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News from Bulgaria, 96-09-19
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From: Embassy of Bulgaria <email@example.com>
EMBASSY OF BULGARIA - WASHINGTON D.C.
BTA - BULGARIAN TELEGRAPH AGENCY
19 September, 1996
Dear readers of the BTA/Embassy of Bulgaria bulletin of news, Because of the intrruption of the distribution of our bulletin during August to some of our readers, we have selected the most interesting stories, so that you dontt miss anything important. They are split in 4 groups. Today we add the part concerning developments around the upcoming October 27 presidential elections in Bulgaria.
 SWEDEN SEES BULGARIA AS PART OF UNITED EUROPESofia, September 18 (Alexander Kirov of BTA) - Sweden considers Bulgaria a natural part of united Europe, Sweden's State Secretary at the Foreign Ministry Jan Eliasson told "Daily News" at the end of his visit here. He said Sweden, which became an EU member on January 1, 1995, would strongly defend Bulgaria's interests in the EU and support its efforts to become fully integrated in it. Bulgaria has no alternative but to become an integral part of united Europe, including its security system, Nikolai Kamov, chairman of the paliamentary Foreign Policy Committee said after meeting with Mr. Eliasson. He stressed Bulgaria is working in this direction to the best of its ability, but needs help from the EU member countries, Sweden in particular.
 JAPANESE BANKERS NEGOTIATE ON MINERALBANK'S DEBTSSofia, September 18 (BTA) - Representatives of Industrial Bank of Japan conferred today with the regulators of Mineralbank, a bank placed under special supervision, sources from the bank said. The visit of the Japanese bankers is in connection with Mineralbank's obligation of 5,000 million Japanese Yenfor bonds sold on the Japanese securities market in 1989. According to informed sources, the representatives of Industrial Bank of Japan showed understanding and assured that the debt may be reduced or exchanged for property.
 BULGARIAN ENERGY MINISTER OVCHAROV ADDRESSES IAEA SESSIONSofia, September 18 (BTA) - Minister of Energy and Energy Resources Roumen Ovcharov read today a report before the participants in the 40th regular session of the general conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, the Information department with the Foreign Ministry said. Minister Ovcharov's report focused on the importance Bulgaria attaches to the application of requirements for guarantees of non-proliferation of nuclear material. He voices Bulgaria's satisfaction with its cooperation with IAEA in the improvement of safety of the N-plant in Kozlodui.
The Bulgarian delegation in Vienna, led by Minister Ovcharov, had meeting with IAEA's Director General Hans Blix and his deputies.
 NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OKAYS AMENDMENTS TO COMMERCIAL CODESofia, September 18 (BTA) - The National Assembly passed today at second reading revisions and amendments to the Commercial Code entering in force on November 1, 1996. The voted amendments represent Part Three of the law, which regulates commercial transactions.
The Commercial Code, which entered into force in July 1991 is the main legal instrument of the Bulgarian commercial law . Its Part One contains general provisions about merchants and the five types of commercial representatives: procurator, commercial attorney, commercial assistant, agent and intermediary. Part Two defines the kinds of merchants: sole traders and commercial partnerships in their variants - general partnership, limited partnership, limited liability company, joint- stock company and partnership limited by shares. Part Four, passed three years ago, regulates commercial insolvency and bankruptcy.
With the adoption of the Commercial Code the commercial law is separated from the general civil law. The voted amendments regulate differently the term 'sale', than the Obligations and Contracts Act. Subject to sale may be chattels and securities but not real estates. Holding of auction sales by announcing the auction terms and by bidding in public will be possible in the future. The legislation also regulates certain special types of sale like transit sale, distance sale, sale by a buyback arrangement, pre-payment sale, sale by a hire-purchase agreement. The contracts of commission, of freight forwarding, of carriage, of insurance will be subject to new regulations, specific for the commercial activity.
For the first time bank transactions like bank deposit, safe deposit, bank account, bank credit, bank guarantee, letter of credit, documentary credit, bank collection, documented bank collection, bank transfer are specially regulated. So far these bank transactions were regulated by the Banks and Lending Act and a number of subordinate legislations, mainly decrees of the Governing Board of the central bank. The contract of bailment, of licensing, of leasing are regulated for the first time, however the franchising agreement is not regulated.
A large part of the adopted amendments concern trade securities: bill of exchange, promissory note and cheque. Unlike all other commercial deals, whose form is specified by the parties, commercial securities are strictly formal. If they miss one of the components required by the law they are considered void. A new, commercial method of transferring bills of exchange and of promissory notes is introduced in place of the hitherto applied method used by the civil law, the cession.
The amendments to the Commercial Code are in compliance with international agreements to which Bulgaria is a signatory like the Vienna UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods, the conventions on carriages, on bills of exchange, on cheques. The established international traditions and practice have also been taken into consideration.
 NATIONAL ASSEMBLY RATIFIES INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTSA loan agreement for restructuring of the public health sector in Bulgaria with the International Bank for Reconstruction and the Social Development Fund with the Council of Europe was ratified today by the MPs. The agreement with the World Bank was signed on May 8 this year in Washington and envisages a loan of 26 million US dollars. The Agreement with the Social Development Fund of the Council of Europe is for 11 million US dollars and was signed on May 22, 1996 in Paris. The funds will be used for restructuring of the primary health services, of the urgent medical aid and of the blood transfusion practice, for realization of small-scale construction and repair works and for delivery of medical equipment and transport vehicles.
A rehabilitation loan agreement with the World Bank to the amount of 30 million US dollars, signed on August 2 this year in Washington was ratified by the Parliament. In its reasoning the Government says that these funds will come to support the first budgetary expenses on the programme for stabilization and the social insurances of discharged employees.
 WESTINGHOUSE TAKES SAMPLES FROM N-PLANTKozlodoui, September 18 (BTA corr.) - Croatia's Inetech, a Westinghouse subsidiary, and Canada's PCI laboratory are already taking samples of the metal casing of Generating Unit One of Bulgaria's Kozlodoui nuclear power plant, said its information centre. Unit One was shut down in mid-May under pressure from the G-7 and the European Union. Preparations for sample taking began shortly afterwards. Analysis of the samples will show the condition of the casing on which the Unit's serviceability depends.
 RUSSIAN GAS STARTS RUNNING FOR GREECE THROUGH BULGARIASofia, September 18 (BTA) - The first stage of the transmission of natural gas from Russia to Greece started today, the Bulgarian gas company Bulgargaz Inc. said. The operation began at the border check- point Koulata in direction of the Greek town Strimonohori in the morning and ended in the afternoon on Tuesday. Representatives of Bulgargaz Inc.
500,000 cu m of gas will be transmitted along the 70 km long transit gas pipeline at first and by the end of 1996 the total delivery is expected to reach 60 million cu m. Over 1,000 million cu m of gas have been planned to be transmitted next year. Greek capital Athens and later on Thessaloniki will be the first towns to be supplied with natural gas for industrial uses. Following Turkey, Greece is the second country to receive Russian natural gas transited across Bulgaria.
 BANKRUPTCY RUMOURS RUIN BANKSSofia, September 18 (BTA) - The TSBank central office in Sofia was besieged by depositors yesterday, "Standart News" reports today. Frightened by rumours of an imminent bankruptcy of this financial institution, citizens lined up at early dawn to withdraw their savings. For the time being there are no restrictions to withdrawing leva deposits. For sums exceeding DM 1,000 depositors have to wait 1-2 days but payment of large foreign exchange deposits may take months. The TSBank branch in Plovdiv stopped paying foreign exchange deposits this week.
 JOBLESS TOTAL UNCHANGED IN AUGUSTSofia, September 18 (BTA) - The August unemployment figure was 396,155, down 0.1 per cent from July, National Employment Service Chief Milcho Dimitrov told a news conference today. Dimitrov, who is also Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, said the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 10.4 per cent.
By September 13, 7637 employees of 64 enterprises slated for liquidation were made redundant. Of them 6,403 received severance pay totalling 356 million leva. By year's end 25,000 employees will lose their jobs as loss-making enterprises are wound up as part of structural reform, Dimitrov said.
Dimitrov said that 589 work permits were issued to foreign nationals by August 31 1996. Nineteen applicants were rejected this year. Americans top the list with 147 permits issued to teachers and managers, followed by Macedonians, Britons, Russians, Ukrainians, Greeks, Serbs and Germans. Work permits were also issued to Italians, Cypriots, Belgians, Moldovans and Turks.
 CENTRAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION BEGINS REGISTRATION OF PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES (August 12)The Central Electoral Commission (CEC) today began the registration of candidates for the presidential elections on October 27, the second direct poll after the launch of reforms in this country. The deadline expires 35 days before the elections, on September 22.
Candidates nominated by a political party need to present 14 documents. Candidates sponsored by a coalition should present 18 papers, and candidates sponsored by an initiative committee 11.
Under a CEC decision announced last week, the candidates for president and vice president should submit a document certifying they are Bulgarian citizens, which should also indicate the way in which Bulgarian citizenship was acquired. They should certify they have lived in Bulgaria in the last five years, and are not serving a prison sentence. Other papers include a declaration showing candidates do not have dual citizenship; a notarized copy of the court registration of the political party updated after July 19, the day the elections were scheduled; a bank certificate proving candidates have deposited 250,000 leva, etc.
Four candidates so far have announced their bids, Georgi Pirinski of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party, Peter Stoyanov who is running for the opposition, the leader of the parliamentary Business Bloc George Ganchev and the leader of the extraparliamentary Civil Alliance for the Republic Alexander Tomov. At this point Pirinski and Stoyanov have emerged as the main contenders, with roughly equal chances, in the opinion polls.
 MAJOR PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES DENIED REGISTRATION (August 27)Sofia, August 27 (BTA) - The Central Electoral Commission (CEC) today refused to register the two major contenders in the presidential elections scheduled for October 27. The Commission found inaccuracies in the documents submitted by the presidential and vice presidential candidates of the ruling Left, Georgi Pirinski and Ivan Marazov, and of the opposition, Peter Stoyanov and Todor Kavaldjiev. The decision is appealable to the Supreme Court within three days by the political forces. CEC Spokeswoman Iliana Rizova told the press the opposition representatives on the Commission found several inaccuracies in the documents of the Socialist candidates. Their main objection was that Georgi Pirinski's documents did not state clearly how he acquired Bulgarian citizenship. Pirinski was born in New York to an American mother and a Bulgarian father.
The moot point in the documents of the opposition candidates was the status of the political forces supporting them. The Commission's refusal to register Stoyanov and Kavaldjiev came as a surprise to analysts. There have been doubts about the Socialist presidential candidate's chances of registration since July 23 when the Constitutional Court interpreted a provision of the 1991 Basic Law requiring presidential and vice presidential candidates to be "natural-born Bulgarian citizens". The Socialists were unsurprised by today's decision, it became known at a news conference today. On the contrary, it was only to be expected, said Klara Marinova of the BSP and Pirinski's campaign manager Filip Bokov. "We predicted this move because our political opponents are set to block Pirinski's candidacy," Bokov said. Unlike the Socialist representatives, UDF leader Ivan Kostov today admitted that minor "omissions in form" could be detected upon careful examination of the opposition candidates' documents. Kostov had no doubt that the omissions would be rectified when the opposition candidates' documents reached the Supreme Court.
 SOCIALISTS' REACTION TO DENIED CANDIDATE REGISTRATION (August 29)Sofia, August 29 (BTA) - "We hold information that our appeal against the refusal of the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) to register the left-wing presidential and vice presidential candidates Pirinski and Marazov will be heard by a Supreme Court panel specially formed for the purpose under the Court's President," said Ana Karaivanova, legal adviser at the campaign headquarters of the Together for Bulgaria coalition, in a statement to the national electronic media. On August 27, CEC denied registration to the presidential and vice presidential candidates of the left wing and the opposition. Its reasoning was that Georgi Pirinski had not filed a certificate stating how he obtained Bulgarian citizenship since he was born of an American mother and a Bulgarian father in the United States. The opposition candidates, Peter Stoyanov and Todor Kavaldjiev, were denied registration because of omissions in their documents. Karaivanova said the appeal of the Together for Bulgaria coalition should be heard by the Supreme Court's Third Civil Division. She claimed the case had been taken from this division, which went a long way to explain the fears of the coalition that the matter would find a political solution. Supporters of Together for Bulgaria from all over the country have been sending in messages saying that the left-wing candidates Pirinski and Marazov had been denied registration as part of a political order aimed to eliminate Georgi Pirinski from the presidential race. The Supreme Court will hear the Democratic Left's appeal on Monday, television audiences learned from the central evening newscast which quoted Supreme Court President Roumen Yankov. Declining to comment, he told national television the appeal had been handled according to the proper procedure.
The opposition had not appealed to the Supreme Court until this evening.
 SUPREME COURT REJECTS RULING LEFT'S APPEAL OVER PIRINSKI'S REGISTRATION (September 2)Sofia, September 2 (Evgenia Droumeva of BTA) - A five-member panel of the Supreme Court today unanimously rejected an appeal filed by the Together for Bulgaria Coalition against the refusal of the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) to register Georgi Pirinski and Ivan Marazov as presidential and vice-presidential candidates for the October 27, 1996 elections. The five judges, including Supreme Court President Roumen Yankov, unanimously determined that the presidential candidate of the left-wing coalition led by the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) Georgi Pirinski did not hold Bulgarian citizenship by the time of his birth. Under the Constitution, only natural born Bulgarian citizens may stand as candidates for president and vice president. Supreme Court decisions are final and unappealable. Together for Bulgaria has until September 22 either to file other documents for registration at the CEC or apply for registration of new candidates. Right after the Supreme Court announced its decision, the BSP leadership gathered for an emergency meeting.
About a month ago, petitioned by the opposition, the Constitutional Court issued an interpretation of the term "natural-born Bulgarian citizen" which is used in the Constitution as one of the presidential qualifications. The Constitutional Court then determined that Bulgarian citizenship by birth is acquired at the moment of birth in compliance with the then effective citizenship law. Right then, the constitutionality of Pirinski's candidacy sparked a controversy, since he was born in the US in 1948 of a mother who was US citizen at that time and a Bulgarian father. BSP accused the Constitutional Court of delivering a politically motivated judgement.
The Together for Bulgaria coalition tonight issued a statement defining the Supreme Court decision as "part of the strategy to destabilize the political system and the rule of law in this country." "It is evidence that in a number of cases members of the judiciary, instead of protecting citizens' rights and punishing the perpetrators of crimes, themselves undermine confidence in the democratic institutions and keep Bulgaria in a state of political confrontation," the statement also says. It observes that irrespective of the political nature of the Supreme Court ruling, the BSP and the Democratic Left will comply with it because they respect public institutions. The Left declared that it will spare no efforts for the conduct of the elections as scheduled and will field their candidates.
"The Supreme Court ruling is politically motivated," left-wing vice presidential candidate Ivan Marazov commented to reporters in Pazardjik, where he was campaigning today. Prof. Marazov added that he will accept the decision of the Left. "If I am offered the Left's presidential candidacy, I will have to think about it," he said.
The leader of the main opposition Union of Democratic Forces Ivan Kostov described the Supreme Court ruling as "anticipated." "Back in 1991 [when the effective Bulgarian Constitution was adopted] Pirinski was aware of that, and the BSP leadership was aware of that, too, so nobody should pretend to be surprised," Mr Kostov believes. He now expects the Left to put up a new presidential candidate who would meet the requirements of the Constitution.
According to Alexander Tomov, an independent presidential candidate and leader of the extraparliamentary Civic Alliance for the Republic, right after the Constitutional Court interpretation it was clear that Pirinski would be disqualified.
The BSP leadership this evening gathered for an emergency meeting to consider the Supreme Court decision and its further moves in the presidential race.
"What matters most is to hold the presidential elections on October 27 and that in a normal situation," said opposition presidential candidate Peter Stoyanov, reacting to the news. He stressed that it is inadmissible to go into hysterics over a court decision.
At a plenum tomorrow, the Socialists will pick a presidential and vice presidential candidate of the Left and will fix their campaign tactics and strategy, it was announced after this evening's meeting.
 SOCIALISTS CONSIDER FURTHER PARTICIPATION IN PRESIDENTIAL RACE (September 3)Sofia, September 3 (BTA) - The top political leadership of the ruling Socialist party this evening is discussing its further participation in the presidential campaign for the October 27 elections after the Supreme Court cast doubt over the eligibility of Socialist candidate Georgi Pirinski. The Supreme Court yesterday rejected a claim with which the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) challenged the refusal of the Central Electoral Commission to register Pirinski over uncertainties whether he actually meets the constitutional requirement to be a natural-born Bulgarian. The incumbent Foreign Minister was born in the United States to an American mother and a Bulgarian emigre father. The press today unanimously name sitting National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov, vice presidential candidate Culture Minister Ivan Marazov and Interior Minister Nikolai Dobrev as the most likely replacements of Pirinski. candidate.
The Executive Bureau of the Supreme Council of the BSP may propose the nomination of Ivan Marazov as president and Irina Bokova as vice president, participants in the session said. Pirinski described as "harmful for the nation" the efforts of the opposition "to seek a new round of confrontation, early general elections and changes in the executive".
 CULTURE MINISTER MARAZOV NAMED NEW SOCIALIST PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (September 4)Sofia, September 4 (BTA) - Culture Minister Ivan Marazov was named as the new candidate of the ruling Socialists for the October 27 presidential elections. A decision to that effect was taken late last night at a plenum of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) called after the Supreme Court confirmed a refusal of the election authorities to register BSP presidential candidate Georgi Pirinski. Running for the vice president's office will be incumbent Deputy Foreign Minister Irina Bokova (44). The BSP today will meet its coalition partners to discuss the new presidential tandem.
A 54-year-old professor of history of arts, Marazov was initially nominated as Pirinski's running mate. Pirinski was considered as the most likely winner in the October 27 vote together with opposition candidate Peter Stoyanov, but dropped from the race over doubts on whether he meets the constitutional requirement for presidential candidates to be Bulgarians by birth. Pirinski was born in the United States to an American mother and a Bulgarian emigre father.
The newly nominated candidate took office as Minister of Culture in May 1996 as part of a reshuffle in the cabinet of Prime Minister Zhan Videnov. Marazov is graduate of the Repin Institute of Leningrad, now St. Petersburg in Russia. He holds a PhD in art history, headed of the Institute of Art History with the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, served as deputy culture minister in the 1991 coalition government of Dimiter Popov and was admitted as member of the Medici Academy of Florence in 1988. He is married and has one child.
Socialists believe that Marazov is the best person to continue the presidential campaign the previous candidate started with the motto "Together for Bulgaria".
The most important role of the president is mediator in the public dialogue, Marazov told journalists last night after the decision on his candidacy was announced. He believes that while the president's powers and responsibility are a far cry from those of the executive, he has greater chances to understand the public attitudes in a civil society. The presidential institution has a balancing role for the executive and all other powers, according to Marazov. Georgi Pirinski is a major political figure and a strong unifying factor, said also Marazov. "Pirinski enjoyed the highest approval rating while I start with a much lower one because I have actually been in the presidential race for only a month," said he.
Irina Bokova said she accepted Ivan Marazov's offer to be his running mate, being well aware of the importance of the presidential election campaign. "We should leave behind petty internal political battles and internal party bickerings in the name of national accord and the overcoming of the present crisis," Irina Bokova said.
Sixty-six of the 74 BSP Supreme Council members present at the session voted in support of the nomination of Prof. Ivan Marazov Only four supported the nomination of jurist Yordan Shkolagerski MP. Proposals were also made to nominate National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov, Nikola Koichev, leader of the Sofia organization of the BSP, former BSP leader Alexander Lilov and Socialist MP Ivan Gaitandjiev but they all asked to be struck off the list, it transpired after the session.
The Supreme Council of the BSP adopted a resolution stating that "despite the gross political nature of the decision of the Supreme Court, the Socialists will comply with it because they respect the democratic institutions." The BSP declared once again that it will do everything possible for holding the presidential elections as scheduled and for guaranteeing their fair and democratic nature.
Last night President Zhelev too, took a stand on the presidential campaign. In an interview for National Television he described as speculative press allegations that he was seeking a way to run for president once again. This June President Zhelev lost the intra-opposition presidential primaries, intended to render up a single presidential candidate of the opposition, to Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) candidate Peter Stoyanov. Zhelev said that he will honour the agreement of the united opposition and would not run for another term. Last night Zhelev declined to make projections on the outcome of the presidential elections and said that it was not the elections but the present disastrous situation in this country, which may spring all kinds of surprises on us, that was his prime concern. President Zhelev said that events around the presidential election were obscuring the real problems facing this country. "What I am interested in is how to make Bulgaria a republic with a presidential government or a presidential republic. For me there is no other solution to the problems. Even Jesus Christ will be unable to make things better in Bulgaria if he were president under the present Bulgarian Constitution," Zhelev said.
 OPPOSITION'S PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE WILL BE REGISTERED. LEFT'S NEW PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE GIVES FIRST NEWS CONFERENCE (September 4)Sofia, September 4 (BTA) - The Supreme Court granted today the appeal of the united opposition against the refusal of the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) to register its candidate Peter Stoyanov to take part in the October 27 presidential elections.
On Monday the Supreme Court rejected the appeal against CEC's refusal to register the presidential candidate of the ruling Socialist Party Georgi Pirinski. Late last night the Socialist party nominated as its presidential candidate Professor in art theory Ivan Marazov, hitherto running mate to Pirinski, and Deputy Foreign Minister Irina Bokova as candidate for vice president.
Marazov and Bokova gave today their first news conference. "The point of presidential campaign of the Left is that we win the elections and establish a model of civilized political conduct," Marazov said.
According to Marazov, Pirinski's disqualification is a great loss, but the Left must run in the elections and do its best to win. The new candidates of the left launch their campaign with the support of Georgi Pirinski, who said he will continue to assist for the fulfilment of the campaign's main slogan. "I accepted the proposal to be nominated as vice president because I respect Marazov as a person and because Georgi Pirinski also advised me to accept," Irina Bokova said. "I believe my professional experience will help me give my contribution to the achievement of the national consent that society needs," she said.
Prof. Marazov and Mrs Bokova are committed to the policy of the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the Democratic Left to an extent which raises no alarm that they might pursue a policy that would come into glaring contradiction with our policy line, Campaign Manager of the Left's presidential couple Georgi Purvanov said.
"The main slogan of Pirinski's campaign, "Together for Bulgaria" is carried onward. Both Marazov and Bokova are exponents of the "Together for Bulgaria" message and working for the unity of the Bulgarian nation," said in a state-ment for the national media Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, who is also leader of the Socialist Party. He said that the reforms need consensus and the candidates of the Left will be its guarantees.
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