Lucrative power station deal secured
After over two years of negotiations, Bulgarian Prime Minister Ivan Kostov announced that his government would support the investment of USD 1.4 billion by two US power companies, AES and Entergy. The project is aimed at upgrading the Maritsa-Iztok-1 and Maritsa-Iztok-3. The project's goal is to prolong the Bulgarian power plant for at least another 18 years. in its current condition, the Maritsa-Iztok plant would likely cease functioning within the next five years due to the lack of maintenance.
By upgrading the plant, Bulgaria will make steps toward self-sufficiency in terms of its own power production. Losing its energy producing capacity, Bulgaria would become almost entirely dependent on its Cold War ally, Russia, for high-quality coal products. As it stands, Bulgaria already receives most of its oil, gas and nuclear fuel imports from Russia.
With its large energy generating ability, Bulgaria will continue to export electricity to its neighboring countries Turkey, Greec, Yugoslavia and Macedonia. The US funded project will also bring the Maritsa-Iztok plant into compliance with European Union (EU) environmental standards by cutting toxic sulfur dioxide emissions. Further aligning itself with EU environmental standards could increase Bulgaria's viability for eventual accession.
On 31 May, after the cabinet approved the two projects introduced by the Chairman of the State Agency on Energy and Energy Resources, Ivan Shilyashki, Prime Minister Kostov told a news conference that the government believes that the nation's interests are not undermined by the agreements with US companies, AES and the Entergy Corporation.
Expectations high for Libyan trial
On 30 May Prime Minister Ivan Kostov said that Bulgaria expects a fair and just trial of the six Bulgarian medics charged with deliberately infecting Libyan children with the HIV virus. Conferring with the newly appointed Algerian ambassador in Sofia, Mohammed Laala, he said he expects the Arab countries' diplomats in Sofia to play an active part in preventing politicization of the trial, the Council of Ministers' Information and Public Relations Directorate said.
"The Bulgarian side expects a fair, transparent and just trial, and that the Arab countries will assume a principled position on the matter," Kostov also said. "We do not want the trial to be politicized," Ambassador Laala said in reply, adding that there are positive elements in the behavior of the Libyan side.
He cited the permission granted to the medics' relatives to travel to Libya and the issuing of visas to Bulgarian journalists as an example. During the conversation, Kostov praised Algeria's role in the system of contemporary international relations and especially in eliminating hotbeds of conflict, and in strengthening stability in Africa and the Middle East.
Government optimistic about Macedonian conflict
The Macedonian conflict poses no threat to Bulgaria. This was what Defense Minister Boyko Noev said at the second Plan for Membership: Lessons and Prospects Conference, which was attended by representatives of countries participating in the Partnership for Peace program and that are bidding for NATO membership.
The Bulgarian government is unanimous in the view that the most important thing at this time is to preserve the integrity and national sovereignty of Macedonia. "From our point of view, we can rule out any spilling of this conflict over into Bulgaria," Noev said.
"The question now, of course, is to go across the bridges which have not been burned between the Albanian parties and the Macedonian parties represented in the government, to use these bridges in the best way possible so that an end can be put to the violence in the coming hours and days. We also attach great hopes to the visit of NATO Secretary General Javier Solana. His trip to Skopje is very timely and we are waiting to see its results."
Germany invests in Bulgarian tourism industry
German tour operators have invested about 100 million DEM so far this year in preparation for the summer tourist season, deputy economy minister Mariana Asenova said after a two-day working meeting between Bulgarian and German tourism experts.
The working group reported a steady increase in the number of German tourists, which may result in a shortage of beds at Black Sea resorts. Advertisement of Bulgarian tourist products in Germany is poor due to a small budget; nevertheless improvements can be seen, said the chair of the tourism working group at the Bulgarian-German cooperation council.
Excess building at the Black Sea is one of the problems pointed out by the working group. The removal of waste will stimulate the expansion of inland tourist services, as well as the development of balneological and cultural tourism. The working group speculates that the introduction of VAT on tourist services could cause foreign investors to withdraw due to a potential decrease in the number of tourists.
American Standard good for business
Four key businesses from Germany, Spain and Austria will establish themselves in Bulgaria this year, some of them in close proximity to American Standard's operations, said the company's president at the opening of two new plants in the village of Gradnitsa, in the Sevlievo region, last week.
American Standard's president pointed out that they invited some of their suppliers to invest in Bulgaria so that they could be near their works there and that the company is happy they agreed. This is good news for both American Standard and Bulgaria because these companies have agreed to build works in this country.
Their first enterprise will be located near Sevlievo. They will provide all the materials American Standard's works in Bulgaria and Germany need. That will help further reduce the production costs and the end price of products with the trademark of Vidima, Ideal Standard, Piel, Porcher, Jado. Up until now American Standard has invested USD 96 million in Bulgaria, which places it amongst the biggest investors in the country.
Nadia Rozeva Green, 1 June 2001
- Archive of Bulgarian news reviews
- Browse through the CER eBookstore for electronic books
- Buy English-language books on Central Europe through CER
- Return to CER front page
Bulgarian News Agency