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Bulgarian Telegraph Agency (BTA), 97-02-27
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From: Embassy of Bulgaria <email@example.com>
EMBASSY OF BULGARIA - WASHINGTON D.C.
BTA - BULGARIAN TELEGRAPH AGENCY
27 February, 1997
 PRESIDENT STOYANOV ON VISITS TO POLAND, CZECH REPUBLIC, HUNGARYSofia, February 26 (BTA) - President Stoyanov left Wednesday afternoon for Warsaw, a first stop in a his four days' trip to Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary at the invitation of the Heads of state of these countries.
We have a lot in common with Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary, the main being our aspiration to European and Euro-Atlantic integration, Stoyanov said before his departure. These former Socialist countries confidently took the road of reforms, firmly identified their foreign policy priorities and achieved national consensus among their political forces, the Bulgarian President added. In his view Bulgaria also has a large potential but has been very slow to mobilize it.
The bilateral ties with Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary are at a low point, despite Bulgaria's traditionally excellent relations with them countries and the absence of historically-rooted obstacles to future relations, Peter Stoyanov said. This visit is intended to show that Bulgaria also knows the road to Europe, which is to use self- reliance, to take a clear road of reforms, to keep national dignity and self-confidence and to create mutual trust between citizens and the powers that be, the President said.
The schedule of President Stoyanov's visit includes a meeting with Polish President Kwaszniewski on Wednesday. Later on that day he will address the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Polish Sejm and Senate. On Thursday the Bulgarian President will meet with Marshal of the Senate Struzik, with Prime Minister Cimoszewicz, with Leader of Freedom Union Balzerowicz, with Solidarity Chairman Kszaklewski, with former Polish President Lech Walesa, famous Polish film directors Krzyszstof Zanussi and Andrzej Waida as well as with representatives of the Bulgarian community in Poland. President Stoyanov's meeting with Waclav Havel is scheduled for Friday. On Saturday the he will have talks with Hungarian President Arpad Gonzc.
At a news conference Wednesday, Deputy Foreign Minister Boiko Mirchev said "In this critical moment in Bulgaria's history we want to show that we have potential and true willingness to come closer to these states and that they are our role model". He also specified that during the visits Bulgaria will try to draw support from these states for its CEFTA membership, as well as for prompt signing of free trade agreements with Poland and Hungary. Such an agreement between Bulgaria and the Czech Republic is already in force. The visit will seek to confirm Bulgaria's unity of views and aspirations for full NATO membership, without trying to rival Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary, Mirchev said.
The new head of "Eastern Europe and CIS" Department at the Foreign Ministry and Bulgaria's long-time Ambassador to Hungary Vesselin Filev said that economic cooperation will be among the priority issues during Stoyanov's visits to the three states. Filev recalled that Bulgaria's commercial exchange with the three states has been on the decline over the past few years. Since the time of CMEA Bulgaria also has unsettled loans in Russian roubles to Poland and Hungary.
 FOREIGN MINISTER BACK FROM BRUSSELS. BULGARIAN BID FOR NATO TO BE DISCUSSED TOGETHER WITH THE OTHER APPLICANTSSofia, February 26 (BTA) - The North Atlantic Council decided February 26 to discuss Bulgaria's candidacy for membership in NATO together with those of the other 12 applicants, Foreign Minister Stalev said upon his return from Brussels Wednesday. Bulgaria's bid was categorically supported by the US, Turkey, Greece and the rest of the member countries.
Stalev was in the Belgian capital to participate in the third session of the EU-Bulgaria Association Council. He held talks with NATO Secretary General Solana and WEU Secretary General Cutileiro. The Bulgarian Foreign Minister expressed satisfaction with the work of the Association Council which finalized the protocol for easing customs requirements for Bulgarian goods entering EU markets. An EU assistance of 20 million ECU to support socially disadvantaged families will be disbursed any minute.
At the end of the ongoing visit of the IMF mission, Bulgaria will welcome representatives of the European Commission who will negotiate on an additional loan to support Bulgaria's balance of payments. "We wish to sign an agreement with the IMF and set in motion a procedure to raise money from the G-24 to support Bulgaria's balance of payments," Stalev said. He also said European Commissioner Hans van den Broek will arrive in Bulgaria in mid- March.
 PRESIDENT STOYANOV IN POLANDWarsaw, February 26 (BTA Corr.) - Bulgarian President Stoyanov and Mrs Stoyanova arrived Wednesday on an official visit to Warsaw. The President is accompanied by Minister of Construction Karadimov, Deputy Foreign Minister Mirchev, other officials and Bulgarian business persons.
En route to Warsaw President Stoyanov told the accompanying reporters that the political focus of his talks in the three central European capitals will be to persuade his partners to "lobby in favour of Bulgaria's interests for European and Atlantic integration." "I will try to persuade my hosts that Bulgaria is embarking on a new road of development, the road of clear structural reforms, that it has decided to put an end to its previous rambling and will gradually become a very attractive partner for foreign investors," the Bulgarian President said.
At the presidential palace in Warsaw the President and Mrs Stoyanova were formally welcomed by the Polish President and Mrs Kwasniewska. Immediately after that the two presidents held talks, followed by discussions between the two delegations. At a joint news conference with Mr Kwasniewski following the talks, President Stoyanov said: "In the person of President Kwasniewski I found an advocate of the idea that negotiations on full NATO membership for all former socialist countries must start simultaneouslyî. Mr Stoyanov emphasized that the subject of NATO had topped the agenda of the one-to-one talk that took longer than scheduled. "There are broad unutilized areas for cooperation between Bulgaria and Poland in trade, economics, tourism and culture," Stoyanov also said.
For his part, the Polish President expressed the conviction that Poland and Bulgaria will soon be admitted to the European Union and NATO. Mr Kwasniewski is pleased that Poland and Bulgaria are of the same mind on the questions related to the development of free trade areas, membership of the Central European Free Trade Agreement, the EU and NATO. He described the talks with his Bulgarian counterpart and the talks at the minister level as "open and candid." Poland will support Bulgaria's accession to CEFTA, Mr Kwasniewski assured the audience.
"Modern Bulgaria needs a modern Left, a modern Social Democracy," Mr Kwasniewski said, asked by a Polish journalist whether he can help in the reforming of the former Communist Party in Bulgaria on the strength of his experience as one of the founding members of the Polish Party of Social Democracy. Kwasniewski expressed the view that events in Bulgaria during the last two years "will help the new people, who look at things in a new way, to create a new party and adopt a new approach."
Later in the day, the Bulgarian President met with the foreign affairs committees of the Polish Sejm and Senate and addressed them. In the evening the President of Poland and Mrs Kwasniewska entertained the President of Bulgaria and Mrs Stoyanova at a formal dinner.
 BULGARIA WILL ASK FOR RESCHEDULING OF ITS PARIS CLUB DEBTSofia, February 26 (BTA) - On Thursday Prime Minister Stefan Sofiyanski will send a letter requesting a rescheduling of the Bulgarian debt to the Paris Club of government creditors, finance minister Gavriiski said after a meeting of the Financial Stabilization Council on Wednesday. Bulgaria has so far signed three agreements for rescheduling its USD 1,200 million debt to ten creditors of the Paris Club. It is now urging a rescheduling of payments worth USD 45 million to USD 50 million, due this year. This would start a discussion on rescheduling other payments too, the minister said.
The government can develop a programme that would facilitate the signing of a new stand-by agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), by the end of next week, said members of the Council led by the Prime Minister. IMF mission leader for Bulgaria Anne McGuirk, who also participated in the discussion, reaffirmed a programme can be agreed with this cabinet, and the IMF can release the first tranche of a loan during this government's term.
The programme in question will include government measures for macroeconomic stabilization and structural reform, including the introduction of a currency board. It will be sent with a letter of intent signed by the finance minister and the central bank governor. "The amount of the IMF loan will depend on our budget," Gavriiski said. If the IMF approves the programme, it will lend the funds for its implementation.
In addition to the stand-by agreement, discussions will be held about a programme on additional financing which the IMF has the right to extend in an emergency. Apart from that, we shall negotiate for financial support with the mission of the European Union which arrives shortly before the departure of the IMF mission, Gavriiski said.
Privatization proceeds will be the main funds to finance the operation for the debt rescheduling which we hope to do in the next few days, Gavriiski said. According to him, the forthcoming payments will not be financed by means of securities but by real money. The scheme will help increase the internal reserves of the central bank as the payments will be made in leva which means that the central bank foreign currency reserves may grow by USD 150 million.
 PRIME MINISTER SOFIYANSKI TO VISIT MACEDONIA THURSDAYSofia, February 26 (BTA) - Prime Minister Sofiyanski will leave for Macedonia Thursday on a two-day working visit at the invitation of Macedonian Prime Minister Crvenkovski. Bulgarian-Macedonian relations, and specifically the opportunities to intensify economic cooperation, will be on the agenda of the visit, the Government Press Office said. The Bulgarian head of government is also scheduled to meet with Skopje Mayor Penov Thursday.
 FOREIGN MINISTRY ON BULGARIAN EMIGRANTS IN TURKEYSofia, February 26 (BTA) - "Bulgaria is closely and tactfully following the discussion in Turkey on the foreign citizens illegally residing on Turkish territory," Foreign Ministry Spokesman Radko Vlaikov told a news conference Wednesday. He expressly indicated that this is not a problem of bilateral relations.
"We set great store by the promotion of our relations with Turkey, an important partner of Bulgaria," Mr Vlaikov said, adding that he finds needless tensions created by the media on the question of a possible repatriation of Bulgarian citizens from Turkey.
Mr Vlaikov also said that in this case the Bulgarian citizens residing in Turkey are not treated separately from the rest of the foreign nationals there. According to him, many countries of Europe have problems with illegal economic immigration, and each country, including Turkey, is entitled to address it in conformity with its domestic legislation.
On Wednesday the Turkish Government repealed a regulation on the repatriation of Bulgarian citizens of Turkish origin who have arrived to Turkey on tourist visas and overstayed, the Anatolian News Agency reported, quoting Turkish Defence Minister Turhan Tayan. Addressing Parliament, which debated the issue Tuesday even though it was not on the preliminary agenda, Mr Tayan described the respective Turkish Interior Ministry regulation as "wrong and unenforceable." According to Anatolian News Agency, Mr Tanyan said that "30,000 Bulgarian Turks, who have arrived on tourist visas, will be issued residence permits."
Turkish Interior Minister Meral Aksener told Parliament that the regulation which her department circulated to the provincial governors is similar to a regulation issued in 1992. She also noted that the current regulation was promulgated with the knowledge of Prime Minister Necmettin Eerbakan. During the parliamentary debate, the regulation drew fire from MPs of the opposition Motherland Party, the Democratic Left Party and the Republican People's Party. Mr Askener said that the latest events and the economic crisis in Bulgaria have increased the probability of an exodus of Bulgarian Turks to Turkey and that the regulation in question was adopted in order to forestall such a development, the Anatolian News Agency said.
 PRIVATIZATION TO BE SPEEDED UPSofia, February 26 (BTA) - The Structural Reform Council at its first meeting Wednesday decided to speed up privatization, said its secretary Mladen Georgiev. The council was set up last week to directly manage the restructuring of the economy and negotiate structural reform loans with international institutions.
The meeting was attended by International Monetary Fund Mission Leader for Bulgaria Anne McGuirk who arrived here Tuesday and World Bank Resident Representative Alberto Musalem.
Musalem announced the World Bank is forming a team of experts to discuss with the council a programme for structural reform, said the government press office.
The council decided to privatize assets primarily through auctions, competitive bidding and public sales, rather than through negotiations with potential borrowers, as has been the practice so far.
The council formed working teams of experts to deal with privatization, the liquidation of money-losing companies, the banking system, public welfare and informing the public. It will work for the establishment of a consortium to handle lending to privatization projects by international banks and financial institutions.
"We received assurances from the representatives of the international financial institutions that they would support the programme for speedy structural reform," said Georgiev.
"I expect that the privatization of the Sodi chemical plant in Devnya (northeastern Bulgaria), the cement plant in that city and the cosmetics company Alen Mak in Plovdiv (southern Bulgaria) will be finalized soon," the director of the Privatization Agency Vesselin Blagoev said. In mid- December 1996 Belgian Solvay bought 60% of the shares in Sodi for $160 million. "I expect the revenue from the speedy privatization of large companies to exceed the funds under the agreement with the IMF," Blagoev said.
 STRUCTURAL REFORM COUNCIL NEGOTIATES WITH IMF MISSION LEADER MCGUIRKSofia, February 26 (BTA) - "Until the end of next week, when the mission of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will complete its work here, Bulgaria must be ready with a written programme for the signature of a new stand-by arrangement," the Government Press Office said Wednesday after the first meeting of the Structural Reform Council in which the IMF mission, led by Ann McGuirk, took part. The Council's Chairman, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Bozhkov said, quoted by the Press Office, that this is necessary so that the programme, as agreed in Bulgaria, could be approved on the spot in Washington D.C.
Resident representatives Alberto Musalem of the World Bank and Franek Rozwadowski of the IMF also attended the Council meeting.
The cabinet must draw up guidelines for work on the agreement with the IMF which should be taken up by the next cabinet, Mr Bozhkov said during the discussion. A list of major priorities of action must be urgently compiled. The list will be submitted to President Peter Stoyanov, who will call the Consultative Council for National Security. Guarantees will thus be sought from the political forces that the next 38th National Assembly, irrespective of its composition, will honour the same priorities, Mr Bozhkov added.
An agreement with the IMF must be reached very quickly with serious activity on the part of Bulgaria, and it is very important to reverse the impression of the international institutions that Bulgaria is merely paying lip service to reforms, Mr Bozhkov told the participants in the Council. He argued that work with the World Bank and IMF teams must be pursued on a daily basis.
Mrs McGuirk assessed the draft programme which was handed to her as a good basis and starting point for work with the Sofiyanski Cabinet. She blamed the lack of commitment and enthusiasm for the non-implementation of certain aspects of the programme under the previous agreement between Bulgaria and the IMF and stressed that the Fund will insist that this should change.
A specific timeframe and priority actions of the stabilization programme must be outlined during the negotiations, Mrs McGurk said. She said that the 1997 budget should provide for a social safety net.
A working group of representatives of the National Bank of Bulgaria, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Justice must prepare the legal framework for the introduction of a currency board, Mrs McGuirk recommended. She asked for politicallevel assurances at short notice that the agreement between the political forces on conduct of these negotiations will be extended during the tenure of the next government.
The IMF officials said the Fund is ready to provide qualified assistance to Bulgaria in view of the country's limited foreignexchange reserves. In their view, however, the Government must identify the areas where such assistance is needed.
"Even though we work fast and on short-term documents, the decisions should be perceived as long-term, one should think in scope and in perspective," Mr Musalem said at the meeting, quoted by the Government Press Office.
 CHARGES AGAINST MEMBERS OF EX-CABINETSofia, February 26 (BTA) - All materials about the grain crisis collected by the Interior Ministry will be ready Wednesday or Thursday and handed over to the Prosecutor General, Interior Minister Bogomil Bonev told the press Wednesday. Former Prime Minister Videnov did not know what the nation's grain supplies were," the minister said. "Videnov believed traders were correct to export grain looking for a better price," Bonev said, declining to specify the amount of grain illegally exported from this country. "Videnov's ignorance does not prove him innocent, he is responsible for the grain crisis," Bonev also said.
Pernik, February 26 (BTA corr.) - Manyo Manov, deputy of former agriculture minister Vassil Chichibaba, falsified grain balance figures, the deputy leader of the large trade union amalgamation CITUB Zhelyazko Hristov said in Pernik, western Bulgaria, Wednesday. "We have the minutes of an Agriculture Ministry meeting and we know who stood for what," said the union leader. All documents have been handed to the Prosecutor General.
Hours before the cabinet took office, companies were still being sold off, said Hristov. Former Industry Minister Dachev bought the leather factory Poulpoudeva in Plovdiv.
Sofia, February 26 (BTA) - Former minister of health Mimi Vitkova illegally rented out a medical hostel to health ministry staff, Dr Dimiter Ignatov, leader of the Bulgarian Doctors Union, told a press conference Wednesday. The decision to this effect, sponsored by Vitkova, was made by the cabinet in May of last year. Such hostels were built to meet the housing needs of young specialists temporarily living in Sofia to do postgraduate work. Last year the health ministry employed 175 people and the apartments provided were 48. Fifty-one families lodged housing requests of which 35 were approved. Of these 35 families only 9 were of doctors, said Ignatov. Most had worked for the health ministry for less than two years. Some joined the staff only to receive housing, he said. The intention of these people was to later on buy the apartments at low prices with the permission of the Sofia regional governor. The apartments would have cost next to nothing, said Ignatov. The Doctors Union would inform the prosecution of this case, said Ignatov.
 MOLDOVA IS ASKED FOR GRAIN ASSISTANCESofia, February 26 (BTA) - Agriculture Minister Hristov sent a letter to Moldovan Agriculture and Food Minister Gheorghe Lungu, asking for humanitarian assistance or commodity credit of bread grain to be returned by October or November 1997 at current international prices. Hristov said Bulgaria would need at least 250,000 to 300,000 t of bread grain to last her until the new harvest.
 BULGARIA RECEIVES DONATIONSSofia, February 26 (BTA) - Humanitarian organizations, firms and private persons have sent donations worth millions of leva for Bulgaria's socially disadvantaged.
The German Red Cross sent the Bulgarian Red Cross (BRC) medicines worth 86, 753,000 leva, the BRC press office said on Tuesday. The medicines will go to the Child Cardiology and Cardio Surgery Clinic with the National Cardio- Vascular Diseases Centre.
Representatives of the Spanish Red Cross are expected to arrive soon to assess this country's most urgent needs. The Spanish Red Cross expressed readiness to send humanitarian aid to Bulgaria. The Greek Red Cross has also prepared humanitarian aid for Bulgaria, the BRC said. It will be directed to the border regions of Smolyan, Haskovo and Kurdjali (Southern Bulgaria). The BRC has compiled and sent lists of social institutions in greatest need of aid to which Greece will also send donations.
The Future for Bulgaria Foundation received 810 packs of baby food worth USD 1,620, donated by Israeli national Aby Nathan through the BRC. The Foundation also received medicines from Emilia Genadieva of Italy worth 16, 556,198 leva.
The Sofia Committee of the BRC will select 1,000 Sofianites to receive 6 kg of staple foods each from a shop of the Stambouli firm in Sofia. A soup kitchen will be opened in Lom for the poorest citizens of that town on the request of the Gypsy community, the BRC said.
The Sofia municipality received foods worth 2 million leva on Tuesday. Pasta, rice, instant soup and sugar, provided mainly from the Bulgarian community in France, will be distributed among the 30 soup kitchens in Sofia. Aid for ten orphanages across Bulgaria is being raised by the Sylvie Vartan for Bulgaria Association.
The Civil Defence received 140,000 packs of potassium iodide worth 160 million, said Colonel Svetoslav Andonov of the Civil Defence on Tuesday. They were sent by the Europe commission with the Council of Europe within the framework of a project to maintain readiness in Central and Eastern Europe in cases of nuclear accident or transborder pollution. Radiation control equipment, alarm equipment and personnel training will be the next projects of the committee.
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