Off the blacklist
Visa-free travel for Bulgarian citizens to the EU countries was the main topic when Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova met with EU Enlargement Commissioner Günter Verheugen and Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Antonio Vitorino in Brussels on Thursday last week.
"The position of the European Commission is quite clear. We proposed that Bulgaria be dropped from the blacklist and that visa requirements be lifted immediately. This proposal was based on our assessment that Bulgaria has satisfied absolutely all requirements corresponding to the Schengen system," Verheugen said. At the negotiations, the commissioners shared with Mihailova their impressions that the Justice/Home Affairs Council is divided over an individual approach to the separate countries.
Both Vitorino and Verheugen pledged to defend the Bulgarian position at different levels in the EU and in the member states even before the Council meeting in late November. "I would say that the visa issue is not only a problem of justice and home affairs, but a political issue concerning enlargement," Vitorino said.
Nuclear plant switched on
The Kozloduy nuclear plant's 440-megawatt Unit Two was brought back on line and is operating at 52 percent of its capacity, the plant's information center said. The unit was switched off from the national power grid on 1 November following a leak in the second non-radioactive circuit. The leak had no bearing on the radiation and nuclear safety of the plant, the plant's PR department specified.
Swedish king on official visit
King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and Queen Silvia arrived Thursday last week on a three-day state visit to Bulgaria. This is the first official visit by a Swedish king in the 86-year long history of bilateral diplomatic relations and the only one made by the Swedish royal couple abroad this year.
"The visit of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia is an important, hope-raising sign for Bulgaria and the Bulgarians at a time when the country is putting forth a lot of efforts to become a member of the European Union, having in mind that Sweden is going to take over the presidency of the EU at the beginning of next year," President Peter Stoyanov said after his meeting with the King of Sweden.
Stoyanov expressed hope that the present visit would help Swedish politicians and businessmen see Bulgaria for what it is-a state with a thousand-year old history and culture, a state which is firmly resolved to coping with all challenges of the post-Communist period of transition and to become reunited with the large European family from which it was torn away after World War II.
Sofia National Opera in Japan
Sofia National Opera will make its long-awaited debut in Japan later this month with Puccini's chinoise opera Turandot and Pochielli's La Gioconda. Bulgaria is renowned for producing opera singers with strong, beautiful voices, including big names such as bass Nicholai Ghiaurov and soprano Anna Tomowa-Sintow, who have performed at major opera houses around the world.
Soprano Gena Dimitrova, who is in the prime of her career, will sing the title role of Turandot in nine cities and of La Gioconda in Tokyo. The tour will mark the first proper staging of La Gioconda in Japan. The production stars Dimitrova on 14 and 16 December and Maria Dragoni, yet another Bulgarian star, on 15 December.
Minister thumps journalist
Bulgarian Premier Ivan Kostov refused calls on 7 November for him to reprimand Justice Minister Teodossyi Simeonov, who punched a newspaper photographer three days earlier, Reuters reported. Kostov said Simeonov's behavior "cast an unfavorable light on the government ... which respects the media and public opinion."
The ruling Union of Democratic Forces called on Simeonov to apologize to the photographer, who works for the newspaper Sega. Simeonov said he was defending his constitutional right not to be photographed without his permission. Bulgaria's nine largest daily newspapers made a joint declaration that called for Kostov to reprimand Simeonov.
BSDP mourn Dertliev
The Bulgarian Social Democratic Party (BSDP) on Monday declared three days of mourning among its members and supporters for the death of the party's honorary leader Dr Peter Dertliev. Dertliev died in hospital on Sunday 5 November after a protracted illness. Dertliev was one of the most respected politicians by both the Left and the Right. Having been a victim of the repression before the Communist coup of 1944, in 1946 he became the youngest MP in the National Assembly.
After the complete Communist crackdown on the opposition Dertliev was sent to a forced labor camp. In 1989, shortly after the democratic changes in this country, he re-established the BSDP. Dertliev was also among the founders of the now ruling Union of Democratic Forces and the Union's first presidential candidate. Condolences to the bereaved were cabled by President Peter Stoyanov, National Assembly Chairman Yordan Sokolov, Prime Minister Ivan Kostov and other politicians. Dertliev was 84.
Nadia Rozeva Green, 10 November 2000
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