Enter content here
Students from the 'Hristo Botev' secondary school laid flowers and wreaths in the central park of Sofia named after King Boris III to commemorate the people who died for freedom and independence of Bulgaria. Photo BTA
President Georgi Purvnov met with Ambassador John Negroponte (left), US permanent representative in the UN. Pressphoto - BTA photo: Vladimir Shokov
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Bulgarian Prime Minister Simeon Saxcoburggotski shake hands during their meeting in Moscow, Monday June 3, 2002. Saxcoburggotski arrived in Moscow on a visit for talks with high Russian officials. (AP Photo/ITAR-TASS, Presidential Press Service)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Bulgarian Prime Minister Simeon Saxcoburggotski speak during their talks in Moscow, Monday June 3, 2002. Saxcoburggotski arrived in Moscow on a visit for talks with high Russian officials. (AP Photo/Alexander Natruskin, Pool)
Bulgarian Prime Minister Simeon Saxcoburggotski speaks during talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Monday June 3, 2002. Saxcoburggotski arrived in Moscow on a visit for talks with high Russian officials. (AP Photo/Alexander Natruskin, Pool)
Speaker of Federation Council, the Russian parliament's upper house, Sergei Mironov, left, welcomes Bulgarian Prime Minister Simeon Saxcoburggotski during their meeting in Moscow, Monday June 3, 2002. Saxcoburggotski arrived in Moscow on a visit for talks with high Russian officials. (AP Photo/Sergei Chirikov, Pool)
SITUATION IN CRISIS REGIONS.
No shootouts are heard Monday morning in Tetovo and its surrounding unlike Sunday night when fire was opened on undefined targets from several types of infantry weapons.
Police sources say shootouts have been registered from the area of the textile high school "Goce Stojceski," "SS. Cyril and Methodius" elementary school and "Vondardarska" street.
Also shootings have been heard overnight from Drenovec 2 and Gorna carsija settlements, Cetinska, Stipska street, opposite the building of Interior Department.
A series of burst of fire and sporadic shootouts have been registered from Mala Recica, Dolno and Gorno Orasje, Odri, Dobroste, Prsovce, Tearce and other villages.Shots were also heard in the early morning hours from the villages of Mala Recica, Gajre, Strimica, Lisec, Palatica, Trebos, Ozormiste, Poroj, Dobroste, Gorno and Dolno Orasje and several other villages.
In Kumanovo - Lipkovo region are registered Sunday 16:00 to 24:00 hours, fifteen occasional shootings from direction of villages Slupcane, Lojane, Vaksince, Runica, Gosince, Nikustak, Vistica and Matejce.
In the last few days the Macedonian Army (ARM) withdraw one tank and three artillery weapons, ARM spokesman Blagoja Markovski stated. The withdrawal was due to the evaluation made by the Headquarters regarding security situation in the region.
"ARM is determined to cooperate in order to contribute to more efficient and faster implementation of peace," Markovski said.
In five villages in Lipkovo crisis region, multi-ethnic police teams patrols carry out their tasks without problems.
EXPERTS' MEETING OF PARTIES SIGNATORIES OF OHRID AGREEMENT.
Agreement was reached Monday on election of president of the State Election Commission (SEC) at the experts' meeting of the four political parties - signatories of Ohrid Agreement also attended by the international representatives.
At the meeting focused on SDSM's amendments to the election laws package, the differences over the two disputed issues - use of languages on the ballots and the way of election of presidents of the regional and municipal election commissions, were not surpassed.
VMRO-DPMNE and SDSM previously disagreed with the proposal of the Justice Ministry the ballots on entire Macedonian territory to be bilingual - in Macedonian and in Albanian language. SDSM had remarks to the legal proposal the SEC's president to be elected by the judges of the Supreme Court and suggested for the judges from the Constitutional Court and other distinguished lawyers to also participate in the election of SEC's head.
Assessing the talks as constructive and announcing that they will continue, Minister of Labor and Social Policy Bedredin Ibraimi, who participated at the meeting as DPA representative, says that he expects mutual solution to be found for the other two open issues. "We mainly discussed the amendments and the solutions suggested by SDSM," Ibraimi said, adding that DPA offered its solutions.
According to him, the parliamentary debate will not continue until an agreement is reached. Ibraimi thinks that the talks should continue on experts' level and leaders' meeting should be held afterwards.
SDSM representative Aleksandar Gestakovski says that he expects the proposals of his party to be supported by the other political parties.
"We coordinated the positions on election of SEC's president, who should be from the lines of the Supreme Court judges and other distinguished lawyers and that also means judges from the Constitutional Court," Gestakovski said.
According to Gestakovski, SDSM's position is that the presidents of the regional and municipal election commissions should be elected in the Parliament with two-thirds majority. Gestakovski says that only PDP supports this position so far.
Trajko Veljanovski from VMRO - DPMNE emphasized after the meeting that the four parties agreed in general SEC's president to be elected from the judges of the Supreme Court and other distinguished lawyers.
"Regarding the ballots we have identical position with SDSM, which is in contrast to the one of the Albanian parties," Veljanovski said, emphasizing that VMRO-DPMNE remains on its position the presidents of the regional and municipal election commissions to be elected with majority votes in the Parliament.
The international representatives want the agreement to be reached as soon as possible, Veljanovski said, adding that certain proposals were stated at the meeting, which should be additionally reviewed by the party.
Naser Ziberi from PDP emphasized that the international representatives offered several solutions to the three opened issues.
He said that PDP was ready to talk about every proposal that would guarantee fair and democratic elections and would be in compliance with the Constitution.
According to him, some of the proposals do not guarantee fair and democratic elections such as the election of the presidents or if are not according to the Constitution such as the contents of the ballot. "We shall commit these two criteria to be fully respected," he said.
Marjan Gjorcev and Nikola Popovski, Vice-Presidents of the political parties VMRO-DPMNE and SDSM, also met earlier today to coordinate their positions on election of the State Election Commission (SEC) President, as well as on ballots in regard to usage of languages.
After the meeting, said that both parties had different approach on election method of presidents on the regional and municipal election commissions.
He considered that the positions of both parties on election of SEC President and Ballots were coordinated.
Earlier, VMRO-DPMNE and SDSM did not adopt a proposal by the Justice Ministry, according to which all ballots should be in both Macedonian and Albanian language.
SDSM also did not agree with a proposal for SEC President to be elected from the Supreme Court judges. According to this part, the SEC chairman should be elected from the Constitutional and Supreme Court, including other eminent law experts.
"We have pointed out that the Constitutional Court cannot take part in the election process, according to the Article 134 of the Constitution," Gjorcev said.
Referring to ballots, Gjorcev said that any official document in Macedonia should be written in Macedonian language and Cyrillic Alphabet.
"However, the voting manual should be also written in a language, spoken by over 20% of the population of a unit of local self-government, enabling them to use the manual, " Gjorcev said.
"I hope that after today's talks at the OSCE Office, we will have additional consultations with the other parties, closing the matter with a mutual agreement," Gjorcev said.
THIRD INTERNATIONAL TV ECO-FESTIVAL BEGINS IN OHRID.
In organization of the Macedonian Radio-Television and the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning, a three-day international TV festival "ECO 2002" started in Ohrid on Monday.
In the framework of the festival, the audience will have a chance to see 28 TV programs developed by 22 TV stations from 17 different countries.
As the organizers said, the number of present TV stations confirms the interest in environmental protection.
Almost all projections are focused on the measures for protection of the natural heritage, and aim to alarm the public for the lack of environmental protection.
The organizers will grant awards for best program, best director, scenario, editing, and camera.
Two roundtables on the topic "The Cultural Heritage after the Armed Conflict in Macedonia," and "Sustainable Development of the Ohrid and Prespa Regions" will be also organized in the framework of the "ECO 2002" festival.
On June 5, the World Environment Day, the Association of Environmentalists of Macedonia will present its annual awards.
INTERNATIONAL ITF 2002 FAIR OPENED.
Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski opened Monday night the 52nd International fair of consumer goods, production materials and equipment ITF 2002 at the Skopje fair.
"With its years long existence Skopje Fair contributes towards efficient and direct establishing of cooperation among the old partners but also finds out new business partners," Trajkovski said, adding that this is a good opportunity for the Macedonian enterprises to offer their products and to establish contacts with the other countries.
"Macedonia can realise sustainable, enhanced development and prosperity only through developing market economy, which should have intensive foreign trade exchange," Trajkovski pointed out.
He stressed that the Macedonian customers should orient themselves towards the Macedonian products, because that will enhance our economy and the domestic producers should increase the efficacy and the quality of the products in order to be more competitive.
"With the signed Free Trade Agreements with the countries in the region, the implementation of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement as well as the Free Trade Agreements with EFTA member countries - Turkey and Ukraine the handicap of small market is overcome. In this way the tax free placement of the products carrying the label 'Made in Macedonia' is enabled on the market with around 500 million consumers," he said.
President Trajkovski said that with Macedonia's integration in the World Trade Organization (WTO) transparent and predictive economic system would be established and the decisions of the foreign trade and customs operations will be unified.
At the end of his address, Trajkovski said that the preservation of the peace, stability and democracy are the main precondition for economic development.
Slovenian Economy Minister Tea Petrin as well as representatives of the diplomatic corps to Macedonia attended the opening of the fair.
Around of 400 home and also foreign companies from Slovenia, FR Yugoslavia, Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, India, Germany, Croatia, Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, and Albania will exhibit at this fair manifestation.
Several bilateral meetings between the officials of the Macedonian and Slovenian Ministries of Economy will be held aimed at supporting of the economic cooperation.
Bulgarian Medics in Libya to Be Moved Back to Prison.
The trial will be postponed, lawyer Byzanti maintains.
The six Bulgarian medics charged with intentionally infecting 393 Libyan children with the HIV virus, will be transferred back to prison until the trial is over, said their Libyan lawyer Osman Byzanti for the Bulgarian National Radio yesterday. Medical Dr Zdravko Georgiev and the five nurses are to be brought before the Arraignment Chamber, comprising a judge, a prosecutor and defenders, in Benghazi. The case is to be tried in Benghazi rather than in Tripoli, Byzanti elaborated. He did not intend to attend it in person because it was only the beginning and would be postponed automatically. Until late at night yesterday it was not clear if Bulgarian defender Plamen Yalnazov was to attend the today's session.
Protesting farmers take Bulgarian, Mexican workers captive in airport protest.
MEXICO CITY - Farmers protesting the construction of a new international airport released six workers Monday, including a Bulgarian engineer, whom they had taken hostage three days earlier for conducting airport-related studies on their land.
Bulgarian citizen Krassimir Kirilov and five Mexican workers were taken hostage Friday in the small town of San Salvador Atenco, on the outskirts of Mexico City, while conducting studies for a Spanish company that plans to build three highways as part of the new airport.
The village is one of various communities comprising the area known as Texcoco, where the six-runway, dlrs 2.3 billion airport is to be built.
The communities are protesting government attempts to expropriate their lands for the project, which would swallow up 11,000 acres (4,450 hectares), covering much of the municipality.
The farmers of San Salvador Atenco captured the workers Friday to protest what they said was a violation of a court injunction preventing any airport-related projects from taking place on the land.
About 150 machete-wielding farmers released their prisoners in front of the national Supreme Court building on Monday afternoon.
Mexico state Attorney General Alfonso Navarrete Prida said his office would investigate the hostage-taking, the government news agency Notimex reported.
Ivan Likov, a spokesman for the Bulgarian Embassy in Mexico, said the farmers had treated Kirilov very well.
The government's expropriation order gives residents as little as 60 cents per square yard of land, a price they call ridiculously low. Many say they oppose the airport regardless of what they are paid.
Mexico City's current airport, a 91-year-old facility on the eastern edge of town, cannot be expanded because it is bordered on three sides by urban development. Only one runway can be used at a time.
President Purvanov Opens Investment Forum.
Sofia, June 3 (BTA) - Bulgaria's prospects for membership in the European Union and NATO and the stabilization of Southeastern Europe are factors for attracting foreign investment here, said Purvanov Monday at the opening of Investment Forum 2002. The forum's subject is, "Stepping on the Bulgarian Market. Real Projects for Real Investors".
Investment projects worth a total of 500 million dollars, the bulk of which implemented by municipalities, will be presented at the forum.
The President voiced his dissatisfaction with the low volume of foreign investment in the past decade, which he explained with the conflicts in the region, the unfavourable economic situation worldwide, the belated domestic reforms, inadequate legislation and corruption. "The previous Bulgarian governments tried to advertise Bulgaria's investment opportunities but inadequate legislation and corruption put off investors," said Purvanov. In his words, investors decide against doing business in Bulgaria because the outcome of many privatization competitions is known in advance.
According to Purvanov, foreign investment has not increased in 2001 and 2002. The President pointed to several factors which should make Bulgaria more attractive to investors: the clear European prospects before the country, the marked progress in the talks with the EU, the realistic expectations for NATO membership, the stabilization of the region and the political will of the Balkan countries for infrastructure development and modernization.
Purvanov highlighted Bulgaria's energy potentials, adding that the country plays a key role on the energy market in the region and satisfies some 50 per cent of electricity shortage in Southeastern Europe. Together with Romania it has the ambition to join the European power grid as soon as possible, said the President.
Purvanov assured the participants in the forum that he will continue to assist the executive in its efforts for economic stabilization and radical structural reform, and will help, within his powers, foreign investors. "I will continue to insist on a tax policy which would encourage investment, accelerate the judicial reform, streamline the licensing regulations and procedures, and remove the administrative hurdles before investors," Purvanov concluded.
Economist Steve Hanke Proposes Market Economy Manifesto for Bulgaria.
Sofia, June 3 (BTA) - Speaking Monday before the Bulgarian Economic Form 2002, economist Steve Hanke, adviser to former president Peter Stoyanov, proposed a four-point manifesto dubbed "A Market Economy Manifesto for Bulgaria", which, in his words, would deliver a major confidence shock and put Bulgaria on the road to a market economy.
According to Hanke, fiscal order and transparency must be established. To put its fiscal house in order, Bulgaria's government should begin to publish a national set of accounts which includes a balance sheet of its assets and liabilities and an accrual-based annual operating statement of income and expenses, he explained. These financial statements should meet International Accounting Standards and should be subject to an independent audit.
In his manifesto Hanke says that supermajority voting must be established for important fiscal decisions, such as those related to the foreign debt and changes to the tax system. "I should remark that the goal of reducing Bulgaria's total public debt to something less than 50% of GDP by 2006 is desirable and that it should be vigorously pursued by the Bulgarian government," said the economist..
Thirdly, according to Hanke, the tax system must be simplified and tax rates must be lowered. Another thing that needs to be done is "to privatize" the commercial law, he said. At present, Bulgaria's legal and judicial systems are unreliable and do not meet market-economy standards, and this explains why corruption is widespread, why private property and contract rights are not properly protected and why foreign direct investments are much lower than they could be.
According to Hanke, Bulgaria should amend its Constitution to allow the commercial law to be "privatized". This, in his opinion, would protect the sanctity of property and contract rights in the commercial sphere, reduce corruption and greatly enhance the attractiveness of Bulgaria as a destination for foreign direct investments.
Finance Minister Milen Velchev said the Government's new tax policy for 2003 - 2005 is a step in the direction recommended by Hanke. Velchev presented the highlights of Government's tax policy for the next three years which it is to approve by the end of June. The Finance Minister, however, said that Hanke's proposal for amendments to the Constitution envisaging two-third majority voting of all decisions related to the foreign debt and the tax system are not applicable in Bulgaria because critical contradictions here are sharper than in the other countries. He accepted fully the proposals for fiscal order and transparency are undoubtedly reasonable.
"I am in favour of a "privatziation" of the commercial law and of almost everything which, regrettably, the government is doing, such as education and health care for example," said Velchev.
Later on Monday Deputy Prime Minister and Economy Minister Nikolai Vassilev said that he, too, accepts most of Hanke's proposals. The currency board arrangements will remain in force until the country joins the European Monetary Union, and the tax burden will be reduced gradually, said Vassilev.
A package of measures for reforms in the judiciary has already be moved to the Parliament, Vassilev recalled.
The amendments to the Commercial Code concerning liquidation and insolvency will be offered for public discussion next week, Vassilev told the forum.
A new law which will regulate economic activities is being drafted, said Vassilev.
NATO - ENLARGEMENT - BULGARIA.
President Kwasniewski of Poland: "Bulgaria Is Well Prepared, I Believe It Will Be among New NATO Invitees in Prague."
Sofia, June 3 (BTA) - President Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland believes that Bulgaria stands "very good chances" of receiving an invitation to join NATO in Prague this coming Novemeber.
In a Radio Free Europe interview, aired Monday, Kwasniewski said that this matter figured on the agenda of the NATO-Russia Summit in Rome.
"Bulgaria is well prepared, which gives me reason to assume that it will be in the group of countries which will be newly invited to become NATO members in Prague. Naturally, the decisive factor will be the degree of readiness of the relevant aspirant countries but, in my judgment, Bulgaria will have no problems meeting these requirements," the Polish President said.
Asked to be more specific, he repeated that Bulgaria's invitation is "quite probable." "Today, the extension of invitations to seven countries looks a rather realistic prospect, but I would like to emphasize once again that quite a few things depend on the fulfilment of the individual pre-accession plans of each country and on the reforms of their armies. Bulgaria stands a good chance. If you press ahead in this direction, you will get invited," Kwasniewski said.
George Robertson Says There Are No Limitations for NATO Enlargement.
Brussels, June 3 (BTA) - Southeastern Europe has a great potential as long as people start to work together, NATO Secretary General George Robertson said in Brussels answering a question of BTA. He said however that it is frustrating how criminals managed to come together and a signal black market was created while politicians and the legitimate economic interests are unable to find the way to unity.
The NATO Secretary General said that the Black Sea region is strategically important and its significance will grow even more in future. The Black Sea as well as the Caspian Sea are economically interesting regions and this should be capitalized on, said he.
There are no limitations to NATO enlargement and the decision will depend on whether the applicant countries are capable of making a military contribution, George Robertson told the press in the Belgian capital. No country will be admitted unless all 19 members are convinced that it can make a contribution to common defence, he added.
Lord George Robertson dismissed a suggestion that in the conditions of the new partnership between Russia and NATO, Moscow will be involved in the decision-taking on the Alliance's enlargement. The Prague decision on enlargement is only for NATO to make, said he.
George Robertson reiterated the conditions for NATO membership: good inter-ethnic relations in the country, no territorial and border disputes, free market economy, working judiciary, civilian control over armament, respect for human rights and comprehensive anti-corruption legislation. The criteria are not just military but NATO is an alliance of values and not just a military bloc, said the Secretary General.
He also stressed that the war on terrorism cannot be separate from the war on the dissemination of weapons of mass destruction. On September 11 terrorists crossed a line: if they are ready to crash a plane into a civilian building, then it is a matter of time for them to use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, he said.
It was the crossing of this line that brought together NATO and Russia, making them understand that they have common interests as well as a common foe in the face of terrorism, said George Robertson.
He does not expect cooperation between the Alliance and Moscow to stop if one day the threat of terror is no longer here. These relations are based on "a long list of common interests" and the new council provides the mechanism to translate the political will for cooperation into specific action.
The NATO Secretary General further dismissed suggestions that the new relations between Russia and NATO could press the European members of the Alliance between Moscow and Washington. The common interest is there not only for the US and Russia, but for Europe as well, and therefore the changed relations with Moscow will be a factor of unity and not division.
Steve H. Hanke: Cut Down Taxes Urgently.
BG Constitution should be amended because of taxes, advises the US professor.
Bulgaria should simplify and reduce taxes after the example of Russia, recommended to the government Prof. Steve H. Hanke in his report to be presented today before the "Investment Forum" in the National Palace of Culture. The eminent American economist advised the government to amend the Constitution because of taxes. The Supreme Law should stipulate that new taxes and changes in tariffs are introduced if two-thirds of the MPs approve them. Now only 120 votes are needed for it. Bulgaria still has a long way to go to become a market economy, Hanke maintained further. Out of 116 states, Bulgaria and Burundi rank 95th as regards economic freedom. The data are provided by Cato Institute of Washington. You country needs a shock influx of credibility, Prof. Hanke said.
Pope John Paul II Praises Bulgaria before Bush.
"I came back from a wonderful visit to Bulgaria," said Pope John Paul II to the American delegation after his meeting with US President George W. Bush on May 28, sources from Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said. At the diplomatic reception held the same night, a Cardinal confirmed that the Pope was very satisfied with his visit to Bulgaria.
PM Saxe-Coburg-Gotha Leaves on 1st Official Visit to Russia.
Sofia, June 3 (BTA) - Bulgarian Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha left Monday morning on his first official visit to Moscow at the invitation of his Russian counterpart Mikhail Kasyanov.
"This is a very important visit but, as always, one should take a realistic view of things and do one's job. I think there are a lot of projects that could affect positively employment in Bulgaria," Saxe-Coburg-Gotha told journalists before his departure. He is scheduled to meet later today with Russian President Vladimir Putin. "It is courtesy meeting more than anything else since I am a guest of Mr. Kasyanov. It is very nice that Putin has requested to see me," Saxe-Coburg-Gotha replied to a question.
Asked if he will discuss with his hosts the completion of the Belene N-plant after the Russian side indicated it is interested in the project, Saxe-Coburg-Gotha replied: "This is an interesting possibility. If an international tender is to be held on the project, it would be best to have a whole range of governments and corporations involved since it will be something private most likely."
On Monday evening, Saxe-Coburg-Gotha will visit the Bulgarian Cultural Center in Moscow and will meet with the local Bulgarian community.
Saxe-Coburg-Gotha said he hopes a meeting with Russian Patriarch Alexei II will take place because he has been wanting to see him for years. Saxe-Coburg-Gotha's itinerary also includes meetings with parliamentary speaker Genadii Seleznyov and Foreign Minister Ivan Ivanov. A number of documents will be signed, including an agreement on economic, scientific and technical cooperation.
President Putin: Saxe-Coburg-Gotha's Visit Marks Turning Point in Bilateral Relations, Hopefully.
Moscow, June 3 (BTA spec. corr. Ekaterina Kazassova) - Russian President Vladimir Putin voiced hope that the official visit by Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Moscow will mark a turning point in bilateral relations.
"Since your government came to power we notice a positive trend in this direction," said Putin in the beginning of his half-hour meeting with the Bulgarian prime minister. Putin received his guest in Kremlin's Green Drawing Room. The meeting was attended by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksey Kudrin, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and the Bulgarian delegation accompanying Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.
Putin described bilateral economic relations as good. He voiced hope that the downward tendency in two-way trade in 2001 would be reversed.
Russia is willing to develop ties with Bulgaria in all spheres on the basis of the two countries' pragmatic interests, said Putin.
He stressed that Russia attaches great importance to business relations with Bulgaria. As a proof of this the Russian President pointed out to the fact that the Russian finance minister co-chairs the intergovernmental committee.
Prime Minister Saxe-Coburg-Gotha thanked Putin for receiving him despite his busy schedule, adding that he views this as an exceptionally friendly gesture.
There have always been good and bad periods in the relations between the two countries, said the prime minister. In his opinion, now is the time for a more favourable period.
Trade and economic contacts were in the focus of the talks between Putin and Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, the President's press service quoted Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov as saying after the meeting.
The Bulgarian prime minister arrived Monday on an official four-day visit to the Russian capital.
This is the first meeting in Kremlin between a Russian president and a Bulgarian prime minister since 1995.
Right after the meeting the President left for Almaty to attend a meeting on cooperation and security measures in the region which will be attended by the cabinet leaders and heads of state of 16 countries.
The meeting with President Putin was the first item on the agenda of Prime Minister Saxe-Coburg-Gotha's visit. He is also scheduled to confer with Prime Minister Mikhail Kassyanov, State Duma Chairman Genadiy Seleznev and Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov.
During the visit the two sides are expected to sign a declaration for trade, economic, and scientific cooperation, a supplement to the Agreement on Settlement of the Mutual Obligations between the Russian Federation and Bulgaria, and an interdepartmental agreement on cooperation between the two countries' culture ministries.
Meanwhile, Moscow is playing host to other high guests, as well. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is paying visit June 3 to 6, his first visit after his re-election. The day the Bulgarian delegation leaves, June 6, Polish President Aleksandr Kwasniewski is expected to arrive on a working visit.
Russia Pitches Bulgarian Nuke Plant.
Reuters SOFIA, Bulgaria -- Russia said Friday it would offer to complete the construction of Bulgaria's second nuclear power plant at Belene, aimed at compensating for a planned early closure of old reactors at its existing plant in Kozloduy.
Bulgaria, the main power exporter in the Balkans, is seeking to keep its leading position after shutting as promised four of the Soviet-design Kozloduy's six 3,760-megawatt reactors, producing 45 percent of the country's power.
"Russia is interested in the construction of the new power plant and we will offer our projects to the Bulgarian side. We are aware that there will be competition," Nuclear Power Minister Alexander Rumyantsev told reporters.
Bulgaria said last month it planned to resume building the plant in Belene, 250 kilometers north of Sofia, and was in talks with Canadian, Russian and U.S. companies, trying to secure the investment of $2 billion needed to finish the job.
"We are building new reactors in China, Iran and India, all of which are in full compliance with the international [safety and technical] requirements. Once Bulgaria announces its parameters, Russia will be ready to take part," said Rumyantsev, who was on a brief visit to Sofia.
The decommissioning of the old reactors at Kozloduy, dubbed by the European Union as unsafe, is a key pledge in Bulgaria's accession talks with the union, which it is striving to join.
Bulgaria bowed to the EU pressure in 2000 and agreed to shut down Kozloduy's two oldest 440-megawatt reactors, No. 1 and No. 2, before 2003. It is still not clear when it would close the other two 440 MW reactors, Nos. 3 and 4.
According to a 1999 deal with the European Commission, Bulgaria should close them before 2008 and 2010, respectively, but in the last two annual reports on Bulgaria the commission insisted it should be in 2006 at the latest.
BALKAN PEACE FORCE - EXERCISE.
Miryantsi Village, Pazardjik Region, South Central Bulgaria, June 3 (BTA) - More than 400 servicemen of the South-Eastern Europe Brigade (SEEBRIG) and US military are taking part in Exercise Cornerstone 2002, which was formally launched near the village of Miryantsi, Pazardjik Region, on Monday.
It will run until July 31.
The ceremony was attended by Education and Science Minister Vladimir Atanassov, MPs, amabssadors and military attaches accredited in Sofia, senior military of the countries participating in Multinational Peace Force Southeastern Europe (MPFSEE), of the General Staff of the Bulgarian Armed Forces and of the US European Command.
Cornerstone 2002 is a joint exercise of the SEEBRIG Engineer Task Force (ETF) and of engineer elements of the US European Command. The first camp of the participants is within the compound of the Engineer Regiment in Plovdiv, and the exercise zone includes a training range in Asenovgrad and areas around the villages of Ognyanovo and Sinitevo and the town of Bratsigovo, all near Pazardjik.
According to the exercise scenario, the engineer troops of the participating countries will respond to the aftermath of a series of "earthquakes" which have inflicted severe damage and disruptions of the transport infrastructure, medical and communications facilities and civilian installations in the zone of operation.
As part of the manoeuvres, the ETF will build a new bridge over the River Maritsa, linking the villages of Sinitevo and Miryantsi. The building of the Ana Gizdova Orphanage in Bratsigovo will be refurbished as well.
The purpose of the international exercise Cornerstone 2002 is to enhance the capabilities of the engineer troops to take part in humanitarian operations, by realistic training in interoperability, command and control procedures.
Cornerstone 2002 is the second such exercise of the Plovdiv-headquartered SEEBRIG ETF.
The first exercise took place in Albania in 2001.
BLACK SEA REGION-EXPERTS.
Varna, June 3 (BTA) - Experts from the border control services of countries in the Black Sea region will meet here between June 3 and 5 in pursuance of a decision taken at the September 2001 2nd annual meeting of the heads of the border services of Turkey, Romania, Ukraine, Russia, Georgia and Bulgaria who got together to discuss counteracting transborder organized crime, illegal migration, the traffic of drugs and the smuggling of excise goods.
The June 3-5 meeting will adopt the agenda for the 3rd annual meeting of the border service heads to be held this September in Romania and will discuss the exchange of information on marine traffic in the Black Sea region. The experts will be demonstrated the Bourgas-stationed automated system for surveillance of the Black Sea.
Someone Wants to Stumble You on the Way to EU.
INTERVIEW Standartnews: Guenter Verheugen
Failing judicial system is the biggest obstacle for investors in Bulgaria, moreover that in this country they are too few, says EU enlargement commissioner Guenter Verheugen.
Geunter Verheugen was born on April 28, 1944 in Germany. He graduates history, sociology and politics in Cologne and Bonn. After that he starts working as head of the Public Relations Department to the IM. In 1999 he becomes an EU Enlargement Commissioner. He's married.
- Mr. Verheugen, you have said several times that the progress Bulgaria made in negotiations with the EU has surpassed even your personal expectation. What has surprised you actually?
- No one could expect that only two years after Bulgaria was invited for these negotiations it will have all chapters opened. Bulgaria showed excellent performance - the country managed to catch up with the other aspirants and is making good progress.
- The EU criticizes Bulgaria for lack of radical reforms in the judicial system.
- This applies to all candidate countries. Unreliable legal structure, failing judicial system are very serious obstacles, these are probably the highest barriers set up before foreign investors, moreover that in Bulgaria they are so few nowadays.
- When in a speech before the National Assembly you mentioned that the EU insists on the decommission of Units 3 and 4 of the N-plant in Kozloduy, it provoked rather strong reactions among politicians and MPs.
- The problem with Kozloduy is purely technical and simple. In Bulgaria there are people who are trying to render political meaning to it and make it a big political problem. I think they are aiming to stumble Bulgaria on its way to the EU. Kozloduy is not a political but a technical issue. It is about nuclear security.
We Want Equal Footing for Russian Capitals.
INTERVIEW Standartnews: Vladimir Titov
The trade needs a reliable interbank payments system, says Ambassador of Russia to Bulgaria, Vladimir Titov.
Vladimir Titov was born in 1958. He graduates from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. He's a representative of the young generation in Russian diplomacy. For 10 years he has been holding high posts in the embassy of Russia in Sweden. Since January 1997 he's the director of the Second European Department to the Foreign Ministry. In January 2000 he is appointed to the post of Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Bulgaria. This is his first post as an ambassador. He speaks English and Swedish. His wife is a culturologist. They have a nine-year old son Andrey.
- Your Excellency, today Premier Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha is leaving for Moscow. What issues will be in the focus of his agenda?
- The development of trade and economic relations between our countries, investments projects in energy sphere, telecommunications, banking, possibilities for the tourists' exchange expansion and the terms of the visa regime. Apart from talks with Russian PM Mikhail Kasyanov, chairmen of the two Duma chambers, meetings are envisaged with President Putin, Patriarch Alexis II and representatives of big business.
- In your opinion, what perspectives can this visit open?
- The visit must become a significant event in the modern history of Bulgarian-Russian relations and cement the basis for the transition to cooperation clear of ideology.
- What will be the outcome of the dispute about certain realty in Bulgaria to which Russia has claims?
- As regards the Russian "reparation" assets in Bulgartabak holding, Russia has the right on part of assets in tobacco industry, which became property of Russia as reparations after the World War II.
- Russian investors complain that they confront with difficulties in Bulgaria. What is the stand of Moscow on this issue?
- We insist that in the privatization process Russian companies should be treated on equal footing.
- What are the chances for the increase of Bulgarian export for Russia?
- A working mechanism should be created for its stimulation, along with an efficient and reliable system for interbank payments. Customs duties should be lifted or reduced. We should avoid crossing the borders of the third countries and work round to Russia-Bulgaria routes across the Black Sea and the Danube.
Albanian Blood Feuds Incite Frequent Murders in Kosovo.
Barry FLETCHER, Spokesperson
UNMIK Police Briefing Notes [excerpt]
3 June, 2002
Arrest For Attempted Murder.
On May 29th in Shalic Village (Mitrovica Region), a K-Albanian man was found inside a vehicle, suffering from a gunshot wound to the knee. Police arrested the suspect, another K-Albanian male, and recovered the AK-47 rifle used in the crime. Investigators have confirmed the motive for the shooting was a blood feud and the suspect shot the victim in retaliation for a killing that occurred on May 29th 14 years ago.
Arrest For Grenade Attack.
On May 28th, police responded to a report of an explosion near a primary school in Pristina. The investigation discovered that two K-Albanian men were involved in a dispute and one of them threw a hand grenade at the others residence. Fortunately, there were no injuries. The suspect turned himself in to police on May 29th.
A tragedy occurred in Pristina on Saturday. At about 3:00 in the morning, a group of teenage boys were playing with a pistol in an apartment in Dardania while watching a video. A 17-year-old boy pointed the pistol at an 18 year-old boy and pulled the trigger. He may have believed the pistol was unloaded but it was not. The 18 year-old died of a gunshot wound to the head.
The exact circumstances of this incident are still under investigation. However, even if it is found to be an accident, one young person is dead and anothers life is probably ruined.
The weapons amnesty we and KFOR operated earlier this year is over, so it is no longer possible to turn in firearms anonymously. However, anyone who calls the police to surrender an illegal weapon is very unlikely to be arrested.
Arrest For Rape On May 25th, a 16 year-old girl was raped in Gnjilane.
UNMIK Police arrested the suspect on May 28th. The 15 year-old suspect was the victims boyfriend.