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• (DF) Central Election Commission Draws Numbers for Parties, Coalitions and Independent Candidates in European Elections
April 24 (BTA) - Through a draw on Wednesday, the Central Election Commission assigned numbers to the candidate lists of parties, coalitions and initiative committees for the European elections on May 26. The following numbers were assigned to the parties and coalitions currently represented in the national Parliament and the European Parliament, as well as to some well-known candidates:
• (DF) Two Parliamentary Parties Join Outcry against National Child Strategy
April 24 (BTA) - Two parliamentary parties have joined the public outcry against the proposed National Strategy for the Child 2019-2030. Volya and VMRO presented their objections on Wednesday following almost three months of protests by political parties, parent and family associations, and the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.
• (DF) Financial Regulator Audits Eurohold Bulgaria amid Its Talks for Acquisition of Bulgarian Assets of CEZ
24 April (BTA) - The Financial Supervision Commission (FSC) is starting an audit of Eurohold Bulgaria AD and its major companies. It said in a statement for the press that the audit has been prompted by the heightened public interest in the possible purchase of the Bulgarian assets of Czech energy group CEZ by Eurohold.
• (DF) Police Launches Checks of All Guest Houses Built with EU Grants
April 24 (BTA) - The Prosecutor General ordered the National Police to conduct checks of all guest houses built with EU grants. An investigation has already been launched in Blagoevgrad (Southwestern Bulgaria) in connection with former Deputy Economy Minister Alexander Manolev. Manolev resigned after an investigative report found that a company, which he is believed to have used as a front, spent a EU grant to build a luxury guest house which never operated as such but was used solely by Manolev and his family.
• (PE) Press Review
Sofia, April 24 (BTA) -
• (DF) Sofia's University of National and World Economy Threatens to File for Insolvency
April 23 (BTA) - The University of National and World Economy Tuesday released an open letter asking the government for 10.3 million leva needed to complete and outfit a new building, or else the university will become de facto insolvent. The open letter is addressed to the Prime Minister and the ministers of finance and education. Some 22,000 students are enrolled in the nearly 100-year-old university. The project was launched in 2016 and is to be completed in 30 months, this coming June. It is to be financed with an EU grant of 4.5 million leva under Operational Programme (OP) Regions in Growth, and 7.5 million leva provided by the Finance Ministry through the Education Ministry. The building company stopped work in 2017 and will not resume it unless it is paid. The university's leaders are asking that the state financing be released as soon as possible, claiming that otherwise the EU grant will have to be paid back with interest by the State. The Rector, Prof. Stati Statev, argued that the university's accounts may be frozen, making it impossible to pay grants and salaries. Education Minister Krassimir Vulchev said there were no provisions for the demanded payment in the Ministry's budget, adding that the Finance Ministry had pledged to co-finance the project in 2016. "The point of contention is whether the funding under the Operational Programme should be used up before the State co-financing is made available or vice versa," said Vulchev. For its part, the Finance Ministry issued an open letter, saying that it remains committed to providing up to 7.5 million leva, but only after the EU grant is fully absorbed, which is not the case. The Finance Ministry also refused to put up an extra 2.7 million leva for unforeseen construction works and equipment of the new study facilities. The letter said the Minister would order a financial inspection into the university's compliance with the Public Procurement Act in the award of a construction contract. LN/DD
• (DF) Amid Medics' Protests, President Calls for Rethinking Healthcare Model
April 23 (BTA) - Amid a wave of protests by various groups of medical professionals, President Rumen Radev Tuesday called for rethinking the healthcare model in Bulgaria. "The protests of medical specialists and the dissatisfaction of patients in Bulgaria show that we need to rethink the healthcare model," the President said as he met with medical professionals in his office. He said that health care is a key priority in any prosperous nation. Attending the meeting with the President were representatives of an initiative committee which is organizing nation-wide protests against the inequalities in the healthcare system in Bulgaria. The initiative committee represents nurses, midwives, paramedics, physical therapists and other medical workers, who have been protesting for months against the inadequate work conditions and low pay. They told reporters that they asked to meet the President because they trust him. They also said that the current healthcare model is focused on treatment while prevention and follow-up care are practically non-existent. They said they want this model to change and it is not only higher wages that they are after. They complained of harassment by their employers for participating in the protests. Nurses, who previously picketed weeks ago demanding a starting wage equal to two minimum wages in Bulgaria, said that a formula for calculating the monthly wage of nurses, which Health Minister Kiril Ananiev plans to put forward in May, has not been discussed with them. In a separate development on Tuesday, doctors, nurses and interns held a protest outside the specialized pediatric hospital in Sofia demanding a change in the status of the hospital to allow it to use financing both from the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) and from the Health Ministry. Now it is only funded by the NHIF. The protesting medics at the pediatric hospital also want the caps on medical services to be scrapped and wages raised. Commenting the protest, Deputy Health Minister Boyko Penkov said he would propose to the Supervisory Board of the NHIF to scrap the caps for the pediatric hospital. He also said that options will be sought to raise the price tags for some clinical pathways in pediatrics. Clinical pathways are the main tool for financing health services by the NHIF. It is his personal view that changing the status of the pediatric hospital would take years and that it would be faster to build a new pediatric hospital - which is what the government plans to do. The existing pediatric hospital - like most hospitals in Bulgaria - is a commercial corporation and to be wound up it has to go through a liquidation procedure under the Commercial Code which takes between three and 30 years, Penkov explained on Nova TV earlier on Tuesday. IG/LN/ //
• (DF) Vice President Iotova: EU Is a Model of Bureaucracy
April 23 (BTA) - Vice President Iliana Iotova said that the European Union has become a model of bureaucracy and lack of vision. "'United in Diversity' was meant to become a model for the entire world but now the EU is a model of bureaucracy and lack of vision and visionaries, and crises management," she said here on Tuesday in an address at a conference on "Euro-vectors towards USA-China-Russia Geopolitical Triangle," organized by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and the Institute of Economics and International Relations. In Iotova's words, more and more voices are being heard saying that today there is no need of a united Europe and that each country can cope by itself. Focused on our own countries and Union, Europeans seem to be failing to understand that a number of problems are coming from outside and that foreign policies can help avoid and resolve many domestic crises, the Vice President argued. According to Iotova, at the forthcoming European Parliament elections Europe will be divided into those who want to continue the European project and those who want it destroyed, rather than into political parties and ideologies. Regrettably, at this stage the European subject and that of "Europe as a global player" are absent from the public debate in Bulgaria, Iotova also said. She called for taking EU's relations with Russia out of the dead-end-street they have reached. "Russia is a next-door neighbour for the EU and we need to define clearly our relations with them and take them out of the dead-end-street they have reached. We need to have a debate on the sanctions against Russia and the economic security of our citizens does not allow us to reduce this debate to shallow slogans pursuing suspicios goals." said Iotova. Describing the global situation, she said the world "seems to be taking a sharp turn without knowing what will happen after that, the speed with which it should be taken or the consequences". RY/BR/LN
• (DF) Vice President Iotova: "The World Seems to Be Taking A Sharp Turn"
April 23 (BTA) - The world seems to be taking a sharp turn without knowing what will happen after that, the speed with which it should be taken or the consequences, Vice President Iliana Iotova said on Tuesday at a conference on "Euro-vectors towards USA-China-Russia Geopolitical Triangle," organized by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and the Institute of Economics and International Relations. Iotova noted that EU foreign policy cannot be separated from internal policies and the contradictions in both the Union and the Member States themselves. In Iotova's words, more and more voices are being heard saying that today there is no need of a united Europe and that each country can cope by itself. "United in Diversity" was to have become a model of the world but now the EU is a model of bureaucracy and lack of vision and visionaries, as well as rushing after crises, she said. Not seeing further than their own countries and the union, people cannot realize that a number of problems are coming from outside, that foreign policies can help avoid and resolve many domestic crises, the Vice President argued. According to Iotova, at the forthcoming European Parliament elections Europe will be divided into those who want to continue the European project and those who want it destroyed, rather than into political parties and ideologies. Regrettably, at this stage the European subject and that of "Europe as a global player" are absent from the public debate in Bulgaria, Iotova also said./RY/BR
• (DF) PM Borissov: Construction of Hemus Motorway Will Increase GDP by 10-20%
Lovech, Northern Bulgaria, April 23 (BTA) - The construction of the Hemus motorway will increase Bulgaria's GDP by 10 to 20 per cent, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov told journalists during the inspection of the construction of a 10-kilometer section of the motorway between Yablanitsa (near Lovech) and the Boaza road junction.
• (DF) Foreign Minister Zaharieva Confirms Bulgaria's Full Support for Montenegrin European Integration
April 23 (BTA) - Bulgaria strongly supports the European integration of Montenegro and considers it the most advanced of Western Balkan countries in this respect, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva said, as quoted by her Ministry on Tuesday. She was speaking at a meeting with a delegation of the Montenegrin Agency for Prevention of Corruption, headed by Goranka Vucinic, President of the Council of the Agency.
• (DF) Brigade Commander Dismisses Allegations of Civilian Damage Caused by Firing Practice at Tsruncha
April 23 (BTA) - The command of 68th Special Forces Brigade has not received any information about cracked walls or other damage caused to civilian buildings by firing practice at the Tsruncha training area in the southwestern Pazardjik Region, the Brigade Commander, Brig. Gen. Yavor Mateev, told BTA on Tuesday. Mateev was reacting to a demand raised by residents of Tsruncha and two other villages in the area to close down the training area. According to the protesters, frequent firing practice using "heavy machinery - tanks and artillery" has been tormenting them and has caused cracks on the walls of their homes. Bulgarian National Radio reported on Monday that locals had signed a petition giving Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov a month to shut down the training area. The petitioners threatened that if their demand is not met, they will block a road near the training area. Brig. Gen. Mateev told BTA that when training at Tsruncha, 68th Special Forces Brigade uses light weapons, not tanks. It is impossible for light weapons to inflict the alleged kind of damage or to be heard from such a long distance, he said. He noted that this is the main training area for the brigade which is stationed in Plovdiv. Mateev commented: "We are military men, but we see that, as elections draw near, various people and organizations begin to raise demands in one way or another, which no one would pay attention to if they were voiced at a different moment." No one has actually approached the command of the brigade with any demands about its operation, the general further said. He dismissed fears of chemical and radiological contamination as "complete misunderstanding" and "absurd." "Pistols and assault rifles do not produce radioactive particles. There are no weapons and military equipment in Bulgaria which can release radioactive substances," Mateev said. RY/VE
• (PE) Press Review
Sofia, April 23 (BTA) -
• (DF) Trade Unions, Employers Discuss Electricity Price Hike with PM Borissov
April 22 (BTA) - Representatives of the four employer organizations and the two trade union confederations met Monday at their request with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and Energy Minister Temenouzhka Petkova to discuss the expected rise in energy prices.
• (DF) Socialist MP Yoncheva with New Evidence against Culture Minister Banov
April 22 (BTA) - Socialist MP Elena Yoncheva, who now heads her party's list for the forthcoming European Parliament elections, has provided the Specialized Prosecutor's Office with an original record made by a Culture Ministry official and relevant to an affair involving Culture Minister Boil Banov. Yoncheva told a news conference on Monday that "this time the Specialized Prosecutor's Office will not be able to avoid investigation".
• (DF) President Radev: "If There Is Threat to Democracy in Bulgaria, It Does Not Come from the Army but Politicians"
April 22 (BTA) - If there is a threat to the public order and democracy in Bulgaria, it does not come from the Bulgarian Army but from those politicians and institutions who make the gap between morals and law ever bigger, President Rumen Radev told journalists here on Monday. He was commenting on a recent statement of Prime Minister Borissov that there is danger of a military coup d'etat in Bulgaria.
• (DF) MRF Chairman Karadayi Tops Party List for European Elections
April 22 (BTA) - The Chairman of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), Mustafa Karadayi, is the party's top-of-the-list candidate for the May 26 European Parliament elections. This transpired at the registration of the MRF's candidate list at the Central Election Commission on Monday.
• (DF) Carriers, Employers Demand Road Toll System Be Delayed Until 2020
April 22 (BTA corr. Lyudmila Spasova) - Ivaylo Konstantinov, Board member of the Bus Carriers Confederation, commented Monday in a BTA interview the introduction of an electronic road toll system, which will drop vignettes for trucks and will introduce a toll fee per mileage. The Bus Carriers Confederation expects that the toll system will lead to an expansion of the grey sector, Konstantinov said.
• (PE) Press-Review
Sofia, April 22 (BTA)
• (PE) Press Review
Sofia, April 21 (BTA)
• (DF) BSP and GERB Exchange Political Accusations at Respective Party Forums
April 20 (BTA) - The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and the GERB party exchanged political accusations on Saturday at their respective party forums. The forums were dedicated to the European Parliament (EP) elections, but were mostly dominated by internal political conflicts. The BSP chose to present their MEP candidates outdoors in Sofia's South Park. BSP leader Kornelia Ninova said that her party is aims to "win the European elections", to "call for early parliamentary elections", but most importantly to "fight for justice right now". "May 26th is crucial in taking down the current government led by GERB and the United Patriots, and supported by the Movement for Rights and Freedoms," said Ninova. Elena Yoncheva, who is at the top of BSP's candidate list for EP, said that "the battle for Europe is a battle for Bulgaria" and declared that "there are two paths in front of us and we must choose to either stay in this criminal slavery in which Bulgaria is now [...] or to rebel against it". At their own forum, the GERB party reported on their initiative titled "Europe in Our Home". Prime Minister Boyko Borissov spoke about infrastructure projects and the development of education at the forum. He promised funding for the completion of the Hemus highway and Northwest Bulgaria, as well as the bypasses of Pazardzhik and Plovdiv. "We have built quality parks in Sofia, where now the BSP can gather," he said, referring to the BSP's forum in South Park that same day. "Next year we will increase teachers' salaries by another 360 million leva, we will spend 20 million leva on new school busses and another 20 million leva on interactive education for students," the Prime Minister said. Borissov expressed his indignation at the BSP statements, accusing the government of corruption, and him in autocracy. Borissov said GERB has to make sure that the State is not subjected to the "humiliation of bringing the same people back to power over and over again". "They [the BSP] have made lying and manipulation into their main election platform," the Prime Minister said. "When the Head of State tells generals not to blindly comply, what is he calling for them do?" asked Borissov, recalling President Radev's words from the end of December 2018. When appointing three senior military officers to posts in the Bulgarian Army and in NATO, Radev warned the generals that "blind obedience and quiet compliance [...] can not save them from the contempt of their subordinates and the Bulgarian people". . "We [GERB] have been very hurt by everything that happened to us recently, but hearing all these negative comments motivate me even more," said Borissov. RY/DT
• (DF) Criminal Group Dealing in Human Trafficking, Money Laundering Busted in Drenovets Village
April 20 (BTA) - Nine people were arrested in the village of Drenovets, Northwestern Bulgaria, in a police operation targeting an organized criminal group dealing with human trafficking, money laundering and begging, said Deputy Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev on Saturday at an impromptu press conference on the site. Dimitar Petrov, administrative head of the Specialized Prosecutor's Office and the head of the Vidin Regional Interior Ministry Directorate Petar Kotsin also took part in the announcement. Geshev said that the criminal group was involved in human trafficking, begging and, as some evidence suggests, usury. They operated mainly in Sweden, where they sent people to beg. The competent Swedish authorities have been informed of the investigation and the next step will be preparing an application for legal aid and an European Investigation Order. Nine people of Roma origin were detained on Saturday in connection to the case. RY/DT
• (PE) Press Review
Sofia, April 20 (BTA)
• (DF) Parliament Chair Meets with Iranian Minister of Roads and Urban Development
April 19 (BTA) - National Assembly Chair Tsveta Karayancheva Friday met with Iran's Roads and Urban Development Minister Mohammad Eslami, Parliament's press office said. The Iranian official is in Bulgaria for the 19th session of the Bulgaria-Iran Joint Commission for Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation.
• (DF) Parliament Adopts New Tighter Rules for Child Allowances and Monthly Social Benefits
April 19 (BTA) - Amending conclusively the Social Assistance Act on Friday, Parliament set in place new and righter rules for the payment of child allowances and monthly benefits to unemployed people. Under the new rules, if a student misses five classes a month without a valid excuse, his or her family will lose their child allowance for a full year. Proposed by GERB, the amendments caused a controversy when they were unveiled and some experts said they are too harsh a punishment and will worsen the situation of children in low-income families. The Movement for Rights and Freedoms were against the proposal when it was debated. Child allowances will also be discontinued if a child in daycare or pre-school misses three days of school in a month. The previous rule was that for the same number of days away from school the student's family only lost the allowances for the month. Suspended child allowances will go to the respective daycare or school and may be used for purchase of teaching aids, clothes and shoes, if this is what the child needs. In another change, a one-off allowance that was paid to the family of a first-grader, will now be paid in two equal installments, at the beginning of the year and at the beginning of the second term, to make sure the first-grader stays in school throughout the year. From now on, able-bodied unemployed people in active age, who have registered with a job centre, will be required to do a certain time of community service or enroll in training or literacy programmes to qualify for monthly social benefits. This requirement shall not apply for health reasons and during the first year after child birth for unemployed women. The monthly social benefits are also now coupled with a requirement for the beneficiary to make sure his or her child attends school regularly (unless a health condition does now allow it). The amendments also offer a definition of "mala-fide receipt of social benefits" as failure to meet or violating the requirements making sure one qualifies for social benefit, or spending on a scale which exceed the declared income. RY/LN/
• (PE) Press-Review
Sofia, April 19 (BTA)
• (DF) Podkrepa President Manolov: "Raising Teacher Salaries Is Important but Not Enough"
April 18 (BTA) - The Podkrepa Confederation of Labour-affiliated Education Trade Union held its Tenth National Conference in Sofia on Thursday. Podkrepa President Dimiter Manolov addressed the participants, commenting that "there is nothing without education no economy, nor healthcare, social policy or culture, nor even politics."
• (DF) Bulgaria, International Labour Organization to Cooperate on Issues Related to Future of Work
April 18 (BTA) - The Bulgarian Government, trade unions and employers will cooperate with the International Labour Organization (ILO) in addressing issues related to the future of work. This transpired from statements made here on Thursday by Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and National Council for Tripartite Cooperation (NCTC) Chair Mariyana Nikolova and Labour and Social Policy Minister Bisser Petkov, who spoke at the opening of a solemn NCTC meeting marking the ILO's 100th anniversary.
• (DF) EP Foresees 0.1% Difference in Results of GERB, Socialists in May EP Elections
April 18 (BTA corr. Nikolay Zhelyazkov) - The European Parliament (EP) foresees a difference of 0.1 per cent in the results of GERB and the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) in the upcoming EP elections, according to data published by the EP and based on public opinion polls conducted by the agencies Alfa Research and Mediana.
• (DF) PM Borissov Meets with Iranian Minister of Roads and Urban Development
April 18 (BTA) - Prime Minister Boyko Borissov met with Iranian Minister of Roads and Urban Development Mohammad Eslami here on Thursday, the Government Information Service said. The two talked about strengthening the bilateral ties in transport, energy, agriculture, and tourism.
• (DF) Bulgaria Ranked 111th in 2019 World Press Freedom Index
April 18 (BTA) - Bulgaria remains 111th out of 180 countries in the latest edition of the Reporters without Borders' World Press Freedom Index, published on Thursday. Just like in the 2018 edition of the ranking, Bulgaria is in 111th place with a score of 35.11.
• (PE) Press Review
Sofia, April 18 (BTA)
• (DF) Eurohold Granted Exclusivity in Talks on Acquisition of CEZ' Assets in Bulgaria
April 17 (BTA) - Czech energy group CEZ has granted Eurohold exclusivity in further negotiations in the acquisition of CEZ' Bulgarian assets, the Czech daily Lidovky reported on Tuesday. The story says that with this decision the Indian Power consortium falls out of the game as a bidder and CEZ's withdrawal from the Bulgarian market enters a new phase.
• (DF) Prosecution Service Launches Probe Against Deputy Economy Minister
April 17 (BTA) - Bulgarian Supreme Prosecutor's Office of Cassation has launched a probe against Deputy Economy Minister Alexander Manolev to determine whether he has misappropriated EU funds, the prosecution service said Wednesday. The probe follows media publications on the construction of a guest residential building near the southwestern town of Sandanski.
• (DF) Supreme Cassation Court President Warns of Dark Days of Repressions Looming in Bulgarian Judiciary
April 17 (BTA) - Supreme Cassation Court President Lozan Panov warned Wednesday of dark days of repressions looming in the judiciary in Bulgaria. Panov, who is known for his pro-reform stance and long-standing feud with the Establishment in the judicial system, told a forum on judicial reforms in Sofia Wednesday that Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov is eyeing the office of Chief Judicial Inspector which will make the Inspectorate what the prosecution has been for the past seven years: spoils of oligarchic circles.
• (DF) Medical Association Seeks Support of Standing Committee of European Doctors against Continuing Aggression against Medics in Bulgaria
April 17 (BTA) - The Bulgarian Medical Association (BMA) said on Wednesday that it has sought support from the Standing Committee of European Doctors in their fight against the continuing aggression towards medics in this country.
• (PE) Press-Review
Sofia, April 17 (BTA)
• (DF) International Finance Corporation and EBRD Assist Bulgarian Authorities in Selling Concession for Sofia Airport
April 17 (BTA) - The International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) are assisting the Bulgarian Ministry of Transport, Information Technology and Communications in conducting a competitive bidding procedure for a concession contract for Sofia Airport by applying the best world practices, the World Bank said on April 16.
• (DF) Court Dismisses BSP's Appeal against Coalition for Bulgaria Election Registration
April 16 (BTA) - The Supreme Administrative Court has decided to take no further action on an appeal submitted by the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) against the registration of Coalition for Bulgaria for the May 26 European Parliament elections, the Court said on Tuesday. It recalled that only refusals of registration are appealable.
• (DF) Georgian Prime Minister Discusses Digital and Energy Connectivity, Ferry Services in Sofia
April 16 (BTA) - Prime Ministers Boyko Borissov of Bulgaria and Mamuka Bakhtadze of Georgia met in Sofia on Tuesday to discuss digital and energy connectivity between their countries and a planned major increase in two-way ferry services. Borissov expressed Bulgaria's support for Georgia's accession to NATO and the EU.
• (DF) GERB, Nikola Petkov Party Sign Political Partnership Agreement
April 16 (BTA) - GERB and the Nikola Petkov political party signed here on Tuesday a political partnership agreement to support GERB's list of candidates for the upcoming European Parliament elections.
• (DF) Parliament Adopts Address to Bulgarian People for 140th Anniversary of Turnovo Constitution's Adoption
April 16 (BTA) - The National Assembly adopted unanimously with 211 votes in favour an address to the Bulgarian people on the occasion of the 140th anniversary of the Turnovo Constitution's adoption. This happened at a solemn parliamentary sitting at the National Revival and Constituent Assembly Museum here on Tuesday. The draft address was presented as a video with the participation of some of the youngest parliamentarians from all parliamentary groups. In the address, the MPs recall the work of modern Bulgaria's builders. "Bearers of the revival spirit, regardless of the differences in their vision on the State's organization, the MPs were united in their strive to achieve one holy and craved goal: to build a modern, independent and prosperous Bulgaria," the parliamentarians say in the address. "We, as the people's representatives, acknowledge our duty to continue the best traditions left to us by the authors of the Turnovo Constitution. The founding fathers left us a solid heritage. [...] Of particular importance is their example of placing the national above the party interest in pivotal moments for the country," the address says. ???? ???????? ?? ???????????, ?????????????? ?? ??????????????? ????? ??????????? ?????. The solemn sitting was attended by President Rumen Radev, ministers, representatives of the Judiciary, Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov, former MPs, MEPs, and representatives of various religious denominations. The sitting was also attended by the BSP for Bulgaria parliamentary group, which has not taken part in parliamentary sittings since mid-February due to disagreements with the ruling majority over legislation.
• (DF) Twenty Parties Failed to Submit Financial Statements for 2018
April 16 (BTA) - Twenty parties have failed to submit their financial statements for 2018, the National Audit Office said on Tuesday. A total of 128 parties have submitted both their financial statements and the lists of their donors as required. Eight of the 20 political forces who have not filed financial statements are currently active. These include the Bulgarian Agrarian Union, VOT-Conservatives, Civil Force, Experts for Regions Movement, DEOS (Movement for European Unification and Solidarity), Other Bulgaria, United Bulgaria and Federation of Active Civil Society. The other 12 were dissolved in 2018: Alternative Socialist Movement - Independent, Bulgarian Industrial Agrarian Party, Voice Civil Movement, Nikola Petkov Popular Agrarian Party, National Patriotic Union, New Europe, Worthy Bulgaria Movement, Fatherland Labour Party, Political Movement Together for Sliven, Northern League, Union Bulgaria and Chernomorets. The Audit Office will notify the prosecution magistracy that six of the parties which have not submitted financial statements have not done that for a second year in a row. Those are Bulgarian Agrarian Union, VOT-Conservatives, Civil Force, Other Bulgaria, United Bulgaria and Federation of Active Civil Society. According to the Political Parties Act, Sofia City Court decrees the dissolution of a party which fails to submit financial statements for two consecutive years and the decision is adopted upon a prosecutor's request. Two parties - Movement for Equal Social Model (DROM) and Union for Fatherland - submitted their financial statements after the deadline but complied with the Political Parties Act in terms of statement format, content and presentation. All parties that have not submitted statements, as well as those who have done so after the deadline will be fined between 5,000 and 10,000 leva. G/BR /??/
• (DF) Energy Minister Petkova: Russia Continues to Be Key Partner in Nuclear Energy
April 16 (BTA) - The excellent joint work between Bulgaria's Kozloduy N-plant and Russia's State Atomic Energy Corporation ROSATOM continues on implementing the programme for modernizing the N-plant's units 5 and 6, said here Bulgarian Energy Minister Temenouzhka Petkova during a meeting with ROSATOM's Director General Alexey Likhachev, as quoted by the Energy Ministry Tuesday. The meeting took place as part of the ATOMEXPO 2019 Nuclear for Better Life Forum, held in Sochi.
• (PE) Press Review
Sofia, April 16 (BTA)
• (DF) Bulgarian Prosecutor General Meets with EC's First Vice-President Timmermans
April 15 (BTA) - Bulgarian Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov held a working meeting with Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission (EC), here on Monday. The talks focused on the actions needed for the implementation of the recommendations the EC made in its January 2017 and November 2018 reports under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM), the Prosecutor General's press centre said.
• (DF) Socialist Leader Ninova Says She Won't Be Personally Responsible for Party's Performance in European Elections
April 15 (BTA) - Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) leader Kornelia Ninova said late on Sunday night that she will not be personally responsible for her party's performance in the May 26 Bulgarian elections to the European Parliament because the list of the party's election candidates approved by BSP's policy-making National Council is different from what she had proposed.
• (DF) Mexican Wins Men's Final at Modern Pentathlon World Cup Event in Sofia
April 14 (BTA) - Manuel Padilla of Mexico scored 1,452 points to win the Men's Final of the UIPM 2019 Pentathlon World Cup Sofia here on Sunday, reaping the first gold medal for his country in World Cup history.
• (DF) GERB Unveils Platform for European Elections
April 14 (BTA) - The GERB Party presented its platform for the May 26 European Parliament elections at a meeting at Sofia's National Palace of Culture on Sunday.
• (DF) Total of 1,669 Buildings Renovated under National Programme for Energy Efficiency
April 13 (BTA )- Since the launching of the National Programme for Energy Efficiency to date, a total of 1,669 residential tower blocks have been renovated, the Regional Development and Public Works Ministry said in a press release.
• (DF) Bulgarian Finance Minister Signs Agreement with World Bank on World Bank Centre for Shared Services and Other Functions in Sofia
April 13 (BTA) - Bulgarian Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov, who is in the United States to participate in meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in April 12-14, and Managing Director and World Bank Group Chief Administrative Officer Shaolin Yang signed an Agreement between the Government of Bulgaria and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (the World Bank) on rendering support for the establishment and functioning of a World Bank Centre for Shared Services and Other Functions in Sofia.
• (DF) Independent Candidate in May 26 European Parliament Elections Grigorova Presented by Nomination Committee
April 13 (BTA )- Independent candidate in the May 26 elections for Bulgarian representatives in the European Parliament (EP) Vanya Grigorova will strive to represent the Bulgarian workers in the EP, defend their rights and dignity. BTA's National Press Club hosted an event on Saturday of Grigorova's independent candidate nomination committee. Grigorova heads an association called Solidarity Bulgaria and is also an economic adviser to the Podkrepa Labour Confederation, one of the influential trade unions in Bulgaria.
• (DF) Socialists Accuse Government of Ignoring National Security by Pressing Ahead with Sofia Airport Concession Procedure
, April 12 (BTA) - The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) on Friday accused the government of ignoring national security concerns by opening the bids for a concession contract for Sofia Airport. BSP election campaign chief Georgi Svilenski noted during a news conference that the concession procedure for Sofia Airport was halted by the former caretaker government of prime minister Ognyan Gerdjikov (January-May 2017) for reasons of national security.
• (DF) President Radev Wraps Up Visit to Qatar
April 12 (BTA special correspondent Lora Metanova) - President Rumen Radev, who is on an official visit to Qatar, met with representatives of the Bulgarian community of about 400 people, mostly specialists in design and construction, air transport, tourism, sports, education, health care and research.
• (DF) Prime Minister Borissov in Dubrovnik: "EU-China Partnership Is Factor for Peace and Prosperity"
April 12 (BTA) - Addressing Friday's plenary session of the 8th Summit of Central and Eastern European Countries & China (CEEC-China), held in Dubrovnik, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said: "To all of us who belong to the big European family of member states and countries which are on the path to EU membership, it is particularly important to deepen the all-around strategic partnership between the EU and China as a factor for peace, prosperity and sustainable development." Borissov's speech was quoted in a press release of the Bulgarian government.
• (DF) Gabrovo Police Chief Resigns amid Anti-Roma Riots
April 12 (BTA) - The police chief in the central Bulgarian town of Gabrovo has resigned amid anti-Roma riots this week, the Interior Ministry press office said. The Interior Ministry is checking how local police have handled the ongoing riots and more administrative and organizational measures may be taken depending on the outcome of the check, the Ministry also said.
• (DF) Bulgaria's Population at 7,000,039 - Statistics
April 12 (BTA) - As of December 31, 2018, Bulgaria's population totalled 7,000,039 people, 1.4 per cent of the EU population, the National Statistical Institute (NSI) reported on Friday. Compared to 2017, this country's population decreased by 49,995 people.
• (DF) Air Pollution Cases Drop by 60% in Eight Years
Addressing the participants in the conference, Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova said that cities could be the driving force behind large-scale solutions on the national level, because cities are the first to see what works and what does not, what is accepted by the people and wh...
• (DF) President Radev Wraps Up Visit to Qatar
April 12 (BTA special correspondent Lora Metanova) - President Rumen Radev, who is on an official visit to Qatar, met with representatives of the Bulgarian community of about 400 people, mostly specialists in design and construction, air transport, tourism, sports, education, health care and research. Radev told the Bulgarians: "It is not just the heads of diplomatic missions that are our ambassadors to Qatar, all of you - engineers, builders, musicians and doctors - are our ambassadors." He noted that their remarkable professional and personal reputation had prompted Qatar to view investment opportunities in Bulgaria very favourably. Before his departure, Radev visited the Al Zaeem Mohamed Bin Abdullah Al Attiyah Air College at Al Udeid Air Base. *** Bulgarian hi-tech companies can apply for Qatari financing to expand their operations and enter the global market, it emerged from a meeting between Bulgarian Deputy Economy Minister Alexander Manolev and Qatari Minister of Commerce and Industry Ali bin Ahmed Al Kuwari and the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Qatari Free Zones Authority, Ahmad bin Mohammed Al-Sayed, the Economy Ministry said on Friday. It was agreed to provide further information and detailed criteria for applicants. Manolev talked about Bulgaria's advantages as an investment destination: an attractive tax system, high-skill labour force, incentives and access to the Single European Market, among others. Manolev leads representatives of 30 Bulgarian companies as part of President Rumen Radev's official visit to Lebanon and Qatar.
• (DF) PM Borissov in Brussels: "Brexit Delay Is Sufficiently Long"
April 11 (BTA correspondent Nikolay Jeliazkov) - Emerging from an extraordinary European Council meeting here on Thursday, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov commented to journalists that he was satisfied with the EU leaders' decision to delay Brexit until October 31, 2019. "The delay is sufficiently long and neither side wants the divorce to be through its fault," he added.
• (DF) BTA Hosts International Conference "NATO@70: 10 Years Ahead and 15 Years Bulgaria in NATO"
April 11 (BTA) - The Bulgarian News Agency (BTA) is playing host on Thursday to an international conference "NATO@70: 10 Years Ahead and 15 Years Bulgaria in NATO" dedicated to the 70th Anniversary of NATO and the 15th Anniversary of the accession of Bulgaria to the Alliance.
• (DF) Joint Expert Commission between Bulgaria and North Macedonia Meets in Sofia
April 10 (BTA) - Bulgarian Deputy Foreign Minister Georg Georgiev opened the fifth Session of the Joint Multidisciplinary Commission on Historical and Educational Issues between Bulgaria and North Macedonia in Sofia, Georgiev's Ministry said in a press release on Wednesday.
• (DF) Bulgarian President Radev Wraps Up Visit to Lebanon, Heads to Qatar
April 10 (BTA spec. corr. Lora Metanova) - The official two-day visit of Bulgarian President Rumen Radev to Lebanon at the invitation of Lebanese President Michel Aoun ends on Wednesday. On Tuesday at a one-to-one session, the two heads of State met to discuss a number of questions and shared the conviction that Bulgaria and Lebanon have a great potential for cooperation. Also on Tuesday Radev conferred with Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Berri said the two dwelled on Lebanon's economic situation, the issue of refugee returns and the country's maritime borders, the National News Agency of Lebanon reported. Radev also conferred with the President of the Council of Ministers of Lebanon, Saad Hariri. On the agenda of the meeting were the developments in Lebanon and in the region and the bilateral relations. In Beirut Radev also met with Bulgarians living in Lebanon, and with Lebanese nationals who studied in Bulgaria. Radev will be on an official visit to Qatar on April 10 to 12, at the invitation of the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. RY/ZH
• (DF) Bulgarian President Radev Opens Visit to Lebanon
April 9 (BTA special correspondent Lora Metanova) - Bulgarian President Rumen Radev arrived here on Tuesday on an official two-day visit at the invitation of Lebanese President Michel Aoun. The guest and his wife Desislava Radeva were welcomed by a formal ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Beirut. At a one-to-one session, the two heads of State shared the conviction that Bulgaria and Lebanon have a great potential for cooperation. "Bulgaria can serve as Lebanon's gateway to the EU, just as Lebanon can be Bulgaria's gateway to the Middle East region," Radev said at a joint news conference with his host. "We should not rely on trade alone, but also on reciprocal investments and joint production," the Bulgarian President pointed out. He noted that the Lebanese investments in Bulgaria have proved effective. "Bulgaria can be very useful in a number of infrastructure projects that will be implemented in Lebanon shortly: in construction, hydraulic engineering and the power industry," Radev added. The sides also considered the possibility of launching a direct air service between the two countries. "We will continue to work for closer transport connectivity," the Bulgarian head of State said. He will shortly invite the Lebanese Ambassador in Sofia and executives of Bulgarian air carriers to a discussion of the options for starting such an operation. Direct air services link Lebanon with Greece, Serbia and Romania. "Bulgaria stands to lose from the absence of a direct air link, and many tourists go to these neighbouring countries," he argued. The refugee crisis was also on the agenda of Tuesday's talks. "Lebanon is the country with the world's largest per capita number of refugees, which puts the social system and the healthcare system under enormous strain," Radev pointed out. He stressed that in the EU Bulgaria is actively contributing to the provision of appropriate financial assistance and support to Lebanon. "Bulgaria insists that Europe assume a deeper commitment to the problems in the regions, to the problems of the refugees' countries of origin and transit countries," the guest observed. President Aoun said that the two had discussed the issue of the Syrian refugees and he had familiarized the Bulgarian President with the difficulties that Lebanon is experiencing with the presence of such a large number of refugees, which compounds the chronic problem with the Palestinian refugees. "The amelioration of the fate of Syrian refugees and of the countries which shelter them is a common responsibility of the world," the Lebanese head of State argued. IG/LG
• (DF) Foreign Minister Argues in Favour of Eurozone Membership
April 9 (BTA) - Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva said on Tuesday that Bulgaria has chosen the path of quick fulfillment of the Eurozone membership criteria and prompt accession to the area. She said the government's plans in this field are being implemented at the expected pace and there should be an answer at the end of July about the country's possible accession to Exchange Rate Mechanism II, the "waiting room" for Eurozone membership.
• (DF) Situation on Borders with Greece, Turkey Calm, Tightly Controlled by Defence, Interior Ministries
April 8 (BTA) - The situation on Bulgaria's border with Greece and Turkey is calm and under tight control by the Ministries of Defence and Interior, Deputy Prime Minister Krassimir Karakachanov told journalists here at the Council of Ministers on Monday. In the morning, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov conferred with Karakachanov, the Chief of Defence, General Andrey Botsev, Interior Minister Mladen Marinov and the Interior Ministry's Chief Secretary Ivaylo Ivanov, who briefed Borissov on the situation at the border in the context of growing concerns over an increased migrant pressure towards Bulgaria. "The border with Turkey is well protected, the agreements are working, but the border with Greece is problematic," the Prime Minister said, quoted by the Government Information Service. At the end of last week, prompted by misinformation on social media, migrants from across Greece converged on a refugee camp near the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki believing that they would be allowed to cross into North Macedonia and reach Western Europe. On Sunday, the Greek authorities transported the migrants to other centres across Greece. Marinov explained that the situation along the border is monitored with thermal imaging cameras and night vision devices. Contacts are established and maintained with the partner special services in the neighbouring countries. Border Police patrols have been beefed up, while gendarmerie units are on standby near the border, the Interior Minister said. Karakachanov added that the Armed Forces could deploy 1,200 to 3,000 servicepersons and transport equipment to Bulgaria's southern border within 24 hours to help the police units there. The Defence Minister assumes that the situation on the border could deteriorate due to the upcoming European Parliament elections in May. "There are parties, not necessarily European ones, that want to destabilize Europe with migrant pressure," Karakachanov said, replying to a journalist's question. Marinov said that the border regions will be thoroughly reconnoitered on Tuesday. RY/MY
• (DF) GERB's European Election Campaign Slogan Is "Europe Hears Us"
April 7 (BTA) - The European election campaign slogan of Bulgaria's ruling GERB party is "Europe Hears Us." The news was unveiled by Sofia Municipal Council Chair Elen Gerdjikov during a press conference at GERB headquarters in Sofia Sunday.
• (DF) Eurostat: 7 out of 10 Bulgarians Believe to Be in Good Health
April 6 (BTA) - Around 72 per cent, or roughly seven out of ten Bulgarians aged 16 or over, rated their health status as good or very good, show data from a Eurostat analysis on Europeans' health status in 2017, released on the occasion of the upcoming World Health Day (marked on April 7). Bulgarians' self-assessed health status ranks close to the average in the EU, which is also 70 per cent.
• (DF) Parties Register for European Elections at Central Election Commission
April 5 (BTA) - The Central Election Commission opened the registration of parties for the May 26 European Parliament (EP) elections on Friday.
• (DF) Socialists Submit Petition for Removal of Counter-Corruption Commission Chair Georgiev
April 5 (BTA) - The BSP for Bulgaria parliamentary group has submitted a petition for the removal from office of Counter-Corruption and Unlawfully Acquired Assets Forfeiture Commission Chair Plamen Georgiev and his deputy over a scandal with their property, the Bulgarian Socialist Party's press office said Friday.
• (DF) German President Steinmeier Pays Official Visit to Bulgaria
April 4 (BTA) - Bulgarian President Rumen Radev Thursday met with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is making an official two-day visit to Bulgaria.
• (DF) Danail Kirilov Nominated for Justice Minister
April 4 (BTA) - The National Assembly's Legal Affairs Committee Chair Danail Kirilov will be proposed for the post of Minister of Justice, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said at GERB party headquarters on Thursday. The news comes 12 days after Justice Minister Tsetska Tsacheva resigned amid a controversy over an apartment she purchased at below-market prices. Kirilov said this is a very serious challenge for him. He added: "I take it as a sign of high trust and a very serious duty, considering that the work on the monitoring mechanism [with the European Commission] should be completed successfully within a few months. This is a difficult ministry to handle, and there are many legal issues which need to be solved." The first task assigned to Kirilov by Prime Minister Borissov is related to a European Commission recommendation to include municipal councillors in the scope of the counter-corruption law. Borissov insisted that the recommendation should be fulfilled, so that Bulgaria can fully meet the benchmarks of the monitoring mechanism (formally: Cooperation and Verification Mechanism). Yulian Angelov, Secretary of the United Patriots parliamentary group (part of the ruling majority), said: "I think Danail Kirilov will make a good minister." National Assembly Deputy Chair Yavor Notev confirmed that the United Patriots will back Kirilov for the job. "We already regard Mr Kirilov as Minister of Justice," Notev said. Volya party leader Vesselin Mareshki said his party's parliamentary group will probably support Kirilov's nomination. RY/VE
• (DF) Property Acquisition Checks Launched against Senior Judiciary and Investigation Officials
April 4 (BTA) - The Supreme Cassation Prosecution Office is probing property acquisitions by Counter-Corruption and Unlawfully Acquired Assets Forfeiture Commission Chair Plamen Georgiev, the son of National Investigation Service Director Borislav Sarafov and the wife of Supreme Cassation Court President Lozan Panov. The investigation has been ordered by Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov in accordance with the Judicial System Act, following media reports, the prosecution service said on Thursday. Reacting to the news, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said at GERB party headquarters: "We in GERB have set a standard, and whenever there are such scandals - whether they involve an MP, a parliamentary group floor leader, a justice minister or a deputy sports minister - resignations follow." Borissov went on to say: "I would recommend the same to those who are implicated in these scandals now, but there are judiciary members among them who do not like being lumped together [with politicians] or are quite sensitive. However, the same standard should be applied to all. They could take a long leave from work while the probes are being conducted by institutions independent from them." RY/VE
• (DF) President Convenes Consultative Council on National Security Over High-level Corruption
April 3 (BTA) - President Rumen Radev convenes the Consultative Council on National Security to discuss the results from countering high-level corruption and the need for measures, Radev's Press Secretariat reported Wednesday. The meeting will take place on Monday, April 8, at 1:00 pm at the Presidency building. IG/MY
• (DF) Bulgarian Family of Four Dies in Plane Crash in North Macedonia
April 3 (BTA) - A small Cessna aircraft travelling from Ohrid to Sofia crashed in the Republic of North Macedonia on Tuesday, killing a Bulgarian family of four. Interior Minister Mladen Marinov said here on Wednesday that the Macedonian search and rescue teams have reached the crash site, where four bodies were found. The information that all four passengers were killed has been confirmed, he explained.
• (DF) Italian-Saudi Consortium Selected as Contractor for Building TurkStream Gas Pipeline in Bulgaria
April 3 (BTA) - The Italian-Saudi Consortium Arkad was announced as the winner of the public procurement procedure for the construction contractor for the gas pipeline from the Turkish to the Serbian border in Bulgaria, which may become partof the so-called TurkStream, Bulgartransgas, which held the procedure, said on Wednesday.
• (DF) Armenian Ambassador Sargsyan Awards Special Certificate to Bulgaria's Culture Committee Chair
April 2 (BTA) - Armenian Ambassador Armen Sargsyan awarded Bulgarian Culture and Media Committee Chair Vezhdi Rashidov a special certificate in recognition of his invaluable support to the citizens of the Armenian town of Spitak after a devastating earthquake 30 years ago.
• (DF) Integrity Checks to Be Extended to all Inspecting Institutions, MP Proposes
April 2 (BTA) - Integrity checks should be extended to all institutions and government entities which perform inspecting and control functions. The proposal came from Boris Yachev MP, Chairman of the parliamentary Committee on Anti-Corruption, Conflict of Interests and Parliamentary Ethics, who spoke at a conference on "Ethics in Public Administration: Standards, Instruments and Good Practices," organized here on Tuesday by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the Bulgarian Institute for Legal Initiatives. Yachev said that part of the MPs are inclined to initiate legislation regulating the notions of "ethics in public administration" and "standards of behaviour for civil servants". Commission for Counter-Corruption and Unlawfully Acquired Assets Forfeiture Chairman Plamen Georgiev said at the opening of the conference that his Commission is drafting ethical rules of conduct for the administration. He added that there are no written rules in Bulgaria on accepting and declaring gifts to specify what is permissible and what is not. He cited, as an example, an explanation that "a gift that you can eat within 45 minutes is permissible". Thorsten Geissler, Head of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation Field Office Bulgaria, stressed the importance of adopting a code of ethics for the state administration to help in the prevention of corruption. The code should direct civil servants to patterns of behaviour and actions. RY/LG
• (DF) Prosecution Finds 157 Statutory Instruments of Municipalities in Violation of Laws on Green Areas
April 1 (BTA) - The Supreme Administrative Prosecution Office has found many municipalities in legal violation when it comes to green areas, the prosecuting magistracy said Monday. Violations introducing regimes different than those set in the law, have been found in 157 statutory instruments. There are cases where local authorities have allowed the placement of coffee shops, confectionaries and other sites in public parks and gardens in violation of the Spacial Development Act. Violations have also been established in the size of movable sites allowed in green areas. Some statutory instruments allow changes in the purpose of existing green areas in violation of the law. The Supreme Administrative Prosecution Office has also found statutory instruments that introduce sanctions in violation of the Road Traffic Act for parking motor vehicles in parks and gardens, the Waste Management Act for littering in green areas, and the Veterinary Medicine Activity Act.
• (DF) Registration of Parties, Coalitions for May 26 European Parliament Elections Starts on April 5
April 1 (BTA) - The registration of parties and coalitions taking part in the May 26 elections for Bulgarian members of the European Parliament starts at 9 a.m. on April 5, the Central Election Commission (CEC) said. A decision is to be made on the registration of nomination committees.
• (DF) Mariya Gabriel is GERB, UDF's Top Candidate for European Parliament Elections
March 31 (BTA) - Digital Economy and Society European Commissioner Mariya Gabriel will be the top candidate of GERB and the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) for the upcoming European Parliament elections. The two parties presented their candidates here on Sunday. The other leading candidates are current GERB/EPP MEPs Andrey Kovachev, Andrey Novakov, Eva Maydell, and Assim Ademov, followerd by UDF candidate Alexander Yordanov, Minister for the Bulgarian Presidency of the EU Council Liliana Pavlova, MEP Emil Radev, and MP Ivelina Vassileva. The presentation was attended by Prime Minister and GERB leader Boyko Borissov, UDF leader Roumen Hristov, and Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova, among other ministers, MPs and GERB members. Commenting on the scandal involving government and Parliament members, who purchased underpriced luxury apartments in Sofia, Borissov said the party was badly hit and it depends on that whether they treat it as a lesson learned. He forbade GERB candidates to enter into disagreements and hate speech. "I want us to step out as strong and united with a clear understanding that it is our responsibility not to allow in the retrograde powers," he said. "The EP elections always ran with the slogan that Brussels is far from Bulgaria and that we elect highly-paid officials," Borissov noted, adding that the Mobility Package saga did not end in favour of Bulgaria, despite months of work, only because two Bulgarian MEPs could not attend the meeting and lost their votes. He also commented that the election campaigns of other right parties will be against the GERB-UDF coalition, rather than against the Socialists. Borissov refused to comment on his leftist opponents. "I am optimistic for Bulgaria, because I know the nationalist movements and their leaders; they are more like populists - they talk a lot, but when the time for European funds and payments comes, they all want to remain in Europe," Borissov noted. He also said he expects Bulgaria has yet to "pick the bitter fruit" from Brexit. RY/TH /TH/
• (DF) Turkey Would not Apologize for FM’s Statement that Angered Bulgaria
March 30 (BTA special correspondent Antoan Nikolov) – Turkey would not apologize to Bulgaria for a statement by Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu that his country had interfered into Bulgaria's internal affairs regarding the Religious Denominations Act. This transpired after a meeting of Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov with Turkish Vice President Fuat Octay in Romania, details of which were made public by Borissov. The two talked for over five hours on the sidelines of a quadrilateral summit of Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and Serbia, where Octay was also invited. According to media reports, Cavusoglu told a local election campaign rally in Corlu on March 27 that Ankara had been compelled to interfere because Bulgaria was preparing to restrict the rights of the denominations, and after that Bulgaria had to revise the Religious Denominations Act, so that the Muslim denomination would not be forced to sell out its property in order to pay its debts. The statement caused strong reaction in Bulgaria and assurances that Bulgarian officials have never given in to external influences. Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva called the statement “extremely unacceptable” and summoned the Turkish Ambassador for an explanation. After his meeting with the Turkish Vice President, Borissov said that he would not accept anything other an apology from Octay. The Turkish official, however, told him that his country does not believe Cavusoglu’s statement hurt Bulgaria in any way and that it was taken out of context. Borissov said: “Nobody has exercised any influence on us with regard to the Religious Denominations Act. That [revision] was our own decision because we believe that the State should be financing all religious denominations. And that is what we did.” He said that Turkey does not see any pressure being exercised on Bulgaria through Cavusoglu’s statement and that he spent five hours discussing with the Turkish side what is “pressure” and what is “situation”. Borissov also said that Bulgaria has never engaged in anti-Turkey campaigns because goodneighbourly relations are important for it. “I understand that they have elections in Turkey but I don’t want to see anything done at Bulgaria’s expense,” said the Bulgarian Prime Minister. He argued that Bulgarian Muslims need no external protection because they enjoy the same rights and freedoms as everybody else. “This is what I was trying to tell [the Turkish Vice President] but, unfortunately, we failed to come to understanding,” Borissov said in conclusion. LN/
• (DF) Bulgaria, Romania to Conduct Joint Feasibility Study for Third Bridge in Shared Danube Section
March 29 (BTA Special Correspondent Antoan Nikolov) -Bulgaria and Romania have undertaken to conduct feasibility studies for the location of a future third bridge across their shared section of the River Danube, Prime Ministers Boyko Borissov and Viorica Dancila told a news briefing at the Victoria Palace in Bucharest on Friday.
• (DF) Bulgarian, Lebanese Foreign Ministers Discuss Setting Up of Intergovernmental Commission
March 29 (BTA) - Bulgaria's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva and Lebanon's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants Gebran Bassil Friday discussed the setting up of a joint commission of the two governments.
• (DF) Nationalists Demand Hearing of Foreign Minister to Clarify Home Affairs Intervention Attempt
March 29 (BTA) - On Thursday, the press centre of the VMRO party from the power-sharing United Patriots coalition said the party will demand a Parliament hearing of Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva to clarify whether there was any diplomatic attempt to intervene in Bulgaria's home affairs from Ankara regarding the Religious Denominations Act. The VMRO wants it clarified whether a Bulgarian government representative committed to legislative changes favouring Turkish foreign affairs. "If there were no official annotations, then we must ask: is Cavusoglu's statement fake news or was it a way of lifting the curtain on the shadiness on the axis Erdogan - Movement for Rights and Freedoms - Democrats for Responsibility, Freedom and Tolerance (DRFT)," the VMRO press release said. The party declared that they want guarantees that Bulgarian politics is protected from foreign interferences. The reaction comes as a response to a statement made by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Thursday. He commented on the Religious Denominations Act adopted Thursday, noting that the initial bill "was against all freedoms and rights, it violated rights. The mufti there [in Bulgaria] have some debts, they wanted to sell buildings of the Grand Mufti Office in exchange for those debts; I made contact again and now [the Bulgarian authorities] are trying to find a solution; they must find a solution". The revisions to the act allowed for denominations to defer the payment of the their obligations to the Exchequer for a period of up to ten years. On Friday, Volen Siderov, United Patriots floor leader and Ataka leader was asked whether there is Turkish interference regarding the Religious Denominations Act, to which he agreed and said it had become obvious. Valeri Simeonov, leader of the National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria (NFSB), commented that Turkey is always interfering in Bulgaria's affairs. "These are recurring provocations, and Turkey is continuously drilling into the vigour of Bulgaria's survival instinct," Simeonov said. He noted that the passed revisions were a case of treason that allowed all denominations to be financed by other countries. The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) called Friday an extraordinary meeting of the party's Executive Bureau to discuss the issue. At a press conference following the session, BSP leader Kornelia Ninova said the party wants the Prosecutor General to start an investigation into whether another country interfered in Bulgaria's home affairs, and who were the "vehicles" of this intervention. The BSP turned to President Rumen Radev with a request to veto the Religious Denominations Act and to call a meeting of the Consultative Council on National Security (CCNS). "The Council's decision, which we all agreed with, was to find a way to stop the financing of denominations in Bulgaria by other countries, and the passed revisions only deferred the Grand Mufti Office's debts and kept the foreign financing," Ninova noted. According to her, the DRFT's request to announce a Turkish minority in Bulgaria, Cavusoglu's statements, and Prime Minister Borissov's silence are all a threat to national security and ethnic peace in Bulgaria. RY/TH
• (DF) Parliament Enables Religious Denominations to Defer Payment of Debts to Exchequer for up to Ten Years
March 28 (BTA) - On Thursday, Bulgaria's Parliament passed conclusively revisions to the Religious Denominations Act allowing the denominations to defer the payment of the their obligations to the Exchequer for a period of up to ten years. At the request of religious denominations, the law allows deferral of public dues pursuant to the Tax and Social-Insurance Procedure Code unpaid by December 31, 2018, as well as the interest accrued by the date of issuance of the permission. Interest equal to the base interest rate will be due for the period of deferral. The request for deferral is to be submitted within three months after the amendments to the law become effective. The MPs defeated a motion of the United Patriots, according to which religious denominations in Bulgaria receiving a state subsidy would not be entitled to receive donations from foreign countries or foreigners. "When a denomination receives a subsidy from the State, then it is not right for that denomination to benefit from subsidies of foreign organizations," United Patriots MP Valeri Simeonov stressed. The motion was rejected after the sitting was suspended before consultations between the parliamentary groups with National Assembly Chair Tsveta Karayancheva. Tsvetan Tsvetanov of GERB explained that the Bulgarian Orthodox Church leadership had declared at a meeting that the Church does not agree to limiting the extra funds they receive as donations. IG/BR /??/
• (DF) Prime Minister Borissov: We Expect to be Invited to Euro Area Waiting Room in July
March 28 (BTA) - At a Bulgarian-German economy forum here Thursday, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said he expects Bulgaria to be invited to the euro area "waiting room" in July. He noted the country has to fulfil three more requirements, but that the infrastructure is being developed and that Bulgaria has a good investment environment.
• (DF) Daniela Daritkova Becomes GERB Floor Leader after Resignation of Predecessor Tsvetanov
March 28 (BTA) - Daniela Daritkova becomes the floor leader of the GERB ruling party after Tsvetan Tsvetanov resigned from the post and quit Parliament on Wednesday amid a scandal over purchase of allegedly underpriced property. Daritkova's appointment was announced by Prime Minister and GERB leader Boyko Borissov after a meeting with representatives of the right-wing Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) on Thursday morning concerning the shared ticket between the two formations for the May 26 European Parliament elections.
• (DF) GERB Floor Leader Tsvetan Tsvetanov Quits Parliament
March 27 (BTA) - Tsvetan Tsvetanov Wednesday resigned as GERB Floor Leader and quit Parliament. He told a briefing in Parliament that he would keep his position as GERB Deputy Chairman and head of the party's election campaign headquarters. Tsvetanov also said there was nothing he was ashamed of.
• (DF) Deputy Economy Minister Manolev: Bulgaria-Egypt Trade Hit Record High of USD 1 Bln in 2017
March 27 (BTA) - Trade between Bulgaria and Egypt hit a record high of over one billion US dollars in 2017, with a surplus for Bulgaria of nearly 630 million dollars, it emerged from a meeting between Bulgarian Deputy Economy Minister Alexander Manolev and Egypt' Investment and International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr, the Economy Ministry said on Wednesday.
• (DF) President Radev: Bulgaria, Egypt Are on Either Side of Troubled Region, Joint Efforts Can Make It Stable
March 26 (BTA Special Correspondent Assen Boyadzhiev) Bulgarian President Rumen Radev and his wife Dessislava Radeva Tuesday were welcomed with an official ceremony at the Al Ittihadia Palace by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and his wife Entesar al-Sisi. The two heads of state had a one-on-one meeting, followed by plenary talks between the two delegations.
• (DF) Vice President Iotova Comments Mobility Package, Bulgarian Development
March 26 (BTA) - There is a chance to ask for the Mobility Package to be dropped from the agenda of the MEP debate on Wednesday, Vice President Iliana Iotova told journalists before a "Bulgaria 2019 - New horizons: doubts, hopes, perspectives" discussion here Tuesday.
• (DF) Conference on Bulgarian Persons and Memorial Sites in Moldova Opens in Chisinau
March 26 (BTA cor. Irina Bogoeva) - A conference on renowned Bulgarian persons and memorial sites in Moldova took place Tuesday in the Bulgarian library in Chisinau. The event was organized by the Society for Bulgarian Studies (SBS) in Moldova and by the Bulgarian association "Vuzrazhdane", the SBS press centre said.
• (DF) Tsvetan Tsvetanov's Meetings in Washington
March 26 (BTA) - On Day Two of the 2019 American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, Chairman of the Bulgarian National Assembly Internal Security and Public Order Committee and GERB Floor Leader, met with Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancila. Tsvetanov conveyed greetings from Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and congratulated Romania on its successful EU Council Presidency, said GERB's press office.
• (DF) Deputy Energy Minister Krassimir Purvanov Resigns over Apartment Controversy
March 26 (BTA) - Deputy Energy Minister Krassimir Purvanov has tendered his resignation on Tuesday, the Energy Ministry said. He was one of the ministers and deputy ministers of Boyko Borissov's government who bought apartments at below-market prices.
• (DF) "NATO Membership: A Key to EU" Conference Marks Alliance's 70th Anniversary
March 25 (BTA) - A conference on "NATO Membership: A Key to EU" took place in Sofia on Monday. The forum was organized by the Atlantic Council of Bulgaria to mark the Alliance's 70th anniversary and the 15th anniversary of Bulgaria's accession to NATO.
• (DF) Vice President Iotova Meets with Representatives of China's National Supervisory Commission
March 25 (BTA) - Vice President Iliana Iotova Monday met here with representatives of China's National Supervisory Commission, the main function of which is to fight corruption, the President's Press Secretariat reported.
• (DF) President Radev Opens Visit to Egypt
March 25 (BTA special correspondent Assen Boyadzhiev) - President Rumen Radev and a business delegation led by him arrived Monday on an official visit to Egypt. During the visit, which continues until March 27, Radev will meet with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, and Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel Aal Sayyed Ahmed.
• (DF) Parliamentary Internal Security and Public Order Committee Chairman Tsvetanov Attends AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, D.C.
March 25 (BTA) - Bulgarian National Assembly Internal Security and Public Order Committee Chairman and GERB Floor Leader Tsvetan Tsvetanov is participating in the 2019 American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., the GERB Party said in a press release on Monday.
• (DF) Bulgarian PM Borissov Confers with Turkey's General Prosecutor Akarca
March 25 (BTA) - Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov conferred here with the General Prosecutor of Turkey's Supreme Court of Appeal Mehmet Akarca, who is visiting Sofia at the invitation of Bulgarian Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov, the Government Information Service said on Monday.

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