The government appointed Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Kisyov as chief negotiator in accession talks with the European Union. Kisyov is to take over the post left vacant by his predecessor, Alexander Bozhkov, who was dismissed last week on suspicion of corruption, the state news agency BTA reported. Prime Minister Ivan Kostov demanded Bozhkov's resignation after receiving evidence he had been involved in issuing false documents. Kisyov, 53, served as deputy chief negotiator with the E.U. prior to his appointment.
Slovak Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda arrived for a two day visit to Bulgaria last week to meet with Prime Minister Kostov. "Membership of the EU is a chance in decades and we should do our best not to miss it. It is important that we support each other in our negotiations and avoid each other's mistakes," Prime Minister Dzurinda told a news conference.
The two prime ministers also agreed to coordinate efforts in their bids to join NATO. Kostov and Dzurinda also agreed that restoring navigation along the Danube River was essential for business ties between the two countries. Navigation is still impeded by debris from bridges destroyed during NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia during the Kosovo crisis last year.
Romania's Turnu Măgurele chemical plant again poisoned the air of the Bulgarian Danube town of Nikopol, some 250 kilometers northeast of Sofia, on Thursday morning last week. The ammonia content of the air was 3.7 times above the acceptable level.
The chemical plant spewed clouds of noxious gasses over Bulgaria on Wednesday too, Bulgarian officials said. It was the latest in a series of continuing cross-border pollution cases which have strained relations between the Balkan neighbors.
There was no immediate comment from the Romanians. In May, Romania's environmental ministry promised to temporarily close the plant. It was partially closed for repairs in November after a swirling orange cloud of toxic gases shrouded Nikopol. Ammonia levels were 20 times above the permitted limit. The citizens of Nikopol are well prepared and keep gas masks in their homes. What a life!
Thousands of Bulgarians gathered in the main cathedral in Sofia on Monday last week to pray for the six Bulgarian medics facing trial in Tripoli on charges of infecting hundreds of Libyan children with the HIV virus. The case of five nurses and a doctor, who could face the death sentence if found guilty, is becoming increasingly sensitive both at home and abroad.
Many Bulgarians accuse the government of failing to react swiftly in order to help the medics, who were detained in February 1999. On Monday evening, some 3000 people joined a campaign launched by the popular television show Hashove and attended a church service. The crowd then marched toward the government building in silence. "We will pray for the six Bulgarian medics in Libya and for the recovery of the infected Libyan children," Hashove producer and actor Slavi Trifonov told Reuters earlier in the day.
A major Bulgarian Internet provider launched
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We believe the Bulgarian medics are innocent and this is the only way we can help and show our solidarity," Markovski told a news conference. The page, which can be found here, is in Bulgarian but Markovski said within a month it would have versions in English, French and Arabic.
On 9 June, Parliament voted by 122 to 63 with 12 abstentions to override President Petar Stoyanov's veto of the law shortening military service, AP reported. Last month, Stoyanov had asked lawmakers to reconsider the legislation in view of the military's opposition to it. Under the new legislation, as of 1 October 2001, military service for university graduates will be six months and for regular conscripts nine months.
Nadia Rozeva Green, 16 June 2000