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News from Bulgaria, 96-09-18
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From: Embassy of Bulgaria <email@example.com>
EMBASSY OF BULGARIA - WASHINGTON D.C.
BTA - BULGARIAN TELEGRAPH AGENCY
18 September, 1996
 FOREIGN MINISTER PIRINSKI TO LEAD DELEGATION TO 51ST U.N. GENERAL ASSEMBLYSofia, September 17 (BTA) - A Bulgarian delegation led by Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski will attend the 51st session of the United Nations General Assembly starting today in New York, Deputy Foreign Minister Konstantin Glavanakov told a briefing today.
Foreign Minister Pirinski, scheduled to leave for New York on October 2, is authorized by the Bulgarian government to sign a treaty banning nuclear tests, said Glavanakov. The text of the treaty was approved by the UN on September 10 and will be offered for signature by the UN member states after September 24. Georgi Pirinski will be among the first to sign the document.
The agenda of the 51st UN General Assembly session will be dominated by the reconstruction of Bosnia and Hercegovina , said Glavanakov. For the first time Bulgaria will move a draft resolution offering ways for offsetting the adverse effects of the strict implementation of the sanctions during the Yugoconflict - a sphere in which no tangible progress has been achieved to date. The interaction among the UN institutions is another issue atop the session's agenda. The review of intra-organization links is essential with a view to the efforts for improving the performance of the UN, said Glavanakov.
 BULGARIA MAY JOIN WTO BY YEAR'S ENDSofia, September 17 (BTA) - Bulgaria may become full member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the successor of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) by the end of the year. At its session in Geneva today the working group on accessions supported Bulgaria's membership in the WTO, the Foreign Ministry said. The package of documents was accepted with consensus and will be submitted for approval by the WTO General Council at its session on October 2, 1996.
Representatives of all delegations expressed the hope that after the completion of all ratification and signing procedural technicalities, Bulgaria will be accepted full member at the first Ministerial Conference in Singapore in early December, 1996.
The delegations of 12 states stressed that Bulgaria is undertaking serious commitments to liberalize its economy and foreign trade regulations, regardless of the enormous difficulties it is facing now.
So far Turkey was the only member of the working group on accessions opposed to Bulgaria's joining the WTO. Delegations of the Bulgarian and Turkish trade ministries coordinated their positions a week ago in Sofia and Bulgaria received Turkey's support.
Bulgaria's accession, is considered a major achievement and a step strengthening its positions in the multilateral trade system. "As part of a multilateral trade system we will be able to defend our interests. On the other hand, we will have to observe rules which will prevent us from introducing restrictive measures. On the whole the effect will be a balanced trade policy and good export opportunities," Trade and Foreign Economic Relations Minister Atanas Paparizov said.
 SWEDISH FOREIGN MINISTRY STATE SECRETARY VISITSSofia, September 17 (BTA) - Mr Jan Eliasson, State Secretary of the Foreign Ministry of Sweden, arrived here today on a two-day visit at the invitation of the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry.
"We will discuss Swedish-Bulgarian relations and your country's accession to the European Union," Mr Eliasson said upon his arrival. Problems related to the UN and common to the two countries will also be discussed, the Swedish state secretary said. Bulgaria may count on Sweden's support as regards the building of a united Europe and defence of its interest in the EU, Mr Eliasson said after meeting Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski. Bulgaria is an important and necessary part of the European security structure, he added.
 EU PLANS TO INVEST IN BULGARIAN ECO-PROJECTSSofia, September 17 (BTA) - A speedier adoption of environmental laws meeting European Union standards would help attract considerable European Union financial support for a number of environmental projects in Bulgaria, said Environment Minister Georgi Georgiev upon his return from Brussels today where he attended the second meeting of the environmental ministers of ten East European states.
Considerable funds have been allocated for investment into environmental projects in the East European countries, including in Bulgaria, environmentalists of the European Commission told the Bulgarian Environment Minister. These funds could be released within the framework of the PHARE programme, as well as through cooperation with some European funds for destroying industrial waste, plant protection preparations deliveries, etc.
Bulgaria's eroding coastline may be consolidated using joint EU, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and National Environmental Fund funding. Negotiations have already started, Georgiev said. Every year Bulgarian loses four square kilometers of its coastline to the Black Sea.
 DOES POLICE ABUSE CIVIL RIGHTS IN BULGARIA?Sofia, September 17 (Ani Parmaksizyan of BTA) - "As a whole Bulgarian police cannot be charged with violations of civil rights. In some cases individual officers commit violations. Every such case is thoroughly investigated in the Interior Ministry and, if there is sufficient evidence, it is handed over to prosecutors," Interior Ministry Secretary, Colonel Tsvyatko Tsvetkov, told a press conference here today on "Does Police Abuse Civil Rights in Bulgaria".
The press conference was organized by the parliamentary Human Rights Committee, following hundreds of letters from foreign countries claiming civil rights abuse by police and investigators. "The letters concern 10 or 15 cases and most have the identical contents," the Chairman of the Committee Velko Vulkanov, a legal expert, said.
They were discussed by the parliamentary Committee at a meeting attended by officials of the Interior and Justice Ministries, the Armed Forces Prosecutor's Office and Bulgarian nongovernmental human rights organizations. "Tips of police violations will be discussed in this same way every two months," Vulkanov said.
According to Colonel Tsvetkov, the letters are a result of a report by Amnesty International circulated last June which deals with several cases of murder and torture in Bulgarian remand centres and prisons, and makes a number of recommendations to the Bulgarian government. After a meeting of officials from law enforcement institutions, Bulgaria drafted an answer which was handed to the Secretary General at the Amnesty International headquarters in London. "The leaders of Amnesty International expressed satisfaction with Bulgaria's readiness to cooperate," the chief of the Human Rights and Humanitarian and Social Cooperation department at the Foreign Ministry Vladimir Sotirov said.
Sotirov reported Bulgaria gave answers about 19 cases - in 3 cases no violations were established, and 13 cases were still under investigation. "It is not unusual to respond to Amnesty International reports and taking into account the importance of these problems for Bulgaria, the Bulgarian side decided an official answer is necessary," Sotirov explained, stressing Bulgaria is a signatory to over 30 international and regional human rights agreements.
A total of 10,415 persons were in detention as of July 1, 1,374 of whom had been indicted; legal proceedings were underway against 2,390, said the chief of the Prisons department of the Ministry of Justice Zdravko Traykov.
 OPPOSITION ACCUSES RULING B.S.P. OF CONDUCTING BEHIND-THE-SCENES POLITICSSofia, September 17 (BTA) - Participants in a meeting of the ruling party at the Boyana government residence on Sunday considered an action plan for the emergency circumstances experienced by this country, leader of the opposition Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) Ivan Kostov today claimed. According to Kostov, the aim of the Cabinet was not to lose part of the support of the international financial institutions.
On his arrival on Saturday from the annual meeting of the Central European Free Trade Association in Slovakia, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov said that on Sunday, September 15, at a meeting in Boyana, the Government will familiarize the chairmen of the principal parliamentary committees, the parliamentary chairman and the regional governors with its proposals to overcome the crisis and press on with the structural reform in Bulgaria. "We want to be sure that we are not disputing key issues with the legislative and local factors," Videnov said. "Obviously, the time has come for us to stop the negative trend of the snowballing internal borrowing, to curb inflation and the depreciation of the lev which stem from the eroded confidence in this country's ability to repay its debts," Videnov said. "We plan to resolve part of the problems through expanding cash privatization and finalizing major deals in metallurgy, the chemical and defence industries and farmaceuticals on a priority basis," he said. There was no official press release about the meeting on Monday. The forum began late in the evening on Sunday.
After today's meeting of the UDF National Executive Board to discuss the current political situation, Kostov said that "the latest events show that the real politics is done behind the scenes". "We can expect new bank failures, blocking of deposits, liquidation of enterprises; extreme measures, including a programme on reduction of incomes, will be introduced in the economic policy," Kostov said today.
According to the UDF leader, what is meant is neither a social policy nor radical reform, but panic efforts to salvage the pillars of Prime Minister Zhan Videnov's power. The Prime Minister uses the consolidation of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) in the run-up to the presidential elections to apply emergency measures and gain confidence which his fellow party members would not place in him in ordinary circumstances.
 AUGUST NEWS: FOREIGN MINISTER RECEIVES U.S. AMBASSADOR BOHLEN (AUGUST 15)Sofia, August 15 (BTA) - Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski today received the newly appointed U.S. Ambassador, Mrs Avis Bohlen. After the meeting, Ambassador Bohlen said in Bulgarian she was very glad to be in Bulgaria at last. She expressed hope that her presence in Bulgaria would further promote the positive development of relations between Bulgaria and the United States.
Foreign Minister Pirinski said he had a very interesting conversation with Ambassador Bohlen. The sides agreed that bilateral contacts had deepened, inter alia, with the signing of a number of agreements. The impetus comes from the granting to Bulgaria of most- favoured-nation status on a permanent basis, Pirinski said.
Bulgaria's role as a factor of stability in Southeastern Europe was emphasized at the meeting. Pirinski stressed that the two governments share a desire to pool their efforts and cooperate so that the fragile stability in the region could turn into a lasting process of security and cooperation.
Pirinski, who will be visiting the U.S. from August 25 to 31, said he had been invited by the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs in his capacity as foreign minister. He said this would give him an opportunity to meet with representatives of the U.S. administration and the Democratic Party.
 FOREIGN MINISTER PIRINSKI LEAVES FOR THE USA (AUGUST 25)Sofia, August 25 (BTA) - Bulgarian Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski left on an official visit to the US at the invitation of the National Democratic Institute.
Upon his departure from Sofia Airport, Pirinski told journalists that the purpose of the visit was to promote political dialogue in connection with the granting of a permanent most favoured nation status to Bulgaria and hence the raising of bilateral relations to a more stable and normal level. "We will also discuss trade policy issues and the development of economic cooperation in view of the forthcoming session in September of the working group of the World Trade Organization," Pirinski said. The Bulgarian foreign minister explained that he would seek confirmation of US support for Bulgaria's full membership in the World Trade Organization.
"As far as bilateral relations are concerned, we will discuss specific issues of mutual interest," Pirinski said. "I expect to be asked of Bulgaria's evaluation of the situation in the Balkans," the foreign minister said. He added that the US views Bulgaria as a state of a responsible conduct in the region, contributing to positive processes. Pirinski also expects his meetings in the US to discuss the progress of the structural reform in Bulgaria.
 FOREIGN MINISTER PIRINSKI IN THE U.S. (AUGUST 26)Sofia, August 26 (BTA) - Bulgarian Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski today met US acting Secretary of State at the State Department Strobe Talbott, the Bulgarian National Radio said in its evening newscast. Pirinski also met Samuel Burger, presidential national security adviser, as well as World Bank Director of Southeastern Europe Kenneth Lay and International Monetary Fund Vice Governor Stanley Fisher.
Addressing diplomats and political analysts at the Carnegie Foundation, Pirinski dwelled on the approaches to security and stability in Southeastern Europe. He is due to deliver a lecture on "Bulgarian Policy for Regional Stability in The Balkans" at the Atlantic Council.
The agenda of Pirinski's talks in the US also includes Bulgarian- American relations and ways to bring them to a sustainable level, commercial policy and conditions for developing economic cooperation. Foreign Minister Pirinski and his hosts will also consider the opportunities for getting US assistance for Bulgaria's entry into the World Trade Organization.
 FOREIGN MINISTER PIRINSKI'S MEETINGS IN WASHINGTON D.C. (AUGUST 28)Sofia, August 28 (BTA) - Bulgarian Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski, who is visiting the US at the invitation of the National Democratic Institute, conferred with the Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Stanley Fisher, the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a press release today. Mr Pirinski briefed Mr Fisher on the measures taken by the Bulgarian Government for financial stabilization, rehabilitation and restructuring of the banking sector and on the conduct of the structural reform and the efforts towards finalization of a Structural Adjustment Loan. The expectation was expressed that such a loan could be arranged in October-November 1996, provided that tangible action is taken in respect of the major loss-making enterprises as planned. Mr Fisher noted that the reform has long been delayed and stressed the need of a prompt fulfilment of the bilateral accommodations as reached, which will ensure IMF's continued support and will help mitigate the hardship of the transition.
Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski visited the US Chamber of Commerce for a working breakfast with members of the Chamber's working group for Bulgaria. They focussed on the economic situation and the Government's consistent measures for economic restructuring, the progress of mass and cash privatization, the investment climate and the openings for specific deals in Bulgaria.
At the National Press Club, Mr Pirinski spoke about regional security in the Balkans and the enlargement of NATO and the European Union and took questions from the attending US news analysts, reporters and foreign correspondents. He stressed that regional cooperation must be an open-ended process, working for the aspirations of the countries in the region towards integration into Europe. The Bulgarian diplomat said that in talks with US administration officials they agreed that NATO's enlargement should not lead to lines of division on the continent and to the formation of different groups of countries in the context of European security. The sides must maintain an open and gradual individual dialogue which does not spring surprises.
At the Atlantic Council of the United States, Mr Pirinski delivered a lecture on Bulgaria's policy of regional stability in the Balkans. His audience included US political experts, members of the diplomatic corps and reporters. The Foreign Minister elaborated on Bulgaria's role in building stability and security in Southeastern Europe and noted the importance of bilateral and multilateral mechanisms for the achievement of stability and promotion of cooperation in the Balkans and Bulgaria's initiatives in this respect. The participants commended highly the Balkan Conference on Security, Stability and Cooperation in Southeastern Europe, which was held in Sofia in July 1996, and the opening prospects for attainment of a new state of regional relations and cooperation.
"During the two days of meetings in Washington, most important were the talks with Acting Secretary of State Talbott, with the Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Berger, and in the Treasury Department," Pirinski said tonight in an interview on national radio.
He assessed in positive terms the development of bilateral relations between Bulgaria and the US in the last few months. Pirinski cited as a typical example the act of the two houses of Congress granting a permanent most favoured nation status to Bulgaria, signed into law by President Clinton in late July. The two countries share a willingness to promote political dialogue, and economic relations and cooperation in culture and education, he also said.
At the meeting with Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Berger the two sides agreed that the positive development of bilateral relations is a good basis for their further promotion, including by signing cooperation agreements in the economic field which would support the reform policy in Bulgaria, a Bulgarian Foreign Ministry press release said. Mr Berger praised Bulgaria's consistent, peaceful and constructive policy in the Balkans and the success of the Sofia meeting on regional security, stability and cooperation in Southeastern Europe. The two sides expressed readiness for further active cooperation aimed at establishing a climate of security and stability in the region through the implementation of infrastructure projects, cooperation within the framework of PfP, etc.
 FOREIGN MINISTER PIRINSKI IN CHICAGO (AUGUST 29)Sofia, August 29 (BTA) - In Chicago, Illinois, the Bulgarian- American Enterprise Fund (BAEF) yesterday gave a business lunch for Bulgarian Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski, who is visiting the US at the invitation of the National Democratic Institute. The business and investment climate in Bulgaria was discussed at the function. Mr Pirinski elaborated on the tax break for foreign investors, the ongoing negotiations with the International Monetary Fund, the privatization programme and the condition of Bulgaria's banking sector, said BAEF's office in Bulgaria. "We are glad to welcome Minister Pirinski to Chicago and to listen to his views on the future of Bulgaria," said Mr Frank Bauer, President and Chief Executive Officer of BAEF. "With its more than 500 investment projects in Bulgaria, BAEF is carrying on its investment activity and is planning to increase the size of its investments in Bulgarian enterprises, despite the difficulties into which the country is running at the moment," he added.
Representatives of Amoco, King Wire Incorporated, GSV- International Trading Company, Material Sciences Corporation of America, the Chicago Council for International Relations, Bank of America, Opportunity International, the World Trade Center, the Commission on International Affairs at the American Jewish Committee and other organizations were among the lunchers. Mr Pirinski's statements were listened with close attention and were followed by a number of questions on the part of the attendees, the BAEF press release says.
 FOREIGN MINISTER PIRINSKI BACK FROM U.S. (AUGUST 31)Sofia, August 31 (BTA) - Bulgarian Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski this afternoon returned from a working visit to the United States. He was there to attend the Democratic Party congress at the invitation of the National Democratic Institute. In a statement upon his arrival at Sofia airport, Pirinski said his meetings with representatives of the US administration, the international financial institutions in Washington and members of the Bulgarian immigrants' community were very useful.
Getting the support the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) promised to offer us depends only on the Bulgarian side, said Pirinski. During his visit to Washington he had talks with officials of the two institutions who are in charge of Bulgaria.
Following an open exchange of views, the sides agreed that the Bulgarian government, parliament and political forces should take tangible steps to implement the measures for structural adjustment and stabilization of the economy. The progress of these measures is vital for the decision of the IMF and the World Bank to back them effectively, said the Bulgarian Foreign Minister.
World Bank officials voiced concern over a possible delay of the measures that have been mapped out. Naturally, this will postpone the finalization of the loan to support the structural adjustment of the economy, said Pirinski.
After his meeting at the US State Department, Chamber of Commerce and the national press centre, Georgi Pirinski was left with the impression that the American public is most interested in Bulgaria's policy and the role it plays at the present moment.
Georgi Pirinski also said officials of the US administration confirmed their readiness to work for activating Bulgarian-US relations. The Bulgarian Foreign Minister reportedly stressed the serious losses Bulgaria suffered from the Yugoembargo and the impossibility to get its receivables from other countries subject to UN embargo, such as Libya and Iraq. He said his words were met with understanding but it remains unclear what assistance this country will get as such a decision depends on the analyses the US side will make.
The new permanent status of Bulgaria's trade relations with the US is appreciated by the US business circles and will encourage businessmen with longstanding interest in Bulgaria to renew their efforts on projects here, according to the Foreign Minister.
 U.S. AMBASSADOR BOHLEN'S MEETINGS (SEPTEMBER 9)Sofia, September 9 (BTA) - The newly appointed U.S. Ambassador to Sofia, Avis Bohlen, today met with Prime Minister and Socialist Party leader Zhan Videnov, as well as with leaders of the opposition Union of Democratic Forces (UDF).
The U.S. administration supports Bulgaria's efforts to develop regional structures, Ambassador Bohlen told Videnov. She highly praised Bulgaria's role in the development of inter-Balkan relations, Government Spokesman Nikola Baltov said after the meeting.
The U.S. administration is aware that Bulgaria is going through difficult times and supports the measures for the rehabilitation of this country's economy as the only way to solve its problems, Ambassador Bohlen said. Prime Minister Videnov familiarized her with the progress of economic and banking restructuring. He informed her of forthcoming legislative and government measures to attract foreign investment.
Videnov and Bohlen agreed that political dialogue between Bulgaria and the U.S. had invigorated and discussed Balkan infrastructure projects.
Mrs Bohlen also met with UDF leader Ivan Kostov, deputy leader and presidential candidate Peter Stoyanov and deputy leader Vassil Gotsev. Mrs Bohlen's visit is not a mere formality but a proof that there are good relations between the UDF and the U.S. diplomatic mission to Bulgaria, Ivan Kostov said. He set forth the Union's views on the political and economic situation in Bulgaria.
"I reiterated the UDF's concern that if the government remains careless to the sharp deterioration of the situation, the presidential elections will not be held in normal circumstances," Kostov said. He explained that one of the government's major responsibilities is to ensure a normal situation for the elections. He said that people, worried by economic difficulties and disappointed with political chaos, will either refuse to vote or if they do, they will not behave normally and excesses may occur. Kostov said that Ambassador Bohlen showed deep concern for the problems of Bulgarian agriculture
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