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News from Bulgaria, 96-09-13
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From: Embassy of Bulgaria <email@example.com>
EMBASSY OF BULGARIA - WASHINGTON D.C.
BTA - BULGARIAN TELEGRAPH AGENCYSeptember 13, 1996
 BULGARIA HAILS APPROVAL OF N-TEST BAN TREATYSofia, September 12 (BTA) - Bulgaria hails the approval by the United Nations general assembly of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty as vital means for realization of the principles of non- proliferation of nuclear weapons and of disarmament, reads a statement of the Foreign Ministry's Spokesman Pantelei Karasimeonov, circulated today.
The statement recalls that the decision of the UN's general assembly is a successful completion of the two and a half years of intensive negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament. This was a significant step towards strengthening of international peace and security through outlawing all nuclear explosions, Karasimeonov said.
Mr Karasimeonov said that "Bulgaria took an active part throughout the negotiations maintaining its principal position in favour of non-proliferation of nuclear and other types of mass destruction weapons and has joined demarches of the European Union in support of the treaty."
According to the Spokesman of the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry the envisaged procedure will make possible for the leader of the Bulgarian delegation to the UN general assembly to sign the treaty. "This will place Bulgaria among the first countries to sign this important international legal instrument," Karasimeonov said. "Bulgaria hopes that all states will accede to the treaty and will do their best for its prompt ratification and entry into force", the Foreign Ministry's Spokesman said in conclusion.
 COUNCIL OF MINISTERS' DECISIONSSofia, September 12 (BTA) - Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski will head the Bulgarian delegation to the 51st regular annual meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations, opening on September 17 in New York. At its today's meeting the Cabinet approved the principal positions of the Bulgarian delegation and specified its members.
The Council of Ministers approved the members of the Bulgarian delegations to the meetings of the subcommittees on customs cooperation, transport and on technical cooperation in farm products EU-Bulgaria.
Justice Minister Mladen Chervenyakov was authorized to sign on behalf of Bulgaria the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism. The Convention was opened for accession in 1977 in the framework of the Council of Europe. Under the document a country may not refuse extradition citing political or other motives for the violations. In this way the traditional principle which bars extradition for political crimes will not be applied in the cases of terrorism.
The ministers approved two draft intergovernmental agreements with Mexico and Portugal for reciprocal granting of visa free entry clearance to the holders of diplomatic and service passports, issued by the respective foreign ministries. Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski was empowered to conduct the negotiations and sign the two agreements.
A draft intergovernmental agreement was approved as a basis for holding negotiations with the Republic of Slovenia for readmission of persons, who have illegally entered or reside illegally on the territory of the other country.
The ministers approved a draft agreement between the interior ministries of Bulgaria and Germany for transit transportation of citizens of third countries.
The Cabinet adopted a draft intergovernmental agreement with the Republic of France for exchange of trainees in different branches of the economy.
The ministers approved the results of the bilateral negotiations with the Republic of Turkey for Bulgaria's association with the World Trade Organisation held on September 9-10 in Sofia.
At a meeting behind closed door today the Government discussed personnel changes in the Ministry of the Interior, the Government's press office said. The Council of Ministers adopted a decision to propose to President Zhelyu Zhelev to decree the release of colonel Stoino Ivanov Petkov as Commander of the Interior Ministry's troops in connection with his admission to the general staff department of the "G.S. Rakovski" military academy for the 1996-1997 academic year. The Cabinet proposes colonel Stoyan Ivanov Mihnev to be appointed as acting commander of the Interior Ministry's troops for a period of one year.
The Government mandated Deputy Foreign Minister Konstantin Glavanakov to sign an agreement for cooperation in culture with Iraq.
The intergovernmental Bulgarian-Vietnamese commission for trade-economic and scientific-technical cooperation will hold a meeting in Sofia on September 16-20. The commission will discuss the prospects for improvement of the legal framework. The agreement for mutual protection of investments is expected to be signed. The problem of settling mutual obligations will also be on the agenda.
 COUNCIL OF MINISTERS APPROVES METHOD FOR SETTING CEILING PRICES TO EIGHT FOODSSofia, September 12 (BTA) - The Cabinet approved a method for setting ceiling prices to eight types of staple foods. The pricing method will be applied for flour, bread, yoghourt and milk, white cheese, butter, yellow cheese and cooking oil. It is suggested that the Government specifies the ceiling prices and manufacturers whose prices are below these values be allowed to charge 18 per cent profit, which is several points more than the current standards, Chairman of the National Pricing Committee Dimiter Grivekov explained at a news conference today. Under the current legislation manufacturers form their prices by adding 12 per cent profit on the calculated expenses, while traders charge another 14 per cent on the purchase price. This method does not envisage changes in the trade surplus charge, Mr Grivekov explained.
He said that the new mechanism cannot eliminate appreciation completely, but its purpose is to provide maximum protection to the buyers from the frauds of middlemen in the formation of prices.
According to Mr Grivekov the most serious frauds are currently committed at the commodity markets where traders would not issue invoices or register in the documents the surplus they are charging. In his view traders also cheat in the weight of goods. National Pricing Committee officials have established violations of that kind with 75 per cent of the traders on the commodity markets.
"I regret the fact that when the Prices Act was debated the National Pricing Committee did not press for strict measures to be taken against violators with application of punitive actions like goods confiscation, suspension of companies from operation and imprisonment," Grivekov also said.
 CABINET APPROVES DRAFT AMENDMENTS TO FOREIGN INVESTMENTS LAWSofia, September 12 (BTA) - Today the Government approved a bill to amend the Business of Foreign Persons and Foreign Investment Protection Act which will be moved to Parliament. One of the most important amendments provides exemption from value added tax, duties and taxes of contributions in the form of machines, facilities, technological equipment, patents, industrial samples, trade marks, copy right and licenses of the worth of at least 30 percent of the joint venture's capital and not less than the leva equivalent of 100,000 US dollars, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development Roumen Gechev said.
The second important amendment envisages protection of the foreign investor from possible future unfavourable amendments to the Act regulating their performance in the country, Gechev stated. The Cabinet proposes that the foreign investment regulations effective by the time an investment has been registered should be in force ten years after new regulations are adopted. The Cabinet-proposed amendments should enter into force right after they are promulgated in the "Official Gazette", Gechev said. In his view their effect on the national budget will be extremely favourable. The amendments provide that in the course of five years the importers of technologies can sell them only after paying the taxes and duties they have been exempt of during the import.
The Government will insist that the National Assembly adopts the amendments on first reading in the next few week and on second, within two months.
 PRIME MINISTER ZHAN VIDENOV RECEIVES BAVARIA'S MINISTER OF ECONOMYSofia, September 12 (BTA) - Prime Minister Zhan Videnov received today the Minister of Economy of Bavaria Otto Wisshoy and the delegation of more than 30 Bavarian businessmen who arrived on a visit here.
PM Videnov and the German guest emphasized the traditionally good bilateral relations in economy, trade, tourism etc., the Government's press office said.
Mr Wisshoy said that the contacts between the Bulgarian Ministry and Bavaria have intensified over the past few years. He recalled that the Bulgarian-Bavarian commission operates on a regular basis. According to the Bavarian minister, the restoration of the traffic along the Danube river, which was restricted during the Yugo crisis, will realize better its advantages for reciprocal trade in the future.
Mr Videnov said that Germany is a traditional partner of Bulgaria with which the contacts have been intensifying. Infrastructure projects, transport links and power engineering are spheres of mutual interest, PM Videnov said. Bulgaria has been intensively working to particularize on different infrastructure projects in the context of its general orientation to European integration. An information centre for the Balkans on such projects was set up in Sofia, Videnov said.
The meeting was attended by representatives of Siemens, Daimler Benz, BayWa and other companies. Mr Wisshoy emphasized that the very presence of this prestigious companies in Bulgaria speaks about the serious intentions of Bavaria for realizing deals and maintaining economic contacts with Bulgaria.
 P.M. VIDENOV RECEIVES L.G. INT'L PRESIDENTSofia, September 12 (BTA) - Prime Minister Zhan Videnov today received Soo Wan-Park, President of South Korea's L.G. International conglomerate, known as Lucky GoldStar until 1994.
Mr Soo's visit is connected with the drawing up of an investment plan for Eastern Europe, said the Government's press office. The guest stated his investment intentions and expressed an interest in the possibilities for doing business and investing in privatization in Bulgaria, more specifically in its chemical industry and electronics in which the company specializes.
Videnov spoke about the privatization programme which envisages closing major deals by the year's end, and registered interest in joint initiatives. He highly praised the active participation of South Korean companies in Bulgaria's structural reform.
Ambassador Pil Joosung attended the meeting.
 BULGARIA - I.M.F.Sofia, September 12 (BTA) - The financial and economic situation in Bulgaria is complex but I have the impression that the government is determined to carry out its programme by the end of September, Anne McGuirk, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Mission Leader for Bulgaria says in an interview for the financial and business "Pari" daily. She believes, though, that there are economic groups in this country impeding the progress of the structural reform.
Rehabilitation of banks is one of the major parts of the structural reform and that is why the IMF has its attention focused there, says Mrs McGuirk. She believes that the stabilization of banks cannot go separately from the overall stabilization in economy.
Bulgaria will get the second tranche under its fourth strand-by agreement with the IMF provided that the IMF sees tangible results from the implementation of the government programme: closure of money-losing financial institutions and enterprises and assisting profitable private ones, says this IMF official. She believes, though, that the money itself (about SDR 80 million) are not as important as the economic policy that is being pursued. The settlement of part of Bulgaria's liabilities to the Paris Club of official creditors and the IMF due in September will not disturb dramatically Bulgaria's foreign currency reserves because it has got financial assistance from several European lending institutions, says Mrs McGuirk.
Cash privatization is the only field where the government meets the targets. According to Mrs McGuirk, the problems in implementing the macroeconomic programme stem largely from the low degree of tax collection and the low budget revenues. She says the IMF mission here in late August and early September and the Bulgarian government agreed on a set of measures aimed at bringing down the budget deficit. She said the next IMF mission has not been scheduled yet.
The IMF mission arrived here on August 21 for two weeks to see whether Bulgaria is meeting the requirements of the lending agreement. A delegation of the IMF Technical Assistance Mission is currently visiting this country.
 BULGARIAN MP'S IN FINLANDSofia, September 12 (BTA) - Members of the parliamentary Committee on Foreign Policy and European Integration visited Finland on September 11-12 at the invitation of Finnish parliament's foreign policy committee. Finland's Parliament Speaker Riitta Uosukainen received Committee Chairman Nikolai Kamov and his deputies Assen Agov and Stoyan Denchev, said Parliament's PR office.
The Bulgarian delegation met with members of the foreign policy committee and the committee on European integration and Nordic cooperation, as well as with the director of the Helsinki-based Institute of Foreign Policy.
The sides discussed aspects of the integration of Central and East European countries in the European Union, European security and interparliamentary relations in the process of association. The Bulgarian MPs expressed concern over the difficulties posed by the visa requirement for Bulgarian citizens travelling in Western Europe.
The Bulgarian MPs met with representatives of the Social Democratic Party and Sweden's People's Party. The sides exchanged information on the political situation in the two countries.
 TOP ENERGY SCANDALS MAY DRIVE BULGARIA OUT OF GAS MARKETSofia, September 12 (BTA) - The Bulgarian Cabinet can count on a preferential treatment in Russian natural gas deliveries next year only if it grants the application for a concession to the Bulgarian- Russian Topenergy company, "Standart News" writes. A failure of the Cabinet to make the respective decision before the company's general assembly due on September 20 in Moscow may foil the plan of Russia's Gazprom to turn Bulgaria into a gas distribution centre in the Balkans. If Gazprom turns its back to Bulgaria this country will remain isolated from European gas projects, experts claim.
The Yamburg agreement, under which Bulgaria now receives natural gas, expires this year. Bulgaria needs some 6,500 million cubic meters a year to meet its requirements. In 1997 the price of 1,000 cubic m of gas is expected to be USD 140 against the present USD 93, "Standart News" recalls. If Bulgaria becomes a distribution centre for Russian gas it would profit from transit fees and at the same time meet its own requirements, experts claim.
While Bulgaria is temporizing, its neighbours are fighting ever more fiercely for the distribution of gas, the paper says. At the Balkan Gas Conference recently held in Sofia, Turkey said it was ready to be a bridge between the East and the West in natural gas deliveries. Serbia, on its part, questions Bulgaria's participation in the Balkan gas pipeline that will carry Russian gas to Italy, over the inapplicability of the Bulgarian law on concessions. The Cabinet's silence indicates that the Government has no concept on this country's energy future.
"The solution to the present grave energy crisis lies in the development of gas power engineering," former energy minister Nikita Sherveshidze says in an interview for the same daily. He believes the future belongs to nuclear power engineering but seven or eight years will be needed to complete the Belene N-plant.
 BULGARIA, PORTUGAL: JOINT BUSINESSSofia, September 12 (BTA) - Bulgarian and Portuguese businessmen discussed possibilities for investment in Bulgaria at a meeting in Sofia today. This is the first meeting in its kind and was organized by the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) and the Union of Industrialists in Oporto.
Last year commercial exchange between Bulgaria and Portugal totalled USD 19,912,000, according to Ministry of Trade data. Bulgaria has a USD 9 million surplus in its trade with Portugal, according to BCCI sources.
Bulgaria exports to Portugal oil, lubricants, machines, timber and paper and imports cork articles, aluminium bands and electrical heating appliances.
The two states have signed a number of documents including agreements on reciprocal investment protection and promotion and avoiding double taxation, and on cooperation in merchant shipping, communications, tourism, etc.
This first business meeting of entrepreneurs of Bulgaria and Portugal will fill in a gap in bilateral relations, Portuguese Ambassador here Maya Y Silva said today. A similar meeting will be held in Portugal.
 REPRESENTATIVE OF RUSSIAN GENERAL STAFF DISPROVES "KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA" STORY ON NUCLEAR WEAPONS IN BULGARIAMoscow, September 12 (BTA) - Yesterday's story in "Komsomolskaya Pravda" about Soviet nuclear weapons being hosted on Bulgarian territory till the late 1980s is confirmed by neither facts nor documents, a senior representative of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces told ITAR-TASS today.
Many officers and generals involved in nuclear weapons are surprised by the fact that a paper like "Komsomolskaya Pravda" builds its "sensation" on the reminiscences of an unnamed officer alone, this senior official said. Not everything fits in the descriptions of the "top secret base near the Bulgarian capital". The discrepancies are obvious to anyone who has served in the missile troops, the unnamed senior representative of the Russian General Staff said.
He expressed doubt that the story was based on information provided by a missile troops officer who has sworn loyalty to his country and served in the strategic missile troops. "The army is experiencing a difficult period and someone is interested in vilifying its past and in smearing the image of the Russian officer," the Russian General Staff official said.
Yesterday the Bulgarian Defence Ministry denied the allegations, describing them as a "gross fabrications". The allegations were also refuted by President Zhelev and General Tsvetan Totomirov, Chief of the General Staff of the Bulgarian Army. Former communist leader Todor Zhivkov called them "journalistic fabrications".
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