MACEDONIAN CULTURE MINISTER-VISIT.
Sofia, June 10 (BTA) - Macedonian Culture Minister Ganka Samoilovska -Tsvetanova arrives June 11 on an official visit here, the Bulgarian Culture Ministry's press centre told BTA.
The purpose of the visit, which is at the invitation of Culture Minister Bozhidar Abrashev, is to discuss bilateral cultural ties, as well as events within the 2002 - 2004 joint programme of the two countries' culture ministries.
Bulgaria Closes Another Three Chapters at Negotiations with EU.
Luxemburg, June 10 (BTA exclusive by Zornitsa Venkova, National Television correspondent) - Bulgaria closed another three chapters at Monday's round of negotiations with the European Union (EU).
The first one concerns the free movement of goods. Bulgaria does not want to be allowed a transitional period in this respect.
Concerning the free movement of people, it was agreed that the EU member states can restrict the access of Bulgarians to their labour markets for a period of maximum seven years after Bulgaria's accession to the EU. Bulgaria will have the right to respond by applying the same measures in regard to the countries that restrict the access of Bulgarians to their labour markets.
Despite the restrictions, if a Bulgarian national and a national of a country that is not an EU member apply for a job, preference will be given to the Bulgarian national.
The third chapter concerns tax policy. Bulgaria has the right not to approximate the excise duty charged on cigarettes with the European standards. "As far as that part of the chapter which deals with value added tax is concerned, Bulgaria achieved the best possible conditions," Deputy Finance Minister Gati al-Djebouri said.
The foreign ministers of the 15 EU member states debated the enlargement process on Monday morning without reaching a consensus on subsidizing farmers in the new member-states. The ministers undertook to take measures for further advancement of the negotiation process with Bulgaria and Romania.
The Netherlands Will Support Bulgaria's EU Accession Effort.
Luxembourg, June 10 (BTA exclusive by national television corr. Zornitsa Venkova) - Foreign ministers Solomon Passy of Bulgaria and Jozias Van Aartsen of The Netherlands signed Monday in Luxembourg a memorandum of understanding and partnership. The document envisages that The Netherlands help Bulgaria in its progress in the EU accession talks through cooperation in justice, home affairs, agriculture, environment protection and finances, among others.
"This is one of the many things that will help our country become better prepared for EU accession," Passy commented after the ceremony.
Bulgaria is the second state after Poland with which The Netherlands sign such a document.
BTC - PRIVATIZATION - BIDS.
Three Bids for BTC Privatization Submitted by Deadline.
Sofia, June 10 (BTA) - Three sets of bidding documents for the purchase of the Bulgarian Telecommunications Company (BTC) have been submitted to the Privatization Agency (PA). The deadline for tentative bids expired at 18:00 hrs local time on Monday.
Three representatives of Advent International, a foreign investment fund, entered the building of PA 11 minutes before the expiration of the deadline.
Going out, they neither confirmed nor denied the submission of a tentative offer.
A consortium of Koc Information and Technology Group and Turk Telecom submitted their offer for BTC a little before 17:00 hrs local time, Murad Ardak, a representative of the consortium told journalists. He did not say whether the consortium had applied for a licence for a third GSM operator.
Turkey's Koc holding group has a leading position in the consortium.
Some time before the representatives of the Turkish consortium, the officials of another company went to the secretarial office of the PA but they declined to identify it by name.
The tentative bids will be opened on Tuesday morning.
However, the PA does not commit to disclose the candidate buyers on the same day.
The tentative bids contain documents evidencing the candidate's legitimacy and a proposal for the purchase of up to 65 per cent of the BTC assets which is not binding. The PA reserves its right to reject a candidate buyer offering to purchase less than 51 per cent of the BTC assets.
The tentative purchase price is specified in euros.
Candidate buyers can name either a fixed price or a price range, explaining what circumstances would influence the price amount.
Besides a price proposal, the set contains a business programme, an investment plan and an employment plan for a period of three years.
The two-round competitive bidding for the privatization of BTC was opened on April 4 this year. The initial deadline for submitting offers was extended.
AGRICULTURE MINISTRY - BAN.
Agriculture Minister Bans Import, Transit of Cloven-Footed Animals from Argentina.
Sofia, June 10 (BTA) - Agriculture and Forests Minister Mehmed Dikme issued an order on Monday banning the import and transit of domestic and wild cloven-footed animals from Argentina, the Agriculture and Forests Ministry's information directorate said.
The ban also concerns materials and products, as well as animal feed and components for animal feed produced from such animals without thermal treatment guaranteeing destruction of the virus of foot-and-mouth disease, FMD.
The ban is being introduced in connection with the announcement about FMD cases in Argentina on June 6, the press release says.
The Agriculture and Forests Ministry says that until now Bulgaria has only imported boned meat at special conditions, including obligatory cooling of the meat at a temperature of 2C to 6C for 25 hours. Exports of Argentinean produce need to come from EU-approved slaughterhouses. The special conditions for import of Argentinean meat were also necessitated by the large number of FMD outbreaks in 2000 there, the press release says.
BULGARIA - ALBANIA - VISIT.
Sofia, June 10 (BTA) - Bulgaria and Albania will sign an intergovernmental agreement on readmission, the press office of the Interior Ministry said.
The signing will take place during the visit of Albanian Minister of Public Order Stefan Cipa who arrives in Sofia on June 11.
Cipa and his Bulgarian counterpart Georgi Petkanov will discuss issues of bilateral interest, development of cooperation between the two countries' interior ministries and identify measures for future joint measures against organized crime.
BULGARIA - TURKEY - PARLIAMENTS.
Sofia, June 10 (BTA) - Turkey fully supports Bulgaria's bid for NATO membership, Ali Iliksoy, Deputy Speaker of the Turkish Grand National Assembly told Bulgarian National Assmebly Chairman Ognyan Gerdjikov at their meeting on Monday, the press centre of the Bulgarian Parliament said.
Iliksoy said that Turkey was following with satisfaction Bulgaria's progress towards membership of the European Union (EU) and NATO. "I am convinced that soon we will be shoulder to shoulder - this is important for both countries."
Turkey has good relations with the Bulgarian Government, Iliskoy said. He described as important the participation of two ministers who are ethnic Turks in the Cabinet. "The presence of members of the Turkish minority is a guarantee for their integration in the society on an equal footing."
At the meeting with Iliksoy Gerdjikov expressed satisfaction with the development of relations between Bulgaria and Turkey.
Iliksoy leads a Turkish parliamentary delegation on an unofficial visit to Bulgaria made in connection with the work on a joint two-year programme on the conservation and restoration of cultural monuments in the two countries.
The delegation will visit Shoumen, Razgrad and Plovdiv. The programme will be signed at the end of June, the press centre of Parliament said.
Meeting Stefan Danailov, Chairman of the Committee on Culture of the Bulgarian National Assembly, Iliksoy said that Turkey would fulfil its promise regarding the restoration of Bulgarian cultural, historical and religious monuments in Turkish territory.
Danailov expressed readiness to organize a meeting of representatives of the culture committees of the countries in the Balkan peninsula.
The Turkish guests met with Ivan Iskrov, Chairman of the parliamentary Budgetary and Finance committee, who also chairs the Bulgaria-Turkey Friendship Group in the National Assembly.
Iskrov thanked for Turkey';s support at the meeting of NATO's Parliamentary Assembly held in Sofia.
Iliksoy congratulated Bulgaria on its progress in the process of negotiations with the European Union.
BTA - EUROPEAN NEWS AGENCIES.
BTA Presented before European Alliance of Press Agencies.
Krakow, Poland, June 10 (BTA) - The Bulgarian national news agency, BTA, was presented under the motto "Surviving in the Wind of Change" at an Extra General Assembly of the European Alliance of Press Agencies (EAPA) held in Krakow. Senior administrators of national media of 27 countries discussed the topic "News Agencies in Times of Uncertainty." They showed interest in BTA's autonomous status which ensures independence of the information policy, BTA's positions on the domestic and international media markets, mixed funding, and the technological boom of the last few years.
One of the central topics at the seminar was the need for a new market policy and legal measures which news agencies should take against the unauthorized use of their product, particularly on the Internet. Other topics pertained to ownership, funding, relations with the State and public institutions, and rules ensuring independence of information services.
EAPA is an organization with a 45-year-long history, with member agencies from 28 countries. Under the Alliance's statutes, each country can only be represented by its national news agency. The members of the organization include Agence France Presse, The Press Association Limited (UK), DPA (Germany), ITAR-TASS (Russia), EFE (Spain), APA (Austria), ANSA (Italy), ANA (Greece), the Anatolian News Agency (Turkey), PAP (Poland), CTK (the Czech Republic), and MTI (Hungary).
In Krakow, BTA was represented by its Director General Panayot Denev and Chief Secretary Yana Kozhouharova.