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Bulgarian Telegraph Agency (BTA), 97-03-04
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From: Embassy of Bulgaria <firstname.lastname@example.org>
EMBASSY OF BULGARIA - WASHINGTON D.C.
BTA - BULGARIAN TELEGRAPH AGENCY
4 March, 1997
 NATO STATEMENT ON BULGARIA'S CANDIDACYSofia, February 28 (BTA) - Prompted by statements by international agencies in the past few days on Bulgaria's candidacy to become a full member in the North Atlantic alliance, NATO spokesman Jamie Shay presented the Organization's official position, the press office of the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said. NATO expressed satisfaction with Bulgaria's candidacy to join the Organization. NATO experts are considering various aspects, including political and military ones, of the applications of the countries which have stated their desire to join the alliance. NATO experts attach special attention to the intensified dialogue with all applicant states, Bulgaria including. In this connection, they intend to ask for more information from Bulgaria.
The NATO Spokesman stressed that the Organization is treating Bulgaria's bid on an equal footing with those of all applicants and that NATO will not discriminate against any cacdidate, the Foreign Ministry press release says.
 BULGARIA CELEBRATES NATIONAL HOLIDAYSofia, March 3 (BTA) - On Monday Bulgaria officially marked its national holiday, March 3.
March 3 in 1787 is the date of signing the San Stefano peace treaty which put an end to the Russo-Turkish war and crowned with success the long years of struggles of the Bulgarian people for liberation from a centuries- long yoke. Ceremonies were held in towns and villages around the country. Wreaths and flowers were laid at the monuments of Russian and Belarus soldiers, Finns, Romanians and Bulgarians who died for the freedom of Bulgaria.
The ceremonies marking Bulgaria's national holiday started Monday morning in Sofia in front of the monument to the unknown soldier where under the sound of the national anthem, a company of guard officers raised the national flag. President Peter Stoyanov paid respects to the flag. Military ceremony and the sound of the bells of the St Alexander Nevsky cathedral accompanied the laying of wreaths and flowers for those who died for the liberation of Bulgaria.
In his address on Monday at the ceremony marking March 3 in Sofia, President Peter Stoyanov focused on the gratitude of the Bulgarian people to the Russian soldiers.
"The grateful Bulgarian people will keep for ever in their souls the memory of those unknown Russian warriors who left their bones in our home land, caring less for the straits around Constantinople than for the fate of their Slav brothers," the President said. He stressed the importance of March 3 since with the San Stefano treaty, although for a short time, Bulgaria realized the ideal that all Bulgarians live in one state. Stoyanov stated in particular that now Bulgaria celebrates March 3 in the conditions of severe crisis. March 3 comes to remind that Bulgaria has had other difficult moments in its history... and that after each fall, there followed a period of progress," the President said.
 GREETINGS ON BULGARIA'S NATIONAL HOLIDAYSofia, March 2 (BTA) - Heads of state have sent greetings to Bulgarian President Peter Stoyanov in connection with the country's national holiday, March 3.
I am certain that the democratic changes progressing in our countries are creating a solid foundation for promoting in the new conditions the traditionally good relations and the mutually profitable cooperation between Russia and Bulgaria in the interest of the nations of the two countries and in the construction of a 21st century Europe, free of dividing lines and confrontation, reads the cable sent by President Boris Yeltsin.
In his greeting, U.S. President Bill Clinton says he is impressed by the democratic way in which the Bulgarian nation settled a recent political situation with the competent support of the Bulgarian President and hails the straightforwardness with which the Bulgarian President stated the need of swift economic reforms. The U.S. President believes the settlement of the crisis will make it possible for Bulgaria to continue to fulfil its stabilizing function in the Balkan region. In his cable the US President also says that Bulgaria's decision to apply for NATO membership and its participation in the Partnership for Peace plan testify about this country's determination to fully integrate with its European neighbours.
 PRESIDENT STOYANOV APOLOGIZES FOR BULGARIA'S PARTICIPATION IN CRUSHING THE PRAGUE SPRINGPrague, February 28 (BTA) - President Stoyanov Friday apologized on behalf of Bulgaria for the involvement of Bulgarian troops in the occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968. The apology was offered at talks with President Vaclav Havel at the President's Office in Prague Castle. The Bulgarian head of state arrived in the Czech capital Friday on a one-day official visit.
At a joint news conference in Prague Castle after the formal welcoming ceremony and the talks between the two delegations, Mr Havel said that the Czech Republic supports Bulgaria's efforts to join the European and Atlantic structures. "I assured the President that our sympathies are on the side of the democratic forces in Bulgaria," Mr Havel noted.
"I thanked Peter Stoyanov for apologizing on behalf of Bulgaria for the participation of Bulgarian armed forces in the Prague events," Mr Havel said, adding he was sure that the decision on the invasion was made behind the back of the Bulgarian people and even without the knowledge of those involved themselves.
Referring to the desire of the former socialist countries to join NATO, Mr Havel noted that some of them will be admitted earlier than the rest, but this should not be treated as "tragedy."
"All applicant countries must fulfil the conditions for accession to NATO and show solidarity to each other," the Czech President stressed. "I assured Vaclav Havel that after the recent dramatic days and months Bulgaria has embarked on a new clear road of development, the road of structural reform, European and Atlantic integration," the Bulgarian President said for his part. He indicated that the success of the Czech Republic in this direction is an incentive for Bulgarian society. Mr Stoyanov also expressed his satisfaction that Mr Havel shares Bulgaria's opinion on simultaneous start of negotiations on accession to NATO with all applicant countries.
 PRESIDENT HAVEL ON BULGARIAN - CZECH TIESPrague, February 28 (BTA special correspondent Petko Azmanov)- "Bulgaria and the Czech Republic have a tradition of close economic relations. It is true that ties weakened in the last few years but there is a hope that they will be strengthened especially after the free trade agreement takes full force. Another possible area of cooperation is tourism; Czechs came to Bulgaria for years and spent vacations on the Black Sea," Czech President Vaclav Havel told the BTA special correspondent asked about the prospects to Bulgarian-Czech relations.
Havel met Friday with Bulgarian President Peter Stoyanov who is on an official visit to Prague. "This is my first meeting with Peter Stoyanov. I have met with President Zhelyu Zhelev several times. My impressions are that Stoyanov is a young, dynamic and energetic politician who knows what he wants to achieve, and will do his best for Bulgaria's progress," Havel said in response to a question by the BTA.
"I do not think I can give advice to Bulgarians but I have an idea of what the problems of Bulgaria are. I think Bulgaria should strengthen the processes of transformation which have started but were taking place very slowly and in an improvised, even chaotic, manner. The most important is to create a concept of reform, because the longer the process of reform continues, the greater the difficulties ," Havel said, in answer to a question by Radio Free Europe. Asked by the Bulgarian paper "Troud" if he would advise Bulgarian President Stoyanov how to lead the country out of the crisis, Havel said he shared some of his own experience during the talks. "I think Peter Stoyanov can pick elements of my experience and the Czech experience himself, contributing to Bulgaria's development," he said.
Asked by "Troud" if it is realistic for the two countries to join NATO in the foreseeable future, the Czech President expressed an opinion there is no list of the countries which will join, or will be invited to join, NATO. "But if the Czech Republic joins before Bulgaria, it will naturally support your efforts to come on board, because that reflects the principles of the North Atlantic Alliance Washington declaration. These are the principles of openness and solidarity with democratic countries. I am convinced Bulgaria will find room in the Atlantic community," said Havel.
 PRESIDENT STOYANOV IN BUDAPESTBudapest, March 1 (BTA Special Correspondent Petko Azmanov) - Bulgarian President Peter Stoyanov arrived on Saturday from Prague in Budapest on a short visit. In the President's office Stoyanov and the President of Hungary Arpad Gonzc had a one-to-one conversation and then talks were held between the two delegations.
In their coverages of the visit the Hungarian media said that the talks will focus on the delivery of wheat for Bulgaria.
"We offer to share with the Bulgarian people our experience in the process of the reforms," Hungarian President Goncz told a news briefing after his meeting with the Bulgarian head of state.
Gonzc described the talks as useful and specified that the two parties familiarized each other with the situation in Bulgaria and Hungary. "Peter Stoyanov and Bulgaria's foreign policy have complex tasks to settle," Arpad Gonzc said. The caretaker government should conduct swift reforms, the Hungarian President said and added that his country has offered political support to Bulgaria on the road of reforms.
The Bulgarian President estimated in highly positive terms the talks which lasted longer than scheduled. Peter Stoyanov is particularly impressed with the fact that his Hungarian colleague knows Bulgaria and is concerned about the fate of this country and its reforms. "I am also impressed by Arpad Gonzc's balanced position on the reforms in Hungary and in Bulgaria," Peter Stoyanov added. The Bulgarian President told his Hungarian counterpart that Bulgaria is interested in the experience of Hungary in the field of privatization and the establishment of infrastructures for European integration. "I also raised the problem of the free trade zone agreement," Stoyanov said. He added that an item on the agenda was the development of cooperation in culture and tourism.
At the meeting with President Stoyanov, Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn agreed with the suggestion of Bulgaria to launch simultaneous negotiations on the settlement of Bulgaria's 86 million transferable roubles loan to Hungary and on the signing of a bilateral free trade agreement.
The delivery of Hungarian grain for Bulgaria will be subject of additional discussions, it became clear after the meeting held in the office of the Hungarian Prime Minister in the Parliament building. Mr Horn promised to officially move this issue for consideration by the Hungarian Council of Ministers. Hungary voiced readiness to receive already early next week Bulgarian experts in privatization. The latter will familiarize themselves with the local experience in the process of denationalization which was completed a year ago.
"I availed of the opportunity in this visit to find the best way of settling the grain problem," President Stoyanov told Bulgarian reporters after his meeting with Horn. The Bulgarian President said he believes this issue is associated with the solidarity between the former Socialist states. According to Peter Stoyanov, Bulgaria would like to receive grain so that it could return it under most favourable conditions, the way like this problem was settled with Poland.
After the talks with Gyula Horn Mr Stoyanov received in his residence the Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Budapest Tuletai Syuleimenov who is also accredited to Sofia.
During the meeting held at Stoyanov's request, the Bulgarian President asked Syuleimenov to deliver to President Nazurbaev a request for the supply of 100,000 tonnes of grain for Bulgaria. This could be arranged by settling part of Kazakhstan's 28 million US dollar debt to Glavbulgarstroy.
Before his departure for Sofia this evening, Peter Stoyanov will visit the Bulgarian church "Sts Cyril and Methodius" and will take part in the celebrations of the Bulgarians living in Hungary on Bulgaria's national holiday. Nearly 2,000 Bulgarian citizens and 5,000 Hungarians of Bulgarian origin live in Hungary. Bulgarians in Hungary are recognized as a minority is entitled to the stimuli provided by the respective Hungarian legislation.
 SOFIYANSKI VISITS MACEDONIASkopje, February 28 (BTA) - Prime Minister Sofiyanski made a short working visit to Skopje and discussed with Macedonian Prime Minister Crvenkovski ways to intensify bilateral economic cooperation.
The preparation and signing of a trade liberalization agreement topped the agenda. It was agreed experts from the two countries would meet shortly. The two prime ministers emphasized the importance of building the East- West corridor and agreed the two countries should act jointly to have regional projects financed by the international financial institutions. Crvenkovski said Macedonia and Bulgaria would step up their contacts with the other countries crossed by the corridor: Albania, Italy and Turkey.
The two heads of government decided that one commercial bank should be appointed in each country to facilitate the transfer of capital and services with a view to stepping up trade.
Speaking to the press, Sofiyanski stressed that transit traffic through the two countries is an important source of revenues.
It is generally believed the first meeting between Sofiyanski and Crvenkovski will revitalize contacts between the two countries. Sofiyanski said it would help to make up for lost opportunities in economic and trade relations, for which there is a will in both countries.
Later on Sofiyanski met with the Skopje mayor and the Skopje council chairman. The traditional cultural exchange between the two capitals will continue, and plans will be made for economic cooperation. Prime Minister Sofiyanski committed to consulting the mayor of Skopje on the establishment of a municipal bank, the government press office said.
Bulgaria and Macedonia agreed to set up a free trade area, Sofiyanski told journalists Friday. The preparation of the documents on the expert level will begin after coordination with European Union commissions on March 12. The Macedonian Premier is ready to visit Sofia for discussing the documents on the government level, when the stage of harmonization is reached, the government press office said.
During the visit, the sides discussed the laying of an optic cable to Turkey, which would complete the Skopje-Sofia-Istanbul link by March 14. This is the fastest link between Western Europe and Turkey, said the Prime Minister.
The sides agreed for the two Transport Ministries to coordinate projects of mutual interest. Sofiyanski denied media reports last night that imports of Macedonian wheat were arranged.
 PM SOFIYANSKI'S VISIT TO FRANCEParis, March 1 (BTA exclusive by Konstantin Pashev) - Prime Minister Sofiyanski arrived on Friday in Paris to attend a conference of the European Democratic Union. On Saturday he met at the Bulgarian Embassy with Jean-Pierre Sauvirron, Chairman of the Group for Industrial Strategies, Services and Know-how which unites 15 of France's largest companies. The two officials discussed the prospects for continuing the realization of important projects in the field of the nuclear and the heat power engineering, as well as infrastructure projects (airports, railway transport and sea ports).
On Saturday morning the Bulgarian Prime Minister had a meeting with representatives of the two largest French banks, Credit Agricole and Credit Commercial de France, who shared their ideas for cutting the prices of gas which Bulgargaz purchases from Gazprom through appropriate triangular operations among Bulgaria, Russia and the banking institutions.
 FRANCE SUPPORTS BULGARIA FOR EU AND NATO MEMBERSHIPSofia, March 3 (BTA) - Bulgaria was assured of France's support for providing an equal start and equal treatment of all former Socialist states at the beginning of the negotiations for full membership in the European Union and NATO, it emerged after PM Stefan Sofiyanski's visit to Paris.
"The most important point during the talks with Mr Juppe was that France declared its support for providing an equal start and for equal treatment of all former Socialist states at the beginning of the negotiations for full membership in the European Union and NATO," Sofiyanski said late on Sunday upon his return from Paris. "We were also backed in connection with the rescheduling of Bulgaria's debts to the Paris Club," he added. After the closing of an agreement between Bulgaria and the IMF France will assist this country in receiving a stabilization loan from the G-24 states for its balance of payments.
Prime Minister Sofiyanski was on a two-day visit to France at the invitation of French Prime Minister Alain Juppe. Sofiyanski also attended a meeting of the European Democratic Forum (EDU). Bulgaria will receive assistance from the EDU for the holding of the early elections, Sofiyanski also said.
 BULGARIA - EUSofia, February 28 (BTA) - Bulgarian First Deputy Foreign Minister Valentin Dobrev Friday returned from Brussels. He continued the talks with European partners after a meeting of the European Union-Bulgaria Association Council which took place in the Belgian capital February 24.
Europe sympathizes with Bulgaria and will cooperate with its caretaker cabinet, but it expects from the government to make practical steps to continue the economic reforms, deal with the economic crisis and stabilize the country, said Dobrev.
He said the EU expects Bulgaria to reconsider some answers to the EU questionnaire given to all associated countries. In the first place this concerns the conditions for granting Bulgarian goods access to European markets, especially standardization methods.
The other requirement for EU membership set by the European Commission is price liberalization. According to the Commission, prices should be liberalized all at once, despite the heavy social price. In turn, the Commission is ready to provide social assistance to the Bulgarian population, and Bulgaria will receive 20 million ECU, agreed at the end of last year, by mid-March. Depending on the measures taken by the government, the EU will render additional assistance, Dobrev said.
Next week the Bulgarian Red Cross will distribute 1.1 million ECU provided by the ECO programme, and 600,000 ECU in lifesaving medicines, said the deputy minister.
The cabinet needs to update its answers to existing problems of the organization of the state administration working on the harmonization of Bulgarian law with European, he said.
Dobrev described the mechanism of utilization in Bulgaria of assistance under the PHARE programme as very inefficient. He said the country has lost tens of millions of ECU and will lose as much, unless the mechanism is improved.
The Bulgarian diplomat met with EC visa experts. He pointed out the various problems facing Bulgaria and stressed their solution would determine visa rules.
 GERMANY EXPLORES OPPORTUNITIES TO AID BULGARIASofia, February 28 (BTA) - Germany must immediately provide assistance to Bulgaria in connection with the severe situation in the country, Mr Gernot Erler, member of the German Bundestag and Chairman of the German-Bulgarian Parliamentary Group, called in an appeal circulated to the media in Bonn, the Information Department of the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry announced Friday.
In his appeal Mr Erler noted that under the circumstances, when European assistance programmes are no longer sufficient, the German Federal Government must immediately take action to provide assistance to Bulgaria.
The economic situation in Bulgaria was one of the items on the agenda of Friday's debate at the Bundestag, Bulgarian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Radko Vlaikov told BTA. During the last two years the reform process in Bulgaria has stagnated, leading to the present-day problems which have led the country to the verge of an economic catastrophe, most German MPs who took the floor Friday concluded, according to Mr Vlaikov. At the same time, the speakers expressed the hope that the caretaker government and the next cabinet will be advocates of radical reforms and will give an impetus to economic transformations in Bulgaria.
"Current developments make Germany show a special concern for the Bulgarian problems and make efforts towards Bulgaria's return to the group of successful transition countries," German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said, quoted by Mr Vlaikov.
 BULGARIA'S NATIONAL HOLIDAY CELEBRATED IN ISRAELTel Aviv, March 3 (BTA) - In connection with Bulgaria's national holiday, March 3, a concert was held on Sunday in one of the largest halls of the Israeli town of Yafa. Most performers were Israelis of Bulgarian origin. The funds raised at the concert will be used to send humanitarian aid for the Bulgarian people. The concert was attended by Chairman of the Knesset Dan Tichon, Bulgarian Ambassador to Tel Aviv Svetlomir Baev, leaders of organizations of Bulgarian Jews. In his welcoming address Ambassador Baev thanked for all that the Israeli state and the Bulgarian Jews are doing to help Bulgaria and its people in the current difficult moment.
The Chairman of the Knesset said that the Israeli people will always remember the nobleness and the unselfishness of the Bulgarian people which was the only nation in Europe during World War Two that saved its Jews from the death camps. On behalf of the Israeli government Dan Tichon assured the Bulgarian government that Tel Aviv is seeking ways and possibilities to provide assistance to the Bulgarian people in this difficult moment. He said that President Ezer Weizmann has made a donation of 25,000 shekels (8,000 US dollars) in personal funds for humanitarian aid for Bulgaria.
The concert is part of the large-scale campaign launched in Israel for collecting humanitarian aid for Bulgaria and organized by a coordinating committee of representatives of the organizations of the Bulgarian Jews. In the framework of the campaign bank accounts were opened in Israel's three largest banks to collect donations. The humanitarian aid purchased with these funds will be sent by a special plane to Bulgaria. 30 tonnes of humanitarian aid, collected by the Association of Kibbutz (local cooperative farms) will be sent by sea to Pirrhea and then will be delivered in trucks to Bulgaria. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already sent one tonne of medicines and pharmaceuticals for Bulgaria.
 FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN BULGARIASofia, February 28 (BTA) - Total foreign investment in Bulgaria from 1989 to December 1996 amounted to USD 830,920,000, Foreign Investment Agency President Iliyan Vassilev told a news conference on Friday.
Germany tops the list of foreign investors in Bulgaria with investments totalling USD 232.7 million, or 28% of the total amount of foreign investments, followed by the Netherlands with USD 85.5 million. The Netherlands made the biggest amount of investments in Bulgaria in 1996 - USD 46,143,000.
This country's third biggest foreign investor is Britain with total investments of USD 62.2 million, followed by the United States with USD 55.5 million, Switzerland - USD 52.9 million, Greece - USD 49.8 million, Austria - USD 42 million, Luxembourg - USD 32.1 million, Belgium - USD 31.2 million, Russia - USD 30.7 million, France - USD 15.2 million, among others.
The greatest amount of annual investment since 1989 was made in 1996 - USD 302 million. Foreign investment in 1995 totalled USD 165 million, in 1994 - USD 211 million, in 1993 - USD 99.8 million, in 1992 - USD 38.5 million, in 1991 - USD 670,000, in 1990 - USD 12.3 million and in 1989 - USD 1.14 million.
This country's second biggest foreign investor in 1996 was Germany with USD 43.602 million, followed by Britain with USD 32.876 million.
The bulk of the investments went into the industry - USD 338.1 million, or 40.69% of the total amount of foreign investment in 1989- 1996. USD 185.2 million were invested in the trade sector, USD 116.8 million in the financial sector, USD 78.2 million in tourism, USD 73.3 million in transport, USD 10.9 million in telecommunications, USD 7.9 million in agriculture and USD 7.5 million in construction.
"We start work to promote this country abroad," Vassilev said. According to him, it is important that an investment forum be held at least once a year in Sofia where senior state officials may present the new state policy on foreign investment and hear the advice of investors from across the world. The Bulgarian Foreign Investment Agency maintains close ties with similar agencies in the world. The institution expects that foreign investment in Bulgaria will show an upward trend in 1997.
 BULGARIAN MINISTERS MEET EIB EXECUTIVESSofia, February 28 (BTA) - The European Investment Bank (EIB) declared that it will continue to finance investment projects in Bulgaria, Prime Sofiyanski said Friday after seeing EIB Director for Central and Eastern Europe Walter Chernoya, who is visiting Bulgaria for the first time. The EIB will finance mainly the construction of projects in power generation and communications and road network rehabilitation. "We expect a loan for the remodelling of Sofia Airport and parts of the roads between Sofia and Svilengrad [on the Turkish border, part of the Trans-European Motorway] and between Sofia and Varna [on the Black Sea]," Mr Sofiyanski noted. Within ten days the bank executives will react to the Bulgarian proposals which the Prime Minister made at the meeting on Friday.
The state of the EIB-financed energy projects was discussed by the head of the bank's Southeastern Europe Department Guido Brook Friday with Energy Minister Stoilov, the Ministry of Energy said in a press release. Mr Brook expressed EIB's desire to keep financing energy projects in Bulgaria. Mr Stoilov declared Bulgaria's readiness to work on projects of marked energy efficiency that can be fast implemented.
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