Stoyanov no objection to NATO bases in Bulgaria
"If some day a question of dislocating NATO bases in Bulgaria is put on the agenda and I am still the president of Bulgaria, my answer will be 'yes,'" President Petar Stoyanov said in Svilengrad on Thursday last week. Stoyanov continued to say that he will stand before the National Assembly and plead that Bulgaria, striving to become a European Union member-country, should discuss the problem of the bases with a very positive attitude.
Stoyanov insisted that after finally adopting the Election Law the parliamentary deputies must, without delay, give their full attention to the ratification of the agreement with NATO.
Gad Zeevi investigated in Israel
Gad Zeevi, the Israeli owner of Bulgaria's Balkan Airlines is being investigated in Israel on suspicions of money laundering and the illegal acquisition of assets from his country's telecommunication company Bezeq, Sofia dailies report.
The daily Monitor quoting the BBC reported that Zeevi is under house arrest. Zeevi Group officials have denied the reports. The daily also states that Israeli police have questioned Michael Chorny, another dubious businessman related to Bulgaria, in connection with Zeevi's case. Chorny reportedly holds both Russian and Israeli citizenship.
Bulgaria officially expelled Chorny last year on suspicion of money laundering. Previously, Chorny was a key shareholder in Bulgaria's GSM company MobilTel but sold out his stake after his expulsion. Chorny continues to own the majority stake in Bulgaria's football club Levski, the country's premier league champion. Monitor comments that Zeevi is suspected of illegally acquiring 20 percent of Bezeq for the equivalent of USD 630 million from the company's owner Britain's Cable and Wireless.
Council of Ministers offers weapons and supplies to Macedonia
According to the Government Information and Public Relations Directorate, the Council of Ministers has approved an agreement offering the paid provision of arms and ammunition, and the gratuitous provision of general supplies and classified schedules to the Macedonian government. The agreement was signed on Thursday by Bulgarian Interior Minister Emanuil Yordanov and his Macedonian counterpart, Dosta Dimovska. It has now been put before the National Assembly for ratification.
Grant for Unified Revenue Agency
Bulgarian Minister of Finance Muravei Radev and World Bank Resident Representative Thomas O'Brien have signed an agreement securing a grant for Bulgaria valued at USD 306,000. Some of the funding will be provided by the Japanese government, reports BTA.
The grant will provide assistance for detailed technical analysis to help build a new Unified Revenue Agency. It is hoped the grant will help encourage future support from the World Bank and other international funding organizations in the implementation of the new Unified Revenue Agency project. Radev commented that the creation of a Unified Revenue Agency will provide tremendous support for the government's efforts toward further relief of the tax burden.
Kostov supports Italian PM in battle against anti-Bulgarian sentiment
The Bulgarian government's press service has announced that Prime Minister Ivan Kostov sent a letter to Italian Prime Minister Giuliano Amato expressing his conviction that Amato would use his authority to prevent the creation of anti-Bulgarian attitudes in Italian society.
The letter is in direct response to claims aired by Italian television stations concerning the existence of an Albanian minority in Bulgaria and the possibility of Bulgaria being dragged into the conflict between Kosovan Albanian rebels and Macedonia.
In his letter Ivan Kostov recalled the good relations between Bulgaria and Italy, and expressed his concern over the claims. Kostov stressed that such commentaries could create unfounded scepticism from foreign investors considering investment in Bulgaria. The letter pointed to Bulgaria's responsible approach to implementing reforms and assistance in creating regional stability.
Royal visit imminent
His Majesty Simeon II is scheduled to arrive in Bulgaria in early April, sources close to the Royal family said. He is expected to announce his intentions for participation in the country's political life. However, His Majesty has refused to utter a word about his political plans until the new election law has been adopted. He has already suffered from the Bulgarian political customs and there is no guarantee that, before the formulation of the rules of the pre-election race, a motion to ban the King's participation in the ballot will be accepted.
And in other news...
- The German Society for Trade Cooperation with Bulgaria has announced that 1,000 Bulgarian computer specialists are to receive work permits to work in Germany for the next five years. The move is part of the plan initiated by German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder last year to issue 20,000 permits attracting computer specialists from abroad.
- It became clear last week that the removal of visas for Russian, Ukrainian and Georgian citizens travelling to Bulgaria would be delayed until 1 October 2001. The cabinet decided to postpone the visa regime because of the coming summer season on the insistence of the tourist companies and other organizations dealing with the tourist sector.
- According to Deputy Minister of Economy Mariana Assenova, speaking at a seminar in Veliko Tărnovo, there are no vacancies for foreign tourists in Bulgarian Black Sea hotels this summer. The seminar was devoted to the current state of, and prospects for tourism in Bulgaria.
Nadia Rozeva Green, 30 March 2001
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