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Radanova with the Olympic Bronze. Evgenia Radanova won the first medal for Bulgaria at the XIX Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. In a cruel rivalry with 4 Asian competitors the triple European champion in the short-track event reiterated her class in the 1500 final and came out third. Surprisingly, 15-year-old Ko Gi-Hyun from the Republic of Korea won the Olympic gold medal. It is for the third time in the almost 80-year-old history of the winter Olympic games that a Bulgarian wins a medal. Photo EPA/BTA (SB)
SOFIA MAYOR - MATERNITY HOSPITAL. Sofia Mayor Stefan Sofiyanski opens three new delivery rooms, a new delivery ward and a new office for ultra-sound diagnostics at the St. Sofia maternity hospital. photo by Vladimir Shokov, BTA
SITUATION IN CRISIS REGIONS.
Several shootings and volleys of fire were registered during the night in Tetovo and Kumanovo - Lipkovo region.
According to the Media Activity Center within the governmental Coordinate Crisis Management Body 61 shots were registered from Zelino and Recica villages, and from parts of Tetovo, two machine-gun shots from Palatnica village near Tetovo and five volleys of fire from Ropljce village in Kumanovo area.
The multiethnic police forces will continue Friday their patrols in the four Kumanovo villages, 25 Tetovo villages and nine Gostivar villages. The villages Mojance and Orlanci in Skopje area will be excluded from the Plan starting from Saturday as conditions for 24h patrols have been created.
MINISTER BOSKOVSKI MEETS ISTANBUL'S GOVERNOR.
Macedonian Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski met Friday with Istanbul's Governor Erol Cakir.
During the meeting Minister Boskovski and Governor Cakir expressed their satisfaction from the ongoing relations between the two countries, stressing the intensive economic cooperation and hoping that the crisis in Macedonia will be resolved so that better perspective for new Turkish investments in Macedonia could be opened.
Both parts expressed their readiness to promote the cooperation by organizing meetings among the experts from different areas in the interest of both countries.
Macedonian Minister of Interior Ljube Boskovski and his Turkish counterpart Rustu Kazim Yucelen signed a Memorandum of understanding in Ankara on Wednesday. The memorandum aims to intensify the mutual cooperation between two countries in the sphere of state security.
As Minister Boskovski said, the two ministries also agreed to strengthen the cooperation in the struggle against international terrorism and trafficking in drugs.
AN INTER-PARLIAMENTARY UNION BETWEEN MACEDONIA AND BELGIUM TO BE ESTABLISHED SOON.
"We agreed about two issues, the consolidation and stability of Macedonia and the situation in the region as well as efficient approach towards Macedonia's integration within the European Union, whereat the ratification of the Stabilization and Association Agreement is very important step," the speaker of the Macedonian Parliament Stojan Andov said Friday after the meeting with President of the Chamber of Representatives in the Belgian Parliament Herman De Croo.
Assessing the visit as very important, Andov said that Belgium will be one of the first countries that will start with the ratification procedure, adding that new era of the Macedonian - EU relations will begin. "This visit is important because it is not related to a problem arising from the current crisis, but it is focused on how to develop our European perspective and how they can help us," Andov said.
Thanking for the sincere reception De Croo announced that upon Andov's request an inter-parliamentary union between Macedonia and Belgium would be established soon. "The elections will be held soon in your country, and I hope that the persons who already took part as monitors in your country could be involved again and could assist you," De Croo said.
"During my stay here, I got an impression that Macedonia as a country wants to remain united, even if some of the matters should be rearranged so that everyone living in the country could feel really good. In that respect I can mention the efforts made by your country by signing the Ohrid agreement so that all citizens can enjoy the same rights," De Croo stressed.
According to him, Europe and the European institutions have great responsibility towards Macedonia. He expressed hope that the time when the great countries argued about the Balkans is just a distant past, adding that the European Union must prove that it wants to assist to Macedonia by conveying the donor's conference.
"Europe must prove that it can ensure peace in one of the Balkan countries. The numerous contacts that your country has with various persons from Europe will be really fruitful," he said.
He expressed hope that the cooperation between the two countries would increase when Macedonia would resolve its internal problems and when peace would be restored. "I hope that the democracy will bring safety that everyone expects," De Croo emphasized.
Asked about the Framework agreement he said that some of the sentences in the document referring to the decisions that can be reached only with majority votes from the minorities were almost the same with some Belgian legal acts.
Evgeniya Radanova Won Bulgaria's First Medal.
At the 19th Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City our best skate runner Evgeniya Radanova won the first medal for Bulgaria. The European champion confirmed her exceptional class in the final of the 1500 m short track race and in the merciless rivalry of 4 Asian competitors ended third after the representatives of the Republic of Korea - Ko Gi-Hyun and Choi Eun-Kuyng. The favorite Chinese Yang Yang A, five times holder of the World Cup came out fourth. Her fellow-countrywoman Yang Yang C dropped out of the competition 4 rounds before the final when she fell in an attempt to leave behind the two Koreans and was also disqualified later. The other Bulgarian competitor in this event Marina Georgieva dropped out as early as the qualifications.
Parvanov Sends Letter to Gaddafi.
The trial of the Bulgarian medics will be reconsidered, the son of the Libyan leader stressed.1
A letter of mine is on its way to Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, President Georgi Parvanov said yesterday. He specified that the message didn't contain a word about the trial of the six Bulgarian medics in Libya. We should restore confidence between the two countries by similar little steps, the head of state pointed out. In the meantime Gaddafi's son Seif al-Islam told Agence France Press that the trial of the Bulgarians would be reconsidered. In his capacity of head of the 'Gaddafi' International Foundation for Charity Associations Seif al-Islam made a statement. The case of the 6 Bulgarian medics accused of deliberately infecting Libyan children with AIDS, will be reconsidered in the light of the notes we submitted to the prosecution. The foundation interfered in defence of the Bulgarians 'for humanitarian reasons', Seif al-Islam added. His words provide grounds to hope of a mild sentence at the trial of the Bulgarians to be held on February 17, AFP commented.
President: Vote Should Stimulate the Cabinet.
I and PM Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha talked about the vote, but haven't commented in depth the results from it, President Parvanov said in Novo Selo. He came there to prune vines which is a tradition on the Day of St.Triphon. The vote would have to stimulate the government and lead to measures for its stabilization. PM decides all by himself whether or not there'll be reshuffles, Parvanov said. Greater part of the questions really exist in the society and people frequently ask themselves these questions.
Mayor Sofianski Dined with PM.
Mayor Sofianski dined with Premier Saxe-Coburg-Gotha on Wednesday. "We have routine meetings and one of them took place at the 'House with the Clock'," Sofianski elaborated. "I informed him about the situation with the budget of Sofia municipality and that we are in want of 60 million levs," Sofianski said further. He pointed out options for improving the situation: to update the municipal budget in the second half of the year, transferring some of the liabilities to be paid during the next years or floating crediting in line with the terms of the Eurobank. "Our meeting was not a precedent but a normal conversation," Sofianski said. "We did not discuss if the Union "Free Democrats" was to enter the executive power.
Agency to Control All Special Services.
The amendments underlie a draft bill that should be ready till April.
An agency is to control the counterintelligence, intelligence and the National Defence Service, reads the drafted bill on special services, NMS deputies said yesterday. The Director General of the agency will have at his disposal the entire information given by the special services and will hand it to the president, PM and the National Security Consultative Council. He is also to assign the strategic tasks to the special services. The reason for setting up the agency is the want of coordination between the special services. To well-informed sources, in the annual report of the National Security Service (NSS) Gen. Boiko Borissov reprimanded the NSS that their actions failed to reach the border checkpoints and the tax departments. The NSS justified themselves that of 1,300 agents 1,000 resigned. At present, the project is drafted by a joint committee comprising Ministers Petkanov and Svinarov, chairmen of the parliamentary Foreign Policy and National Security Committees Stanimir Ilchev and Vladimir Donchev, the heads of the special services and three experts from non-governmental organizations with Open Society among them. The draft bill should be completed till March and the parliament is expected to adopt it in April.
Mihneva Guarded by Policemen Day and Night.
Policemen guard journalist Margarita Mihneva day and night on the explicit order of interior minister Georgi Petkanov. The reason for the measure are anonymous threats addressed at the presenter of the 'Conflicts' talk show. The journalists' contract with bTV was scandalously suspended last Wednesday. An anonymous male voice phoned her and threatened to throw acid at her. Mihneva informed interior minister Prof. Georgi Petkanov of the telephone call. He immediately ordered that the journalist be guarded. Informed of the case is as well Interior Ministry Chief Secretary, General Boiko Borissov. He also talked with Mihneva immediately after his return from Moscow.
Bakardjiev's Party Registered.
Bulgarian Democratic Union "Radicals" headed by Evgenii Bakardjiev was registered by the Sofia City Court. It is the first party in Bulgaria to be registered under the newly adopted Political Parties Act. In the meanwhile 11 municipal councillors from the UDF group and coalitional partners splintered yesterday to set up a group of their own within the Sofia Municipal Council. The new group comprises members and sympathizers of the "Radicals" party and its leader Evgenii Bakardjiev. Zlatina Karova, who headed the new formation, read a declaration announcing that she and her colleagues splintered off the UDF. The Sofia City Court ruled that there were no obstacles to the registration of the Union "Free Democrats" with Stephan Sofianski as its leader.
BG Ventures Go Bankrupt En Mass.
The NMS deputies insist on breaking the unsuccessful privatization deals. This has transpired after their meeting with vice-premier Vassilev. As regards Kremikovtsi, they proposed to the government to oblige the biggest creditors - Bulgargas, NEC and BTC - to demand the arrears urgently. This means that the plant will be declared insolvent and the receivers will have to take over it. The other option is to entrust the Privatization Agency to ask the court to break the deal because of breach of contract. If this happens, however, 10,000 workers will be left unemployed, the deputies commented. At the sitting of the parliamentary groups of the NMS and MRF they again failed to take the decision about the moot questions concerning the Privatization Act. Post-privatization control turned out to be too hard a nut for the deputies. They are waiting vice-premier Vassilev to have the final say. The debates in the plenary hall will take place next week, most probably.
Dobrudja Bank - For Sale Again.
Four aspirants to draw up offers for the bankrupt bank. The finance institution will be sold as a whole business. Competition for appraisers - already called.
Four potential buyers are preparing offers for the insolvent Dobrudja bank, 'Standart' learnt. Solomon Group, Central Cooperative Bank (CKB) and two English finance groupings have shown interest to the bank's privatization. Motion on resumed sale as a whole business was not yet submitted to the Dobrich District Court by Antonia Gancheva - bank receiver. Contest for a new appraiser of the bank's assets was called yesterday. When the bank was put on the market for a public sale in the autumn of 1999, its assets were estimated at 14 million levs, VAT incl. Then candidate-buyers wishing to acquire the bank as a whole business didn't show up. Later on, most of the tenders for separate parts of the banks property also faced failure. The debts are worth some 20 million levs. State Receivables Agency is the largest creditor of the bank.
Confidence in Simeon Protects From Crises. For Now.
There are dangerous symptoms at hand, if things don't get under control, there may be desalinization.
Prof., Dr GEORGI KARASSIMEONOV
Lately, referring to major failures in the activity of the government and the parliamentarian majority some political analysts and commentators have been tempted to claim that this country experiences a political crisis. They point to growing social conflicts and protests in the country. There isn't any doubt that part of the claims are true. At this very moment however, though in a difficult situation, the government keeps its integrity and isn't threatened, at least in the immediate future, of losing its parliamentary support. The government and the ruling majority still enjoy some more institutional reserves for adapting to the realities and evading even deeper shocks like, for instance, through government changes and taking the edge off failures. At the same time a thorough analysis of the political situation requires the conclusion that there are pre-crisis symptoms which, if not brought under control, might really push the country to desalinization. In the first place, this is the speedy loss of public confidence in the ruling power NMS. It hasn't reached the critical threshold as yet, mainly because of the high confidence in Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. The continuing attempts of the premier to maintain a 'royal' and above-party conduct have been increasingly losing effect. In its majority the society already assesses the activity of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha as premier and will assess him according to his qualities in his capacity of leader of the government. The unwillingness of Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to head the future party formation might provoke its split, even before it has been established, with all its negative consequences for the country's rule. Because if it's not for his leadership the MM will lose its major mainstay and the grounds for its existence. And a destabilization of the movement would also result in a destabilization in the country's rule. As a process it is already at hand.
The Truth about February 4.
Georgi Parvanov was the first to say that the best option was the BSP to give up the mandate on forming a second government. Nikolai Dobrev insisted the general election to be fixed for the first decade of April.
February 4, 1997, 3.10 p.m. Peter Stoyanov, President, Blagovest Sendov, Spokesman of the National Assembly, Jean Videnov, Resigned PM, Dimitar Pavlov, Nikolai Dobrev, Georgi Pirinski and Dimitar Kostov, Resigned Ministers, Gen. Tsvetan Totomirov, Georgi Parvanov, Yordan Sokolov, Anastasia Moser, Ahmed Dogan, Prof. Hristo Stoyanov are taking part in the sitting of the National Security Consultative Council. Ivan Kostov, Stoyan Denchev, Vesselin Methodiev and Gen. Georgi Lambov, IM Secretary General, are invited to attend the sitting.
Petar Stoyanov: Bulgaria never experienced more dramatic times. I invited IM Gen. Lambov to give a brief information about the situation in this country as they see it from the watch-tour of the Interior Ministry as concerned the last development of the events in Bulgaria.
What about the bread and grain supplies, for the newspapers swarm with news reading that bread is to suffice for no more than 10 days, including today's press releases?
Jean Videnov: There are commercial supplies in diverse firms, mainly of cereals, and more than 100 thousand tones ----(*) in the state reserves. The parliament adopted guarantee documents and I've signed a letter of guarantee to seal a credit agreement under the GSN system on import of American grain in deferred payment. The gravest problem is the cost of bread in late spring.
P. Stoyanov: The problem is how should these people (demonstrators, that blocked Sofia, tens of towns and the highways - editor's note) get satisfied back to their homes, for the life in Bulgaria to be somehow normalized?
G. Parvanov: I do agree that it is of great import to find a way to make people leave the streets. But I do not think that the topic of the present Council's sitting should be reduced to this issue, because, to me, it is more important what to do from now on, i.e. how we should actually settle the crisis in Bulgaria. Indeed, the situation is explosive. The best thing to do, as we were also advised by some friends of ours from abroad, is to reach a consensus between the political forces. Yes, indeed, early elections are an option or rather a necessary step to settle the political crisis.
Yordan Sokolov: The best option is the crisis to be overcome really without having victors and vanquished. I do not believe that even the greatest pessimists among us imagined ever that in early February, 1997, $1 would cost 3,000 levs and a pensions would amount to $1 or 2, while the average monthly wage would account for 5 or 6 Dollars.
P. Stoyanov: Thank you for the formula of having no victors and vanquished.
Ahmed Dogan: Maybe this is the first attempt at dialogue between different political forces. To be more precise, I see two things that are accepted as a reality. First, this is the actual estimation of the country' status. The situation is dangerous and explosive and the fate of Bulgaria is put to test. The other position we share is that we are in search of common principles that will allow us to resolve this critical situation. The question is how we can reach this consensus. As regards the options, that were proposed and discussed, the first was that the lefts forms the second cabinet. I think that this option is dangerous having in mind that the country is on the verge of a crisis. The second option - a broad coalition cabinet - is to my mind impossible because of some psychological reasons and the political actualities.
Ivan Kostov: Let's find some variant which will allow us to fix an appropriate date for the elections and proceed from their. I agree to discuss either Saturday or Sunday. Let it be April 12 or 13, or maybe April 19 or 20. A agree with these dates. If the 20th falls on Easter, then let it be the 12th or the 20th.
G. Parvanov: I would suggest to think over April 13 as a date, so that we could have 7-8 days for the debates in the parliament, to discuss the most urgent issues. However we must not burden this government with too much expectations, the same applies to the parliament.
Ivan Kostov: Mr. Parvanov, let it be April 12, Saturday.
Georgi Parvanov: I'd like to suggest that we should make this document a Declaration, not only as a name but also as an approach, we must formulate the principles that will show us the way out of the crisis. We have certain expectations from this document. We are talking about the principles necessary for overcoming the crisis and we have to agree, for instance, tomorrow, to exchange the ideas and projects of this text and then summarize them with the mediation of Mr. President and later undersign what we have prepared.
Ivan Kostov: This is accepted.
N. Dobrev: To keep this government for another 3-4 weeks is absolutely impossible. If it comes to 4 weeks, I will be obliged to hand in Folder 1 to the President and shoulder the responsibility. Peter Stoyanov: But we have to leave this room with something that will be absolutely clear.
N. Dobrev: When did we agreed to adopt this Charter?
Ivan Kostov: Tomorrow before 2 p.m. in the President's office.
N. Dobrev. What agreement have we reached on the Charter, that the rejection or non-realization of the mandate of the democratic lefts is due to the fact that they failed to form their own cabinet or because the Consultative Committee took a unanimous decision?
Ivan Kostov: No, this is for the sake of Bulgaria which has to overcome the crisis.
P. Stoyanov: To keep the civil peace and overcome the crisis soon.
(The specify the details of the declaration).
N. Dobrev: Please, let there be a sentence... "guided by the national interests and preservation of social peace, as well as looking for the way out of the crisis.
A. Moser: I'd like to thank Mr. Parvanov and Mr. Dobrev, who put the interests of Bulgaria above the party interests this time.
B. Parvanov: In a joking manner, to continue what Mrs. Moser said, maybe in the next few days we have to seek political asylum in the UDF, because in general such actions can be qualified in different ways, to say the least. But I think that now it is the moment to lay the foundation for a new model of political relationships.
*The text is in compliance with the list of facts, data and articles that are state secret. (*) the figure or the name of the country deleted.
We Can Make Paskalev Step Down.
INTERVIEW Standartnews: Mladen Chervenyakov
We'll think it over whether it's good to leave him in the cabinet, says Mladen Chervenyakov.
- Mr Chervenyakov, it has been openly said that the BSP will demand the next non-confidence vote to the cabinet and it will be because of the economic policy. What will be the last straw?
- This policy is aimed at preserving the basic parameters of the taxation as it was accepted in recent years, when the budget revenues account for about 30-40 % of the GDP, and the itemized reallotment of 40-41 % remains the same. However, the internal redistribution of this budget burden changes drastically. It is evident that now the ruling majority shifts the tax burden to the poorest and middle-class strata alleviating it for the 3-4 percent of the richest, who own the lion's share of the national capital. In the developed countries 60-70 percent of the GDP comes from the small and medium-scale ventures, in Bulgaria this share is much smaller. We have to solve a number of other problems, too for instance, why taxes on gambling had to be reduced or the profit tax of the banks. Along with this, the economic problems in this country become more and more acute. One doesn't have to be a politician, to realize that the number of discontent citizens is growing. Moreover that some taxes, like patent tax, for instance, has grown from 3 to 7 times. If in the beginning of this government's mandate we were a constructive opposition, then now, after assessing the first 100 days of the government we can define ourselves as a corrective for the rulers.
- How much time would you allot to the ruling majority before demanding another non-confidence vote?
- The problem with the non-confidence vote has several dimensions. We think that destabilization of the country must be avoided at all costs at the moment. Ensuing from this, we are still looking for the solution to this problem on the level of the parliament and the government. Naturally, we have some critical remarks for some ministers and we think that certain changes will help to improve the cabinet's performance. We would like to set some very clear and concrete terms to the government and watch how it will respond. To our regret, in our work with this cabinet and in this parliament we haven't seen any proofs that they are ready to hear out our proposals. In this case, if the economic situation is getting worse further - and it's bad enough as it is, having in mind the growing inflation, rocketing prices of staple goods and services, widening gap between incomes and taxes - evidently there's nothing more logical for the Coalition "For Bulgaria", being the left alternative to this government, to demand a non-confidence vote.
- Well, how long are you prepared to wait?
- I think that in the coming months the developments in the country will be so dynamic that we cannot afford to wait for a long time.
- Do you think that another non-confidence vote for unsuccessful economic policy will be actually a red card for your vice-premier, Paskalev?
- You should watch with closer attention the position of Mr. Paskalev. He said that if he were not in the government, his vote would have been "abstained". This assessment is tell-tale enough. You see that during the debates between the ministers and the parliamentary group of the NMS, Kostadin Paskalev almost always offers criticisms and reveals the key problems the present rulers face. We have no reasons whatsoever to be dissatisfied with his performance as a vice-premier and the minister of regional development. However, I think that we could consider whether his withdrawal from this cabinet wouldn't be a wise move if the stands of the NMS and Coalition "For Bulgaria" become extremely contradictory.
- Have you discussed it with him already, because the fact that he became a member of this cabinet was a matter of personal agreement?
- No, we haven't discussed this issue with him.