EUROPE OFFICIALSSofia, September 11 (BTA) - Bulgarian Prime Minister Zhan Videnov today received officials from Siemens, led by the member of the company's management and president of Kraftwerk Union AG Adolf Huettl, the Government Press Office said tonight.
Videnov described Siemens interests in cooperation with Bulgaria as important and full of promise, the Press Office said.
The sides discussed opportunities for upgrading Bulgarian power engineering. They considered prospects for broad international participation in a programme for long-term cooperation in nuclear power (for upgrading units five and six of the Kozlodoui nuclear power plant). The objective of this programme is the implementation of high technology solutions involving Bulgarian producers.
The Siemens officials appreciated the political and technological commitment of the Bulgarian authorities to an objective review of nuclear safety at Kozlodoui in line with international standards. Huettl stressed Siemens is a partner seeking long-term cooperation with Bulgaria.
The meeting was attended by the Minister of Energy and Energy Resources Roumen Ovcharov and German Ambassador here Peter Metzger.
Prime Minister Videnov today also received the Chairman of the Economic and Development Committee of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Terry Davis, after the end of a committee meeting, the Government Press Office said.
Videnov emphasized Bulgaria was interested in providing European organizations with comprehensive information about the state of the Bulgarian economy, its prospects and opportunities for investment and joint projects. Special attention was paid to prospects for development of telecommunications, transport, energy and the environment, the Press Office also said. Cooperation between Bulgaria and European structures and the search for European-style solutions to the complex problems to the Bulgarian economy are important elements of the Government's policy.
Davis expressed satisfaction with his contacts with government officials and public servants. The accurate picture of the Bulgarian economy presented to him will serve as the basis of the Committee report to the Parliamentary Assembly, the Press Office release also says.
 BULGARIAN PM VIDENOV TO TAKE PART IN CEFTA MEETINGSofia, September 12 (BTA) - Bulgarian Prime Minister Zhan Videnov will take part in the summit of the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) in Slovakia on September 13 and 14.
The agreement was signed in Poland on December 21, 1992, with the objective of removing barriers to trade among the countries in the Visegrad group. The present CEFTA members are Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Hungary. This year the organization is chaired by Slovakia.
Videnov took part in last year's CEFTA summit in Brno, Czech Republic, on September 10 to 11. He then expressed Bulgaria's willingness to join the organization. The final political declaration adopted by the summit emphasized to opportunity to admit Bulgaria and Romania as members.
The member countries this year will discuss opportunities to liberalize trade. The unofficial programme includes bilateral meetings of the prime ministers.
 PRESIDENT ZHELEV CONFERS WITH CHIEF OF GENERAL STAFFSofia, September 11 (BTA) - President Zhelyu Zhelev will convene the National Security Consultative Council if the Cabinet does not do the possible for the financial support of the army and if the Finance Ministry does not release the funds due to the army, it transpired after today's meeting between President Zhelyu Zhelev and Colonel General Tsvetan Totomirov, Chief of the General Staff of the Bulgarian Army.
President Zhelev told journalists that the army urgently needs some 5,000 million leva by the end of the year. The army has still not received 18,000 million leva of the funds it was allocated in the national budget. The President said he was greatly concerned by the financial state of the army and by the "Cabinet's negligent attitude". "The Cabinet has still not transferred to the army half the funds it was allocated in the budget though we have already entered the third quarter of the fiscal year," President Zhelev said.
Zhelev praised the Bulgarian officers for doing everything possible to maintain the combat readiness of the army and to guarantee this country's national security.
General Totomirov told President Zhelev that at his meetings today with Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, Finance Minister Dimiter Kostov and other cabinet members he and Defence Minister Dimiter Pavlov asked for an urgent solution of the serious financial problems of the Bulgarian Army, National Radio reported. Pavlov and Totomirov asked for funds to provide food and clothes and for paying debts to suppliers, National Radio said. Finance Minister Kostov and Prime Minister Videnov promised the defence minister and the chief of general staff to do everything possible to grant their request. Defence Minister Pavlov told National Radio that the requested funds are not for wages, because money for wages has already been provided and it is the material and technological equipment sphere that is in greatest need of funds.
General Totomirov assured President Zhelev that the Cabinet will find a solution to the problems.
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