Books on Bulgaria
Update No: 115 - (20/12/06)
Bulgaria to continue effective foreign policy and economic
Two events of great importance have happened to Bulgaria recently. One of course
is entry into the EU, as of January 1st, a major landmark in its history. But
another is the re-election of its incumbent president, and the defeat of his
populist rival. It would have been a disaster if the rabid ultra-nationalist had
"Bulgaria needed to be an active EU member state, rather than part of the
union's periphery," President Georgi Purvanov told a news conference after
the second round of presidential elections on October 29. Purvanov won a second
term in office with the support of nearly 78 per cent of voters, defeating the
leader of the ultra-nationalist Ataka movement, Volen Siderov.
"Bulgarians had voted wisely and responsibly," said Purvanov.
"Various political leaders had offered contradictory advice, but voters had
managed to make the correct choice."
Purvanov said that with the elections over, he was willing to work with all
democratic parties in Bulgaria. Purvanov said he had no personal conflict with
Siderov. "I am against policies that aim to create artificial ethnic
tension in regions that have a mixed population," Purvanov said, which is a
sideswipe at him all the same.
It was the first time in Bulgaria's history that a presidential candidate had
got more than 60 per cent of the vote in both rounds of an election, he said.
Purvanov said that he would continue following a foreign policy that ensured
Bulgaria's EU future. Other foreign policy priorities would include a focus on
problems like the trial of the Bulgarian medics in Libya, said Purvanov.
He said that the priorities of his next term as President would include national
defence and the professionalisation of the military, said Purvanov, who as
President is Commander-in-Chief of Bulgaria's armed forces. Other priorities
would be to work in co-operation with municipal authorities, and to promote
Active budget policies and preferential treatment for Bulgarian companies were
also needed, said Purvanov. He said that he wanted to see an increasing number
of young people involved in the setting up of the country's institutions.
Profile of Sergey Stanishev
The most important person in Bulgaria in domestic affairs, however, is the
premier. Sergey Stanishev is Prime Minister of Bulgaria and Chairman of the
Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP). He has been in office since August 2005, taking
over from Simeon II, the former monarch, whose four-year spell was beset by
problems that made his pledge to double living standards, a massive hostage to
Stanishev was born in Kherson in Ukraine (then part of the Soviet Union). He was
educated at Moscow State University, where he gained a doctorate in history in
1994. He was a visiting fellow in international relations at the London School
of Economics and Political Science in 1998. He also worked as a journalist. In
1995 he became a staff member in the Foreign Affairs Department of the BSP. He
was Chief of Foreign Policy and International Relations for the BSP from 1996 to
2001. In May 2000 he was elected a Member of the BSP Supreme Council and Member
of the Executive Bureau. In June 2001, he was elected to the Bulgarian National
Assembly for Ruse.
In December 2001 Stanishev was elected Chairman of the BSP at the party's
Congress, and also Chairman of the Parliamentary Group of the Coalition for
Bulgaria following the resignation of the former bearer of these positions
Georgi Purvanov after his victory in the Presidential election in 2001. Since
April 2004 Stanishev has also been a member of the presidency of the Party of
European Socialists. Even though, at the beginning, older party members regarded
him with suspicion due to his lack of experience, Stanishev has enjoyed
considerable public approval mainly because of his great intellectual skills and
his successful efforts to modernise the BSP.
In the general election of June 25, 2005, Stanishev was re-elected to the
National Assembly, this time for a seat in Burgas. Under his leadership the
Coalition for Bulgaria (a coalition dominated by the BSP) won 31% of the votes.
Stanishev said that the next government "should be led by the party which
won most votes in the elections." On 20 July, after nearly a month of
political uncertainty, Stanishev agreed to attempt to form a Cabinet. On July
27, 2005 the Bulgarian Parliament chose him as the new Prime Minister in a
coalition government with the Movement for Rights and Freedoms. The vote was 120
to 119. However, the parliament voted against Stanishev's proposed Cabinet by
119 to 117 votes.
This was followed by another two weeks of political deadlock. Finally on August
15 Stanishev was able to form a three-party grand coalition with the party of
outgoing Prime Minister Simeon Sakskoburggotski and with the Movement for Rights
and Freedoms, a Turkish minority party. Stanishev said the coalition's
priorities would be "European integration, social responsibility and
economic growth." He was elected Prime Minister by the Bulgarian parliament
on August 16 with 168 in favour and 67 against. On August 17, 2005, with an
official ceremony on 1 Dondukov Boulevard, Sergey Stanishev took office as Prime
Stanishev, the second-youngest chairman of the BSP, is an unconventional
politician. Although not married, he has been living for a long time with
prominent journalist Elena Yoncheva. In 2002 he amazed party members when he
came to a gathering at Buzludzha on a motorcycle with a rock-style jacket that
had a label on the back saying: "If you are reading this, Elena must have
fallen off on the way." Stanishev is an active Internet user. He joined the
Internet Society of Bulgaria on April 22, 2001, and immediately following his
election as leader of the Socialist Party in 2001, he had an ICQ-chat with
hundreds of users.
Bulgaria Puts All Public Figures to Ex-Secret Services Probe
The issue of lustration has reared its head in Bulgaria, the release of
secret files and the exposure of those who were informers and worse under
communism. Vile as these practices were, people were often blackmailed by the
regime threatening their families. This was the foul moral corruption of
But there has long been a clamour to know the truth. All will now be revealed.
All public officials in Bulgaria will face the opening of their secret files, if
any, kept with the former communist services, the Parliament decided on November
The new law passed at second reading with the votes of the ruling majority seeks
to unveil if any ministers, lawmakers, magistrates, district governors, army or
civil military officials, journalists, etc. had collaborated with the
ex-internal security services of Bulgaria. Of course they had only too often.
To open, keep and announce any documents from these controversial files, the
legislators decided to set a special nine-member body elected by the Parliament.
It will function independently, on a five-year mandate, and will check the
communist-time past of all the officials and public personalities.
Subject to public files opening will be also the chiefs of current special
services, the president and the vice-president and the national ombudsman,
according to the new former secret files opening law.
NATO and EU candidate representatives of Bulgaria will be also required to have
an off-services clear past. Every Bulgarian citizen will have access only to own
files and such concerning his family, the law says.
Sixteen years after the collapse of the regime, Bulgaria has remained the only
country among former Soviet satellites in failing to reach consensus on the
issue. In the beginning of June the government called for the entire opening of
the security police archives, showing a major shift in the stand of the Prime
Minister Stanishev, who initially urged that the files should be destroyed.
The laws regulating the archives however are still unclear. All documents
related to the former Durjavna Sigurnost are made available only by personal
approval of the interior minister.
In 1994, the Bulgarian Parliament passed a law saying that the documents of the
Durjavna Sigurnost were not "state secrets," but failed to assure
access to the files. Then in 1997, the first stable anti- Communist government
created a commission to screen candidates for high state positions. The
commission was closed in 2002 by the government of Prime Minister Simeon
France Opens 52 Labour Market Sectors for Bulgaria, Romania
EU entry is going to make a big difference. Many will want to make a new
life for themselves abroad. Now they can. The old communist policy of keeping
people inside by force turned the so-called socialist countries into socialist
But it had a logic of course, to prevent an exodus of bright, educated people to
the West. That can now happen, thanks to EU membership, a gain in freedom, but a
loss to the economy. It is hoped that some will go, but then return after
acquiring new skills and experience. Time will tell.
Bulgarians and Romanians will be allowed to work in several sectors on France's
labour market after January 1, 2007, said Minister Delegate for European Affairs
Catherine Colonna. She said France will open its labour market for the two
countries right after they join the European Union and not after two years as it
was the country's policy for the ten member states that joined in 2004.
Bulgarian and Romanian migrant workers will be allowed in a total of 52 labour
sectors such as agriculture, tourism and construction, Colonna added.
January 1st is a historical date for Bulgaria and it is the beginning of a very
important stage of integration, Colonna said. The country still has to work on
issues like fight against organized crime and corruption, trafficking of people
and goods, food safety and development of administrative capacity, she added.
Colonna was on an official visit to Bulgaria at the invitation of EU-Affairs
Minister Meglena Kuneva. The agenda of Catherine Colonna included meetings with
PM Stanishev, Foreign Minister Ivaylo Kalfin and magistrates.
Stanishev in Shanghai
Bulgaria is making efforts to join forces with the Asian East, particularly
the formal, as opposed to the former, communist East, China and Vietnam.
Stanishev actually does concern himself with foreign business affairs, not just
domestic ones. He went to Shanghai, the second largest city included in the
programme of his four-day official visit in China and the key one, in late
November. Before that he had had talks with Wu Banguo, Chairman of the Standing
Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) of the People's Republic of
China, the press office of Council of Ministers reports.
The Bulgarian Prime Minister read a lecture at the University for International
Relations that prepares economic cadres in China. The Bulgarian PM is convinced
that membership in the EU will intensify co-operation with China as a strategic
partner. Stanishev shared that topic with the Speaker of the Chinese Parliament
who is second in the political hierarchy of the country. Special attention was
paid to the establishment of joint ventures as a winning formula for the two
Vietnam the real ally
Going to China as the premier of a tiny country in Central Europe, always
overshadowed by Russia was one thing, to go to Vietnam, another.
In his last day on the official visit in Vietnam the Bulgarian Prime Minister
Sergey Stanishev laid flowers at the Hanoi museum, Darik Radio reports.
The PM read a lecture to students in the Institute for International Relations.
Sergey Stanishev talked about the traditionally good relations between Bulgaria
and Vietnam. 45,000 Vietnamese people used to work and study in our country and
they know Bulgarian. One of the Deputy Prime Ministers in the Hanoi cabinet and
two of the present ministers used to study in Bulgaria, he told them.
The Deputy Minister of Economy and Energy Yordan Dimov is expected to sign an
agreement for supply of coal from Vietnam for the Varna heating plant.
Israeli firm to invest in plane parts factory
Istraeli Company, Tat Technology Ltd, said it was interested in building plane
parts at it's manufacturing plant in Bulgaria's town of Yambol. The plant will
produce parts for military and civil aircraft, Sofia news agency reported.
Representatives of Yambol municipality said that the company's President, Dov
Zeelim, and associates have expressed their interest in local machinery
companies HES, Metalic and Hydrosystem. Tat Technology was also interested in
three local machine-building plants, a Yambol municipality representative said.
If built, the plant will cover an area of 10,000 square metres and will create
200 work places. Tat Technology already owns one plant in Israel and two in the
Unites States. The annual turnover of the company was more than 80 million Euro.
The company is about to send a list of concrete questions to the Yambol
municipality and will decide whether to build the plant in the area after it
receives the answers. TAT Technologies specialises in design, development and
manufacture of heat exchangers, cooling systems, cold plates, air-cycle and
vapour-cycle air conditioning systems, fuel systems, etc. The company also deals
with the manufacture and overhaul of secondary and emergency power systems for
the F-16 jet fighter.
NEK signs Belene NPP contract
Bulgaria's National Electric Company (NEK) signed on November 29th a four
billion Euro preliminary contract with Russia's Atomstroyexport for the
construction of Belene nuclear power plant (NPP), Bulgarian Economy and Energy
Minister, Roumen Ovcharov, said, Sofia News Agency reported on December 2nd.
NEK's CEO, Lyubomir Velkov, Executive Director, Mardik Papazyan, and
Atomstroyexport President, Sergei Shmatko, signed the agreement. At its session
on October 30, NEK board of directors decided to award a public procurement
tender for the design, construction and commissioning of Units 1 and 2 of NPP
Belene to Russia's Atomstroyexport. Two other companies, French Areva and German
Siemens, would also participate in the construction. The Russian company won the
tender launched by Bulgaria ahead of a Czech consortium Skoda Allianz, which did
not object the final decision, leaving no obstacles to the launch of the project
for Bulgaria's second NPP. The bids of the two companies were opened on February
1st, 2006. After the signing of the agreement, Atomstroyexport's president was
cited as saying that the Belene plant would be one of the most state-of-the-art
plants built in Europe, and that the Russian company and its European partners
AREVA and Siemens were here for the long-term. The construction schedule will
start to be implemented early in 2007. In addition to Atomstroyexport, other
Russian companies and banks may come to invest in Bulgaria, Shmatko was cited as
saying. Bulgaria's NEK said that the main reasons for the selection of
Atomstroyexport were "the higher safety and the longer term of operation of
the reactors." The NPP will consist of two 1000-megawatt reactors. The
first unit will be constructed in 6.5 years. Nearly 50 per cent of
Atomstroyexport was controlled by gas giant Gazprom. NEK's CEO outlined that the
main advantages of the project are construction of two third-generation
1,000-megawatt units that meet all the requirements of the International Atomic
Energy Agency and have a 60-year operational lifespan, guaranteeing the national
energy security and the possibility to generate larger amounts of
environment-friendly electricity, which will enhance Bulgaria's competitiveness,
encouraging the economy by contracting Bulgarian enterprises in the plant's
construction and creation of many jobs. Rosatom deputy head Vladimir Travin said
Atomstroyexport had won the tender in a difficult, fair competition, which
obliged the company to fulfil its obligations to a high standard and according
Norbert Haspel, representative of AREVA and Siemens, who is also AREVA vice
president of the plants sector, said the consortium would supply the most
cutting edge equipment. Pleven Regional Governor Tsvetko Tsvetkov said the local
government would back the project to have it completed on time. NEK's CEO
Lyubomir Velkov said financing for the Belene project could be provided in 2007.
An information memorandum to financing institutions is being prepared, along
with the documents needed to find an investor, Velkov said. Ovcharov added that
preliminary talks had been held with EURATOM representatives about a loan of 300
million Euro. The necessary information will be submitted for assessment to the
organisation by the end of December. Shmatko said subcontractors would be
selected by tender. Czech enterprises are also expected to be involved in the
MINERALS & METALS
Steel plant runs 10mn slabs caster
Bulgarian Prime Minister, Sergei Stanishev, and Chairman of the Supervisory
Board of the Kremikovtsi Metallurgical Works, Pramod Mittal, opened a second
continuous steel caster for slabs in the plant, Sofia News Agency reported.
"For Bulgaria, Kremikovtsi is a symbol of steel-making and I am glad for
the plant's modernisation," Stanishev said in his address to the workers.
The premier said that the government would continue to support the serious
investors in Bulgaria. The second continuous steel caster for slabs constitutes
a 10 million Euro investment, Mittal said, adding that the three-year investment
programme of Kremikovtsi totals 400 million Euro. This is the second biggest
investment in the plant in the past years, it was reported. The plant's
management hopes the caster would improve the quality of the steel products
coming out of the plant and bring down power consumption and the amount of raw
materials used. The first such machine has been working for close to a year and
a half already. Mittal was cited by the news agency as saying that the plans are
for Kremikovtsi to achieve annual production of 5.2 million tonnes.