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Bulgarian Telegraph Agency (BTA), 97-02-10
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From: Embassy of Bulgaria <firstname.lastname@example.org>
EMBASSY OF BULGARIA - WASHINGTON D.C.
BTA - BULGARIAN TELEGRAPH AGENCY
10 February, 1997
 PRESIDENT STOYANOV RECEIVES CENTRAL BANK GOVERNORSofia, February 8 (BTA) - President Peter Stoyanov Saturday received the Governor of the National Bank of Bulgaria (BNB) Lyubomir Filipov. "I told the President that when he appoints a caretaker cabinet I will first thing see the new prime minister and discuss with him measures for stabilization of the financial situation in this country," Mr Filipov said after the meeting. The BNB Governor does not think it is possible to fix the dollar/lev rate at this point or for several months to come. To take such a step, the bank needs external resources and stabilization of production in Bulgaria. The BNB is in a position to take action to contain the dollar rally, but if it does so now, the consequences for the Bulgarian financial market will be more adverse in the long term, he noted.
 WILL IMF DISBURSE?Sofia, February 9 (BTA) - "The letter which IMF Managing Director Michel Camdessus sent a week ago and the subsequent IMF statement on the situation in Bulgaria after the latest changes clearly show the Fund's intentions to extend a hand to Bulgaria and to press ahead with its support for reforms and economic stabilization," Bulgaria's Representative to the IMF Peter Botousharov said on a private Sofia-based radio station Saturday.
"After the forthcoming appointment by President Peter Stoyanov of a caretaker cabinet, the IMF is ready to send to Bulgaria a new mission of negotiators on a very short notice, as early as the end of next week," Mr Botousharov assured his audience. The second tranche of the previous stand- by arrangement of July 1996 (on which Bulgaria managed to receive just 80 million US dollars), however, cannot be released, the Bulgarian Representative added. The only opportunity for further financial assistance is to sign a new agreement, he said.
A deposit freeze is out of the question for the time being, Mr Botousharov said, asked about the restrictions which the IMF may impose. A currency board, if and when introduced (as proposed by the IMF last autumn), which will take a couple of months now, and structural adjustment will require tight fiscal discipline, he indicated. It is very unlikely that Bulgaria would get any assistance from the IMF before signing an agreement with it, Mr Botousharov also said.
 NO QUORUM IN PARLIAMENTSofia, February 7 (BTA) - The opposition insists that Parliament hold an extraordinary sitting on February 11 with an agenda of three items: amendments to the electoral law, the income tax law and two draft decisions authorizing the future caretaker government to negotiatiate and sign lending agreements, meaning loans for the purchase of grain and foods and negotiations with international financial institutions. A decision to that effect was taken by the MPs of the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) Friday after Parliament's sittings failed for two days in a row. Attending today were only 92 MPs of the 240-seat Parliament, including 88 opposition and independents and 4 Socialists. The quorum for holding a sitting is 121 MPs.
A dozen Socialist MPs were seen in the parliament building but did not register for the sitting. The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) once again proved it is an anti-national party, UDF deputy leader Nadezhda Mihailova commented. Left MP M. Plougchieva said the Socialists will be back in the plenary hall when the parliamentary commissions are ready with amendments to the electoral and the income tax laws.
 EU REMAINS COMMITTED TO ASSISTING BULGARIASofia, February 7 (BTA) - On Friday Bulgarian President Peter Stoyanov received a letter from Jacques Santer, President of the European Commission, which reads as follows:
"It was a pleasure to meet you in Brussels last week. I welcome your firm commitment to a rapid resolution of the political and economic crisis in Bulgaria and to accelerating the process of reform.
"May I take this opportunity to congratulate you on your success in convincing all political forces in Bulgaria to agree on holding parliamentary elections in April. I believe that this agreement demonstrates Bulgaria's commitment to democracy and will facilitate the early implementation of much-needed reforms.
" The European Union remains committed to assisting Bulgaria in carrying our reform and has launched a special social assistance programme to alleviate the plight of those Bulgarians who are most affected by the present crisis. As I mentioned to you in Brussels, the Commission is ready to consider an initiative to mobilise international support, provided the necessary stabilisation and economic reform measures are put into place by the Bulgarian authorities. This should improve living conditions for the Bulgarian people and create a new basis for moving ahead with the pre- accession strategy."
 COUNCIL OF EUROPE WELCOMES BULGARIAN ELECTION DEALStrasbourg, February 7 (BTA) - On Friday Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly President Leni Fischer welcomed the agreement reached by the main Bulgarian political forces on the holding of early general elections, the Council of Europe Press Service says in a fax to BTA. "This agreement was reached in a spirit of compromise and national responsibility," Fischer said. "I very much appreciate the role President Peter Stoyanov played in mediating the conflict. The result demonstrates that the fundamental values of democracy have taken root in Bulgaria," she said. Fischer expressed her hope that the agreement would be fulfilled without further difficulties in order to restore social and political stability - as fundamental preconditions for the advancement of reforms.
 STATEMENT OF BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY ON BULGARIASofia, February 7 (BTA) - "I welcome the decision by the political parties in Bulgaria to call early elections, and hope this will contribute to stability in Bulgaria and the region. I pay tribute to the vital role played by President Stoynaov," says a statement of British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Malcolm Rifkind read by the Foreign Office spokesman at a briefing in London on Thursday.
"I hope that the coming months will see the establishment of a government ready and able to implement the fundamental reforms needed to re-establish confidence in the Bulgarian economy. The process of reform will be painful. Britain, bilaterally and through the European Union and the international financial institutions, will play its full part," the Foreign Office spokesman said.
 GAS PIPELINES CONCESSION AUCTIONSofia, February 7 (BTA) - Bids are invited for transit gas mainlines across Bulgarian territory, said the Concessions Department of the Ministry of Energy and Energy Resources. The terms and conditions of the tender were gazetted on Friday, Feb 7. Two tenders will be held: one for the existing gas transmission network and another for gas lines which have yet to be built. Tender documents will be available for 25,000 US dollars from the Ministry after March 14. Bidders will be required to deposit 5 million dollars for their entry. Bids will be opened on May 15, 1997.
The Minister of Energy and Energy Resources announced that an open auction for granting concessions on already constructed trunk transit pipelines and for their usage for transfer of Russian gas will be held under a decision of the Council of Ministers of December 29, 1996. The auction will be held on May 19, 1997 in the Ministry of Energy and Energy Resources (MEER). Tender documents will be provided to the bidders between March 14 and 21 for a fee - a document showing that 25,000 US dollars have been credited to an account of the Energy Ministry (credit MEER, code 6619661, account No 3100116509 at the National Bank of Bulgaria) and a confidentiality agreement signed between the Energy Minister and the bidder on filing in the papers. Bidders should apply in writing for participation in the auction before April 4 at the Energy Ministry. They should provide a document that a deposit of 5,000,000 US dollars have been credited to the account of the Energy Ministry (code 6619661, account No 5100116502 at the central bank) and an application for inspecting the sites in the period April 14 - May 2. The bids, worked out on the basis of the tender documents should be filed with the Energy Ministry by May 9.
The Minister of Energy announced that a similar auction for concessions on trunk transit pipelines to be built by the concessionaire will be held on May 21, 1997 under the above decision of the Council of Ministers. Tender documents will be provided to the bidders between March 14 and 21 against a document showing that 25,000 US dollars have been credited to an account of the Energy Ministry (code 6619661, account No 3100116509 at the central bank) and a confidentiality agreement between the Energy Minister and the bidder, signed on filing in the papers. Applications in writing for participation in the auction should be filed until April 4 with the Energy Ministry together with a document showing that a deposit of 5,000,000 US dollars have been credited to the account of the Energy Ministry (code 6619661, account No 5100116502 at the central bank) and an application for inspecting the sites between April 14 - May 2.
Bidders should present their proposals, worked out on the basis of the tender documents until May 9 at the Energy Ministry.
The decision for holding these auctions was taken under a resolution of the Council of Ministers of December 29, 1996 for granting concessions on the available in the country trunk transit pipelines. In Bulgaria there are currently trunk transit pipelines towards Turkey and Greece.
Among other conditions, there is a requirement that each bidder proves his potentials to transit certain gas quantities across the territory of Bulgaria by means of direct contracts with partnerships under Gazprom, Head of Concessions Department with the Cabinet Nikola Baltov said on December 29. A serious bidder is the Bulgarian- Russian Topenergy joint venture, outgoing Energy Minister Roumen Ovcharov said on December 29, 1996.
 FOREIGN TOURISTS SAFE, TOURIST OFFICIALS SAYSofia, February 7 (BTA) - The security of foreign tourists in Bulgaria is not threatened in any way, Committee of Tourism chairman Vassil Velev Friday says in a declaration to the BTA prompted by press reports on the situation in the country. The recent situation in Bulgaria has had no effect whatsoever on Bulgarian resorts, he claimed. After political forces reached an agreement for early elections, street tension has subsided. The agreement got extensive media coverage abroad and foreign countries' governments have already voiced support. It is an established practice that media alert tourists against petty criminal acts, but this applies to all parts of the world, the Committee of Tourism said.
 TV, RADIO STRIKESSofia, February 7 (BTA) - The management of Bulgarian National Television and a strike committee there agreed Thursday on one point of the demands list and signed an agreement on a free and independent television. The strikers said they will carry on the protests until all their demands are met.
The National TV acting chief undertook to draw up within 7 days regulations for the programming, newscast topics and TV guests. The dominant criteria will be professionalism and the aim to provide comprehensive coverage of events. The events in, and order of newscasts will be selected by the newscast makers.
The management pledged to start drafting a more effective structure of the National TV as of February 10.
Under the agreement, the viewers' opinion on TV programmes will be studied on a regular basis and the findings will be the sole criteria in making the programming arrangements. An approved programming scheme will be changed only in case of events of exceptional interest and under written order of the TV chief or a person authorized by him.
The situation in this country should not be associated with what is happening at National Radio, our demands are purely economic and we believe it is high time they are granted," said National Radio Strike Committee Chairman Dimiter Dimitrov. He added that the management is refusing to negotiate on the concrete demands of the strike committee included in the agreement coordinated by the four trade union organizations at National Radio.
Agreement was reached only on the issue of weekly payment of salaries.
The strike at National Radio will continue. The trade unions are drafting an agreement with the management demanding the dismissal of the management team appointed by Director General Vyacheslav Tounev.
Radio journalists demand that all instructions concerning the order of the news, choice of topics and interviewees be given in written form so as to restrict censorship.
 SEMINAR ON CORRUPTIONSofia, February 7 (BTA) - Corruption has spread throughout the corridors of power in Bulgaria. Involvement of senior state officials in corruption has not infrequently been established, Resident Representative of the UN Development Programme A.Vigilante said on Friday at a seminar on "Prospects for Curbing Corruption in Bulgaria."
In his report to the forum, eminent criminologist Prof. Baicho Panev said that between 1990 and 1994 a number of companies were set up to run businesses in parallel with those of state-owned companies, draining public resources. In the denationalization process in 1995-1996 certain buyers were treated preferentially. Only 24 pepole have been convicted for corruption over the past 7 years after the collapse of the totalitarian regime. Participants in the seminar said that the worst cases of corruption were registered among representatives of tax and police authorities. The key reason for corruption in Bulgaria is poor public control, rapporteurs at the forum said.
 JEFFREY SACHS TO VISIT SOFIASofia, February 7 (BTA) - Bulgarian President Peter Stoyanov Friday received a letter from Dr Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of the Harvard Institute for International Development of Cambridge, Massachusetts, who writes he gladly accepts the Head of state's invitation to work as advisor at the Council for Economic Development. Prof. Sachs writes that he will come to Sofia to discuss the critical economic situation facing Bulgaria. Dr Sachs also says that he has started to organize a team at his Institute which will be available for work with prominent Bulgarian economists, experts and politicians. He writes he will visit Sofia in March and eventually plans a second visit after the April elections, the President's Press Office said.
 SOCIALISTS STILL DANGEROUS, OPPOSITION SAYSSofia, February 7 (BTA) - Bulgaria's largest opposition force, the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF), declared that the Socialist party is dangerous for Bulgaria. "We warn that the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) still poses a threat to the country," UDF leader Ivan Kostov said Friday after an extraordinary meeting of the UDF National Coordinating Council. He said that the opposition's victory in the early general elections in April is the priority task of the UDF.
The UDF is getting ready for its national conference to be held next weekend. The delegates are expected to approve the political programme and the statute of the UDF. The UDF will present to the caretaker cabinet its economic and social policy programmes. Ivan Kostov described the Socialists' failre to take a stand on the principles of pulling Bulgaria out of the crisis as irresponsible. The agreement the political forces reached through the mediation of the President on Tuesday envisages the exchange of ideas about the principles the anti- crisis policy will be based on. "In my oppinion, the BSP's refusal to honour its commitments is a provocation against the country and the President," Kostov stated.
 SOCIALISTS LOSE FIVE PROMINENT MPSSofia, February 8 (BTA) - Another five ranking members of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) have left it. MPs Nikolai Kamov, Filip Bokov, Elena Poptodorova and Ivailo Kalfin and the Mayor of Dobrich (Northeastern Bulgaria) Luchezar Rossenov notified the participants in a Friday meeting of the BSP Supreme Council of their decision by a formal letter.
This brings to ten the number of BSP defectors since the beginning of 1997. The first to go, in mid-January, were Dimiter Yonchev, Rossen Karadimov, Andrei Raichev and Andrei Boundjoulov. A week later, they were followed by Alexander Marinov, former leader of the BSP Sofia Branch.
The idea to institutionalize a new Left came at a meeting of representatives of about a dozen Left parties and organizations on January 23. The organizing committee is chaired by Alexander Tomov, leader of the extraparliamentary Civic Alliance for the Republic.
"I don't think I have abandoned my convictions, BSP has drifted away from the values which it declared in its document, and that is why I am leaving it," Mr Kamov said. Mr Bokov does not believe the decision to leave the BSP will cause its split, but "a shedding process" is possible. "Bulgaria needs a new modern left pro-European Social Democratic formation," he asserted.
 BUSINESS NEWS BRIEFSSofia, February 9 (BTA) - The outgoing Cabinet decided to grant a concession for the building and operation of a VSAT satellite network in Bulgaria. The proposal came from the Bulgarian Economic Association. The concessionaire will be selected by tender, said the Chief of the Council of Ministers' Concessions Office Nikola Baltov. The State will grant the concession for 21 years, charging a down payment of 200,000 US dollars in lev equivalent (10 per cent of the concessionaire's presumable investment) plus periodic deductions from annual revenue.
Bankers are developing a new procedure to trace money taken out from Bulgaria by parcel post, said Konstantin Trenchev, leader of the influential Podkrepa Labour Confederation. He referred to information which Podkrepa received from the World Bank that funds are being exported from Bulgaria daily, adding up to 70 million US dollars a week. The Government, as representative of the State, may formally request information from Western financial institutions on the parcels dispatched by Bulgarian banks, Dr Trenchev said. He believes that it would be quite difficult to recover the money drained from Bulgaria, but it is at least possible to know who is involved.
 EX-PRESIDENT ZHELEV ON REASONS OF CRISISSofia, February 9 (BTA) - "There are political and constitutional causes for the crisis in Bulgaria," ex-President Zhelyu Zhelev said, speaking Sunday in Sofia at a conference on "Liberalism vs Economic Crisis."
"The wave of civil discontent, which engulfed this country in January, showed the need of a change of state government," Dr Zhelev added. He fears that the mere replacement of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) by the opposition Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) through early parliamentary elections will lift the country from the crisis is a "very dangerous illusion."
"What is needed is replacement of the current political system of government on account of its futility," the former head of state observed. "In their present form, both the BSP and the UDF are political fossils held over from the dawn of the velvet revolutions," he added. "Unless the model is changed, every time the political crisis will escalate into a constitutional one and street pressure will have to make up for the flaws in the basic law," Dr Zhelev said.
A presidential republic is the most appropriate form of government in a transition period, Dr Zhelev argued. This type of state government is objectively motivated by the Right Liberal nature of reforms. Liberals are in a position to introduce strong presidential power without it degenerating into an authoritarian regime, he observed.
 "VINARIA-97" ANNUAL AWARDSSofia, February 7 (BTA) - The Vinprom winery of Rousse, the winery of Suhindol and the wine maker of Assenovgrad won Golden Rhyton awards at the Fifth International Wine Fair Vinaria-97, held in Plovdiv in February 5 to 9. The award, presented for the first time, was given for three white wines and one red produced in the wineries. Participating in Vinaria-97 are 115 exhibitors of 14 countries. Foreign participants include companies of Austria, Belgium, Britain, Germany, Greece, Italy, France, and the United States. Slovenian and Portuguese firms participated for the first time.
The 55 foreign participants in Vinaria-97 mostly exhibit technologies and equipment for the production of wines and alcoholic beverages. The exposition is divided into four major branches: wines and other alcoholic beverages, viticulture, wine making and research and development.
The Vinprom winery of Rousse has won the greatest number of exposition awards over the past few years. 85% of the 50 million bottles of wine produced in the winery in 1996 were exported to Russia, Britain, Poland, Germany, Benelux, and elsewhere. Company figures show that the winery has increased its sales in the United States by 180% and by 140% in Britain.
The Vinal company of Lovech is another Bulgarian participant in Vinaria-97. The company exports 98% of its wines. In 1996 it sold 4 million bottles of wine to CIS countries, the United States and the Republic of South Africa.
Vinprom-Damyanitsa presents 22 types of the famous red wines of the southwestern region of Melnik. The company exports about 90% of its products to Britain, France, Scandinavia, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Russia, the company's Chief Technologist Stoicho Stoev told BTA.
More than 100 Bulgarian wines with controlled appellation of origin are sold on West European markets. Britain is a major importer of red wines produced in the southern region of Sliven. The private winery of Stara Zagora exports wines to Western Europe, the United States and Canada. 95% of the Merlot and Cabernet wines produced in the winery of Haskovo are exported to Western Europe and North America.
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