Bulgaria - Press-June 21 BTA - 1999/6/21
BULGARIA - KOSOVO
Sofia, June 21 (BTA) - "West Loosens Purse Strings for
Balkans" is the headline of the top story in "24 Chassa." It
covers the G-8 Summit in Cologne, where measures for
political and economic stabilization of the Balkans were
unveiled Sunday. The seven most industrialized nations may
meet in Bulgaria, the daily writes. It quotes the Summit
communique as saying that the parties to the Stability Part,
including Bulgaria, commit themselves to implementing
democratic and economic reforms as well as bilateral
cooperation between themselves, with a view to advancing to
integration at the individual level towards the
Euro-Atlantic structures. "Pari" gives the greatest
prominence to a story headlined "G-8 to Stabilize Balkans."
"G-8 Promises Vigorous Action for Balkans," according to
"Monitor's" front page.
"The massive financial injection may prove poison for
the region," political scientist Ivan Krastev says in a
two-page interview for "Demokratsiya." The European Union
will not discuss the reconstruction of the Balkans before
next year, the daily writes, quoting the latest issue of
"Balkans Need Much More than Concrete and Capital:"
under this heading "Sega" translates an almost page-long
article from the latest issue of "Newsweek. "The hard part
- the important part - is not about patching what was. It's
about building something better in southeast Europe," the
weekly is quoted as writing. It projects Bulgaria's GDP
growth for 1999 at 1 per cent. "Newsweek" has the following
to say about post-crisis Bulgaria: "Loss of trade and
tourism hit hard. Looking to nab reconstruction contracts."
"The Balkans' gross domestic product will contract by
8,000 million US dollars, Bulgaria's economy is expected to
grow 1 per cent," writes "Pari," quioting the latest
"Economies and Transition" report of the Economist
"While the war was in progress, the Consultative Council
for National Security with President Peter Stoyanov did not
meet once. On Wednesday the Council will convene to discuss
Bulgaria's share in the post-war reconstruction of the
region. Is this necessary, once nothing substantial can be
added on the subject?" asks journalist Tanya Djoeva in a
"Novinar" comment. She speculates about the rise of yet
another alleged friction between Prime Minister Ivan Kostov
and President Peter Stoyanov, this time over the
misunderstanding around Romania's stand on a second bridge
over the River Danube and the possibilities for settlement
of the Russian debt to Bulgaria. "To justify its meeting,
the Consultative Council could outline Bulgaria's
development after July 1 if the structural reform is not
completed, or determine what non-combat units the Bulgarian
Army will commit to Kosovo's reconstruction," the author
"Novinar's" top story is headlined "Kostov Fingers UN
for Corruption." The daily quotes the Prime Minister as
saying in an interview for the "Focus" weekly of Munich that
the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has not
approached Bulgaria for assistance so far even though the
country can provide transport vehicles and medical supplies.
"The level of embezzlement of the aid funds is very high,"
Kostov said in his "Focus" interview, quoted on the
front-page of "Sega."
"Consensus Greenlight for NATO, "All Parties Let NATO
In," "205 Truckloads of Turkish Commandoes to Cross
Bulgaria:" these front-page headlines appear in "Novinar,"
"Sega" and "Zemya," respectively. Starting on Wednesday at
the earliest, troops of all NATO member states will be
passing via Bulgaria, after Parliament ratifies the
agreement on transit passage of peacekeepers for Kosovo.
This can happen as early as Monday, at the extraordinary
sitting of Parliament. "All parties said they will vote in
favour," writes "Novinar." The note verbale from Brussels
arrived Friday evening, the daily recalls.
40 PER CENT OF BULGARIANS HAPPY WITH KOSTOV TENURE
Forty per cent of Bulgarians approve of the way the Ivan
Kostov Government is running the country, and 47 per cent
disapprove, according to a national representative poll
whose results are reproduced in "Troud." According to 46 per
cent of the respondents, Bulgaria stands to gain if the
Government serves out its term of office until 2001. Twenty
per cent of the interviewees think otherwise. Half of
Bulgarians believe that the Government defends the top state
administration, big business (mainly foreign capital), the
police and the military. "In a word, this is a very thin
social stratum, relying on the repressive state apparatus to
help it hold out," sociologist Kolyo Kolev sums up. "It is
the same in the West, too. Unlike there, however, people in
Bulgaria sense that the group of the outcasts also includes
intellectuals, junior and medium civil servants, and
Bulgarian producers," the pollster notes. He concludes that
the electorate believes that the Government is transfixed by
the goodwill of big rich uncles from the West. People do
not mind this global scheme of the incumbents (with the
exception of a handful of intellectuals and private business
entrepreneurs), but the big rich uncles from the West never
come, Kolev reasons.
DRIVE AGAINST CORRUPTION
"The fight against corruption is above all a fight
against the bribe-taking bureaucrat. And this fight will be
waged under the watchful eye of this very bureaucrat. In
other words, the State must cure its vices itself. The
result is a foregone conclusion: a storm in a teacup," "24
Chassa" editorializes in connection with the decision to
extend the fight against corruption in the Balkans to the
Internet. The decision was taken at an international
confernece organized by Coalition 2000. The action will be
part of the Balkan Forum for Transparency and Stability, the
paper writes, quoting Western expert Brian Michael.
According to Ognian Shentov, President of the Center for the
Study of Democracy, the fight against corruption is one of
the purposes of the Balkan Stability Pact.
The daily reports that the idea to licence Bulgarian
Internet service providers will be discussed at a special
conference in the US, now that the Bulgarian Internet
Society has sued the Bulgarian Telecommunications Company
(BTC) for its plan to introduce licences. "Internet Society
President Veni Markovski said the licensing idea is
politically motivated and has been ordered to the BTC from
above," "24 Chassa" reports.
"There Is Corruption. So What?" This is the heading of
a signed comment in "Troud." "Finance Minister Mouravei
Radev [interviewed on National Radio and quoted in the
paper] did not deny that power-wielders are corrupt, which
has also drawn criticism from the IMF. He argued, however,
that corruption is worse in Brussels. A day earlier the
Floor Leader of the UDF [the ruling Union of Democratic
Forces] Ekaterina Mihailova sounded reassuring on the
matter: there is corruption, but the fight goes on. The
corrupt bureaucrat realizes that as long as the incumbents
take this view and as long as the fight continues at this
pace, he can survive undistirbed until retirement," the
"Coalition 2000, touted as a non-governmental
organization, consists mainly of public employees,"
"Monitor" writes editorially. The paper devotes two pages
to this story. Dragomir Draganov MP of the Euro-Left told
"Monitor" that the opposition Anti-Corruption Commission
will unveil its exposing report on corruption in Bulgaria
before the end of this month. The Vitosha Research Agency
found in its latest opinion poll that 1,122 respondents aged
over 18 believe that customs officers are most corrupt,
"Monitor" writes. Next come policemen, doctors, court
officials, business persons, municipal employees and judges.
"When we speak of corruption, we should be precise. In
order to accuse somebody of a crime we must have
sufficiently reliable evidence, which should be handed to
the law enforcement authorities and go through the proper
procedural channels," National Assembly Deputy Chair Petya
Shopova, MP of the Euro-Left tells a "Troud" interviewer.
In her opinion, the structures of state power must exercise
very rigorous control so as not to lay themselves open to
suspicions of corruption.
"The source of the corruption allegations about several
Euro-Left MPs is not Prime Minister Kostov but one of the
cheerleaders in his entourage, a young MP," Tsvetelin
Kunchev MP of the Euro-Left says in an interview for
"Novinar." He sees these allegations as personal attacks.
"A sordid and underhand campaign is being conducted against
us. But what else can we expect with this undemocratic
rule," Rossen Karadimov of the Euro-Left says in this
connection in a "Sega" interview.
FORTHCOMING LOCAL ELECTIONS
"Clearly, during the coming decade independent mayoral
candidates will not manage to overpower party headquarters.
This was evident in previous elections. It will be just as
evident in the local elections this coming autumn. The Left
leaders should therefore do better to act more modestly and
honestly," reads an editorial comment in "24 Chassa,"
reacting to a televised statement by the leader of the
largest opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) Georgi
Purvanov that the Socialist mayors of several towns have
proven that they are mayors of all residents and will seek
re-election. They will be nominated as independents, after
which they will be supported by the Left forces, Purvanov
"Why should we hide behind independent masks, once many
of our terms in office are successful?" "Troud" writes that
puzzled Socialists have been asking this question at the BSP
municipal conferences. The BSP decision-making Executive
Bureau believes, however, that the candidates should better
be billed as independent right now instead of declaring them
independent afterwards, the paper adds.
"The incumbents are not afraid of the BSP about the
forthcoming local elections. Purvanov is simply no longer
needed by the ruling Right, and it is casting him to the
wolves. Nobody likes weak politicians," reads a signed
comment in "Troud" in connection with the BSP's financial
difficulties which have led to suspension of the publication
of the Socialists' daily "Douma" and to the risk that the
party may lose its headquarters at 20 Positano Street
because of unpaid rent. "The UDF leader and Prime Minister
Ivan Kostov has assumed correctly that under Purvanov the
BSP will continue to marginalize itself. Dealing him a
lawful yet humiliating blow, Kostov is clearing the way for
his enemies, he is consolidating the hardliners in the BSP.
He needs them because, as a good tactician, Kostov knows
that before elections the failthful should be worked up
against an enemy to match," the author concludes.
Euro-Left leader Alexander Tomov seeks alliance with the
UDF for the local elections, "Demokratsiya" reports in its
top news story. "The united Left front against the UDF will
obviously not work," the paper writes in a signed comment.
"The Euro-Left allowed its position on the Kosovo crisis to
coincide with the position of the BSP, and this made it
unnoticeable against the background of the Socialist Party.
Tomov's twists and turns efface a political formation which,
when it started, gave reasons to expect that it would
Europeanize the left-hand end of Bulgaria's political
spectrum," the comment says. The leader of the largely
ethnic Turks' Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) Ahmed
Dogan is ready to support the strong candidates of the
United Democratic Forces, the paper also writes. "MRF
Decides on Local Polls in July," according to "Monitor."
"State Administration Minister Mario Tagarinski invokes
the recommendations of the Council of Europe for
transparency of media enterprises. But there isn't and
there cannot be a recommendation to confuse journalists with
civil servants and newspapers and with the administration,"
journalist Milena Neshkova writes in "24 Chassa" under the
heading "Authorities Spy on Press, Posing as Citizens."
"When it says 'transparency,' Strasbourg has in mind
information about the owners and their participating
interests and not abot editorial policy and the people who
shape it, as it is in the Tagarinski Bill," the author
argues. In her opinion, the new version of the Access to
Public Information Bill is tangibly better than the previous
obscurantist version, but paradoxes can still be found. "If
a civil servant wants to withhold any information, he will
simply label it 'official secret.' A carefully filtered
information is nothing but misinformation," Neshkova notes
in connection with a clause in the bill accoding to which
access to information may be partial or full. "Prime
Minister Kostov assumed Tagarinski's liabilities when he
signed the bill. Now Parliament has the say, i.e. there is
still a chance of removing the papers from the incongruous
company of the state administration," the comment concludes.
* * *
In a "Personal View," contributed to "24 Chassa," Lyuben
Kornezov MP of the BSP notes that the Civil Servants Act,
passed by the majority, runs counter to the three
fundamental principles on which the status of civil servants
should rest: ensuring their stability, minimizing
bureaucracy, and guaranteeing their political neutrality.
According to Kornezov, the law will soon have to be amended
as it may benefit the incumbents but definitely does not
* * *
"Troud" reports two more arrests in connection with the
October 2, 1996 assassination of former prime minister
Andrei Loukanov in front of his Sofia home. "Sega" also
gives leading space to the story under the headline "Fifth
Nabbed for Loukanov Murder." Ivan Malchev of Sandanski
(Southwestern Bulgaria) and his cousin Georgi Alexandrov of
Elin Pelin (near Sofia) are being held at the detention
facility of the Special Investigations Service in Sofia,
"Troud" learnt from their relatives. The two are nephews of
Angel Vassilev, boss of the Colonel building company, who
has been arrested in the Czech Republic. This brings to six
the number of arrests in connection with the Loukanov case,
the paper adds. For its part, "Sega" counts five in
custody, reporting that Alexandrov has been released. "Two
Arrested for Loukanov Shooting," runs a heading in
"Back two years ago, the chiefs of the Special
Investigations Service said that the Bulgarian connection
was the most promising lead in the Loukanov assassination.
The latest arrests have specified this connection all too
clearly, narrowing the circle of suspects to people of the
companies in the Orion group, which Loukanov described as a
'group of bandits,' former BSP leader and prime minister
Zhan Videnov - the notorious 'circle of friends'," writes
journalist Angelina Petrova in "Monitor." "Once Orion is not
connected with the BSP, why are the Socialists so anxious
about the latest move in the investigation into Loukanov's
assassination?" the author asks.
* * *
"Troud" and "24 Chassa" come out with several-page-long
supplements entitled "New Money," devoted to the July 5
re-denomination of the Bulgarian lev. "The re-denomination
will show how poor we have remained," "Novinar"
editorializes on the story.
* * *
"IMF envoys are expected in Sofia in the middle of the
week. The Government will discuss with them a revision of
some of the key parameters of the IMF three-year programme
for Bulgaria," reports "Novinar," quoting the Finance
Ministry. "IMF Mission Arrives Next Weekend," according to
"Pari." "The coming ten days will be crucial for the reform.
Politicians are feverishly girding themselves for the next
IMF mission. Trade unions and de-mothballed financiers add
fuel to the fire with rebellions and exotic ideas," notes
"Standart News" in a page-long signed analysis entitled
"Economy Depressed by Heat Wave."
* * *
The leading story in "Standart News" is headlined
"Israelies Buy Balkan." "The Zeevi financial group stands
the best chances of winning the bidding for the flagcarrier
today [Monday]," the daily adds.