Enter content here
VARNA-CULTURAL HERITAGE. Lambrin Sotirov, owner of Bars agency of Varna, showed journalists a map of monuments and cultural institutions in Varna which he will hand out to tourists in the hope of attracting them to the town's musems and galleries. Pressphoto BTA photo: Krassimir Krustev
Police In Former Rebel Stronghold. A Macedonian police officer (L), accompanied by members of the Task Force Fox, shakes hands with two elderly ethnic Albanians while on patrol in the village of Radusa. ŠEPA
MACEDONIAN MILITARY DELEGATION ENDS VISIT TO BULGARIA.
The high delegation from the Macedonian Army led by Chief of Staff General Lieutenant Metodi Stamboliski visited Thursday the Fifth artillery brigade of the Bulgarian Army in Samokov at the end of its official visit to Bulgaria.
As Army's spokesman Colonel Blagoja Markovski told MIA, the atmosphere during the visit was friendly and both armies will benefit from the exchanged information. They discussed the measures that should be undertaken for stabilization of the situation in the region as well as the activities of the both countries to reform their armies in order to get closer to NATO, within their national Membership Action Plans.
The Macedonian delegation had an opportunity to see the methods and the contents of the training program as well as to observe the training means of the Bulgarian Fifth Artillery Brigade. In that context, they shared the experiences and information on the possibilities to modernize the training of these units.
Macedonian delegation also attended the practical part of the training in Samokov military camp, and presented its experiences in the training of the Macedonian units.
In order to enhance the cooperation between the two friendly countries, Chief of Staff of the Bulgarian Army General Miho Mihov invited General Stamboliski to visit Bulgaria one again in the course of 2002.
MULTIETHNIC POLICE IN RADUSA VILLAGE.
The multiethnic police teams, accompanied by the representatives from EU and OSCE monitoring missions and from NATO's mission "Amber Fox" have entered Thursday in Radusa village in Skopje area.
Patrolling was carried out without any problems, spokesman of the Coordinate Crisis Management Body Zoran Tanevski said.
According to him, during the first day it was envisaged to establish contacts with the local residents and the representatives of the local self-government.
Tanevski reminded that the first attempt to enter Radusa was made in January, but because of the requests and conditions set by the local residents, it failed.
"After the adoption of Law on amnesty there are no more conditions, so the patrolling is carried out without any difficulties," he said.
There are around 300 houses in Radusa, where 4,000 persons from Albanian nationality live.
Albanian flag can be spotted at the entrance of the village, and no Macedonian flags can be seen. Around 20 houses were burned or demolished as a result of the military operations.
The villagers, who were curious about the first visit of the police to their village, say that they are satisfied with the adoption of Law on amnesty, and now there is nothing bad in the police patrolling.
Vejsel Vejseli, the president of the local community in Radusa promised to the police team that there would be no problems. "All conditions that we have set for police redeployment, were met. The Law on amnesty is passed. From now on there would be no difficulties in the patrolling," Vajseli said.
According to him, "it is not unusual that there is an Albanian flag at the entrance of the village." For eventual exposure of the Macedonian flag Vejseli says: "We will talk about it, it might happen."
According to him, the villagers should start their work on the fields, but they are still afraid that might come across unexploded mines. He explained that the telephone connection has been cut off, and they have fought on their own to obtain the necessary quantities of electricity and water.
However, most of Radusa's residents do not hide their position that the only way for accomplishing their requests was the war and the use of weapons.
Some of them are still not satisfied and request the liberation of the four members of the so-called NLA and deployment of several young persons from Radusa in the police reserve composition.
"Five other reservists should be employed in Rasce police station, because we want this process to work and to get used of people in uniforms," Zufer Bajrami from Radusa says.
The police redeployment should have begun earlier, but however this is very good step.
The police patrols were also carried out in Kalnik, Gorno Palciste, Urvic, Jelovjane, Rakovec, Selce-Kec, Novo Selo and Novake, as well as in Zelino, Gorna Lesnica, Dolna Lesnica, Strimnica, Zerovjane and in Drenovec 1 and 2 settlements in Tetovo.
According to the Media Activity Center, the police will not patrol in Celopek, as the local residents threatened to one police officer on Wednesday. Starting from Thursday the police will be present 24h in Otunje, Setole, Jedoarce, Varvara, Brezno and Jelosnik villages. So far, round the clock patrols have been established in 52 villages in the crisis regions.
Besides in Cegrane, Forino, Korito and Tumseviste villages the patrols are also present in Simnica village in Gostivar region.
In Kumanovo region, the police patrol in Matejce, Otlja, Lipkovo and Orizare villages.
Tanevski has announced Thursday that conditions have been created for police redeployment in other villages in Kumanovo and Gostivar regions.
THERE IS NO CONNECTION BETWEEN LAW ON AMNESTY AND POLICE REDEPLOYMENT IN THE VILLAGES.
I see no connection between the amnesty law enforcement and the police redeployment in the crisis regions, US State Department special envoy for the Balkans James Holmes says in an interview with the Radio Free Europe.
The fact that some people are still imprisoned cannot be an argument for further delaying of the police redeployment, Holmes says.
He is skeptical about the International Crisis Group proposal for appointing of an anticorruption supervisor in Macedonia.
"We would have done that so far if it was so easy. Attempts for appointing of an anticorruption policeman in other countries have been unsuccessful," Holmes says.
The assistance that the international community has pledged to Macedonia at the Donors' Conference is not a favor to the Prime Minister.
"We have been in Macedonia for nine years and we are going to spend the money of our taxpayers because it is in the US interest for the country to be stable, safe and prosperous, Holmes says, adding that it is very ridiculous to talk about early elections at this point.
MACEDONIA'S FOREIGN DEBT DECREASED.
According to the preliminary data from the Central Bank of Macedonia, the foreign debt of the country, based on the long-term and mid-term indebtedness, was US$ 1,377 million at the end of 2001. Compared with 2000, the foreign debt has been decreased for US$ 59,4 million.
Macedonia's foreign debt represents consolidated debt of the central government toward abroad, outside the budget funds, public enterprises, central bank and the private sector. Considering the minor participation of the short-term debt (US$ 58 million, from December 31, 2001) in the structure of the overall foreign debt, the Ministry of Finance issued an analysis of the foreign debt based on mid-term and long-term indebtedness.
At the end of 2001, according to the preliminary data for the public sector's foreign debt, the overall amount is US$ 1,233 million based on mid-term and long-term indebtedness, i.e. 89,5%. In that context, the obligations of the Macedonian government toward abroad are US$ 1,045 million, and the obligations of the public enterprises and the Central Bank are US$ 117 and US$ 17 million, respectively.
The foreign debt of the private sector amounts US$ 144 million, i.e. 10,5% (the debt of the private sector includes the obligations toward abroad of the trade companies and of the authorized banks in Macedonia.)
Most of Macedonia's foreign debt is toward the multilateral creditors (48,9%) and toward the commercial creditors (29,8%). In the framework of the debt toward the multilateral creditors, most of Macedonia's debts are toward the World Bank, i.e. 27,5% of the total debt, while the largest amount in the framework of the commercial creditors is toward the commercial banks (19,0%). In that context, if the obligations toward the bilateral creditors are excluded (Paris Club and London Club of creditors), which mainly represent debt of former SFRY, one may conclude that most of the debt is toward the International association for development whose credits are granted under concessional conditions only with no interest rate and provision of only 0,75%, reimbursement period of 35 years and grace period of 10 years.
Even besides the worsened political and security situation, the Macedonian government and the domestic economic entities were servicing their obligations concerning the foreign indebtedness regularly and timely. By September 2001, the Republic of Macedonia has returned US$ 172,5 million, of which US$ 53,2 million for interest rates.
compared with the previous year, until December 31, 2000 payments of total of US$ 165,1 million have been made, of which US$ 53,77 million for interest rates.
The level of foreign liability of the Republic of Macedonia, expressed through the balance between the foreign debt and the GDP, it reached 40% on December 31, 2001. Compared with the situation at the end of 2000, when the foreign debt represented 40,2% of the GDP, the foreign indebtedness has decreased for 0,2%. It is worth mentioning that if in 2001 Macedonia did not suffer downslide of the GDP growth, , the regular reimbursement would have resulted with lowering of the participation of the foreign debt in the GDP.
According to the prognosis, if the GDP remained on the same level as in 2000 (US$ 3,568 million), the foreign debt would have represented 38,6% of the GDP.
Monitored for three-year period, largest growth of the foreign debt was registered in 1996-1998, in amount of 51%. Based on the analysis of the structure of the debt, one may conclude that this is partially due to the inclusion of the obligations for servicing toward the London and Paris Club in the register of the Central Bank, and partially due to the lack of financial discipline and irresponsible behavior. The only reason for the low growth of the foreign debt in the period 1998-2000 is the lowering of the Dollar standings of the GDP, as a result to the high appreciation of the Dollar vs the Denar (for 16% compared with 1999 and 21% compared with 1998.) Namely, according to the current exchange rates of the Central Bank, the GDP represents US$ 3,978 million. Therefore, if the GDP for 2000 is expressed in Denar currency, the indebtedness rate would represent 37,2%, which is realistic, having in mind the nominal and realistic growth of the GDP in 2000.
On the other hand, according to the internationally accepted standards for estimation of the indebtedness, the Republic of Macedonia in the group of countries with medium, i.e. moderate liability. If Macedonia's liability is compared with the liability of the other countries in transition at the end of 2001, one may conclude that the constant level of foreign debt versus the GDP is in quite satisfactory frames.
NEW KOSOVO GOVERNMENT CAUSING CONCERN FOR MACEDONIA.
MIA - STRATFOR
If their first week in office was any indication, Kosovo's new government officials plan to aggressively push the limits of their authority over the UN-administrated Yugoslav province, analysts of the Stratfor Institute say in their press release of March 14.
This will threaten the stability of neighboring Macedonia and bolster the drug and arms trades in southern Europe.
The top two political leaders of Kosovo's brand-new government wasted no time last week in pushing the limits of their power, analysts say, reminding that newly elected President Ibrahim Rugova used his first official speech on March 4 to call for Kosovo independence, and Prime Minister Bajram Rexhepi angered Skopje the following day by saying the Kosovo government will not recognize a border demarcation agreed to last year between Macedonia and Yugoslavia.
Stratfor analysts, considering the situation in the constituent parts of Yugoslavia, estimate that Kosovo independence is just a matter of time, underlying the Western concern for the course that the new Kosovo administration has taken.
The international community position to support the "Kosovo Project", until it means peaceful province, is not free of risk. Such support may be dangerous if Pristina intends to awaken the ethnic ambitions of Albanians throughout the Balkans.
Ethnic Albanians in Macedonia are in good position now-controlling a great part of northern Macedonia as a result of the peace agreement, analysts say.
Despite the persistent opposing to redeployment of Macedonian security forces in certain areas, Albanians will rather push from greater autonomy from Skopje than in direct confrontation, because they are aware that the blame for fresh clashes, if they happen, will be put on the Macedonian nationalists, who are convinced that the peace agreement is actually an award to Albanians for their armed clashes.
All of these, makes the northern part of Macedonia a fruitful ground for new eruption of violence, especially if the new Kosovo administration "is to set the fire" along the border.
These estimations are based on the statement of Kosovo Prime Minister Bajram Rexhepi, who said that the Macedonian Yugoslav Border Agreement took around 2,500 hectare away from Kosovo and demanded revision of the agreement.
If the agreement is going to be revised, Macedonia will be destabilized, increasing the likelihood of renewed ethnic violence there and throughout the region, analysts say.
President Asks about Dismissals in IM.
The problems of the Interior Ministry are to be discussed at a sitting of the National Security Consultative Council.
President Georgi Parvanov met with IM Chief Secretary Gen. Boiko Borissov yesterday. They had a tete-a-tete for almost a half an hour. After the meeting was over, the general elaborated that he reported about his visit to London and operations performed together with foreign special services. To well-informed sources, however, at the meeting President Parvanov was interested mostly in the reshuffles within the IM. The press office of the president released that the National Security Consultative Council with the President, at its sitting, would deal with the problems of the Interior Ministry and crime-combatting. The Council is to be convened earlier, so its sitting would take place in April instead of May. "As a whole, there are no problems and conflicts in the IM," Interior Minister Georgi Petkanov said for the Bulgarian National Radio yesterday.
Bulgarian Citizens to Be Indemnified for Nationalized Property in Macedonia.
Sofia, March 14 (BTA) - The government approved the draft of an agreement between Bulgaria and Macedonia to indemnify citizens of either country whose property on the territory of the other has been nationalized, Justice Minister Anton Stankov said after the regular Thursday meeting of the government.
The justice minister has been authorized to conduct the negotiations and sign the agreement that will then have to be ratified.
Under the draft agreement, each of the negotiating sides undertakes, in pursuance of its domestic legislation, to indemnify the citizens of the other negotiation side - the original owners or their legal heirs, for real estate property on its territory nationalized after WWII which is now state-owned.
If the property is restitutable, the rightful owners or their legal heirs will be indemnified in pursuance of the respective domestic law, Stankov said.
The proposal to sign such an agreement was made in September 2001 during the visit here of Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubco georgievski. The two countries have divergent restitution laws.
Bulgaria's, for instance, is more liberal and the restitution process has almost been completed, Stankov noted.
The Bulgarian state allows foreigners to be restored ownership rights over nationalized real estate property whereas Macedonia grants this right only to its own citizens.
Skopje, March 14 (BTA) - The Association of Bulgarians in the Republic of Macedonia was registered Thursday by a Skopje court.
The association will be seated in Skopje and will have the main goal of developing Macedonian-Bulgarian cultural relations, unification and protection of the rights of Macedonian citizens of Bulgarian ethnic background, developing Bulgarian literature, music and folklore and intermediating between Bulgarians from Macedonia and Bulgaria and between the Bulgarian and Macedonian and the foreign foundations with the view to preserving the spritual link and values of Bulgarians from Macedonia.
President of the registered association is 59-year-old Lyuben Metodievski. Jovan Stoyanovski, Blagoi Velinov, Slobodan Efremov and Orde Dimovski are the co-founders of the association; journalist Vladimir Perev will act as spokesman.
MACEDONIA - BULGARIA.
Skopje, March 14 (BTA) - The visit to Bulgaria of a Macedonian military delegation led by Chief of the General Staff of the Army Lieutenant Colonel General Metodi Stamboliiski took place in a very friendly atmosphere and the exchange of information was very useful to the sides, Macedonian Army Spokesman Blagoja Markovski said.
In the statement made at the end of the two-day visit to Bulgaria of the Macedonian military, Markovski said that the dialogue was beneficial for the stabilization of the situation in the region as well as for the ongoing reforms in the two armies, conducted within the two countries action plans to comply with the criteria to receive an invitation for membership in NATO.
Markovski said that the Bulgarian and Macedonian officials exchanged experience in army training which took place in the Fifth Artillery Brigade of the Bulgarian Army in Samokov. The sides expressed readiness for joint training of servicemen.
The Macedonian Army Spokesman stressed the invitation to Stamboliiski to visit Bulgaria once again by the end of the year extended by his Bulgarian counterpart General Miho Mihov.
BULGARIA - NATO - VISIT.
President Purvanov Confers with NATO Assistant Secretary General Altenburg.
Sofia, March 14 (BTA) - Conferring with Bulgarian President Georgi Purvanov here Thursday, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs Guenter Altenburg commended highly Bulgaria's achievements in the military reform and the restructuring and modernization of its armed forces, the President's Foreign Policy Secretary Zlatin Trupkov said after the meeting.
Ambassador Altenburg arrived here on March 11 at the head of an extended NATO team for consultations on Bulgaria's preparations to join the Alliance.
The purpose of the consultations is to write a report on Bulgaria's progress in its preparation for NATO membership. The report will be part of a consolidated report on all candidates which will be discussed by the NATO foreign ministers when they meet in Reykjavik in May.
On Wednesday, Ambassador Altenburg conferred with Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.
It will not be known which countries will be invited to become members until the Prague Summit. "You must persevere in this direction and keep up the good work which is already a fact," Ambassador Altenburg told journalists, emerging from his session with the President.
The progress of the economic and judicial reform, the fight against corruption and the integration of minorities also figured on the agenda of the Purvanov-Altenburg talks, Trupkov said. Altenburg recommended that the laws in the judiciary be applied in practice rather than just be adopted on paper. The predicament of the Roma is above all a social problem and should not be regarded in another context, the President told his guest, arguing that the problem will be solved in the process of economic and social reforms. The head of state noted that other groups of the Bulgarian population, such as the residents of the mountain and border areas, face similar problems.
Later in the day, Ambassador Altenburg will give a joint news conference with Defence Minister Nikolay Svinarov and Deputy Foreign Minister Petko Draganov.
Ambassador Altenburg: Bulgaria Has Good Chance for NATO Membership.
Sofia, March 14 (BTA) - Bulgaria has a very good chance and it should keep on the effort even beyond Prague, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs Guenter Altenburg told a news conference Thursday at the end of the four-day visit here of a NATO delegation to prepare a report on Bulgaria's accession progress.
"You have not yet reached the final objectives you have set for yourselves," Altenburg said, adding that a "very good and productive progress has been reached and has been noted by the NATO team." The progress that has been reached should be projected to the people that take the political decisions, he urged. Altenburg met with President Georgi Purvanov, Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Defence Minister Nikolai Svinarov, deputy foreign and interior ministers Petko Draganov and Boiko Kotsev and representatives of the Bulgarian state authorities. All these interlocutors showed us the unanimous will to see this candidacy through to a success, he said.
Altenburg said that his team and the hosts agreed that there are some things that still remain to be done, mentioning in that respect that the laws on the protection of classified information and security and on other defence-related issues are necessary. The efforts to combat corruption need to be intensified; same thing too for administrative and judiciary reform and for some of the areas in the military field when it comes to the implementation of the reduction of the armed forces, the reduction of obsolete equipment and the training program. "The important thing is not to expect that this will happen overnight.
It is an effort that needs to be sustained. Nobody asks for miracles," Altenburg said.
"We have been touching on the issue of minorities, in particular Roma. There is a high amount of awareness of the problem here and readiness to tackle the problem," he said.
Bulgaria has made quite some progress in the field of communication and information systems in the armed forces. It is highly appreciated that Bulgaria participates with a remarkable number of soldiers in the operations on the Balkans and has agreed to sent servicemen to Afghanistan. "It is all about interoperability and deployability," he said. "What we want to see at the end of the day is that this effort is broadened to the rest of the armed forces," he added.
"I think for us the concern is not which firm and in which way this is done.
What is important for us is the result. It is important for us to see that at the end of the day you have a deployable modernized aircraft which are interoperable.
Interoperability is the key word for everything, I think," Altenburg remarked in connection with the upgrade of the Bulgarian MiG 29 fleet.
"We are preparing a country report for the attention of the North Atlantic Council that will be discussed together with Bulgaria in April," Altenburg said.
The results from the discussion will go into a comprehensive report covering all the candidates; and this comprehensive report will go to the foreign ministers meeting of NATO in Reykjavik in mid-May. After that you will have a period of internal deliberation, consideration in the member states where they will have to make up their mind with what sort of decision they want to go to the Prague summit, he said.
At his meeting with deputy interior minister Kotsev and counterintelligence chief Ivan Chobanov, Altenburg discussed issues related to organized crime control and to the national security of the NATO applicants, the press office of the Interior Ministry said.
After Altenburg completed his participation in the news conference, Defence Minister Svinarov answered questions from the media. The amendments to the defence and armed forces law will aim that measures are taken to ensure that the supreme command of the army is made up of officers that have graduated in NATO member states and not in Russia, Svinarov said, not specifying the exact nature of these measures.
Bulgaria has not been approached to replace the Belgian KFOR contingent in Kosovo, Svinarov said in connection with a statement by Belgian counterpart Andre Flahaut. "We will not be replacing Belgians anywhere," he noted.
Asked about the structures at the General Staff and the Defence Ministry that duplicate each others' functions, Svinarov said that a working group is being put together to tackle the problem. "However, the general staff and the general staff chief will continue to exist," he said.
Svinarov summarized the recent series of meetings with and visits of high-ranking representatives of NATO and the US armed forces as well as the efforts of his ministry towards NATO accession. NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe General Joseph Ralston arrives here on Monday. Later next week, Svinarov will meet with his Romanian counterpart.
Foreign Minister Passy Discusses Bulgaria's NATO Accession Bid with Spanish Defence Minister Trillo.
Madrid, March 14 (BTA) - Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Passy, on a one-day working visit here, met with Spanish Defence Minister Federico Trillo, the press office of the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said.
The two discussed Bulgaria's NATO membership candidacy.
Trillo underscored Spain's position not to commit to a final stand on NATO enlargement at this point; the decision on NATO enlargement will be taken at the NATO summit in Prague this fall. However, he expressed his country's readiness to support the military reforms and to assist Bulgaria's preparations for NATO membership.
Trillo has proposed bilateral military cooperation in the areas of the professionalization of the Bulgarian army, the destruction of weaponry stockpiles and the social re-adaptation of military personnel made redundant by the reform.
Passy briefed Trillo on the progress of the preparations so far. He also dwelled on the results from his visit to the US, from his talks with NATO Secretary General George Robertson, from the visit to Bulgaria of US ambassador to NATO Nicolas Burns and from Bulgaria's participation in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Passy confirmed the invitation to visit Bulgaria extended to Trillo by his Bulgarian counterpart Nikolai Svinarov.
Bulgaria Voted in UN for Palestinian State.
The Security Council adopted a resolution, which recognizes Palestine, Israel agrees with it.
For the first time the Security Council (SC) to the UN adopted a resolution for the Middle East, recognizing the right of Israel and Palestine to co-exist as states. 14 from the 15 members supported the resolution. Syria refrained. Bulgaria as non-permanent member of the SC also voted 'for'. In a special declaration Bulgarian Foreign Ministry explained that it had supported the resolution in order to give its contribution to the common efforts for the solution of the Middle East conflict.
Three Scandals Maddened MPs.
The contract with Crown Agents and Foreign debt were approved, the majority overrode President's veto.
The sitting of the Parliament started with three scandals yesterday. They had to consider the contract on Bulgaria's customs houses with the British firm "Crown Agents". Then, they had to vote for the buy-back of Bulgaria's foreign debt. And thirdly, they had to accept or override President's veto over the Privatization Act. The voting for the ratification of the Eurobonds made a false start. Both the BSP and UtdDF maintained that the parliament should not hurry with the contract with JP Morgan and Salomon Brothers on buying back the foreign debt. The deputies said they were given the text right here, in the plenary hall, and they had no opportunity to consider it in the Committees. The opposition proposed that the debate about Crown Agents should not be held at an open-door sitting. Parliamentary Chairman Ognian Gerdzhikov refused to put the draft resolution of the Coalition "For Bulgaria" to a vote which envisaged the contract to be canceled. The left-wing deputies got angry and almost all of them walked out and made statements. The majority, though, approved Milen Velchev's contract with the British firm. In the meanwhile, a second scandal flared over the ratification of the contract with JP Morgan and Salomon Brothers on the buy-back of the foreign debt. At 11.45 a.m. both the UtdDF and Coalition "For Bulgaria" deputies walked out of the plenary hall. 124 MPs - from the NMS and MRF only - approved the contract. Both the BSP and UDF deputies were unanimous that the standing order was violated and the text about the foreign debt was given to them at 9.00 a.m. and the 24-hour term had not expired. To them, it was not possible either to discuss it. or to vote. The Coalition "For Bulgaria" and the UtdDF came back to the plenary hall, to re-vote the Privatization Act vetoed by President Parvanov. MP Louchnikov said all of a sudden that he was not to take into consideration the decision made by his (UtdDF) PG and would vote against the President's veto. The MPs re-voted the veto twice which happened at the request of the BSP PG, because a BSP deputy said that some of the deputies were voting by more than one card. The veto was overridden and the Privatization Act was approved in its original shape without amendments to it with 127 ballots "yes", and 38 "no". No one abstained.
N. Vassilev Uncorked 25 Bottles of Champagne.
Twenty five bottles of champagne ordered Vice-Premier Nikolay Vassilev in the parliamentary cafe immediately after the Privatization Act was passed. 'I'm happy that our six-month work was crowned with success. We start the large-scale deals,' Vice-Premier said for 'Standart'. Parliamentary employees brought a couple of uncracked bottles both to the premises of the right-wing and centre-left opposition PGs. A special bottle was ordered for MP Louchnikov, who opposed boldly to his own UDF PG and voted in accord with the NMS against the President's veto. Vice-Premier Nikolay Vassilev paid the 52 levs bill with personal money for the champagne and took a cash-check.
DZI For Sale.
The privatization of DZI (State Insurance Institute) and 'Armeets' starts due to the currently valid law. The parliament yesterday passed the Privatization and Post-Privatization Control Act, vetoed by the President. Yet, the new law willbe effective in a month at least. Then the procedure will continue under the new requirements. The tenderds will be held by the terms of the new regilations. The privatization of DZI and 'Armeets' Isurance Company (IC) started yesterday, sources from the Privatization Agency said. Eighty percent of DZI and 91.9175% of 'Armeets' will be sold out on two-tier tender. The business plan and the price will be key criteria in the selection of buyer. At least 10 candidates have shown interest in DZI so far. Deloitte&Touche drew the assessment of DZI, which was higher than the price of $20.5 million - reached at the previous attempt.
UDF Members Euphoric about Nadezhda Mihailova.
Only Plodviv, Turgovishte and Pazardzhik are discontented with the election of the new leader.
Nadezhda has the golden chance to create the party she wishes, using this period of lull in all the other parties, the new NEC of the UDF commented. Euphoria spread in the local UDF structures after the election of Nadezhda Mihaylova for the UDF leader, a check up of 'Standart' in the regional organizations of the parties showed. Only the UDF members in Pazardzhik, Targovishte and Plovdiv are not satisfied with the election of Nadezhda Mihaylova. The UDF members in Pazardzhik regret that the new leader isn't Ekaterina Mihaylova, the ones in Targovishte - that this isn't Dimitar Abadzhiev, and the ones in Plovdiv - Kostov. All the rest big UDF structures - in Shoumen, Dobrich, Kyustandil, Kurdzhali, Montana, Vidin, Lom, Vratza, etc. back up Nadezhda Mihaylova. The UDF members in Bourgas, Smolyan and Pleven, who until Saturday supported Ekaterina Mihaylova, now are backing up Nadya, too. 97 UDF delegates from Pleven region voted for her.
Sofia, March 14 (BTA) - Bulgaria will propose that the Bourgas-Alexandrupolis pipeline is constructed by an interstate corporation wherein Bulgaria, Greece and Russia have equal shareholdings, Regional Development Minister Kostadin Paskalev said after the regular Thursday meeting of the government.
It has been proposed that the corporation is registered in a fourth country. The place of registration and the capital shareout parameters will be subject to negotiation.
Two days ago, Paskalev and Greek Minister of Macedonia and Thrace agreed to discuss the pipeline project in mid-March.
At a trilateral meeting of experts from Bulgaria, Greece and Russia on an intergovernmental memorandum on the Bourgas-Alexandrupolis project held in February 2002, the Greek side insisted that Bulgaria's participating interest in the consortium be set at 20%. After the meeting, deputy regional development minister Hasan Hasan explained that Bulgaria has serious arguments in favour of its demand for a 33% shareholding which pertain to the length of the pipeline section on Bulgarian territory and to the possible damage for this country from the construction and the operation of the facility.
The pipeline is planned to have an annual capacity of 35,000 tonnes.
Foreign Debt Reduced by $100 Million.
INTERVIEW Standartnews: Milen Veltchev
IMF has no objections against the agreement with "Crown Agents", affirms Finance Minister Milen Veltchev.
- Mr. Veltchev, what will Bulgaria benefit after Brady bonds are replaced with Euro bonds?
- Bulgaria has chosen to modernize its foreign debt. The parliament had a historical chance to approve the change of the Brady bonds, which have become a symbol of the country's bankruptcy, with the new bonds. The deal will allow to cut down our foreign debt by $ 100 million.
- What decision the government too after the debate on the agreement with "Crown Agents"?
- There is a crying need for reform in the customs administration. For too long a time it has been subordinate to the ruling majority and catered to their interests. Why "Crown Agents" you'd ask? Because only a specialized company is capable of improving the efficiency of customs administration, to ensure higher revenues to the budget, curb corruption and facilitate trade.
- Do the international finance institutions have any objections against this agreement?
- A copy of the report on the situation in the BG customs houses, prepared by "Crown Agents", will be sent to the World Bank. IMF has no objections whatsoever against the British company.
Relations with Moscow Haven't Warmed up At All.
INTERVIEW Standartnews: Zakhari Zakhariev
It depends on Simeon whether the ice will be broken, considers Prof. Zakhari Zakhariev.
- Prof. Zakhariev, how would you assess the results of the session the Intergovernmental Bulgarian-Russian Commission held recently in Sofia?
- I would say that there is certain euphoria about the progress in our bilateral relations and expectations for the future. Rumors spread about numerous projects that will restore the Russian markets for the BG cigarettes, wines, canned foods, etc.
- Does this seem improbable to you?
- It is not only improbable, but also dangerous. Too high expectations are pregnant with bitter disappointment.
- Was the session really that fruitless?
- It hasn't resulted in a single realistic project. I expected it to be concluded with a memorandum on economic cooperation that will at least map out the next steps, but this hasn't happened.
- The protocol signed at the session leaves an aftertaste of doubt about some hidden agendas, attempts to bind the Russian debt with the real property of the Russian Federation in Bulgaria. Have there been any?
- No. The first issue we put forth was that of the Russian debt. They, in turn, raised the problem of the property of the former USSR in Bulgaria and its restitution to the RF. Bulgaria is the only country in Europe that has refused to acknowledge the property of the ex-USSR.
- If Bulgaria fails to give a clear sign to Russia - and do it promptly - that we are prepared to resolve the problem with their property in our country, could this possibly foil the receipt of the first RF debt acquittal tranche expected in about three months?
- I don't think so. The Russians will fulfill their commitments. Which is a gesture of good will to us. But we'll have to forget about all other, much more important issues connected with our economic relations.