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• (DF) EU's First Diplomats Discuss Syria, Eastern Mediterranean, Ukraine
October 14 (BTA) - Syria, the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and Ukraine topped the agenda of Monday's Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Luxembourg. The Bulgarian delegation was led by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva, her Ministry said. The EU's chief diplomats voiced concern over Turkey's continuing drilling activities in Cyprus' exclusive economic zone and affirmed the need of strict abidance by international maritime law and of respect for the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus. The foreign ministers and the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Syria, Geir Pedersen, discussed the situation in North East Syria. Being the representative of a country with an over 300 km long border with Turkey, Zaharieva stressed the importance of keeping the communication channels with Ankara open. Bulgaria believes it is of key importance to continue implementing the EU-Turkey agreement. RY/DD //
• (NW) September Inflation at 0.3% - Statistics
October 14 (BTA) - The monthly inflation in September was 0.3 per cent, the National Statistical Institute reported here on Monday. The inflation rate since the beginning of the year (September 2019 compared to December 2018) was 1.7 per cent and the annual inflation in September 2019 compared to September 2018 was 2.3 per cent. The annual average inflation in the period from October 2018 to September 2019 compared to the previous 12 months (October 2017- September 2018) was 3.1 per cent. DT/ZH /??/
• (DF) September Inflation at 0.3% - Statistics
October 14 (BTA) - The monthly inflation in September was 0.3 per cent, the National Statistical Institute reported here on Monday. The inflation rate since the beginning of the year (September 2019 compared to December 2018) was 1.7 per cent and the annual inflation in September 2019 compared to September 2018 was 2.3 per cent. The annual average inflation in the period from October 2018 to September 2019 compared to the previous 12 months (October 2017- September 2018) was 3.1 per cent. DT/ZH /??/
• (DF) Vice President Iotova Discusses Bilateral Ties With New French Ambassador in Sofia
Sofia, October 14 (BTA) - At a meeting here on Monday, Vice President Iliana Iotova and new French Ambassador to Bulgaria Florence Robine discussed the bilateral ties between their countries and the challenges facing the European Union. Ambassador Robine said that when French President Emmanuel Macron sent her to Bulgaria, he stressed the excellent relations between the two countries.
• (DF) 2,000 Children at Risk Removed from Home Since January 2019, None Sent to Norway
October 14 (BTA) - Just over 3,000 children were removed into care in 2018 including 1,058 who were abandoned, the head of the Child Protection Department of the Social Assistance Agency, Emil Georgiev, told the Bulgarian National Radio on Sunday. The like number is slightly over 2,000 for the period between January and August 2019. None of these children was sent to Norway, he said responding to rumours about children being removed into care to be sent to foster parents in Norway.
• (PE) Press - Review
Sofia, October 14 (BTA)
• (DF) Kenya's Hosea Tuei, Ethiopia's Hayelom Shegae Win Sofia Marathon
October 13 (BTA) - Kenya's Hosea Tuei won Sofia's 36th Marathon on Sunday, clocking in at 2:15:59. Morocco's Youssef Sbaai had the same gun time as Tuei but ranked second with a slower chip time. Ethiopia's Alemayehu Lema was third with 2:16:58. Ethiopia's Hayelom Shegae finished first among the women clocking in at 2:35:36. Kenya's Betty Chepkwony and Hildah Cheboi were second and third. Tuei and Shegae won 8,000 leva each. Tuei also took a bonus of 20,000 leva after winning all three marathons of the Running as a Way of Life series, including those in Stara Zagora on March 31 and Varna on May 12. Bulgaria's Lilyana Georgieva (00:41:00) and North Macedonia's Dario Ivanovski (00:32:58) won the 10-km traditional Sofia Marathon. Bulgaria's Yolo Nikolov is the half-marathon winner with 1:07:40 among the men. North Macedonia's Adriana Pop Arsova (1:23:11) finished first among the women. More than 5,000 runners from 52 countries entered for the Mass Start, 10 km, Half-Marathon (21.1 km) and the classic distance (42.195 km). More than 550 started in the classic marathon alone. LN/DD
• (DF) World-Famous Bulgarian Jazz Musician Milcho Leviev Dies at 81
Sofia, October 13 (BTA) - World-famous Bulgarian jazz musician Milcho Leviev has died at the age of 81 in Thessaloniki, Greece, the Bulgarian National Radio reported Sunday. Born in 1937 in the southern Bulgarian city of Plovdiv, Leviev graduated from the State Music Conservatory in Sofia where the renowned composers Pancho Vladigerov and Andrei Stoyanov were his professors. He started his career as musical director and composer-in-residence at the State Drama Theatre in Plovdiv, moving later to Sofia where he was conductor of the Big Band of the Bulgarian National Radio between 1962 and 1966. In 1965, he set up the Jazz Focus'65 band which toured the country and abroad until 1970 with great success. One of his best-known pieces from that time was an arrangement of Paul McCartney's Yesterday. In 1970 Leviev left for Los Angeles on the invitation of Duke Ellis, and stayed there until 1977. In the early 1980s, he returned briefly to Bulgaria for a series of concerts. He toured extensively Europe and the United States. Leviev also had an extensive teaching career. He was lecturer at the Jazz Studies Faculty at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles from 1988 to 1998; taught at the GROVE School of Music, Los Angeles, from 1974 to 1992; at the State Music School in Plovdiv (1960-1962); and led a master class at New Bulgarian University. He was author of the arrangement of Blue Rondo a la Turk (Dave Brubeck) recorded by Al Jarreau for his Grammy 1982 winning album Breakin' Away. He was holder of a Grammy nomination for the Best Vocal Arrangement of Charlie Parker's, Confirmation, recorded by Manhattan Transfer for the album Mecca for Moderns, 1981. He spent the final years of his life in Thessaloniki with his wife and singer Vicky Almazidu. LN/
• (DF) Bulgaria, Jordan Want to Deepen Economic Ties
October 13 (BTA special correspondent Antoan Nikolov) - After meeting with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov here on Sunday, Jordan's Prime Minister Omar Razzaz said his country wants to deepen its economic ties and relations with Bulgaria. Razzaz said Bulgaria's high-tech production and agriculture, among other areas, set an example in Europe. He talked about his country's ambition to increase trade and achieve connectivity between the two economies. He added that there are opportunities and prospects for cooperation in the pharmaceutical industry and tourism. Efforts will be directed towards expanding two-way trade. For his part, Borissov said cooperation can also develop in education, innovation and digital infrastructure. He said he had pledged that Bulgarian businesses would be encouraged to regain their position as main phosphate suppliers. Borissov said that Jordan, like Bulgaria, conducts a balanced foreign policy, which accounts for the two foreign ministries' identical or similar positions on all key matters. The Bulgarian Prime Minister said there were more than 1.2 million migrants in Jordan and he would raise this issue at the European Council in Brussels next week. "We must help Jordan in this extremely strenuous situation," he commented. LN/DD
• (PE) Press - Review
Sofia, October 13 (BTA)
• (DF) PM Borissov Will Press Brussels to Stop "Incessant Invectives" against Turkey
October 12 (BTA) - "I will insist that the colleagues in Brussels stop these incessant invectives, because Brussels is far away but the Turkish border is here, and there are nearly four million refugees there [in Turkey]," Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said here on Saturday. "Neither camps nor fences or any measures whatsoever can stop them if they start coming by the hundreds of thousands." The PM was apparently referring to a tweet by European Council President Donald Tusk: "We will never accept that refugees are weaponised and used to blackmail us," responding to a threat by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to open his country's border and let 3.6 million migrants flood the EU if the bloc labels 'occupation' Turkey's military operation in Northern Syria. "As of today's date, I can categorically confirm that we have a clear understanding with President Erdogan on the basis of the agreement [with the EU], on the basis of good-neighbourliness, and the Turkish authorities quite strictly and properly observe the agreement with regard to Bulgaria," Borissov said. In his opinion, the solution to the situation lies in diplomacy, pressure, cessation of hostilities and handling of developments in Syria. LG
• (PE) Press - Review
Sofia, October 12 (BTA)
• (DF) Environment Ministry Denies Reports of Talks on Import of Waste from Italy
October 11 (BTA) - The Bulgarian Environment Ministry Friday denied reports that this country is holding talks on possible import of waste from Rome or other Italian cities trying to handle a waste disposal crisis. The Ministry said in a press release that neither the government nor itself are holding such talks. The denial comes a day after Nova TV reported that Rome will be sending its waste to Bulgaria as it has used up its capacity for waste disposal. Close to 800 t of waste remain unhandled and is being exported to other countries to take care of them. If a deal is concluded with Bulgaria, it will be taking Rome's waste for a year beginning at the start of 2020. The Bulgarian Environment Ministry said Friday that in a bid to encourage the use of refuse-derived fuel from locally generated waste and to prevent excessive import, the waste management legislation restricts the import to Bulgaria of waste for burning.
• (DF) Borissov: "Many Times, when Europe Has Resented Erdogan, I Was the Only One to Go There"
October 11 (BTA) - "Our relations with Turkey are good-neighbourly. Many times, when Europe has strongly opposed Erdogan, I was the only one to go there," Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said here on Friday, asked by journalists what Bulgaria is doing and whether it is concerned about the Turkish President's threat to open his country's border and let 3.6 million migrants cross into the EU. "One person crossed [into Bulgaria] from Turkey yesterday, they [the Turks] took him back, and today [the migrant pressure is] zero. Thus, so long as Karakachanov and I are in charge, there is nothing to be afraid of," the PM added. In a speech in Ankara on Thursday, Erdogan called on the EU to "pull itself together" and threatened that if the bloc labelled the Turkish military operation in Northern Syria an occupation he would "open the gates and send 3.6 million refugees" to Europe. In Borissov's words, what matters most is that the EU should stand up by the agreement with Turkey. "Whatever measures are taken, if 50,000-100,000 migrants come to the fence [along Bulgaria's border with Turkey], neither me nor Karakachanov will order the army and the police to open fire. They will bring the fence down and will cross. So far, however, the pressure on the Bulgarian border is zero, which is why we insist that the agreement should be observed," Borissov said. "As of this moment, our relations with Turkey are perfect, and this is one more factor of the quiet situation on our border," the Prime Minister stressed. "We have taken all precautions," Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov said. "Both the Border Police and the army are ready to help. We are ready, so the public needn't panic. The State is doing its job. If necessary, it will react within the space of two hours. More than 2,000 service persons can be deployed at the border within 24 hours. At this point, there is no movement there. At this stage there is no reason to worry," he added. RY/LG
• (DF) President Radev Speaks at Meeting of Arraiolos Group in Athens
October 11 (BTA) - Speaking at the summit meeting of the heads of State of the Arraiolos Group which this year takes place in Athens, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev urged Europe to tackle the causes, and not just the consequences of, migration, Radev's press secretariat said in a press release Friday. "Europe is still focused mainly on the consequences, rather than on the causes, of migration. While the EU is still busy with reacting to the changes in the security environment, the other strategic players change this environment in their favour, leaving Europe to deal with the migratory pressure," Radev said. He went on to note that Europe needs higher ambitions in the area of security, a comprehensive approach of situational awareness, predictability, fast decision-making and new flexible mechanisms for implementation of decisions. The Bulgarian head of State said that the EU needs an operational plan for the protection of its external borders, in particular, the land borders, in the event of a new major migratory flow. Radev again urged for strengthening the protection of the EU external borders, reforming the Dublin Agreement and the European policy for asylum. Radev called for even distribution of the research and educational infrastructure in Europe as a factor for national economic growth. In his words, the success of the EU Cohesion Policy for Bulgaria will be proved if young people opt out of emigrating and instead choose to find their prospect for development in Bulgaria. Attending the Arraiolos Group summit are the presidents of Greece, Croatia, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Portugakl and Slovenia. RY/ZH /??/
• (NW) Agriculture Minister Taneva Visits Russia
October 11 (BTA) - Bulgarian Agriculture Minister Dessislava Taneva and her Russian counterpart Dmitry Patrushev discussed restrictions imposed on Bulgarian plant imports to Russia, her Ministry said Friday. Taneva is paying an official visit to Russia. Experts of the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency (BFSA) and the Russian Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance will meet promptly to set out the technical details. The aim is for Bulgarian enterprises to be allowed to export plant products which are not on the list of banned EU imports. The ministers discussed the outbreak of African swine fever which affected both countries.The sides agreed to exchange information and good practices for tackling the disease and to arrange a visit by BFSA experts to Russia. Minister Taneva informed her Russian counterpart that Bulgarian legislation is amended in order to improve farm biosecurity. By the end of the year Bulgarian dairy farms will be inspected by Russian experts it transpired at the meeting. The aim is to approve a list of farms which will be allowed to exports their products to Russia after the embargo is lifted. The agriculture ministers took stock of the good relations between Bulgaria and Russia and expressed a will to continue the constructive dialogue. In 2018, two-way trade in agricultural products totalled 62.6 million dollars. Bulgarian exports increased by 19.4 per cent from 2017 to 54.4 million dollars. In 2018, Bulgaria posted a positive trade balance of 46.3 million dollars or 30.4 per cent up compared with 2017. Bulgaria's main exports to Russia include tobacco, pastries, chocolate, and wine. RY/PP
• (PE) Press - Review
Sofia, October 11 (BTA)
• (DF) Parliamentary Sitting Fails Due to Absence of Quorum, Next Meeting Scheduled for October 30
October 11 (BTA) - Parliament failed to sit on Friday due to absence of quorum. Of the 121 MPs required, 106 registered in the plenary hall. During a second attempt to achieve quorum 112 MPs registered. The next sitting has been scheduled for October 30, said Deputy National Assembly Chair Emil Hristov. Parliament decided to suspend sittings between October 16 and 25 because of the local elections. However, parliamentary committees will continue work. RY/PP /??/
• (NW) Study Shows 14,000 Stand to Lose Jobs If Bulgaria's Position on Mobility Package 1 Is Not Respected
October 10 (BTA) - Fifty-three per cent of all trips of Bulgaria's international road hauliers would be without freight and thus without profit for the companies, and 14,000 of those directly affected in the sector would lose their jobs, if the EU's Mobility Package 1 is adopted without respecting Bulgaria's position on it. This transpired at a news conference at the Transport, IT and Communications Ministry on Thursday with the participation of Transport Minister Rossen Zhelyazkov and business representatives. Presented at the news conference were the results of a study on the Bulgarian road haulage sector, commissioned by the Union of International Hauliers (UIH). The study includes market research and forecast assessment of the Mobility Package's impact on Bulgarian road haulage. Tsvetan Alexiev, a representative of the company that conducted the study, explained that they used their own research, publicly available information, and specialized sources and analyses. Around 12,700 companies provide international road haulage, and 75 per cent of them have only up to five trucks, the analysis shows. Those employed in the sector number 42,500 and have an average salary of 1,750 euro. A total of 25,800 Bulgarian trucks operated in Europe last year. Their average age is 3 years, while that of trucks in Europe is 11 years, the analysts said. Around 1.5 billion euro have been invested in the sector. International road haulage has a market share of 2.8 billion euro and 6 per cent of GDP. If heavy duty trucks are obliged to return to their country every four months, this would affect 53 per cent of all obligatory trips from and to Bulgaria, which would generate no profit for the companies. The losses from missed revenues would reach 0.5 billion euro. Carbon emissions would increase, too, and 1 per cent of their share would be at Bulgarian cars' expense. Minister Zhelyazkov said that Slovakia, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Estonia are the countries from which Bulgaria will seek support and assistance regarding Mobility Package 1. He also said that in 2023 there will be around 40 million euro of administrative expenditures for preparing the various procedures and unifying the process for Bulgarian hauliers. There are many unclear points in the legislation's application, he added. UIH representative Yordan Arabadzhiev said that the 850 million euro of expected losses for Bulgarian hauliers will be the same for the other countries in Eastern Europe. "We are not against Mobility Package 1: we are in favour of equality among the separate hauliers in the EU. To this end, we will seek constructive dialogue and a solution that works both for Bulgarian and Dutch hauliers," he commented. ZH/DS
• (DF) Key Contracts Signed for Greece-Bulgaria Gas Interconnector Construction
October 10 (BTA) - Key contracts for the Greece-Bulgaria Gas Interconnector were signed Thursday at the Ministry of Energy. Both parties signed a tax regime agreement for the Interconnector project, as well as other contracts connected to key commitments and activities for the construction of the interconnector, including a loan agreement between the European Investment Bank and Bulgarian Energy Holding EAD, gas transmission agreements, etc. Energy Minister Temenouzhka Petkova said that this is an important day, which will enable the implementation of this long-awaited project that is key not only for Bulgaria but also for Southeast Europe. According to her, this project will bring change to the whole region and guarantee its energy security. According to Petkova with the documents signed today, the project for the construction of the interconnector between Bulgaria and Greece is already irreversible and its work is guaranteed in the coming decades. The commercial operation of the interconnector will begin in the second half of 2020. Greece's Energy and Environment Minister Konstantinos Hatzidakis said the final contract for the project was signed today, adding that it was 10 years in the making. Hatzidakis criticized the delay and noted his hopes that such things will not happen in the future. The Greece-Bulgaria interconnector will be able to supply Caspian gas from the Trans-Adriatic gas pipeline (TAP) and liquefied gas from Alexandroupolis. In addition, this project is proof of the good cooperation between Bulgaria and Greece, Hadzidakis also said. ZH/DT /??/
• (DF) Parliament Supports Start of EU Accession Negotiations with North Macedonia, Albania under Certain Conditions
October 10 (BTA) - Parliament supported here on Thursday the start of EU accession talks with the Republic of North Macedonia and the Republic of Albania with 129 votes in favour, four against and one abstention, given that certain conditions are met. The MPs adopted a declaration in connection with the EU enlargement and North Macedonia's and Albania's Stabilisation and Association Process. Thus, the Bulgarian National Assembly backed the framework position adopted by Cabinet the previous day (Wednesday). Parliament's declaration urges the official representatives of the Republic of North Macedonia to implement effectively, without delay and in good faith the Treaty of Friendship, Goodneighbourliness and Cooperation, signed between Bulgaria and North Macedonia in 2017.
• (PE) Press - Review
Sofia, October 10 (BTA)
• (NW) Industrial Production Down 1.3% in August 2019, Y/Y
October 9 (BTA) - According to preliminary data released by the National Statistical Institute on Wednesday, the seasonally adjusted Industrial Production Index this August decreased by 0.1 per cent compared to July of 2019. The working day adjusted Industrial Production Index fell by 1.3 per cent in August 2019 from August 2018. In August 2019, compared the previous month, the seasonally adjusted Industrial Production Index decreased by 6.6 per cent in the mining and quarrying industry and by 0.6 per cent in the electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply. Production rose by 0.8 per cent in manufacturing. On annual basis, the Industrial Production Index in August 2019, calculated from working day adjusted data, fell by 4.6 per cent in the electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply; by 1.3 per cent in the mining and quarrying industry and by 0.8 per cent in manufacturing. RY/MY /??/
• (DF) Industrial Production Down 1.3% in August 2019, Y/Y
October 9 (BTA) - According to preliminary data released by the National Statistical Institute on Wednesday, the seasonally adjusted Industrial Production Index this August decreased by 0.1 per cent compared to July of 2019. The working day adjusted Industrial Production Index fell by 1.3 per cent in August 2019 from August 2018. In August 2019, compared the previous month, the seasonally adjusted Industrial Production Index decreased by 6.6 per cent in the mining and quarrying industry and by 0.6 per cent in the electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply. Production rose by 0.8 per cent in manufacturing. On annual basis, the Industrial Production Index in August 2019, calculated from working day adjusted data, fell by 4.6 per cent in the electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply; by 1.3 per cent in the mining and quarrying industry and by 0.8 per cent in manufacturing. RY/MY /??/
• (DF) Foreign Minister Zaharieva: Bulgaria to Support Start of North Macedonia's EU Accession Negotiations Given that Goodneighbourliness Conditions Are Met
October 9 (BTA) - Bulgaria will support the start of the Republic of North Macedonia's EU accession negotiations, but Bulgaria will demand that certain goodneighbourliness conditions are met, which are included in the framework position approved by Cabinet, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva told journalists at the Council of Ministers on Wednesday. "What we adopted is that Bulgaria supports the start of negotiations with the two countries [Albania and North Macedonia], by underscoring that their separation would be a mistake that could lead to instability in the region," Zaharieva said. Intermediate and ultimate goals during the negotiations process with North Macedonia are set in the framework position, which Cabinet adopted on Wednesday. Among the conditions which Bulgaria will want to see met before the first intergovernmental conference with North Macedonia is held, in case the European Council decides to start negotiations (on October 15 at the level of foreign ministers, and on October 17 at the level of prime ministers), are for the Republic of North Macedonia to stop and refrain from conducting a policy, in whichever form, which supports and encourages claims concerning the so-called Macedonian minority in Bulgaria, and to unambiguously declare that it does not have historical and demographic grounds to seek a minority status. Bulgaria demands that the Republic of North Macedonia declares in a note verbale to UN countries that the Treaty with Bulgaria is being implemented in its entirety when it comes to the so-called language clause, regardless of the Prespa Agreement. In addition to that, the Republic of North Macedonia must activate a process of rehabilitation of the victims of the Yugoslav communist regime, who were repressed because of their Bulgarian consciousness. The Republic of North Macedonia also has to remove texts from signs, memorial plaques and buildings, which openly instill hatred towards Bulgaria, such as those containing descriptions like "Bulgarian fascist occupiers". The framework position also notes that before the first intergovernmental conference is held, which is to approve the negotiations framework, Bulgaria will insist on setting clear criteria for the implementation of the Treaty of Friendship, Goodneighbourliness and Cooperation, especially when it comes to the work of the Joint Multidisciplinary Commission of Experts on Historical and Educational Issues between the two countries. Special attention is paid to the issues surrounding the linguistic norm and the use of the full name of the Republic of North Macedonia. A review will be conducted on how these conditions are met and on the progress of changing literature, history and geography text books in the Republic of North Macedonia before the second intergovernmental conference is held, which is to open the first negotiation chapter. Bulgaria shall not allow the Republic of North Macedonia's EU integration to be accompanied by a European legitimation of a state-sponsored ideology based on anti-Bulgarian sentiments. The Republic of North Macedonia shall state clearly that its shortened name has nothing in common with the geographical region of North Macedonia, part of which falls within Bulgaria's borders. The framework position will demand that school curricula on the subjects of history and literature in both countries be harmonized with the findings of the Joint Multidisciplinary Commission of Experts on Historical and Educational Issues. It shall be clear that the linguistic norm, declared as a constitutional language in the Republic of North Macedonia, is connected with the changes to the language imposed in the former Yugoslav republic. No document in the accession process can be viewed as a recognition by the Bulgarian side of the existence of a so-called "Macedonian language". Ekaterina Zaharieva said that the position has been submitted to Parliament, the President and adopted during a European Affairs Council. Bulgaria will agree on the Republic of North Macedonia's actual accession only after it has met all the criteria in the negotiation chapters, the Bulgarian Foreign Minister said. Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov told journalists that according to the Bulgarian position, this country will not stop North Macedonia from starting EU accession negotiations, but this is preceded by a few stages, such as the first and second intergovernmental conferences. That is why it is clearly stated in Bulgaria's framework position that the Republic of North Macedonia has to meet a few conditions before the first intergovernmental conference is scheduled. There is another package of conditions that must be met by the Republic of North Macedonia before the second intergovernmental conference takes place. "The speed of negotiations with [North] Macedonia largely depends on their political will to be honest and not trying to play with us, like they have been doing in the past two years," Karakachanov said. *** The framework position's part pertaining to the negotiation process with the Republic of Albania says that the process shall be tied to the progress concerning the future steps for guaranteeing the rights of the Bulgarian national minority. "We expect that the rights of the Bulgarian national minority will be guaranteed to the fullest, including through teaching the standard Bulgarian language as a mother tongue, without imposing administrative obstacles, in settlements traditionally populated by them, such as Golo Bardo, Gora, Prespa, Korce, Kukes, Elbasan," the Council of Ministers' press release reads. RY/MY /??/
• (DF) President Radev: People of Bulgaria, North Macedonia Share Common Cultural Code, History and Language for Over 1,300 Years
October 9 (BTA) - The people of Bulgaria and of the Republic of North Macedonia have been sharing a common cultural code, history and language for over 1,300 years. "This is precisely why the politicians from both countries have the shared responsibility to seek approaches that bring us closer, and not causes that divide us," said here on Wednesday President Rumen Radev, who visited the 101st Alpine Regiment.
• (PE) Press - Review
Sofia, October 9 (BTA)
• (DF) Trade Unions Want Higher Pay for Night Work
October 8 (BTA) - The industrial federations of the Podkrepa Confederation of Labour and the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria (CITUB) are launching a national campaign entitled "Let's Defend Our Work Together!". The campaign was presented by Podkrepa President Dimiter Manolov and CITUB President Plamen Dimitrov at a joint news conference here on Tuesday. The campaign's start launches a national petition for a significant increase of the pay for night time work, which trade unions want to see turned into a function of the minimum wage for the country, so that the additional remuneration for night time work would have an objective unit of measurement which will grow over the years. The current value of the additional remuneration for night time work of 0.25 leva per hour was introduced back in 2007. Podkrepa and CITUB also insist that the accumulated calculation of the working time should be applied only to production facilities with a constant technological regime of work, and should be limited by the employer's decision to a maximum of four months, rather than the current six months. This demand has been set in the International Labour Organization convention on working time that Bulgaria has ratified and, according to the trade unions, the non-observation of the convention has led to a working week of 56 hours instead of up to 48 hours. The petition launched by the trade unions is also for guaranteeing the actual reporting and payment of overtime work with an accumulated calculation of the working time, and for increasing this pay by 75 per cent on weekends and by 100 per cent on official holidays. The trade unions hope to gather around 100,000 signatures by Christmas. Manolov cited data of the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions showing that Bulgaria is fifth in the EU for the employees' working hours. Dimitrov said that over 50 per cent of the violations established in all sectors and sanctioned by the General Labour Inspectorate Executive Agency, are directly or indirectly linked to violations of the working hours. Most often, the reasons lie in vicious practices in the application of the accumulated calculation of working time, shifts and unjust payment of overtime work. According to Podkrepa, a large number of studies into the impact of night time work show it increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases and of lung and bladder cancer by 40 per cent, of breast cancer by 30 per cent, and of prostate cancer three-fold. Night time workers also face a greater risk of depression, diabetes, and metabolic problems. The trade unions hope that their campaign will be supported with legislative actions by the Government. If left unheard, Podkrepa and CITUB are ready to stage ralliers and even protests, Manolov and Dimitrov said. RY/DS
• (DF) Bulgaria with 10 Entrants in SeeNews Top 100 of Biggest Companies in SEEurope
October 8 (BTA) - For the twelfth consecutive year, SeeNews ranked the biggest companies in Southeast Europe (SEE) by total revenue in its Top 100 list released on Tuesday. Ten Bulgarian companies ranked among the biggest businesses, with two making it into the top 10. Steady, consumption-led economic growth and increasing wages brought record-high sales to the 100 biggest companies in Southeast Europe in 2018, as Romania's Automobile Dacia remained leader by turnover, SeeNews says. For a second consecutive year, Lukoil Neftochim Burgas and Aurubis Bulgaria were among the leading 10 companies in the region, ranking sixth and eighth, respectively. Aurubis Bulgaria was the biggest metals producer in SEE despite a slight decrease in revenue and drop in profit in 2018. Both companies, however, dropped in the TOP 100 SEE ranking from fifth and sixth position, respectively. The TOP 100 SEE company ranking is dominated by Romania with 54 entrants, followed by Serbia with 13, and Slovenia with 12. Bulgaria and Croatia were represented with 10 and 9 companies, respectively, while Bosnia and Herzegovina and Northern Macedonia had an entrant each. This year, no Albanian and Moldovan businesses made it into the ranking. Kozloduy N-Plant was the only Bulgarian company to make it into the top 10 most profitable businesses in 2018, assuming eighth place in the ranking, which remained dominated by Romania in terms of entrants, but was led by Serbia's Aerodrom Nikola Tesla and Serbia Zijin Bor Copper. Three of the 10 companies in the money losers ranking were Bulgarian - Lukoil Neftochim, Natsionalna Elektricheska Kompania and Bulgargaz, holding the second, sixth and eighth positions, respectively. The combined revenue of the SEE TOP 100 companies expanded by 11 per cent to the record-high 126.3 billion euro ($138.8 billion), whereas their profit amounted to 5.7 billion euro, up by 17 per cent, the twelfth annual edition of the TOP 100 SEE ranking indicates. SeeNews editor-in-chief Nevena Krasteva commented for BTA's Daily News that Bulgaria has the same number and nearly the same participants as the year before, with the exception of the Kozloduy N-Plant which replaces CEZ. Also, the Bulgarian companies in Top 100 show a higher revenue growth (15 per cent) than the 11-per-cent average for the entire TOP 100. The Bulgarian companies in the ranking are mostly in the energy and trade sector, said also Krasteva. Unfortunately, no Bulgarian maker of automotive parts has made it into the TOP 100 or is anywhere near, even though it is a strong industry in Southeast Europe. She also pointed out that Bulgaria has the most entrants in the insurers' ranking, which shows strong competition and a potential for consolidation. LN/LN,DT
• (PE) Press - Review
Sofia, October 8 (BTA)
• (DF) Prosecutor General Tsatsarov Does Not See Grounds to Petition Court to Discontinue Work of Bulgarian Helsinki Committee
October 8 (BTA) - Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov considers unfounded a demand from the VMRO party, part of the power-sharing coalition of the United Patriots, to petition the court to have the activities of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) discontinued, the prosecuting magistracy said in a press release Tuesday. Amid a controversy over the recent conditional early release of an Australian man serving a 20-year prison sentence for killing a man in Bulgaria, VMRO on September 30 asked Tsatsarov to discontinue the activities of the BHC because of "inadmissible interference with Bulgaria's judicial system". The alert argued that the BHC "directly and indirectly exerts pressure on Bulgarian magistrates and engages in unconstitutional, unlawful, immoral and openly anti-Bulgarian activities." It singled out, as BHC's most scandalous activity, the arrangement of workshops for judges, prosecutors and investigating magistrates "some of whom subsequently decide the fate of proven criminals like [Australian Jock] Palfreeman". In his reasoning rejecting the demand, Tsatsarov says that there is no information in VMRO's alert that BHC is financed with money from terrorism or to be engaged in such an activity, which constitute grounds in respect of which only the Prosecutor General is legitimized to approach the court. Tsatsarov also invokes the constitutional right of assembly. RY/ZH /??/
• (DF) Bulgarian Tour Operator Partnering with Thomas Cook Goes Bankrupt
October 7 (BTA) - Bulgarian tour operator Astral Holidays announced Monday that it ceases operation and files for bankruptcy after nearly 24 years on the Bulgarian tourist market. The company was the local agent of Thomas Cook and has handled thousands of foreign tourists that the British tour operator has brought to Bulgaria.
• (NW) Bulgarian-Vietnamese Business Forum Held in Sofia
October 7 (BTA) - Twenty Vietnamese companies and more than 30 Bulgarian ones took part in a Bulgarian-Vietnamese Business Forum held Monday in the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI). Speaking at the event, BCCI Chief Secretary Vassil Todorov singled out the food-making industry, farming, machine building, human resources recruitment, renewable energy, banking and financing, and tourism as the main areas of economic cooperation between the two countries.
• (DF) Hospital Financing Will Be Increased by Lv 200 Mln-Plus in 2020, Minister Tells Unions
October 7 (BTA) - The funding for hospitals on the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) budget will be increased by over 200 million leva next year, Bulgarian Health Minister Kiril Ananiev told journalists here on Monday. Ananiev, the leadership of the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria (CITUB) and that of the Bulgarian Association of Health Professionals in Nursing (BAHPN) met with Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev. Three-quarters of these 200 million leva will be intended for staff salaries, Ananiev assured his audience. He added that the pay levels laid down in the Collective Agreement will become possible in state-owned hospitals. The Health Minister was adamant that the spending on salaries will be strictly controlled. Allotment of part of the cost of clinical pathways for remuneration has also been planned for 2020. CITUB President Plamen Dimitrov said that funding of child and school healthcare had also been discussed at the meeting. The meeting was held against the backdrop of a national protest that CITUB and the BAHPN staged here on Monday to demand a pay rise for doctors and health professionals: a minimum monthly salary for nurses of 900 leva at municipal hospitals and 950 leva at university hospitals and, respectively, a 1,000 leva and 1,200 leva starting salary for doctors. The Bulgarian Medical Association and the Bulgarian Nurses Association are staying out of the protest. RY/BR /??/
• (DF) US Business in Bulgaria, Bulgarian Government Outline Priorities in Economic Cooperation
October 7 (BTA) - US businesses in Bulgaria and the Bulgarian Government outlined the priorities in economic cooperation as they met for a Business Breakfast hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria (AmCham) and attended by Prime Minister Boyko Borissov. AmCham President Olivier Marquette said digital technologies, artificial intelligence, cyber security and energy are the key areas of cooperation between the two countries. AmCham Executive Director Petar Ivanov said that the Bulgarian economy is now mature enough to set a foot on the US market and Borissov said that this country exports to the US more than it imports which means that the Bulgarian economy is developing. Marquette said that digital technologies and AI are a prime interest for AmCham and these sectors are also important for Bulgaria's position in the global economy. He assured the Prime Minister that AmCham is ready for joint work to bring digitalization to a new level. The AmCham President reiterated that the aim of cooperation in the energy sector is to ensure energy independence and diversification. He recalled the recent first import of LNG to Bulgaria and said that two US-owned power plants continue to generate electricity in Bulgaria and contribute to the stability of the national energy system. He also mentioned the readiness of Westinghouse to be actively participating in the Bulgarian nuclear energy sector and expanding its operation in this country. He said that Bulgarian investments in the US have for years been competing successfully with national and international investment. Bulgarian investors have created over 4,000 jobs in the US, and their aggregate sales stand at over 1 billion US dollars. The AmCham President said that economic ties between the two countries are very strong and the inflow of US capital in Bulgaria is steady, accounting for some 11 per cent of all foreign direct investment in this country. A total of 4.5 billion leva in US investments in Bulgaria have created 30,000 Bulgarian jobs, providing a catalyst for capable young people to stay in their home country, he said. Dwelling on the increased potential of Bulgarian companies to do business with the US, AmCham Executive Director Peter Ivanov said that this potential is strongest in the hi-tech sectors, solar parks, production of probiotics and software for the film industry. In a wide-ranging address at the Business Breakfast, Prime Minister Borissov said that Bulgaria is among the countries which have capitalized the most on Juncker's Investment Plan for Europe and it has worked very well for this country. He mentioned a recent deal for purchase of F-16 jet fighters for the Bulgarian Air Force which went through despite "fierce and mean opposition" and accusations of lobbyism against the government. "We bought the best that is out there for our pilots," said the Prime Minister, adding that the Ministers of Defence and of Finance and himself "made the deal irreversible". Borissov said that Bulgaria is putting much effort in ensuring its energy independence and diversification. He went on to speak of North Macedonia and its Euro-Atlantic integration, saying that it must be a member of the EU and NATO "but it can't play with history because history is clear". He also argued that Albania should be a NATO member as well "because any country which is abandoned by the large European family, is doomed to become breeding ground for corruption and terror". Also invited to the AmCham Business Breakfast are Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev, Defence Minister Krasimir Karakachanov, Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov, Economy Minister Emil Karanikolov, Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova and Transport and ITC Minister Rossen Jeliazkov, as well as US Charge d'Affaires Justin Friedman. RY/LN /??/
• (PE) Press - Review
Sofia, October 7 (BTA)
• (DF) Bulgarian PM Borissov Confers with Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan
October 6 (BTA) - On Sunday, the second day of his working visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov conferred with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, the government's information service said. At the meeting Borissov voiced satisfaction with the intensification of the bilateral relations thanks to the political trust between the two countries and the shared wish to expand the cooperation. "Our two countries play important roles in their regions. We have similar views and positions on many international issues. We are interested in developing the cooperation in the areas of mutual interest due to the geo-political importance and inter-connectedness of our regions," Borissov said. The Bulgarian PM further noted that the establishment of embassies in Sofia and in Abu Dhabi already produces positive results and creates conditions for considerable facilitation of the bilateral dialogue and the trade and economic cooperation. Borissov spoke of the big potential for UAE investments in Bulgaria in sectors such as high technologies, transport, farming, food-making, energy, tourism. "We expect concrete steps in the economic cooperation and increasing the two-way commercial exchange," Borissov said. In his words, an excellent opportunity for continuing the good contacts and intensifying the economic cooperation would be to hold the first session of the mixed economic commission. Borissov also confirmed Bulgaria's participation in the World Expo 2020 in Dubai. The Bulgarian PM further stressed the importance of the sectoral cooperation in the area of interior affairs and in counteracting terrorism and organized crime. In Borissov's words, the two countries can exchange valuable experience in respect of stability and security. "After our last talks in October 2018, the political developments in the world and the region confirm the importance of exchanging specialized experience and information to counteract all risks and threats coming from radical and extremist organizations and ideologies," Borissov said. The Bulgarian Prime Minister renewed his invitation to Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to visit Bulgaria. RY/ZH //
• (DF) Prime Minister Borissov Arrived on Working Visit to the United Arab Emirates
October 5 (BTA) - Prime Minister Boyko Borissov arrived in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where he will be on a two-day working visit, the Council of Ministers' press service said Saturday. In Abu Dhabi, the Bulgarian Prime Minister was greeted by His Excellency Mohammed bin Ahmad Al Bawardi, who, in addition to the Minister of State for Defence Affairs, is also Vice President of the largest investment fund in the country - Mubadala Group, and a member of the Tawazun Economic Council. During the two-day visit, Prime Minister Borissov will meet with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. The current objective of the Bulgarian delegation is to deepen the established political dialogue and discuss possibilities for specific forms of cooperation in the fields of investment, economy, transport, high technology, energy, tourism and security, the press release said. The delegation will also include Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov and Economy Minister Emil Karanikolov. This working visit to Abu Dhabi is a natural continuation of the development of bilateral relations between Bulgaria and the United Arab Emirates, after Prime Minister Borissov conducted the first ever visit of a Bulgarian Prime Minister to the UAE in October 2018, adds the Council of Ministers' press service.
• (DF) Former Talk Show Host Slavi Trifonov Establishes "There's No Such State" Political Party
October 5 (BTA) - Former talk show host, Slavi Trifonov established the "There's No Such State" political party on Saturday in the capital's Rainbow Plaza. The Constituent Assembly was closed to the media and outsiders. As Mediapool.bg reported, it lasted about 20 minutes and ended without any public information. Neither Slavi Trifonov nor the delegates spoke to any reporters after the event. The party's leadership and its public faces haven't been made official yet either. The only thing certain is that Slavi Trifonov is the leader of the political formation. The party's logo is a blue hand on a white background depicting the Bulgarian flag. Famed Bulgarian talk show host Trifonov has been signaling for years that he wants to go into politics. Over the years, the media have also discussed the potential for his personal popularity as a showman and actor to be reformulated into electoral support. Sociological agencies have also measured any effect a party created by him might create. It is expected that Trifonov's personal style and views will dominate the behavior and platform of the new formation. Two months ago, Trifonov and his team issued a founding statement. It was also not sent out to the media, though it was published in the "Troud" national daily. According to the founding statement, the priorities of "There's No Such State" will be increased citizen participation in government, a majority election of MPs and their reduction from 240 to 120, mandatory voting and direct election for the Prosecutor General. It is expected that screenwrites from Slavi Trifonov's show will also be active members of the party. Trifonov officially announced that he will be creating a political party during the last broadcast of his "Slavi's Show" on bTV, which aired on July 31st. (During the same announcement, Trifonov said that he would also launch a "television project" which would start after September 15th.) The name of the party is clear in Bulgarian but difficult to translate. It comes from a popular saying, often used sarcasticly. It combines, on the one hand, sharp criticism of public practices in the logical model reductio ad absurdum. On the other hand, the message acknowledges the uniqueness of the object under criticism (the State) in terms of its development. RY/DT
• (NW) EnEffect Center for Energy Efficiency: 40 % of Bulgarians Struggle to Pay Their Energy Bills
October 4 (BTA) - The Executive Director of the EnEffect Center for Energy Efficiency, Dragomir Tsanev, said at a BTA press conference on Friday that nearly 40 per cent of Bulgarians are not able to keep their homes comfortably warm in the winter. Tsanev presented a report, titled "Energy poverty in the wake of local elections: What the state and municipalities can do to solve the problem of high heating bills". In the report, EnEffect cited data from the EU Energy Poverty Observatory, a mechanism maintained by the European Commission and based on Eurostat data. Data show that 39.2 per cent of the Bulgarian population is not able maintain a comfortable level of heating in their homes in the winter, which in turn affects their health. This is the highest percentage in the EU. About 11 percent of the EU's population (54 million Europeans) are affected by energy poverty. Bulgaria is at the top of EU countries in regards to not being able to maintain comfortably cool temperatures in the summer as well, added Tsanev. He added that Bulgaria ranks second when it comes to late payments for energy bills. People who are struggling with their energy bills move on to the cheapest and most polluting sources of heating. According to Tsanev, the state contributes to this with its targeted aid for heating. "The government aid is used to buy low quality firewood and coal," he pointed out. European Climate Foundation associate Julian Popov added that half of the Bulgarian population struggles to pay their bills. "Bulgaria is at the bottom of Europe in terms of energy poverty," said Popov. According to EnEffect, the solution that can lead to sustainable long-term effects is energy-efficient renovation and maintenance of residential buildings. This will directly reduce energy costs and the need for energy aids. It will also limit air pollution. Dragomir Tsanev argued that municipalities have a leading role in the implementation of state and local policies in this area. RY/DT
• (DF) President Radev Pays Official Visit to Austria
October 4 (BTA Special Correspondent Tsvetana Delibaltova) - President Rumen Radev met with his Austrian counterpart, Alexander Van der Bellen Friday during an official visit in Vienna. He was received with honours at Hofburg Palace and had one-on-one talks with his host. After that the two presidents held a news conference where they commended bilateral political, economic, diplomatic and cultural relations. Van der Bellen praised political relations and economic cooperation thanks to which trade between the two countries has reached 1,300 million euro. The Bulgarian President underscored that, although this is his first visit to Austria, he has had numerous contacts with his host and has established agreement with him on a number of issues, including security, migration, the combat against drug and human trafficking, terrorism and organized crime. Radev expressed gratitude for Austria's support for Bulgaria's work with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and for this country's accession to the Schengen visa-free travel area. The sides underscored the centennial cultural cooperation between the two countries that continues to this day. Particular attention was paid to the Danube Strategy concerning 14 countries, some of which outside the EU. The two presidents also discussed the issue of migration and Radev underscored Bulgaria's role as an external EU border to manage the migrant crisis. He also said the EU should make a roadmap for the countries with land borders. Commenting the EU integration of North Macedonia and Albania, Van der Bellen noted that there are cultural and political issues which have to be clarified but which should not stop the accession process. Radev said that Bulgaria is one of the countries that are most supportive of North Macedonia's accession to EU and NATO, but that support is not unconditional and goes hand in hand with clear conditions about history and language. The sides also discussed relations with Russia and the sanctions on it. Van der Bellen said that a recent thaw in relations is encouraging but is not enough to lead to cancelling the sanctions. Radev spoke in favour of finding a diplomatic solution to the conflict which has led to the sanctions and said that if Europe aspires to play a leading role on the world stage, it needs stability which is impossible without dialogue with Russia. The Bulgarian President also conferred with Austrian Federal Chancellor Brigitte Bierlein and the President of the Austrian National Council, Wolfgang Subotka. /RY/BR
• (NW) Transmitters Attached to Red-Breasted Geese Allow Tracking During Migration
Dobrich, Northeastern Bulgaria, October 4 (BTA) - As migratory birds have begun their epic journey to the south, people will be able to enjoy the sight of their amazing passage during the European Bird Days, October 5-6, the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB)...
• (DF) Construction Starts of Two Natural Gas Compressor Stations
October 3 (BTA) - Bulgartransgaz EAD has signed an agreement for development project design, delivery of materials and equipment, development and putting into operation of natural gas compressor stations Rassovo and Nova Provadia with Ferrostaal Oil & Gas GmbH, the Ministry of Energy said Thursday. The signing comes in the wake of a public procurement procedure. The development of the stations will increase the pressure along the route of the pipe from the Turkish-Bulgarian to the Bulgarian-Serbian border, the so-called Balkan Stream. The project will provide the infrastructure for the implementation of the concept of a Balkan natural gas distribution centre in Bulgaria. The expansion of the country's gas distribution network will increase the security of natural gas supplies from different sources and provide conditions to promote competition on the market.
• (NW) Construction Starts of Two Natural Gas Compressor Stations
Sofia, October 3 (BTA) - Bulgartransgaz EAD has signed an agreement for development project design, delivery of materials and equipment, development and putting into operation of natural gas compressor stations Rassovo and Nova Provadia with Ferrostaal Oil & Gas GmbH, the Mini...
• (NW) Businessmen Argue that Ground Forces Armoured Vehicles Can Be Built in Bulgaria
October 3 (BTA) - Two companies have set up a joint venture in Bulgaria which can manufacture the armoured vehicles envisaged in a Ground Forces upgrading project. Peter Georgiev, Executive Director of Samel-90 AD, and Anton Stefov, President and CEO of International Armored Group, told a BTA news conference on Thursday that their joint venture, Samarm, will show that such vehicles can be built in Bulgaria, which will prevent taxpayers' money from flowing out of the country. According to Georgiev, Samarm can make the planned 150 vehicles in one and a half to two years. The only discouraging thing is the financial conditions, which, Georgiev said, are radically different from the conditions of a recently ratified F-16 fighter aircraft deal for the Bulgarian Air Force. "We would be expected to make the vehicles in six years and we would get our money at the 12th year. No Bulgarian bank can lend us 1 billion leva to enable us to start production," he commented. Asked whether they have held concrete talks with any of the four companies invited to bid for the contract, and whether their idea is to stop the tender and let everything start all over again, Georgiev said he does not favour a restart of the tender, because the procedure has taken too much time already. "We would like to start as soon as possible, although the contracting authority has not approached us directly to give us the terms of reference," he said, adding that three of the companies which have received the terms of reference have contacted them and want to work with them. The project for the acquisition of armoured vehicles for the Ground Forces is one of three major projects to upgrade the Bulgarian Armed Forces. It will involve the supply of 150 combat and special vehicles for three future battalion-sized battlegroups, plus related systems and additional equipment, and training of personnel. It is to be implemented over a period of 12 years for a projected price of 1.464 billion leva. Requests for proposals have been sent to four potential contractors: ARTEC GmbH (Germany), Patria (Finland), NEXTER Group (France), and General Dynamics Land System - MOWAG (Switzerland). The government has said it wants to encourage the Bulgarian defence industry to play a leading role in the three projects where possible. RY/VE
• (DF) Central Election Commission Fines Volen Siderov after He Ruined Local Elections Campaign Debate on National TV
October 3 (BTA) - The Central Election Commission (CEC) has ordered the leader of the nationalist Ataka party, Volen Siderov, to pay a fine for violating the terms and order for an election campaign debate on the Bulgarian National TV on October 1. The Commission's decision is published on its website. Siderov participated in the debate in his capacity as Ataka candidate for Sofia mayor and as head of his party's campaign manager. CEC says that its decision was prompted by three complaints for a violation: by the electronic media regulator, by MEP Angel Djambazki, who is the candidate for Sofia mayor of his VMRO part, and by the Bulgarian National Television. CEC found that during the said TV debate the Ataka leader "used indecent language with respect to the other participants in the dispute and its moderator", "did not allow the other participants to answer the questions and attacked verbally Yulian Angelov, the representative of the VMRO campaign headquarters, as well as Angel Djambazki, the Sofia mayoral candidate of the same party, VMRO leader Krassimir Karakachanov and the debate moderator". He also called Djambazki "gay" and "gay parade leader", and used disrespectful language to address the moderator and two female participants in the debate. The CEC decision recalls Siderov saying that Karakachanov stole 1 billion leva from the Bulgarian people and gave them to the United States. With all of the above, Siderov violated the Election Code which says that the canvassing materials and the candidates and representatives of the parties, coalitions and nominating committees may not violate good manners, the honour and reputation of the candidates. The pejorative language he used, as well as his refusal to respect the BNT rules for election disputes and to change his behaviour after he was repeatedly asked to behave properly and allow the other candidates to answer the questions - and finally his refusal to leave the BNT studio, clearly showed a reluctance to observe the established rules of a public media to cover the election campaign and trespassed good manners, the honour and reputation of the candidates, the Central Election Commission said. The amount of the fine will be determined at a later stage. RY/LN/
• (DF) Changes in Legislation Improve Care for Victims of Human Trafficking
October 3 (BTA) - Parliament passed conclusively revisions to the Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings Act on Thursday, which provide opportunity for opening specialized asylums for reintegration, as well as free legal aid and appropriate language assistance to the victims of human trafficking. The term of accommodation of such persons at temporary asylums is increased from a minimum of 30 days with an option for extension by a proposal of the asylum. The revisions were necessitated by the need of effective application of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Human Trafficking which introduced minimum national standards and mechanisms for treatment of victims of trafficking. The revisions guarantee a recovery and reflection period for the person concerned to recover and escape the influence of traffickers and/or to take an informed decision on cooperating with the competent authorities to take action against the offending party. The amendments also define the status of the National Commission for Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings as the national rapporteur according to Article 19 of Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims. The national committee is to establish asylum centres for victims of human trafficking.
• (DF) Average of 100 People per Day Attempt to Enter Bulgaria Illegally from Greece
October 2 (BTA) - An average of around 100 people per day attempt to enter Bulgaria illegally from Greece, Deputy Interior Minister Stefan Balabanov told journalists here on Wednesday before the start of a roundtable about the comprehensive coordination of the migration process, held in Parliament. Balabanov noted that everything in Bulgaria concerning the migrants is calm. Asked how many migrants cross Bulgaria and continue their journey towards Western Europe, the Deputy Minister said that "nobody is crossing for now". Thanks to the joint cooperation with the Turkish and Greek border police, the migrants are detected even before crossing into Bulgarian territory. Balabanov said that the cooperation with third countries on migrant issues is not sufficient enough and the EU should step it up. According to him, the EU must help transit countries with financial or other types of assistance, as well as to work on rebuilding the countries of origin. The event is organized by the chairs of the parliamentary committees for Foreign Policy and for Internal Security and Public Order, the International Centre for Migration Policy Development, and the Embassy of Finland in Bulgaria. LN/MY
• (NW) January 1 - September 29 Electricity Production Down 1.82% Y/Y
October 2 (BTA) - Bulgaria's electricity production between January 1 and September 29, 2019 has decreased by 1.82 per cent, compared to the like period of 2018, the Electricity System Operator (ESO) reported here on Wednesday. According to ESO's latest data, a total of 32,791,421 MWh of electricity were produced between January 1 and September 29 of this year, compared to 33,400,886 MWh produced in the same period of 2018. Electricity consumption between January 1 and September 28 of 2019 has increased by 1.34 percentage points compared to the like period of 2018. According to ESO's data, a total of 28,291,852 MWh of electricity were consumed between January 1 and September 29 of this year, compared to 27,916,882 MWh during the same period of last year. Bulgaria has exported 17.95 per cent less electricity between January 1, 2019 and September 29, 2019, year-on-year. A total of 4,449,569 MWh of electricity have been exported in the above-mentioned period of this year, compared to 5,484,004 MWh in the same period of last year. The base-load power plants (the Kozloduy nuclear power plant, and the thermo-electric plants Maritsa East 2, AES Gulubovo and ContourGlobal Maritsa East 3) have increased electricity production by 2.85 per cent - from 26,978,673 MWh between January 1 and September 29, 2018 up to 27,748,673 MWh in the same period of this year. Electricity produced from Renewable Energy Sources has decreased by 0.61 percentage points between January 1 and September 29, 2019, year-on-year - from 917,341 MWh in 2018 to 911,785 MWh in the above-mentioned period of this year. Wind turbines generated 487,953 MWh of electricity between January 1 and September 29 of this year, compared to 502,154 MWh during the like period of 2018, which is 2.83 per cent less year-on-year. Photovoltaic facilities have produced 320,094 MWh of electricity between January 1 and September 29, which is 2.93 per cent more year-on-year. Electricity produced by biomass-fuelled power facilities between January 1 and September 29 was 103,738 MWh, which is 0.46 percentage points less year-on-year. RY/MY /??/
• (DF) Parliament Refuses to Restore Quick Questions Time with Prime Minister
October 2 (BTA) - The majority in Parliament Wednesday rejected the revisions to the Rules of Organization and Procedure of the National Assembly, tabled by the opposition and intended to restore the so-called quick questions time with 68 votes "for", 85 "against" and 11 abstentions. The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) for Bulgaria proposed that the prime minister and his/her deputies should be obligated to go to Parliament at least once a month and answer topical MP questions, a form of control that existed in the 42nd and the 43rd national assemblies. The Prime Minister has been in Parliament just several times since the beginning of the mandate, BSP for Bulgaria Deputy Floor Leader Kroum Zarkov noted. The view that the Prime Minister resolves everything is being persistently imposed in the public domain, while at the same time he is not responsible for anything before the National Assembly, Zarkov commented. Krassimir Tsipov of GERB pointed out that from the beginning of the mandate of the present National Assembly the Prime Minister has been addressed with 11 interpellations and 26 questions. Half of them, however, do not correspond to the Rules of Organization and Procedure. In Tsipov's words, the questions should be topical and should concern the policies of the government. GERB Floor Leader Daniela Daritkova commented that the now existing rules provide enough opportunities for the Prime Minister to respond to topical issues at anytime and not according to a planned monthly schedule. According to United Patriots Floor Leader Iskren Vesselinov, quick questions time will not lead any positive results. Volya leader Vesselin Mareshki, in turn, said that Parliament is debating matters that are not important, while independent MP Pavel Shopov said that Ataka supports the reinstatement of quick questions time, in order to control the work of the government and the ministers./RY/BR /??/
• (DF) President Radev Confers with Vietnam's Deputy PM Truong Hoa Binh in Sofia
October 1 (BTA) - President Rumen Radev conferred here on Tuesday with the First Deputy Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Truong Hoa Binh, who is paying an official visit to Bulgaria, the President's Press Secretariat reported. The two underscored the excellent bilateral dialogue, mutual trust and friendship that connects Bulgaria and Vietnam, and agreed that Bulgaria and Vietnam will work on re-establishing active bilateral cooperation in economy and education.
• (DF) Service Life of Kozloduy N-plant's Unit 6 Extended by Another 10 Years
October 1 (BTA) - The Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Agency (NRA), Latchesar Kostov, presented to the Kozloduy N-plant's CEO Nasko Mihov a license for the extension of the N-plant's Unit 6 for a period of ten years. Kostov explained that this extension can be renewed again after the ten years expire, adding that his agency has inspected Unit 6 thoroughly.
• (DF) PM, Deputy Foreign Minister Meet with Princess Dana Firas of Jordan
October 1 (BTA) - Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov met with Princess Dana Firas of Jordan here on Tuesday morning. "Jordan is an exceedingly important and desired partner of Bulgaria. We appreciate the Hashemite Kingdom's regional and global role and influence, which is why Bulgaria seeks to pursue mutually advantageous relations in areas of strategic importance for both countries," Borissov told the guest, quoted by the Government Information Service.
• (DF) Bulgarian Prosecutor General Tsatsarov Is Paying Official Visit to Germany
October 1 (BTA) - Bulgarian Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov, accompanied by Deputy Prosecutors General Ivan Geshev (Head of the Supreme Cassation Prosecution Office) and Asya Petrova (Head of the Supreme Administrative Prosecution Office), is paying an official visit to Germany at the invitation of the Public Prosecutor General of the Federal Court of Justice, Dr Peter Frank, the Bulgarian prosecution service said in a press release on Tuesday.
• (DF) Consultative Meeting Reviews Bulgaria's Relations with North Macedonia
September 30 (BTA) - A consultative meeting called by President Rumen Radev here on Monday reviewed Bulgaria's relations with North Macedonia in light of the results achieved by the Joint Multidisciplinary Commission of Experts on Historical and Educational Issues between the two countries and the expected invitation for North Macedonia to start negotiations on joining the European Union. Addressing the media after the meeting, President Radev said the participants agreed in principle on the need of urgent steps to come up with a national position with clear requirements and criteria that will protect Bulgaria's national interest. Those requirements and criteria should be enshrined in the negotiating framework and become a mandatory condition for North Macedonia's accession, said Radev. The meeting was attended by Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva, Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov, parliamentarians and the Bulgarian co-chair of the Joint Multidisciplinary Commission, Prof. Angel Dimitrov. President Radev also told the media that Bulgaria has always supported North Macedonia's European and Euro-Atlantic perspective in a principled and consistent manner, recalling that Sofia was the first to recognize Skopje's independence and that a Treaty of Friendship, Goodneighbourliness and Cooperation was signed. The Treaty was expected to solve the problems which have built up in the course of decades and to give an impetus and a fresh perspective to the development of bilateral relations, but the lack of specific conditions, benchmarks and time frames in that Treaty meant that its implementation lagged dramatically behind the process of North Macedonia's EU integration. Despite the huge efforts made by the Bulgarian side, the joint commission on historical and educational matters has not achieved any particular results. Things there have been very alarming recently, and North Macedonia's conduct also causes insecurity and mistrust, said Radev. Special attention should be paid to school curricula and syllabi, textbook texts, the inscriptions in museums and on memorial plaques, and the positions of the public media, the President said. He stressed the importance of laying down red lines which are to guarantee that North Macedonia's EU integration will not take place with the Bulgarian history, language and identity used as a bargaining chip. Clear-cut conditions should be set in advance and failure to meet them should stop the transition to the next stages of the negotiating process, said Radev. He also raised the matter of air policing in North Macedonia: "It was agreed in principle that the Bulgarian government will use all levers within NATO and in dialogue with our partners so as to partake responsibility and join in air policing duty on a rotating basis." Prime Minister Boyko Borissov told reporters after the meeting: "We have never stated that we support North Macedonia's EU membership unconditionally." He added: "Our position is clear: it is important that they are accepted in the EU, but they must understand that this depends on them and cannot happen at our expense by rewriting history." "After October 17, when the meeting on North Macedonia's EU accession will be held in Brussels, we will have 71 instruments to halt its progress towards the EU, namely, the opening and closing of negotiating chapters," Borissov explained. He said: "We used to say until recently that we were one people, let's assume we are fraternal peoples. We wish this fratricidal war waged by Skopje propaganda stopped because no people is closer to us," said Borissov. Regarding NATO membership, the Prime Minister noted that North Macedonia can rely on Bulgaria and that Karakachanov is working hard on the matter. Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva told reporters that Bulgaria should not stop North Macedonia's EU membership, but this is not unconditional and Bulgaria's national interests must be protected in the first place. Bulgaria should support North Macedonia's EU membership, but with clear and concrete conditions, she said. Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov said the work of the Joint Commission is unsatisfactory, the reason being Skopje's policy of buying time. There cannot be unconditional support for North Macedonia. "A clear position about [North] Macedonia's membership should be drafted within days, on which the parliamentary parties should reach a consensus," Karakachanov said, adding however, that the decision will be made by the Bulgarian Government. "[North] Macedonia's accession process should have clear conditions for membership and there must be categorical results by October 17," he added. Borissov, Karakachanov and Zaharieva said they would like to see Albania and North Macedonia together on the path towards EU membership. Kristian Vigenin, who participated in the meeting in his capacity as Parliament's Deputy Chair, said that Bulgaria has always backed EU enlargement towards the countries of the Western Balkans, but it cannot happen contrary to the Bulgarian interest. Sofia should not admit to the EU a country which does not honour its goodneighbourly commitments, he said. "We agreed today that the government will issue a position within a few days, then the BSP for Bulgaria will come up with its own position, and we will seek a joint position," said Vigenin. Polina Tsankova, deputy leader of the Volya - Bulgarian Patriots Party, stated at the meeting that Bulgaria should not support North Macedonia's bid for EU accession unless Skopje stops manipulates the two countries' common history. The party's press office quoted Volya leader Vesselin Mareshki as saying a few months ago that Sofia sets one more condition: regulation of the rights of the Bulgarian community in North Macedonia and its recognition in the country's Constitution. * * * MIA news agency quoted North Macedonia's Prime Minister Zoran Zaev as saying on Monday: "A swift solution to the open issues with Bulgaria is possible." He added: "There is no need for concern, we are receiving the alarm and messages from Bulgaria. The committees are already working, we will hold other meetings and highlight that the ultimate goal is for both sides to be satisfied with the solution." "We would like to see bold steps, steps based on facts and truth, and we are urging for a solution. I believe Bulgaria should also demonstrate will as we have done," Zaev told reporters. DS,RY/MY,DD
• (NW) European Investment Bank, Black Sea Bank to Lend EUR 100 Mln-Plus for SMEs in Bulgaria, Greece, Romania
September 30 (BTA) - The European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank (BSTDB) will jointly provide over 100 million euro for new investment by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and medium capitalization companies (Mid Caps) across Greece, Romania and Bulgaria through a new private sector financing initiative launched in Athens on Friday, the BSTDB said in a press release. The financing programme, funded fifty-fifty by EIB and BSTDB, will focus on supporting growth by agribusiness, manufacturing, transport and renewable energy companies and marks the first business partnership between the two development banks. To launch the programme, the EIB provided a 12-year 50 million euro loan to the BSTDB, which will manage the whole programme and extend loans to companies in Greece, Romania and Bulgaria. "Today's historic 100 million euro agreement marks the first cooperation between the EIB and the BSTDB and we look forward to strengthening support for private sector growth across the region together in the years ahead," said EIB Vice President Andrew McDowell. "Our shared understanding of private sector priorities will strengthen the development impact of the new financing programme," said BSTDB President Dmitry Pankin. DS/LG //
• (DF) HRH Princess Dana Firas of Jordan Visits Bulgaria
September 30 (BTA) - Her Royal Highness Princess Dana Firas of Jordan and Bulgarian Tourism Minister Nikolina Angelkova Monday opened an international forum aimed at developing cultural tourism. Princess Dana Firas is paying a visit to Bulgaria at Angelkova's invitation. Her Royal Highness is a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and President of the Petra National Trust, the oldest national nongovernmental organization working in the area of Jordan's heritage preservation. Bulgaria will benefit from Jordan's experience in involving adolescents in the protection of cultural and historical heritage through specialized training, Minister Angelkova said at a press conference after the forum. A memorandum of cooperation with the Petra National Trust will be signed, so that our country can benefit from Jordan's experience in this field. Her Royal Highness Dana Firas said that in Jordan, this cultural heritage training includes children and young people aged 7 to 20, divided by age groups. One of the goals is to teach young people how to make a living from their heritage without destroying it, and the responsibility each person has for protecting it.
• (DF) VMRO Asks Prosecutor General to Deactivate Bulgarian Helsinki Committee
September 30 (BTA) - VMRO has asked Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov to discontinue the activities of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) because of "inadmissible interference with Bulgaria's judicial system," the power-sharing nationalist party said in a press release on Monday. VMRO Deputy Chairman and MEP Angel Dzhambazki and National Leadership member and MP Alexander Sidi have alerted the Prosecutor General, requesting a termination of the BHC's registration. The alert argues that the BHC "directly and indirectly exerts pressure on Bulgarian magistrates and engages in unconstitutional, unlawful, immoral and openly anti-Bulgarian activities."
• (DF) Consultative Meeting Reviews Relations with North Macedonia
Sofia, September 30 (BTA) - A consultative meeting convened by President Rumen Radev here on Monday reviewed Bulgaria's relations with North Macedonia in light of the results achieved by the Joint Multidisciplinary Commission of Experts on Historical and Educational Issues between the two countries and the expected invitation for North Macedonia to start negotiations on joining the European Union. Addressing the media after the meeting, President Radev said that the participants agreed in principle on the need for urgent actions to come up with a national position with clear requirements and criteria that will protect Bulgaria's national interest. The meeting was attended by Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva, Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov, parliamentarians, and the Bulgarian co-chair of the Joint Multidisciplinary Commission, Prof. Angel Dimitrov. "We have never stated that we support North Macedonia's EU membership unconditionally," Prime Minister Borissov told journalists after the meeting. "Our position is clear - it is important that they are accepted in the EU, but they must understand that this depends on them and cannot happen at our expense by rewriting history," he went on to say. "After October 17, when the meeting about North Macedonia's EU accession will be held in Brussels, we will have 71 instruments to end its path towards the EU - these are the opening and closing negotiating chapters," Borissov explained. Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva told journalists that Bulgaria should not stop North Macedonia's EU membership, but this is not unconditional and Bulgaria's national interests must be protected in the first place. Bulgaria should support North Macedonia's EU membership, but with clear and concrete conditions, she said. Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov said that the work of the Joint Commission is unsatisfactory, the reason being Skopje's policy of buying time. There cannot be unconditional support for North Macedonia. A clear position about [North] Macedonia's membership will be drafted within days, on which the parliamentary parties will agree, Karakachanov noted, adding however, that the decision will be made by the Bulgarian Government. [North] Macedonia's accession process should have clear conditions for its membership and there must be categorical results by October 17, he added. Borissov, Karakachanov and Zaharieva said they would like to see Albania and North Macedonia together on the path towards EU membership.
• (DF) 10,000 Take Part in European Week of Sports in Bulgaria
September 29 (BTA) - The fifth edition of the #BEactive European Week of Sport took place in Sofia between September 23 and 30. Over 10,000 people visited the Arena Armeec hall within the #BE ActiveFair, organized by the Youth and Sports Ministry. This year's campaign aimed to promote sports among young people through various demonstrations. Nearly 5,000 pupils visited the fair and had the chance to meet with the top Bulgarian athletes who acted as ambassadors for the campaign.
• (DF) VMRO Leader Karakachanov: Bulgaria Cannot Be Used by Skopje as Stepping Stone for EU Membership
September 28 (BTA) - VMRO leader and Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov issued a position on Saturday, circulated by his party's press centre, in which he says that at this stage Bulgaria should not give the green light for the start of North Macedonia's EU membership negotiations. The EU cannot be used to legitimize wrongdoings, while Bulgaria cannot be used in this harsh manner as a stepping stone by the incumbents in Skopje, he says in his position, which comes in response to an interview given by North Macedonia's President Stevo Pendarovski for a media outlet.
• (NW) Bulgarian Hotels to Host First German Medical Tourists
Sofia, September 27 (BTA) - Twenty-six Bulgarian hotels and spa centres have been approved by German health insurance companies and will be able to host health insured Germans from Saturday, said Tourism Minister Nikolina Angelkova. These places have met Bulgarian and German r...
• (DF) Electronic Media Regulator Gives National Radio Director Kostov a Week to Step Down
September 27 (BTA) - On Friday the Council of Electronic Media (CEM) demanded that the Director General of the Bulgarian National Radio (BNR), Svetoslav Kostov, resigns by the end of next week, the Bulgarian National Television reported. If Kostov does not resign, CEM will meet again in the second week of October and launch the procedure for an early suspension of his mandate.
• (DF) Fire Erupts at Dunarit Ordnance Plant in Rousse
September 27 (BTA) - A fire has erupted in an explosives production facility in the Dunarit ordnance plant, the local firefighting service chief Dimiter Pavlov said here on Friday. He explained that all workers have been evacuated and no injuries are reported so far. Later in the day, Rousse Regional Governor Galin Grigorov, who also heads the newly formed task force, explained that the situation in the plant is under control and the fire has been contained. Dunarit's owner Emilian Gebrev told Bulgarian National TV that no one has been injured in the fire and the residents of all nearby settlements have been informed that the smoke is not hazardous. Everyone was evacuated from the plant within ten minutes. The fire should be extinguished anytime now, but nobody will be allowed to enter the plant for 24 hours as per safety instructions, in order to avoid any risks, Gebrev explained. RY/MY
• (NW) Bulgarian Hotels to Host First German Medical Tourists
September 27 (BTA) - Twenty-six Bulgarian hotels and spa centres have been approved by German health insurance companies and will be able to host health insured Germans from Saturday, said Tourism Minister Nikolina Angelkova. These places have met Bulgarian and German requirements for the provision of health rehabilitation services, she added. At the opening of the sixth annual congress of the Bulgarian Union of Balneology and SPA Tourism, Angelkova said that Germany is among key markets for Bulgaria. The Minister said an agreement with the Association of German Health Insurance Companies has been signed and Bulgaria has been given the green light to work with German health insurers. AHK Bulgarien CEO Mitko Vassilev told the forum that with joint efforts Bulgaria has been put on the map of German national insurance funds and that the project has been in the works for two years. Siyka Katsarova, President of the Bulgarian Union of Balneology and SPA Tourism, said that Bulgaria's positioning on the European market is their main goal. Ivo Marinov, head of the tourism agency with the Sofia Municipality said that under the capital's master plan a total of 35 hydrothermal centres will be renovated or built. RY/PP //
• (DF) Foreign Minister Zaharieva Confers with Costa Rican Counterpart
September 27 (BTA) - Bulgaria's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva conferred in New York with Costa Rica's Minister of Foreign Relations and Worship Manuel Ventura Robles, Zaharieva's Ministry said in a press release on Friday. The Bulgarian Foreign Minister reiterated her country's readiness for invigoration of the bilateral political dialogue with Costa Rica and of the inter-regional dialogue between the European Union and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). The two chief diplomats discussed a number of issues on the international agenda. Ventura showed interest in Bulgaria's and EU's experience in dealing with migration, considering the fact that Costa Rica is the number one destination for immigrants in Latin America with 386,000 registered aliens, mainly from Nicaragua. RY/LG //
• (DF) President Radev Calls for Far More Active Promotion of Bulgaria's Business Opportunities in US
September 27 (BTA) - "Bulgaria should be far more active in promoting on site in the US the opportunities for doing business in our country," Bulgarian President Rumen Radev told journalists, quoted by his Press Secretariat on Friday, after a working meeting in New York, organized by the Business Council for International Understanding. Taking part in the event were executives of globally leading American companies in communications, IT, finance, energy and the defence industry. The idea of the meeting was to achieve better results in Bulgarian-US investment cooperation and to attract the interest of high value added sector businesses to investing in Bulgaria. The head of State singled out the availability of skilled professionals and a competitive tax framework as part of Bulgaria's advantages. Radev told journalists that Bulgaria and the US are deepening their strategic partnership, which benefits particularly the sphere of security and defence. "Our aspiration is that this cooperation should become full-fledged in all other activities, too, and especially in investments and high technology transfer," the President said. He added that this requires dialogue at a high political level and tangible support for business. RY/LG //
• (DF) Bulgarian PM Borissov Confers with South Korean President Moon
September 27 (BTA special correspondent Antoan Nikolov) - President Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea conferred with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, who is paying an official visit to the Asian country at the head of a government delegation between September 24 and 27. Moon offered Bulgaria closer cooperation in the IT sector and said that his country would like to use Bulgarian IT professionals who are highly valued there. The head of State would also like to see closer tourism cooperation with Bulgaria. He noted the steady increase in the number of Korean tourists visiting Bulgaria. The President said that, thanks to the efforts of its Government, Bulgaria is a leader in the Balkans and has achieved rapid economic growth. Besides this, in the first half of 2019 Bulgaria held the rotating Presidency of the EU Council and its fruitful coordination for effective work on migrant issues and Brexit was highly appreciated. Moon noted that two-way trade is growing and committed himself to promote Bulgaria. He said that Bulgaria attracts South Korean companies with its low taxes and good conditions for doing business. For their part, the companies are interested in investing in Bulgaria because this gives them easy access to the EU market. Borissov pointed out that Bulgaria and the Republic of Korea have fine cooperation in education and student exchange. He stressed the competitive advantages of the Bulgarian economy: a very good business climate, low taxation, skilled labour force, and access to the vast EU market. The President and the Prime Minister also discussed energy and the willingness of Korean interests to share in the Belene N-Plant construction project. Regarding the situation in the Korean Peninsula, Borissov said that Bulgaria consistently and categorically stands up for a peaceful settlement by diplomatic means. "Bulgaria praises the leading role of the Republic of Korea and your personal efforts, Mr President, for making progress in the inter-Korean dialogue and easing tensions in the Korean Peninsula," the guest added. RY/LG //
• (NW) Association: Thomas Cooks Collapse Will Affect Bulgarian Tourism in 2020
September 26 (BTA) - The collapse of British travel firm Thomas Cook will continue to impact the Bulgarian tourist industry in 2020 and 2021, said Atanas Dimitrov, co-chairman of the Bulgarian Hotel and Restaurant Association in Varna on Thursday. According to him, the market niche after the company's failure will be filled by other firms but this will take time and the number of British tourists in this country will likely drop. Dimitrov added that the Association has serious concerns whether this would lead to intercompany indebtedness as many of the Bulgarian partners of Thomas Cook have loans to service. The largest number of hotels working with the British company are located in the Sunny Beach and the Golden Sands resorts, said the Association co-chairman Branimir Milanski. He expressed hope that Bulgarian companies won?t collapse but this to a large extent will depend on the state and the measures which will be taken in the current situation. The Associations' chairmen are taking part in the annual conference of the Balkan Alliance of the Hospitality Associations which opened Thursday at Sts Konstantin and Elena resort near Varna. Attending the forum are representatives of Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Albania and Bulgaria. The forum will highlight the development of tourism in the region and possibilities for common routes based on Balkan cuisine. DT/PP
• (DF) Bulgarian Head of State Addresses UN General Assembly Session
September 26 (BTA) - Bulgarian President Rumen Radev Thursday addressed the UN General Assembly during the General Debate of its 74th Session. "Today, more than ever, we need to stand for a rule-based multilateral system, with the United Nations at its core," the President said, quoted by his Press Secretariat. He expressed his country's support for the creation of an Alliance for Multilateralism, describing it as a "timely and important initiative" launched by Germany and France "to foster effective multilateral approaches to global issues through the UN". In Radev's words, the UN has a "unique array of tools for mediation, conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peace building", which is why Bulgaria welcomes Secretary-General Antonio Guterres's commitment to advance diplomacy for peace and stands ready to support his efforts to strengthen the role of mediation in conflict prevention, embodied in the Action for Peacekeeping initiative. The Bulgarian head of State noted that "international terrorism and violent extremism continue to pose a significant threat to international peace and security, human rights and sustainable development." He called on the international community to beef up efforts to strengthen counterterrorism cooperation by supporting the UN as a key player. Radev deplored the international community's inability to reach a breakthrough in any major conflict around the world over the last year. The Middle East "The proclaimed military victory over the so-called ISIS 'Caliphate' last March was not enough to bring the war-torn Middle East region closer to peace," the President noted, calling on the international community to stay vigilant "as the terrorist threat still exists in different forms". He stressed that "finding a political solution to the conflict in Syria is crucial for the stability and security of the region and beyond", arguing that a sustainable political solution should be sought through the launch of a genuine Syrian-owned political process under UN auspices, aimed at a peaceful and inclusive political transition. Radev called for a nationwide cessation of hostilities, for the protection of civilians, and for ensuring humanitarian access to all parts of the country. "Bulgaria highly appreciates the commitment of the neighboring host countries to ease the suffering of the refugees," the President said. Arguing that there is no military solution to the crisis in Libya, Radev pledged his country's continued support for the relaunch of the UN-led mediation process and the preparation of parliamentary and presidential elections. "The stabilization of Libya is of utmost importance for regional security and for the management of migration flows in the Mediterranean," he pointed out. Addressing the forum, the head of State reiterated Bulgaria's support for all efforts aimed at resuming the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks on the Middle East Peace Process, including those of the Quartet. "A two-State solution is the only way to sustainable peace," he argued. He insisted that the UN and the international community should continue to prioritize the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. Radev voiced Bulgaria's "deep concern" over Iran's decision to suspend the implementation of some of its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action for its nuclear programme, insisting that "the return to full compliance with the nuclear deal and the further diplomatic outreach is the only prerequisite for lowering tensions." In his opinion, Iran's regional role and ballistic missile programme should be addressed separately from the JCPoA. Radev also called attention to the recent escalation of tensions in the Persian Gulf, noting that "an immediate priority should be given to de-escalation measures aimed at avoiding further incidents." Ukraine, Non-proliferation, Western Balkans, Environment The President called for a peaceful settlement of the "highly precarious" situation in Eastern Ukraine in accordance with the 2014 UN General Assembly resolution. The exchange of detainees is a sign of hope, but the parties to the conflict should implement in full the mutually agreed Package of Measures and abide by the ceasefire, including the withdrawal of heavy weapons and granting unhindered access to the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to all sites, Radev said. In connection with the 50th anniversary of the entry into force of the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2020, the Bulgarian leader called on the international community to reconfirm the validity of the Treaty as the cornerstone of the nuclear non-proliferation regime. Noting his country's consistent support for the Western Balkans' EU integration, Radev described the process leading to accession as "an investment in stability". "Bulgaria puts a special emphasis on the need for overcoming the legacies of the past in this region by actively building good-neighborly relations," he emphasized. "The human race is facing rapidly developing detrimental consequences of ever-growing overuse of natural resources and massive urbanization. Some human activities result in irreversible environmental pollution; in reducing biodiversity and in threatening the fragile ecosystems," the President pointed out, highlighting the "pressing need to accelerate the pace of progress in achieving all Sustainable Development Goals". "As a member of the UN Human Rights Council, Bulgaria committed to empowerment of children with disabilities through inclusive education," Radev said, noting that the Bulgarian member of the new European Commission will be in charge of youth, education and innovations, "which proves the importance we attach to these priorities." LG //
• (DF) Economy Minister: Trade with South Korea Increases by 48% in 2018
September 26 (BTA special correspondent Antoan Nikolov) - Bulgaria's trade with South Korea increased by an impressive 48 per cent in 2018, reaching 286.6 million US dollars, Economy Minister Emil Karanikolov told a bilateral business forum in Seoul on Thursday. Karanikolov is accompanying Prime Minister Boyko Borissov on an official visit to South Korea between September 24 and 27. During the business forum, Karanikolov underscored the potential for increasing the export of Bulgarian foods, grain, meat, essential oils, yogurt, vegetables, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, machine parts, electronics and textiles to the Far Eastern country. According to the Minister, Bulgaria is ready to increase its support for future Korean projects in its economy, particularly in automaking, electronics, high-tech and innovative industries. There are 249 companies with South Korean participation registered in Bulgaria, he said, assuring the audience that Bulgaria will support new business initiatives and will try to expand its partnership with the South Korean business community. During the visit of the Bulgarian delegation, the sides signed: a Memorandum of Understanding between the Bulgarian Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Agency (BSMEPA) and the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA); a Memorandum of Understanding between BSMEPA and the Korea Importers Association; a Memorandum of Cooperation between the Invest Bulgaria Agency and KOTRA; and a Memorandum of Understanding between Bulgaria's National Company for Industrial Zones and the Korea Industrial Complex Corporation. DT/VE //
• (DF) Journalists Protest Sensorship at Bulgarian National Radio
September 26 (BTA) - Thursday noon, journalists will be protesting sensorship in the Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) and widespread pressure on their work in Bulgaria. Organized by the Association of European Journalists - Bulgaria, the protest will form a human chain from the BNR building to the Sofia TV Tower "to transmit a signal of what is happening to the rest of Bulgaria and farther in Europe", said the organizers. They explain in their call to protest that it is a reaction to the failure of the authorities to take action in an ongoing crisis at BNR which started with the removal of a popular political show host Silvia Velikova and an unprecedented stoppage of the terrestrial transmission of BNR's Horizont Programme for five hours on September 13 in violation of BNR's obligation to broadcast round the clock. At a hearing by the Council for Electronic Media (CEM), Velikova discloses details of the pressure she has been put to by the BNR management, presumably over the way she covered the work of the judiciary (which is her beat) and the only candidate for Prosecutor General (Ivan Geshev). BNR journalists urged the stations's Director General Svetoslav Kostov to step down, but he declined and threatened to sue his critics. "The prosecution service is only probing the technical aspect of the situation and has established clearly that there was no technical cause for the BNR broadcast suspension. Apparently the cause was of a different nature - not technical. The prosecution service refuses to find out. CEM looks helpless and confused, and lacks the courage to enforce a law which allows it to fire the BNR director. The MPs are arrogant and shun responsibility as if it was somebody else who put in CEM people who have nothing to do with journalism," the Association of European Journalists wrote in their call to protest action. In the human chain action, they will position 111 people over the 1,100 m distance between BNR and the TV Tower as the number people is meant to match Bulgaria's position in the Reporters Without Border ranking of media freedom. The Association insists that an international probe should look into the BNR scandal because the Bulgarian institutions are incapable of doing that: the BNR broadcast disruption is probed by Deputy Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev and it was the BNR coverage of his campaign to become the next Prosecutor General, which started the crisis. The Association is adamant that the probe should reach the people who pressured the BNR director. LN/
• (DF) Bulgarian PM Meets with Republic of Korea Counterpart
September 26 (BTA) - Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov Thursday met with the government leader of the Republic of Korea, Lee Nak-yeon, on the third day of his official visit here. Speaking at a news briefing in the government headquarters in Seoul, Borissov said that both countries have made education and culture their priority which is why he attaches topmost importance to relations between universities. He expressed hope that the Korean government would support a project for production of electric car batteries in Bulgaria. It also transpired that there is an opportunity for starting a direct air service between Seoul and Sofia. Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon said that Borissov's visit will invigorate bilateral relations on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties. He congratulated Borissov for the election of Kristalina Georgieva at the helm of the IMF on Wednesday. The two politicians also discussed cooperation in the area of hi-tech. Prime Minister Lee said that the two countries will step up exchange in tourism, culture and education. In the presence of Borissov, the two sides signed documents for cooperation in energy and foreign affairs. A memorandum of understanding will encourage companies to participate in project tenders in the energy sector and support the advancement of cooperation between the two countries in using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. It also envisages an exchange of experts and cooperation between energy companies and research establishments in the area of new energy technologies. Another memorandum, between the two Foreign Ministries, provides for joint observance of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. During an official lunch for the Bulgarian delegation that he hosted, Prime Minister Lee said in his toast that during the Korean War Bulgaria welcomed and taught 500 Korean children, and one of the teachers who worked with them was the mother of Prime Minister Borissov. He also said that he holds Bulgaria dear to his heart and that it was the first country he visited as Prime Minister. On Thursday, Prime Minister Borissov visited the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. Hankuk and Sofia's University of St. Kliment Ohridski have an intense programme for academic exchange. The Korean side provides scholarships for Bulgarian students and Prime Minister Borissov expressed hope that Bulgaria will start offering scholarships for Korean students next year. Borissov is visiting Seoul until September 27. LN/DT
• (DF) Bulgarian Economist Kristalina Georgieva Selected as IMF Managing Director
September 25 (BTA) - Bulgarian economist Kristalina Georgieva was selected as the International Monetary Fund's new Managing Director by its Executive Board for a five-year term starting October 1, the IMF reported Wednesday. The news about Georgieva's selection as IMF's new Managing Director was widely covered by world news agencies. Georgieva, who was the only candidate for the post of IMF Managing Director, takes over after her predecessor Christine Lagarde stepped down in order to head the European Central Bank. Georgieva issued the following statement on the occasion of her selection, as quoted by the IMF: "I am deeply honored to have been selected as Managing Director of the IMF and grateful for the trust that the Fund's global membership and the Executive Board have placed in me. I want to pay tribute to my predecessor, Christine Lagarde, a great leader and a dear friend, whose vision and tireless work have contributed so much to the continued success of the Fund," Georgieva says.
• (NW) Economy Minister Karanikolov: S Korean Company Mulls Investing over EUR 1.5 Bln in Electric Car Battery Plant in Bulgaria
September 25 (BTA special correspondent Antoan Nikolov) - Representatives of one of the largest South Korean companies, other than Hyundai, are now in Bulgaria looking into a possible investment of over 1.5 billion euro in an electric car battery maker, Economy Minister Emil Karanikolov told reporters here. He is in South Korea as part of a Bulgarian delegation led by Prime Minister Boyko Borissov. Bulgaria is competing for this investment with two more countries, said Karanikolov, without naming them. Four locations have been suggested for such a plant and the South Korean company which is in Sofia now is considering two of them, he said. A possible strategic partnership in the electric car industry and setting up a test drive centre for autonomous cars in Bulgaria was discussed with Hyundai, said Karanikolov when asked about the Bulgarian delegation's visit to the Hyundai Motor Group's Powertrain R&D Center in Hwaseong on Wednesday. The possible manufacture of electric car parts, mainly batteries, was also on the agenda. The Economy Minister specified that these negotiations were unrelated to the investment in an electric car battery maker in Bulgaria mulled by another South Korean company. He declined to name it so as not to cause problems for it. Hyundai suggested that Bulgaria contact their European headquarters whose representatives could explore strategic partnership options, Karanikolov said. He added: "We are not talking investments right now. The point is to present Bulgaria as an extremely good destination for a future investment. If they choose a segment, we will announce a concrete investment." DS/DD /??/
• (DF) Parliament Revises Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code on First Reading in Connection with Fast-Track Trial
September 25 (BTA) - Bulgaria's National Assembly Wednesday approved on first reading four bills addressing the issue of fast-track trial and the ensuing reduction of sentences. By a vote of 97-62, the legislature passed amendments to the Penal Code, moved by GERB, according to which the fast-track trial institute will be retained but the court will have discretion to decide whether to reduce the offender's sentence by up to one-fifth in cases of intentional homicide, grievous bodily injury, molestation or rape. By the same bill, the court is given leeway not to impose life imprisonment without commutation and to replace life imprisonment by deprivation of liberty from 20 to 30 years. The idea of the revisions is to keep the existing celerity of the procedure while, at the same time, enable the court to exercise discretion in determining the penal sanction for grave assaults on the person. The bill also transposes the requirements of Directive (EU) 2017/1371 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2017 on the fight against fraud to the Union's financial interests by means of criminal law, extending liability for malfeasant embezzlement to foreign public officials. The Supplementary Provisions amend the Criminal Procedure Code making the cases falling within the jurisdiction of the European Public Prosecutor's Office cognizable in the Specialized Criminal Court. Earlier in the day, Parliament passed on first reading three other bills, moved by BSP for Bulgaria, the United Patriots and Volya, respectively. All three pieces of draft legislation would make a fast-track trial leading to a reduction of the sentence inapplicable in cases where the offender has intentionally caused death or grievous bodily injury. The revisions were prompted by the rape and murder of a seven-year-old girl in the Village of Sotirya near Sliven (Southeastern Bulgaria) in mid-August, which was followed by attempted sexual abuse of an eight-year-old girl in the same village just a fortnight later. Pros and Cons During the ensuing debate, the opposition BSP for Bulgaria argued that the passage of the revisions proposed by GERB was wrong and watered down the provisions voted through earlier that abolish the fast-track trial. "Within an hour or so, we adopted a law that scraps the fast-track trial and another one that brings it back," the Socialists' Floor Leader Kornelia Ninova pointed out, describing this as "a legal absurdity". "The excessive narrowing of the scope of the fast-track trial will throw us back to the time when such cases were dismissed through lapse of time and the offenders went unpunished," Krassimir Tsipov MP of GERB countered. Justice Minister Danail Kirilov stressed that the major issue at present should be whether to continue to trust the court in determining the penal sanction. The fast-track trial was institutionalized more than 10 years ago in order to speed up the administration of justice. Under the effective procedure, a defendant who admits the facts and circumstances in the indictment and requests a fast-track trial automatically qualifies for a reduction of his or her sentence by one-third. The institute has been applied on numerous occasions, but has invariably triggered public discontent in high-profile murder cases. LN/LG
• (DF) Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Croatia FMs: Tirana, Skopje should Start EU Accession Talks
September 25 (BTA) - The foreign ministers of Bulgaria, Ekaterina Zaharieva, of Greece, Nikos Dendias, of Romania, Ramona Nikole Manescu, and of Croatia, Gordan Grlic Radman, expressed their adamant support for the accession of Albania and North Macedonia to the European Union. They agreed on this position ?n the sidelines of the UN General Assembly Session which is underway in New York, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry reported Wednesday. The four top diplomats of the EU Balkan countries reviewed the European integration of their six neighboring countries not yet in the Union and outlined the sensitive issues involving the reforms of each country and how they could be supported. Zaharieva expressed the joint conviction of her colleagues and herself that their countries would be more secure, prosperous and richer only if all neighboring states become members of the European Union. Greece helped Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia in the period of accession and it is now time that they support their six Western Balkan neighbors. Zaharieva also thanked Romania and Croatia for their continuity of the priorities of the Bulgarian EU Council Presidency. "Bulgaria has signed a Friendship Agreement with the Republic of North Macedonia and that has to be implemented. Albania has to apply the legislation it has passed. Bulgaria supports the launch of negotiations for membership with both countries," Zaharieva said. Nikos Dendias said that Greece is coming out of a ten-year crisis and that his country had been turned inward, but now it will resume commitment to Balkan and European themes. He congratulated Bulgaria on its successful EU Council Presidency. Ramona Manescu, in turn, said that Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and Croatia should continue to coordinate their actions in the accession policy. "We should support our neighbors and continue the commitment with which Bulgaria headed this process during its Presidency. The division of Albania and the Republic of North Macedonia would be a great mistake and I think the time for a positive signal has come," she added. Gordan Grlic Radman expressed the joint desire that all countries in the region should live as good neighbors./DS/BR//
• (DF) Prime Minister Borissov Pays Official Visit to Republic of Korea
September 25 (BTA) - Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, who is paying an official visit to the Republic of Korea between September 24 and 27, laid a wreath at the main memorial tower of Seoul National Cemetery on Wednesday. He paid tribute to the memory of Korean nationals who died as members of the national independence movement in the Korean War and in the Vietnam War. Later in the day, Borissov visited Hyundai Motor Group's Powertrain R&D Center in Hwaseong. The centre was built in 1993 on an area of 3.47 million square metres and is equipped with design and engineering facilities, as well as driving routes and test facilities. It consists of various zones, mainly connected to design and engineering, performance testing and propulsion facilities, and a centre for future automotive technology. It employs around 10,000 engineers, designers and other staff. Taking a reporter's question if the Republic of Korea is going to invest in the automotive industry in Bulgaria, Borissov said such decisions are mostly made by the large companies' boards of directors. "We have submitted our offers here. They came to Bulgaria, we came here. It will happen if we like each other and it is to the mutual benefit," said the Prime Minister. He added that Bulgaria manufactures quite a few things for Hyundai even now. Borissov said that two-way trade increased considerably after Korea's Prime Minister visited Bulgaria. He believes that "bilateral relations will develop on a higher level" after the current visit and that Sofia should develop tourism contacts with Seoul. Later in the day, Borissov visited the Kukkiwon taekwondo training centre. Borissov's visit to the Republic of Korea is the first by a Bulgarian prime minister to the Asian country. It is aimed at broadening bilateral cooperation and coincides with the eve of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. On the official delegation are Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov, Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov, Transport, IT and Communications Minister Rossen Zhelyazkov, and Economy Minister Emil Karanikolov. DS/DT,DD
• (DF) Bulgarian President Takes Part in Opening of General Debate of 74th UN General Assembly Session
September 24 (BTA) - Bulgarian President Rumen Radev took part in the opening of the general debate of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, the President's press secretariat reported. Radev told journalists that the new session is expected to achieve substantial progress in preventing and dealing with conflicts and enhancing security in the world, but in reality these expectations are difficult to fulfill.
• (NW) Top Laparoendoscopic Surgery Names to Train Students and Doctors in Pleven
September 24 (BTA) - Top surgeons from the World Association of Laparoscopic Surgeons (WALS) are to train students and young doctors in Pleven, the Rector of the Medical University in the city, Prof. Dr. Slavcho Tomov, announced at the BTA Press Club there. Such a training course is organized for the first time in Bulgaria, Tomov specified. The university's telecom endoscopic centre in Pleven will provide its innovative premises and equipment for the training of over 100 medics from this country and abroad in a two-day course including Wednesday. Nine leading WALS experts will present the latest trends and achievements in surgery across the world. The world-class experts who have been particularly invited by the Medical University to come to Bulgaria include surgeons from the Centro Embryos Battipaglia (SA) in Salerno, Italy, Louisiana State University, and the Gynecologic Robotic Surgery at California Pacific Medical Center in the United States, as well as others. The training course in Pleven precedes the major forum, European Robotic Surgery Congress, organized by the Medical University and scheduled for September 26 to 28. Bulgaria hosts an event of such rank for the first time, Tomov said. The prestigious hosting was won by the team of Corresponding Member, Prof. Dr. Grigor Gorchev, the pioneer of robotic surgery in Southeastern Europe./RY/BR
• (DF) Foreign Minister Zaharieva Meets Counterparts of Oman, India, Ghana and Tajikistan in New York
September 24 (BTA) - On the sidelines of the UN General Assembly Session which is underway in New York, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva met with the top diplomats of Oman, India, Ghana and Tajikistan on Monday. Details of the meetings were made public by her Ministry. The opportunities for joined projects in agriculture, tourism, the energy sector, infrastructure, culture and education were discussed by Zaharieva with the Foreign Minister of Oman, Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah. She said that it is time to further encourage bilateral relations as the two countries have no open issues between them. The two sides have prepared a bilateral agreement on visa waiver for the short-term stay for the holders of diplomatic, special and official passports and a memorandum of understanding for consultations between the two Foreign Ministries, and these can be signed during a visit by any of the two Foreign Ministers to the other country. In a wide-ranging conversation, the two Ministers discussed also the situation in the Gulf and measures against climate change. They exchanged invitations for visits. Meeting with Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Zaharieva said that there are no open issues but only opportunities for the two countries and their business people. The Indian top diplomat thanked Bulgaria for its support for India in the EU and said he would be happy to visit Bulgaria or be visited by Minister Zaharieva. He also said that India is seeking in Europe partnerships in the area of the economy and life sciences. Service centres in fifteen Indian cities are about to start issuing Bulgarian visas, which will facilitate considerably contacts between businesses and people. Zaharieva assured her counterpart that Bulgaria is supportive of a peaceful solution for the issues between India and Pakistan: "on a bilateral basis, through constructive talks and much wisdom". Zaharieva told Ghanaian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey that she would be glad to visit Ghana with a business delegation within her forthcoming tour in Africa and to investigate the opportunities for Bulgarian investments. Botchwey responded that Bulgarian business is welcome to invest in Ghana and presented the conditions her government has created for foreign companies. In her opinion, the two countries have laid a good political foundation to be further materialized in practical results. The sides were adamant that dialogue on political level should be promoted. Zaharieva said that there is an opportunity for Ghanaian students to study at Bulgarian universities. A considerable number of students from Africa have graduated from Bulgarian universities and now hold respected positions in their home countries, she pointed out. Zaharieva discussed with her counterpart of Tajikistan, Sirojiddin Muhriddin, ways to strengthen further bilateral relations, which have been traditionally good. Zaharieva recalled that in 2008 the two sides approved an agreement on economic cooperation and in 2016 another one on international road transport but both documents have not yet been signed. She said the two countries should make sure they are finalized. Muhriddin said that relations in culture and education need to be strengthened as well. "We understand your language," he said. Tajikistan also relies on closer ties with Bulgaria and the EU in the area of security and said protecting his country's border with Afghanistan is the biggest challenge they face. Minister Muhriddin invited his Bulgarian counterpart to visit his country. Bilateral trade stood at 338,000 US dollars in 2018 after dropping by 61.7 per cent from 2017. Bulgaria runs a surplus in two-way trade. The Bulgarian export is dominated by medicines (40.3 per cent). In the past year, Tajikistan has launched a reform in its industrial sector, including machine building, electrical engineering, the energy industry and the processing industry, and Bulgarian businesses can participate with their experience, the Foreign Ministry said. LN/BR/RY /??/
• (DF) President Radev Meets with Iraqi, Moldovan Counterparts in New York
September 24 (BTA) - President Rumen Radev met with his Iraqi counterpart Barham Salih and his Moldovan counterpart Igor Dodon on the sidelines of the 74th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York, said the Bulgarian head of State's press secretariat on Tuesday. Emerging from his meeting with President Salih, Radev said that it is Bulgaria's and Iraq's ambition to begin restoring the presence of Bulgarian companies on the Iraqi market in various branches where the two countries used to be economic partners, such as construction, hydro equipment, oil and gas prospecting and production, medicine, and education. These are fields in which Iraq is open to partnerships and values highly Bulgarian specialists and companies. The two heads of State agreed that the good bilateral economic relations not long ago are a solid basis for restoring their partnership in the new conditions of democratic development. During the meeting, the Iraqi President expressed his country's interest in Bulgaria's experience with the transition to democracy. Radev said Bulgaria will rely on more Iraqi students coming to study in Bulgarian universities. Bulgaria will continue supporting Iraq's efforts for stabilization and restoration, and is ready to assist in the process of Iraq's democratic reforms, Radev told journalists. In his words, Iraq needs support because a repeat destabilization of the country would affect Bulgaria's region in terms of both security and a sharp increase of migrant and refugee flows. At his meeting with Moldovan President Dodon, Radev was assured that the territorial and administrative reform undertaken by Moldova will not affect the status and integrity of the Taraclia district, which is populated by ethnic Bulgarians. The matter of the rights of the Bulgarian minority in Moldova was raised by Radev, his press secretariat said. The Presidents of Bulgaria and Moldova noted the close friendly relations and active political dialogue between their countries. They stressed the positive contribution to the bilateral cooperation of the large Bulgarian diaspora in Moldova, which is fully integrated. In Radev's words, the preservation of the current status of Taraclia, where 63,000 ethnic Bulgarians live, is of vital importance for them and for the preservation of the national, cultural, and language identity. Radev was also assured that the Moldovan side will do everything within its power to have the Gregory Tsamblak State University of Taraclia transformed into a branch of the Angel Kanchev University of Rousse. RY/DS /??/
• (DF) Bulgaria Expects Grave Consequences from Thomas Cook Collapse
September 23 (BTA) - The failure of tour operator Thomas Cook will cause grave consequences for the 2020 season in Bulgaria, Tourism Minister Nikola Angelkova said here Monday. She was speaking at a news briefing she held after the announcement of Thomas Cook's collapse. She said the risk is for everybody working with Thomas Cook. Astral Holidays is the Bulgarian company through which Thomas Cook has been working in this country. The tourists who Thomas Cook brings every summer to Bulgaria vary between 350,000 and 450,000, said the Minister. Last year Bulgaria was visited by a total of over 9.2 million foreign tourists. Some 2,500 Thomas Cook clients are stranded in Bulgaria at the moment, according to British Embassy figures. A working meeting is scheduled for Tuesday with the participation of hotel owners and tour operators working with Thomas Cook, as well as the British Embassy and the consumer protection watchdog, to discuss the possible ramifications from the Thomas Cook collapse, said Angelkova. She said that her Ministry got in contact with the Thomas Cook management on September 20. The British Civil Aviation Authority has sent the Tourism Ministry a special form which will be forwarded to all 6,000 Bulgarian hotels working with Thomas Cook, and based on this form they will be able to claim all due payments and cover their costs. Speaking to BTA, the head of the Institute for Analyses and Assessment in Tourism, Roumen Draganov, said the Thomas Cook failure is a major event which will hit hard the Bulgarian tourism, because the company accounts for over half of the flights to and from the Bulgarian Black Sea airports of Varna and Bourgas. He explained that the adverse effect will go two ways. On the one hand, Thomas Cook owes a lot to Bulgarian hotels because payments for overnights are made 60 days after the stay, which means that payments are due for July and August. On the other hand, planned late-season vacations will be cancelled as will be the contracts for 2020. He warned that if the German branch of Thomas Cook collapses as well, there will be a chain of failures which will cause a chaos across the world.
• (NW) Innovation Companies Pool Efforts to Usher 21st Century Healthcare
September 23 (BTA) - On September 26, Sofia will host a forum where digital health and innovation companies are pooling efforts to usher 21st century healthcare. The forum is mottoed "From TREATMENT to HEALTHcare through DIGITALIZATION" which will gather nearly 400 business people, innovators and leaders in digital health from Bulgaria. The organizers' key goal is to open up avenues for new cooperation and finding new partners. The forum is organized by the Digital Health and Innovation Cluster Bulgaria (DHI), an association that was created in November 2018. It started with nine members and now includes 19 companies, mostly Bulgarian but also companies from Switzerland, which is the European leader in health care innovations. During the forum, 44 speakers will present working digital solutions in various fields of health care: care system management, big data and analytics, teleHealth and mHealth, diagnostics, medication management, cyber security, population health and practice management. Rossen Dimitrov of the DHI Managing Board told BTA that one of the participating companies has developed patented wearables that allow constant streaming of cardiac and other significant biometric data, providing a comprehensive system for online diagnostics, prevention and emergency reaction for cardiovascular diseases. It is one of the most avant-garde telemedicine systems for the transmission and monitoring of reliable medical data in real time. Another company offers a cloud-based platform which enables all stakeholders in the healthcare process to work together - doctors, pharmacists, dentists, healthcare professionals, patients, administrators, agents, insurers, and all other related businesses - in what is essentially paperless healthcare. A third example of what the participants in the forum will hear is a unique matching algorithm that easily connects people with various health conditions worldwide with the most suitable studies for them. This platform helps patients to easily find, understand and join clinical trials, and researchers to expand their pool of eligible patients. The forum is the central event during the first Swiss INNOVATION 4 HEALTH Week in Sofia between September 26 and October 9. As part of the event, an open-air exhibition "INNOVATION 4 HEALTH" in central Sofia will showcase Swiss innovations in medical technologies and pharma. Swiss Ambassador Muriel Berset Kohen will inaugurate the exhibition and the forum. Among the participants in the forum is Daniela Daritkova, GERB floor leader and chair of the parliamentary health committee; MEP Andrey Kovatchev (Group of the European People's Party); Prof. Dr. Ivo Petrov, who is a healthcare innovator and leading medical expert in invasive cardiology; Dr. Ivan Madzharov, the head of the Bulgarian Medical Association; and Dr. Stanimir Hasurdjiev, Chairperson of the Bulgarian National Patients' Organization and a patient leader on EU level. LN/
• (DF) President Urges Expatriate Bulgarians to Return Home, Be Active in Political Life
September 23 (BTA) - Meeting in New York Bulgarians who live and work in the United States, President Rumen Radev urged them to come back home and join actively the social and political life in their home country. "The number of Bulgarians abroad is growing and we have to do our best so that they can participate actively in the social and political processes in Bulgaria rather than being only spiritually a part of it," he said as quoted by his press secretariat. Radev is in New York for the 74th Session of the UN General Assembly. He visited the Bulgarian General Consulate to celebrate the 111th anniversary of the Declaration of Bulgaria's Independence together with expatriate Bulgarians. He argued that expatriate Bulgarians should have a right to participate in politics in their home country, which would encourage many to return home. He asked them to support a change in the legislation that he has proposed, allowing Bulgarian-born people who have acquired dual citizenship in EU countries or any other of the old democracies and advanced economies, to run for Parliament, President or Vice President in Bulgaria. "Bulgarians with solid education, prestigious jobs and experience acquired in countries with advanced social, political and economic systems will be a big asset for this country," the President said. He also said that if Bulgaria wants to be "a worthy member of the European family, it should have greater media freedom, rule of law, transparent, accountable and dependable state institutions - but most of all an active civil society empowered to exercise stronger control over, and participate in, the government of their country". The President said that Bulgaria is certainly making headway "but the question is at what speed and in what direction". He added that unlike other former Soviet bloc countries, "Bulgaria is not a member of the Schengen zone for visa-free travel, is still under the rule-of-law monitoring and lacks strategic investors". The head of State urged the Bulgarians in the General Consulate in New York to be more active and united, and to establish their own organization with recognition at federal level. "It will consolidate even more the Bulgarian community and energize some projects such as the opening of a direct air service between Bulgaria and the US and the scrapping of US visa requirements [for Bulgarians]." He argued that the removal of visas will match the strategic relations with the US: "relations between allies, partners and friends". Later on Monday, the President is scheduled to participate in the Climate Action Summit and in a high-level forum on religious freedoms organized by President Donald Trump. LN
• (NW) International Technical Fair 2019 Brings Nearly 600 Companies from 34 Countries to Plovdiv
Plovdiv, South Central Bulgaria, September 23 (BTA) - The 75th International Technical Fair brings nearly 600 companies from 34 countries to Plovdiv from September 23 to 28. The latest edition of the oldest industrial fair in Bulgaria brings many changes, such as the transfer ...
• (DF) International Technical Fair 2019 Brings Nearly 600 Companies from 34 Countries to Plovdiv
September 23 (BTA) - The 75th International Technical Fair brings nearly 600 companies from 34 countries to Plovdiv from September 23 to 28. The latest edition of the oldest industrial fair in Bulgaria brings many changes, such as the transfer of the traditional business forum to a digital environment, restructuring of the specialized exhibitions, and use of new formats. This year's partner country is Russia, International Fair Plovdiv said in a press release. For the first time this year, there will be a Digital Week featuring 13 free conferences with over 200 lecturers, exhibitions, a show, a career zone, and a children's workshop. The specialized exhibitions within International Technical Fair have been restructured, and this year they will be five: Machine Building (machines, technologies, robots, robotic systems, automation); Stroytech (construction equipment, electrical engineering, materials, tools, technologies); Auto City Plovdiv (cars, transport, equipment); Infotech (information and digital technologies); and Eneco (power engineering, ecology, chemistry, water management). The idea is to present together companies working in branches that complement each other. LN/DS
• (DF) Kozloduy N-Plant Unit 6 Shut Down for Scheduled Maintenance
September 22 (BTA) - Unit 6 of the Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant has been shut down for annual scheduled maintenance which will continue from September 22 to October 31, the N-plant said in a press release on Saturday. During that period, the unit's equipment and systems will be repaired and will undergo preventive maintenance, and the reactor will be reloaded with fresh nuclear fuel. While the repairs are in progress, activities related to the long-term operation of the unit will continue to be carried out, the press release says. Kozloduy Unit 5 is operating at 100 per cent capacity.
• (DF) Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Zaharieva Begins Working Visit at UN Headquarters
September 22 (BTA) - Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva arrived in New York City, where she will take part in the 74th Session of the UN General Assembly, Zaharieva's Ministry said in a press release on Sunday. Between September 23 and 26, the Foreign Minister will hold bilateral meetings with her counterparts of Oman, India, Tajikistan, Sudan, Ghana, Brazil, Costa Rica and Kyrgyzstan. On September 23, she will participate in the Climate Action Summit, and on September 24 Zaharieva will take part in the opening of the UN General Assembly's General Debate and in the sixth high-level event on the Syria crisis, hosted by the EU, as well as in other high-level meetings. Within the framework of the UN General Assembly, Zaharieva will represent Bulgaria at a B4 meeting of the foreign ministers of Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and Croatia, in an informal meeting of the foreign ministers of the Southeast European Cooperation Process, in an informal meeting of the Informal Meeting of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, and in a Transatlantic dinner hosted by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The Foreign Minister will also attend a meeting with leaders of Jewish organizations organized at Bulgaria's Permanent Representation to the UN in New York. LN/LG
• (DF) VMRO Names Angel Djambazki Mayoral Candidate for Sofia
September 21 (BTA) - Angel Djambazki is VMRO's mayoral candidate for Sofia. In a statement on Saturday, the party's leader, Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov, said Djambazki is a strong candidate with a considerable experience as a municipal councillor. Djambazki said: "Sofia needs a serious and responsible attitude." He added that the party's political goal is to win the capital's mayoral seat and get several borough mayors elected. VMRO will present a detailed four-year programme next Saturday along with the list of candidates for municipal councillors. Djambazki also said that if elected, his first order would be for the demolition of the "illegal Gypsy ghettos". He called the Sofia ghettos "miasmas" which should be removed. The VMRO candidate said the Sofia residents who consider themselves patriots deserve to be represented. He was referring to "the people in Sofia who do not want ghettos, camps and carts, because no failure can be worse than failing to stop a horse-drawn cart from driving in central Sofia - those are the people whose trust we need". He added: "This is our fight and we are fighting it." Regarding the possibility that Ataka leader Volen Siderov may run for mayor, Karakachanov said his attitude towards him has long been known. "We are talking about the campaign for mayor of Sofia, not Moscow. The campaign for Moscow mayor is a different thing," he said, referring to Ataka's pro-Russian positions. Ataka and VMRO, along with the National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria, were partners in the power-sharing United Patriots coalition. However, Ataka left the coalition late this summer following a continued rift between Siderov and the other two parties. LN/DD
• (DF) Bulgaria, France Crack Down on Trafficking Scheme for Labour Exploitation
September 21 (BTA) - Bulgarian and French law-enforcers have cracked down on a ring trafficking in humans for labour exploitation, the Interior Ministry said on Saturday. On September 17, the Specialized Prosecution Office and the Directorate General for Organized Crime Control of Bulgaria and the French police and judicial authorities broke up one of the largest international organized crime groups engaged in trafficking for labour exploitation and money laundering. The investigation in Bulgaria and France was conducted under an agreement on a joint team with the participation of Eurojust and Europol. Three Bulgarians and one French national were arrested in France. The evidence shows the Bulgarians organized trafficking in workers in the Lyon area. Four employers were found to have hired a total of 167 seasonal workers for grape harvesting. Most of them were needy, poorly educated people from Northeastern Bulgaria. The French national was in charge of finding local employers. The ring used a legal company as a front. The workers were hired and posted to France by a Bulgarian company, to which their wages were transferred by the French employers. The criminal group seized most of the workers' earnings and invested them in trade and in property in France. The workers signed contracts with the Bulgarian company in a foreign language, without understanding their contents, assuming that they would be paid 60 euro a day. They were provided with unlicensed transport to France and were put into tent camps. After their food and transport expenses were deducted from their wages, some workers did not have enough money to return home. The investigation found that the Bulgarian company was registered at an empty plot of land. The police seized from the home of a member of the group documents pointing to criminal activity, including donations in the order of 40,000 euro between its members, statements showing large personal savings, cash receipts from petrol stations and documents showing purchases of large quantities of alcohol and cigarettes. The entire documentation of the accounting firm working with the Bulgarian company was also seized. DD
• (DF) Exhibition Marks Anniversary of Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between Bulgaria and China
September 20 (BTA) - An exhibition, entitled "Contemplation and Dialogue", , opened in Parliament on Friday, marking the 70 anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Bulgaria and China. The exhibition is organized by the Bulgarian National Assembly, the Chinese Embassy here and Ningbo municipal government, The exhibition displays 120 paintings by 13 artists from Bulgaria and China who were created during a one-month residency in the respective country in order to explore, get familiar and render its culture. Chinese Ambassador here Dong Xiaojun said that Bulgaria is the second country which recognized new China, adding that for many years relations have been based on deep friendly cooperation. Thanks to initiatives such as One Belt, One Road and 16+1 economic relations between Bulgaria and China develop steadily, the area of cooperation are expanding and the two-way trade is impressive, the Ambassador said. RY/PP
• (DF) Prosecutor General, Deputy Meet with Eurojust President
September 20 (BTA) - Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov and Deputy Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev met with Eurojust President Ladislav Hamran here on Thursday, the prosecution service said. The agenda of the meeting was topped by cooperation in the fight against organized crime and corruption, counter terrorism, human trafficking and illegal migration. Attending the meeting were Ivanka Kotorova, head of the Bulgarian National Desk at Eurojust and Tsvetomir Yosifov, head of the international department with the Supreme Cassation Prosecution Office. The sides noted the excellent cooperation between Bulgaria and Eurojust, quoting a number of successful operations against illegal migration, terror financing, tax fraud, cross-border phone scams and against child pornography. The meeting discussed the work of the Bulgarian National Desk at Eurojust, which Hamran commended highly. In 2018, the Bulgarian National Desk at Eurojust worked on 454 international cases which places the country sixth in respect of the volume of work among EU countries after Italy, Germany, France, Austria and Romania. RY/PP //
• (DF) Appellate Court Grants Conditional Early Release to Australian Sentenced to 20 Years' Imprisonment for Murder in Sofia
September 19 (BTA) - The Sofia Appellate Court has granted a conditional early release to Australian national Jock Palfreeman, the Court said in a press release on Thursday. A three-judge panel examined Palfreeman's appeal and found that, under the law, he qualifies for early release.
• (DF) Road Safety Agency Proposes Drivers with Unpaid Fines to Be Denied Administrative Services
September 19 (BTA) - The State Agency for Road Safety (SARS) Thursday published on its website a report on the state of road safety in Bulgaria. Some of the recommendations made in the report include the adoption of new methods for investigating serious traffic accidents, quick and efficient collection of fines, and the creation of a public registration regime for companies providing motor vehicle service. The report, which the SARS describes as the first thorough analysis made in Bulgaria of the level of road safety, lists specific measures and actions that the competent institutions should take. The document will also serve as a basis for the elaboration of a road safety strategy for the 2021-2030 period. To improve fine collectability, the report recommends that drivers with unpaid fines be denied administrative services by all institutions and that citizens, including foreign nationals, be checked for electronic ticket fines at border control checkpoints upon leaving Bulgaria. According to the analysis, the last ten years have seen an active development in the area of road construction, but the majority of the network still consists of roads built more than 20 years ago. The report also shows that last year, there were 77 sections of Bulgaria's republican roads with a high concentration of traffic accidents. The technical failures that most often cause accidents are a flat tire and brake failure. RY/DS
• (NW) Employment Agency Begins New Information Campaign about Opportunities for Vocational Training
September 19 (BTA) - The Employment Agency starts a new campaign to inform employers, organizations providing training services, jobless people and employees about the opportunities for vocational training and key competences trainings, the Employment Agency said in a press release Thursday. Information days called, "Trainings for You", will be held in late September in nine Bulgarian cities. Employers will be able to learn about the preferential terms available for vocational training of workers they want to hire, opportunities for training prior to hiring jobless people, on-the-job training and training of young employees. Participating in the information days will be experts of the Employment Agency and also of the Bulgarian-German Training Centre which offers training courses in five locations in the country. RY/ZH /??/
• (DF) Court Declares as Unconstitutional Customs Act Provision
September 19 (BTA) - The Constitutional Court has declared unconstitutional a provision in the Customs Act, said National Assembly Deputy Speaker Emil Hristov at the beginning of Thursday's plenary sitting. The ruling was reached unanimously by all 11 judges. The case has been opened on a motion by the Supreme Bar Council which challenged the constitutionality of the Transitional and Final Provisions in a bill to amend and supplement the Corporate Income Taxation Act which added a second sentence to Article 10, Paragraph 1 of the Customs Act. Under the disputed provision customs officers cannot be persons who have been charged with or are tried on the grounds of intentional publicly prosecutable crimes. RY/PP
September 18 (BTA) - The next month could turn out to be pivotal for the development of relations between Bulgaria and North Macedonia, because the Council of the EU may decide to start negotiations on the Republic of North Macedonia's (EU) membership, said here on Wednesday President Rumen Radev at the start of his meeting with the Joint Multidisciplinary Commission of Experts on Historical and Educational Issues between Bulgaria and North Macedonia.
• (DF) Bulgartransgaz, Arkad Consortium Sign Contract to Expand Network from Turkish-Bulgarian to Bulgarian-Serbian Border
September 18 (BTA) - Bulgartransgaz EAD and Arkad Consortium Wednesday signed a contract for the delivery of materials, investment project design, development and putting into operation of the extended gas transmission network infrastructure from the Turkish-Bulgarian to the Bulgarian-Serbian border. The contract was signed at the Council of Ministers in the presence of Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, Energy Minister Temenouzhka Petkova, Russian Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov, the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to Bulgaria Mesfer al Ghasi. The contract on the part of Bulgartransgaz was signed by Lyubomir Krustev and for Arkad Consortium - by Hani Abdelhadi [name may be misspelt]. Bulgartransgaz CEO Vladimir Malinov pointed out that this is the beginning of an exceptionally important cooperation with Saudi Arabia, which will guarantee natural gas supplies to Bulgaria, the Balkans and Europe. The contract is worth 1,102 million dollars, Malinov said. It has to be implemented within 615 days after its conclusion. That has to allow Bulgartransgaz to supply Serbia, then Hungary and finally, the hub in Austria. Borissov pointed that this is the so-called 'Balkan Stream' allowing this country to remain on the European natural gas map./RY/BR /??/
• (DF) PM Borissov Confers with Russian Trade and Industry Minister Manturov
September 18 (BTA) - Prime Minister Boyko Borissov conferred here on Wednesday with Russia's Minister of Trade and Industry Denis Manturov. Speaking to journalists after the signing of an agreement between Bulgartransgaz and the Arkad consortium about expanding the natural gas transmission network from the Bulgarian-Turkish border to the Bulgarian-Serbian border, Borissov described Bulgarian-Russian business relations as exceptionally pragmatic, straightforward and fair. The Bulgarian Prime Minister said he is optimistic about the Belene N-plant project, adding that the creation of a consortium is being actively worked on. The Bulgarian side will try to conduct negotiations with all potential strategic investors in the project as soon as possible. According to Borissov, there is a huge chance for this to become a very good project if all its parameters and implementation are within the agreed upon rules. Minister Manturov said that the Russian side has bid to take part in the Belene N-plant's construction, adding that his country is ready to participate in the project as part of an international consortium. "I believe this to be an optimal option," the Russian Minister said. He also noted that Russia is interested in broadening cooperation with Bulgaria in the pharmaceutical industry. Manturov recalled that this year marks the 140th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, expressing his gratitude for the constructive cooperation and interaction with Bulgaria. RY/MY

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