Bush meets Kostov
US President George W Bush wished Bulgarian Prime Minister Ivan Kostov success in the upcoming parliamentary elections. Bush is of the opinion that the policy of stability and reform in Bulgaria should continue.
The two met on Monday 23 April at the White House and discussed the situation in south-east Europe, bilateral relations and the forthcoming elections in Bulgaria. The meeting was attended by US Vice President Richard Cheney, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mikhaylova and Bush's National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.
During the meeting, Bush voiced support for the brave reforms that the Bulgarian government is implementing and noted that the two countries share a common set of values. The USA is impressed with what Bulgaria has done for its region and especially by the role it played, together with the USA and the other NATO allies, in finding a solution to the Yugoslav crisis, in ousting former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević and in establishing democratic rule in neighbouring Yugoslavia, Bush said.
Bush also said the USA appreciates Bulgaria's support for finding a solution to the crisis that broke out recently in Macedonia and for the determination of the Bulgarian government to continue to assist the democratic international community until a lasting solution is identified in Macedonia.
Cheney and Kostov discussed NATO enlargement with Cheney expressing strong support for the enlargement process noting, however, that the USA cannot resolve the issue on their own and that the problem should be solved by all the allies.
Cheney was interested in Bulgaria's view on Russia's role in the region, sources from the Bulgarian delegation said. During the talks, the two leaders established that the two countries share similar, if not identical, views on the fact that the region should be freed from any outside influences and that intelligence services, mobsters and organized crime groupings should not be allowed to destabilize the region, creating major problems for European security.
Simeon II prevented from establishing political party
The Sofia City Court refused to register the National Movement of Simeon II as a political party on 23 April, BTA and international agencies reported. The court said the registration request failed to meet nine criteria specified in current legislation for establishing a new political formation.
The decision can be appealed within one week but Teodor Božinov, one of the lawyers representing the movement, declined to say whether the former Bulgarian monarch, King Simeon II, would do so. Even if an appeal is launched, it is questionable whether the movement would meet the deadline for registration to the Central Electoral Commission, set for 2 May.
The Movement has submitted through the Sofia City Court an appeal to the Supreme Cassation Court against the court's refusal to register the movement as a party. The court should rule on the complaint within two weeks, as the Party Bill requires.
Last week, 16 political parties, civic and trade union organizations issued a declaration stating that they expected Simeon II to participate in the forthcoming elections. They also expressed their their full support for the implementation of Simeon II's plans to participate in the elections in the form and manner he chooses.
The parties urged all those who believe in the messages, ideas and the intentions of Simeon II to join the appeal. Among the parties that signed the declaration are the Promyana Civic Union, the Podkrepa Trade Union, the Kingdom Bulgaria Federation, the Conservative EKIP Union and the St George Civic Movement.
Bulgaria holds off on new trade negotiations with EU
On 20 April, an official of the agriculture ministry told Reuters that Bulgaria will not start new trade negotiations with the European Union until the EU "reviews and eases its current tough licensing regime for our meat and cheese exporters."
The official said that Bulgaria is unable to fulfill even ten percent of the duty-free quotas granted by the EU because its meat and cheese exporters are refused licenses. The EU has not licensed any of the 570 Bulgarian meat-producing farms and licensed only four of Bulgaria's 280 dairy farms.
In 2000, Bulgaria scrapped import duties for 470 farm products originating from EU countries in return for reciprocal steps. It also shut down 311 meat-producing and processing farms and 230 dairy farms that failed to meet EU standards.
And in other news...
- On 26 April, Professor Ivan Angelov—manager of the team of analyts who have prepared the report entitled "The Economy of Bulgaria and the EU"—commented that in the ten years time, the estimated expenditure for Bulgaria's integration into the EU will amount to between USD 110 and 120 billion. This money will boost the competitive power of Bulgaria by between 40 and 45 percent of the EU level. Angleov summarized that the transfers of the pre-admission EU funds are insufficient. The European Union earmarks EURO 3.12 billion per annum on pre-accession funds until 2006.
- US capital is to be invested in Bulgarian tourism, said the former governor of Nevada, Bob Miller, who is on a three-day visit to Bulgaria. Meetings took place with the City Bank managers, who promised to attract other American bank institutions to invest in Bulgarian tourism.
- An international tourist conference is also to take place in Sofia in October under the motto "Go East." Not only are Bulgarian and foreign tourist companies to take part, but also international businesses in the field of construction, consulting services and management. Small hotels and resorts with underdeveloped infrastructures will have priorities in their proposed business plans.
- Officials said last week Bulgaria would reduce its caviar exports by 80 percent to ensure the survival of sturgeon in the Danube. Such a move by the world's sixth-largest caviar-exporting nation would double the market price of Bulgarian caviar to some USD 600 per kg (2.2lb).
Nadia Rozeva Green, 27 April 2001
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