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A bike ride-along was organized as part of the No Car Day campaign to mark April 22, Earth day. PressPhoto - BTA photo: Vladimir Shokov
Choose the Bulgarian, the traditional fair of Bulgarian producers, opened on Monday in the foyers of NDK. The stands with homemade products will be exhibited until Sunday. Lyulin Stamenov/Sofia Echo
Bananas were exchanged for litter in the Southern Park in Sofia. Kids from orphanages, pupils, students and citizens took part in the Easter cleaning. Photo Kiril Petrov
SITUATION IN CRISIS REGIONS.
Two detonations were registered Monday afternoon in Tetovo crisis region from Ljuboten in Radusa area According to Tetovo police department, gunfire was registered at 12.30h from Tetovo Teke.
The multiethnic police teams patrolled in Sipkovica, Brodec, Dolno and Gorno Orasje, Bogovinje, Kamenjane and Pirok villages.
Several police teams are still on the ground, but according to Tetovo police department due to the blockades the teams could not patrol in Selce, Vejce, Poroj, Dzepciste, Zelino, Semsovo, Palatica, Ozormiste, Trebos and Strimnica villages.
Persons from Albanian nationality have also set blockades on "Ilindenska" and "Vidoe Smilevski Bato" streets, near Drenovec settlement, which were removed by noon.
In Gostivar region, near Negotino village, the local residents also blocked the road for the police patrols.
According to Media Activity Center within the governmental Coordinate Crisis Management Body in Skopje villages of Radusa and Dvorce the police did not patrol due to the blockades near the bridge on Radusa's entrance.
In Kumanovo region, the patrols were carried out according to the scheduled plan and dynamics.
The residents that set blockades condition the police entrance with liberation of all imprisoned members of the so-called NLA, regardless whether they were encompassed with the amnesty or were convicted for other criminal acts, participation of more ethnic Albanians in the regular and reserve police composition, reconstruction of the damaged facilities and distributing humanitarian assistance.
JAPANESE DONATION FOR ROAD MAINTENANCE EQUIPMENT.
The equipment for repairing and maintaining the Macedonian roads, donation from the Japanese Government, was formally delivered Monday at the location "Asphalt Base" in Lepenec district.
Japanese Ambassador to Macedonia Akio Ixhuin delivered the equipment in the presence of the Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubcho Georgievski, Macedonian Minister of Transport and Communications Ljupco Balkoski and Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski.
With this donation amounting to $ 6,8 million, the public enterprise "Makedonija Pat" will have 37 new machines, including bulldozers, diggers, graders and complete asphalt base.
Thanking for the donation Premier Georgievski emphasized that this act proves the friendship between Japan and Macedonia.
"With this donation Japan continues to be one of the greatest donors in the field of economy in Macedonia. We do not see this assistance as a grant, but also as one of the largest investments of Japan to Macedonia," Georgievski said.
Georgievski expressed assurance that the fastest way for stabilization of the region would be the economic reconstruction and progress, so therefore "we do not see this donation as only for Macedonia but also for the entire region."
Balkovski explained that with the donation and the implementation of the project for maintaining and repairing the roads, Macedonia will have an opportunity and capacity for maintenance of the overall network of highways, regional and local roads, will reduce the expenditures and the time of repair.
"The most important is that the donation will enable efficient maintenance of the roads with international significance such as Corridors 8 and 10," Balkoski said.
Director of "Makedonija Pat" Spasen Gjorgjeski informed that the assistance was realized through the Japanese Agency for International Assistance "JICA," which has also provided free training for the persons that will work with the mechanization as well as regular servicing and spare parts for two year period.
He reminded that the donation was a result of the initiative of the Macedonian Government since 1998 for receiving financial assistance from the Japanese Government for improving the infrastructure. "After the intensive bilateral cooperation and the permanent analyses we got the necessary mechanization, and our obligation is to repair and maintain the highways and regional roads by 2005," he said.
Japanese Ambassador Akio Ixhuin stressed in his speech that the donation is part of the program for assistance to the countries that faced serious economic difficulties due to Kosovo crisis.
"With this equipment Macedonian roads would be ready for the increased traffic, which is expected with the stabilization of the political situation," Ixhuin said.
US AMBASSADOR BUTLER: ACTS OF VIOLENCE WILL NOT BE TOLERATED.
Stabilization of the country, prevention of violence and implementation of the Framework Agreement would be the priority tasks of newly appointed US Ambassador to Macedonia Laurence Butler.
"My brief meeting with US President George Bush was focused on these issues," Butler said Monday at a press conference.
The US would cooperate with the international community on redeploying of police in the crisis regions and enforcing of the new regulations, Butler said.
The US would also cooperate with the Macedonian Government in regard to the country's membership into the World Trade Organization (WTO), the European Union and NATO.
At today's meetings with the Macedonian officials, Butler expressed his hope that Macedonia would join WTO in September this year.
"I cannot foresee whether Macedonia will be invited to join NATO at the Alliance's Summit in Prague this November, but I would not be here if I did not believe into the Macedonia's membership in this organization," Butler said.
Asked about withdrawal of blockades in the Tetovo region, Butler said they had nothing in common with the Framework Agreement. The international community presented its position and asked all parties to express political wisdom.
Butler reiterated the US position, saying that any acts of violence and hindering of the process for implementing of the Framework Agreement will not be tolerated.
"We work together with the OSCE, EU and NATO missions in responding to all challenges in Macedonia, " Butler said, adding that all citizens of Macedonia, regardless their ethnical origin, wish to leave in peaceful and stable country.
"The Framework Agreement is a great achievement for all citizens of Macedonia," Butler said.
Today's meetings with Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski and Parliament Speaker Stojan Andov were successful, Butler said Monday at a press conference.
During the meeting with President Trajkovski it was stressed that US is important to Macedonia due to the firm partner's relations based on the joint vision for the region as peaceful, democratic and integral part of the Euro-Atlantic processes.
President Trajkovski thanked to Ambassador Butler for the firm commitment and support that US has granted to Macedonia during the last year's crisis for its stabilization, reconstruction and revitalization but also for preserving the unitarian character, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country.
The meeting was also focused on implementation of the other aspects from Framework Agreement, such as the support of the democratic processes, enhancing the rule of law, continuing the reforms and stimulating the overall regional cooperation.
According to the press release from Presidential Cabinet, Trajkovski expressed hope that US will continue its support and assistance to Macedonia in its effort to get closer to the European Union and NATO.
Ambassador Butler was also received by Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski. Both Georgievski and Butler expressed satisfaction from the cooperation between the two countries and the support that the U.S. has so far provided to Macedonia. In that context it was outlined that the international presence in the conflict-impacted areas would greatly contribute to the stabilization of the country.
It was also estimated that the soon implementation of the funds provided to Macedonia at the Donors' conference would provide conditions for its fast economic recovery, which will also provide returning of the stability in the country.
Hope was also expressed that the U.S. would continue to support Macedonia on its path to the international institutions.
Macedonian Parliament Speaker Stojan Andov at the meeting with Ambassador Butler emphasized that Macedonia considers USA as very important and friendly country, and wants to maintain positive mutual relations.
Andov informed Ambassador Butler about the plan of the Macedonian Parliament regarding an adoption of the legal projects.
The interlocutors also discussed the possible date for holding the next parliamentary elections, as well as the ecological problems in Macedonia.
Experts exhume bodies in Macedonia, looking for evidence in war crimes probe.
By KONSTANTIN TESTORIDES, Associated Press Writer
SKOPJE, Macedonia - Experts exhumed the bodies of two ethnic Albanians in northern Macedonia on Monday, completing the unearthing of evidence to be used in a U.N. investigation into alleged war crimes committed during an insurgency last year.
Macedonian authorities and investigators from the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands unearthed the bodies in Ljuboten, a village 5 kilometers (3 miles) north of Skopje, a government official said on condition of anonymity.
The bodies were identified as Davit Murati, 70 and Memet Xhaviti, 73.
Forensic experts are to investigate whether they were executed, the source said.
On Friday, the same investigators exhumed the bodies of Erxhan Aliu, 6, and Muarem Ramadani, 67. Monday's dig bring the total exhumed over the past weeks to 10.
Rebels belonging to the National Liberation Army, or NLA, launched an insurgency in February, 2001, saying they were fighting for more rights for ethnic Albanians, a minority which accounts for a third of the country's 2 million people.
Ethnic Albanian residents of Ljuboten accuse Macedonian forces of having killed 10 villagers during a sweep-up operation there last August. The onslaught was triggered by a land-mine explosion that killed eight Macedonian soldiers near the village.
A report by the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said that after the mine explosion, Macedonian forces took revenge on the ethnic Albanians there by shelling Ljuboten for three days last August. After the shelling, several hundred police officers entered the village for a house-to-house search and allegedly killed six people on sight, the report said.
The conflict in Macedonia ended after a peace agreement signed in August promised more rights for the minority in exchange for the rebels ending their insurgency. NATO troops collected rebel weapons last August, and have monitored the peace deal's implementation.
Time-limited Albanian Unity: Expires With Distribution of Power.
The brotherhood and unity amongst the Albanians in Macedonia is not as big as it seems at a first glance. Its just that they can easier put a bridle on the mouth of the ones who first start a discord. The reason for the consensus most frequently is [perceived] common interest of all Albanians. But as more and more Albanians get into positions of authority, it seems that it gets more difficult to reach harmony, and that their unity is time-limited. Did Thaci and Ahmeti fight through NLA and ANA?
The Albanians are in unison and united in reaching their goals. This is the model for the ethnic Albanians in which many Macedonians believe. The reason for this picture is that any time they came up to big decisions and subjects, the Albanians managed to come to an agreement. Even the one who has been defeated and it hasn't been by his will, after short complaining in the end has been ceased.
How Ethnic Albanians come to agreement?
When the war in the country started, many of the Macedonian Albanians were raged. The raged and angry at the war and Ali Ahmeti and his NLA were both amongst the politicians and amongst the ordinary people Probably the most raged were the ethnic Albanians who participate in the Government (DPA). The war spoiled their plans for profits either from the ruling or from the new comfortable life, and denied their current work. All at ones, DPA had to become an opposition. But their opposition position ended up in short time. Soon after the first statement that in Macedonia the criminals are shooting, the Albanians both from the opposition and from the authority changed their course. Even the criminals became fighters for freedom. No one wanted to publicly discriminate NLA and Ahmeti.
The ethnic Albanian citizens behaved identically. At first confused, then nervous, in the end came to terms silently, convinced that this is all for their own good. Lots of intellectuals, whose lifes were noticeably changed by the war, just kept silent. None of them was brave and courageous enough to get out in front of the whole public and say- we had enough! It was waited for the war to end up, and then they all became peacemakers.
The Albanians managed to come to agreement and to form a coordinative system after many disputes and disagreements. There are going to be disagreements here as well, but they'll be kept out of the public probably by maximum strength. On the incoming elections there will be probably reached a consensus and DPA, PDP, NDP and once NLA will come out together. This is the first impression, but.
Disharmony under the surface...
If one have a look under the inside Albanian's structures, it becomes clear that the harmony is apparent or forced .The base of this these are not only in the most recent NLA, ANA's calculations, but on more levels.
Do you remember the 1998 elections? Xhaferi, (in the DPA's name) and Aliti (in the PDP's name) after all the wars between the two of them and all the insulating, signed an agreement to come out together on the elections. They were smiling acidly while signing the agreement. Their coalition became acid as well. Straight after the elections, DPA kicked out the PDP and took all it wanted to.
The disuniting in the Albanian political block probably dates from quite long time ago. In the beginning of the nineties there was only one Albanian political party which gradually changed, and more parties came out from it. Today the Albanians have few parties and politicians that can't stand each other, even though their representatives seat together in Ahmeti's coordinative council.
They even now, almost every day, publicly send each other critics for their incompetence, insult themselves and settle accounts. Not that long time ago, the minister Bedredin Ibraimi and the NDP secretary Xhevat Ademi publicly insulted each other. PDP each day speaks on the top of the voice against NDP, criticizing the authorities, whose part is NDP. What about the attitudes about Albanian-language university education? In this country amongst the Albanians you can find raged supporters of Sulejmani's university and raged opposers against the same one. This black and white difference between the Albanians can also be found in the attitudes for Shtoel's university.
The wars amongst the Albanians are not only between the different parties. I suppose many of us remember Rufi Osmani. He, after Gostivar's events proved that he felt manipulated from DPA and was throwing bricks and stones, insults on his friends from the party. He was settling accounts with Thaci for a long time before that. Thaci was calling Osmani sick man. Osmani told Thaci that he was a dentist without a degree, writing him letters.
What about the fights during the elections? The elections in Studenichani lasted 3-4 seasons. That wasn't the only place where PDP and NDP fought. A real war took place in the electoral units where the Albanian candidates where on the list. Was it very similar to the one of NLA, ANA, ANA real and unreal, Thaci, Ahmeti and Leka?
NLA, ANA, Ahmeti, Thaci and Leka as an initiating capsule.
For many, the disagreement amongst the Albanians became obvious when the DPA and PDP started fighting. But, probably that is the same war existing inside the Albanian row on the relation DPA-NLA-NDP-PDP, only in a new form. Ahmeti's coordinative council straight after the event came out with a list of culprits, who are criminals, as he says. These persons are most probably criminals, but the essence of the fight is not in the smuggling, gray economy or similar (the fight took place on a "liberated territory").The substance of this fight is war for power.
From unofficial sources of Kapital, besides the war between NLA and ANA stands a war between Ahmeti and Thaci. Apparently, DPA is not happy for the Ahmeti's growing reputation, and is trying through the unsuccessful NLA's representatives to decrease the reputation of Ali Ahmeti, who once was a terrorist, and today [presents himself as] a peacemaker.
Speculations arose that after being released from prison, many NLA members were challenged (read put under pressure) to choose one side, Ahmeti's or Thaci's. It is estimated that the number of fighters on the Thaci's side is not small, or to be precise many of NLAs members are already sitting on Thaci's lap.The speculators say that one of the Thaci's obedients is "commander" Leka, the man who was leading the clashes between NLA and ANA.
It is possible that the shootings between NLA and ANA are not related to Ahmeti and Thaci, but it is for sure that this is going to be used for collecting points. If not for more, in the political council this is going to be pointed out as a bad example, precisely negative point in Ahmeti's balance, who can't bridle his present and ex-soldiers.
Power (money) spins the Albanians' world as well.
The unison of the coordinative council of the Albanians and the agreement among the Albanians will probably last until the period before or just after the elections. It is possible, as usually, the friendship DPA-NLA-NDP-PDP to make an agreement to come out together on the elections, but in the end, a part of that partnership will be played out. In the authority probably there will not be a chair for everybody, and someone needs to be an opposition. Who is getting which position depends on the agreements between the actual partners in the council and on what is going to happen in the Macedonian political block. But in the meantime, the vision of the ethnic Albanians seems very difficult to be significantly changed. The fights amongst the Albanians have always been severely underreported and inaccesible to the public. Behavior of majority of Albanian language-media contributes to this situation. It is very interesting how many of them are completely solidary with the so-called great goals, and almost never write about the disagreements amongst the Albanian rows.
But, no matter what kind of models we have in our heads, it is clear that even in the Albanian fraternity it is in force: The authority can't be won with love. In the Albanian political-military block there have been and there are going to be many offensives, no matter how much someone tries to marginalize that...
Victor Asiiski, Coalition "For Bulgaria" - 31.01 percent
Lazar Prichkapov, independent - 26.52 percent
Eleonora Nikolova, backed by the UDF and all the right-wing parties excluding the NMS - 42.68 percent.
Geno Genov, independent, backed by the left-wing formations - 37.72 percent
Mayor elected at the first round.
Omurtag - Enver Ahmed, MRF - 50.54 percent
Tsarevo - Petko Arnaudov, BSP - 60 percent
Iskrets, Svoge municipality - Slavka Ivanova, BDU "Radicals" - 64 percent
Kostievo, Maritsa municipality - Vania Petkova, BSP - 71 percent
Valkosel, Satovcha municipality - Russi Bilyukov, BSP - 52 percent
Lawyer Yalnuzov Meets with Medics on Trial in Libya Tripoli, April 22 (BTA) - The six Bulgarian medics standing trial here on charges of intentionally infecting 393 children with HIV met Saturday with their Bulgarian lawyer Plamen Yalnuzov, the press office of the Foreign Ministry said.
The outlook for the trial and some concrete legal aspects were discussed during the four-hour meeting. Yalnuzov explained to the defendants a number of issues related to the stage the trial has reached and possible future defence strategies. He also informed the medics about his meeting with their Libyan lawyer Osman Bizanti.
Yalnuzov and the medics agreed on a mechanism for them to convey concrete demands in his absence and a mechanism for coordination with Bizanti. The defendants handed to Yalnuzov letters to their relatives and asked him to meet with them when he returns to Bulgaria.
PM Saxe-Coburg-Gotha Meets with Bulgarian Emigrant Community in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., April 22 (BTA exclusive by Rumyana Kinkina) - Bulgarian Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, on a working visit here at the moment, met late Sunday evening with representatives of the Bulgarian expat community in the US capital.
Some 200 expats, including representatives of cultural societies, church boards and students, came to the reception given by Bulgarian Ambassador to the US Elena Poptodorova at the Embassy building. The mission said that between 6 and 8,000 Bulgarians live in Washington D.C.
The reception was also attended by teachers from the newly established local Bulgarian school. It will be attended by the children of expats who will learn the Bulgarian language and history; 43 children have so far enrolled and they will be taught by 8 teachers.
Saxe-Coburg-Gotha's sister and New Jersey resident Princess Marie Louise was also at the meeting.
At a working lunch at the US Chamber of Commerce on Monday morning, Saxe-Coburg-Gotha will meet with reps of Lockheed Martin, Westinghouse, JP Morgan and Phillip Morris. Later in the day, he will meet with members of the American Jewish Committee and with representatives of other Jewish organizations. At the Heritage Foundation, Saxe-Coburg-Gotha will speak on NATO enlargement in Southeast Europe and US interests.
Sougarev Threatening with Civil Disobedience Because of Dossiers.
UDF Deputy Leader Edvin Sougarev threatened with civil disobedience yesterday because of the adopted by the National Assembly Classified Information Protection Act. Actually, the Act classifies the dossier records of the former State Security Service, Sougarev said for the Bulgarian National Radio. He specified that he was to protest by unobserving the texts banning divulgence of classified information. "The dossiers issue was misused in the recent decade and this confrontation resulted in the present plight of the society," Sergei Stanishev, BSP leader, elaborated. Leader of the Bulgarian Democratic Union "Radicals" Evgenii Bakardjiev said that he did not back the Bill in plenary hall for he believed that voters should know who is who in Bulgarian politics. "I'm to submit a new Bill on classified information to parliament in early May, allowing all the archives to be declassified," independent MP Osman Oktai said for the bTV.
Bulgarian Leader Wants Into NATO.
By GEORGE GEDDA, Associated Press Writer.
WASHINGTON (AP) - Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha of Bulgaria said Monday his country is prepared to make a significant contribution to NATO if invited to join later this year.
Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, who meets with President Bush on Tuesday, addressed a luncheon gathering at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative research group.
His 15-minute address was devoted entirely to reasons why he believes Bulgaria would be a valuable addition to the 19-member alliance. When NATO convenes a summit meeting in Prague in November, Bulgaria is seen as a likely recipient of a membership invitation.
Saxe-Coburg-Gotha said Bulgaria would make NATO more robust, particularly in the U.S.-led effort to defeat international terrorism.
He said Bulgarian military contributions would help NATO countries in Europe narrow the current military advantage held by the Unites States in the alliance.
"We are willing to make a significant contribution to NATO," said Saxe-Coburg-Botha, who served as a child monarch in the 1940's before being forced into exile when Bulgaria became communist. The country spent decades as a loyal ally of the Soviet Union.
On his return from exile, he formed his own party, which won parliamentary elections last June.
Immediately after Sept. 11, Bulgaria joined the anti-terrorism struggle in earnest, opening its air space to American and other aircraft heading for Southwest Asia.
Even though it was not part of NATO, Bulgaria invoked the alliance's collective defense provisions, making it a de facto member.
Bulgaria's Southeast Europe neighbor, Romania, also is considered a strong candidate for NATO membership. Others seen as having a good chance are Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.
Albania, Macedonia and Croatia are considered to have little chance in this round of NATO expansion.
UDF Leader Meets with President to Request Veto on Classified Information Act.
Sofia, April 22 (BTA) - Emerging from a 50 min meeting with President Georgi Purvanov, Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) leader Nadezhda Mihailova said she had requested from Purvanov that he veto the law on the protection of classified information.
Purvanov promised to peruse the law after it is adopted by parliament, Mihailova said.
The law is a key requirement for NATO accession but not under the format proposed by the incumbents, she said, adding that it contains no signal for political or public morality. UDF is concerned by the lack of judicial control over cases where access to information is denied and by the possibility that people accused of collaborating with the former state security will have no means of defending themselves.
Mihailova warned that the files of the former state security should not be used for partisan purposes or political extortion.
Mihailova also briefed Purvanov on her meeting in Brussels last week with NATO Secretary General George Robertson and EU enlargement commissioner Guenther Verheugen.
The two discussed UDF's idea for a public debate on the need for NATO accession which Mihailova ran by Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha last week.
Thatcher's Imagemaker to Train MPs.
NMS deputies were obliged to attend the lectures on how to behave themselves with media.
An imagemaker of M. Thatcher will train Bulgarian MPs how to behave themselves with journalists and before cameras, it transpired yesterday. The seminar "Media Relations" starts at Radisson hotel today. The deputies are to be familiarized with technics of giving interviews and drafting releases. A stress will be made on the ways of making the image of the contemporary politicians. Journalists Petko Georgiev and Boriana Dimitrova will also deliver lectures at the seminar. To well-informed, the leadership of the NMS PG warned all the King's deputies to attend the seminar because of the frequent criticisms levelled at the NMS MPs poor media performances.
Cheese Pies and Eggs Banned from Markets.
Retailers of fish in the opened will be fined up to 3,000 levs.
Cheese pies, round pretzels and grills won't be sold at the markets any more, reads the new ordinance of the Health and Agricultural Ministries, promulgated in the State Gazette. The selling of bread, dairies, fish, meat, margarine and sweets is forbidden, too. Chocolate and eggs will be sold at the markets only if the temperatures are below 15 C. In the supermarkets only cans, packed foods and fresh fruit could be sold at self-servicing. Meat, dairies and sugar should be sold at different stalls and measured on different balances. Foods with damaged packages and without labels are forbidden for sale.
Laundry Deal for $1.5 Million Covered up.
Offshore accounts in Bulgaria are to be kept watchful eye on, head of the Financial Investigation Bureau (FIB) says.
No one has been sentenced for laundering money, said Vassil Kirov, newly appointed Director of the "Financial Investigation Bureau" Agency, yesterday. There are accusations of money laundry but the cases initiated were investigated for years, Kirov said further. In 1999 a bank reported on deposits in cash amounting to $1.5 million. The FIB, however, started investigating it two years later, Kirov elaborated. He said he was dissatisfied with the hitherto performances of the agency and submitted a report on its activities to Milen Velchev, Minister of Finance. The FIB is working out mechanisms to follow the movement of financial flows in order to prevent financing terrorist activities.
HEROIN - HAUL.
21 Kg Heroin Seized on Turkish Border.
Sofia, April 22 (BTA) - Officers of the Kapitan Andreevo checkpoint on the Turkish border seized 20.73 kg of heroin on Monday, the National Customs Agency said. The consignment was hidden in secret compartments in a Serbian-registered Audi bound for Yugoslavia.
The officers found the special compartments in the front wings of the car. They took out 40 packs of yellowish powder, which later tested positive for heroin.
Written statements of a customs violation were drawn against the two Serbs who travelled in the car.
The haul comes four days after 7.74 kg of heroin was seized from the Serbian carriage of the Istanbul-Bucharest train, the Agency recalled.
Bulgaria is ready to close three more chapters in the negotiations with the European Union.
Bulgaria is expected to close three more chapters (economic currency union, social policy, and institutions) in the negotiations with the European Union in Brussels today. Chief Negotiator Miglena Kuneva commented that in this way the strategy of Bulgaria would be changed in the process of negotiating, because every country negotiating on more than 15 chapters could be considered a joining partner. By closing the three chapters, the total number of closed chapters would become 17.
Bulgarians Are Travelling at Shorter and Shorter Distances.
Deputy Minister of Transport and Telecommunications
The fact that the number of passengers is constantly decreasing isn't fatal. It is alarming that people travel on shorter and shorter distances. Possibly, people avoid to travel to work or study somewhere else, because this increases their expenses. The loads are less, too, because our main clients are not doing well. We expect an increase in the loads, connected with the decision that the fertilizer plants will themselves negotiate on lower gas prices.
We hope that the BDZ (Bulgarian State Railways) will gain momentum after the adoption of the bill on transferring the debts into assets. It has already been discussed by the parliamentary committees and the second hearing is pending. Probably it'll be passed till late April.
As for the debts to the World Bank and EBRD they were distributed between the two ventures. The infrastructure was allotted the credits invested in buying big road building machines and the repair of the railway network. And the BDZ venture was allotted funds for introducing information systems and repairing the carriages.