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Key Economic Data 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
Millions of US $ 19,859 15,608 13,600 69
GNI per capita
 US $ 2,130 1,790 1,650 106
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Bulgaria


Update No: 120 - (30/05/07)

President is tops
A poll carried out in March shows that among all politicians, Bulgarians give highest support to President Georgi Purvanov. Nearly two thirds of all Bulgarians approve the work that Purvanov has done, research of the National Centre for Researching Public Opinion (NCRPO) shows. He stands above the party strife and incarnates his nation.

But only a third of all Bulgarians approve the work of Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev, a more controversial figure, mired, as we shall see, in a scandal. He heads the Bulgarian Socialist Party and a tripartite coalition government. Approval for leaders of other political formations has consequently increased.

Among ministers, Culture Minister Stefan Danailov, Education Minister Daniel Vulchev and Foreign Minister Ivailo Kalfin get the highest support.

Sofia mayor, Boiko Borissov, a key critic of the government here, enjoys the support of 61 per cent of all Bulgarians. Support for Borissov, nevertheless, slightly decreased. Researchers said that the decrease could have resulted from the start of members of the European Parliament (MEP)'s electoral campaign.

The work of the National Assembly is none too popular. People aged 30 to 50 are most critical. Supporters of the rightist Democrats for Strong Bulgaria (DSB) and ultra-nationalist movement, Ataka, feature among the other people most dissatisfied with the work of the National Assembly.

Bulgaria Withdrawing Troops from Iraq
The Bush Administration is as widely detested in Bulgaria as elsewhere on the continent. To be associated with it in any way in its misadventure in Iraq is not a way to improve one's poll ratings. 

In a move no doubt to boost his popularity, Defense Minister Veselin Bliznakov announced in early may that Bulgaria plans to withdraw its troops from Iraq. Bliznakov told the Kuwait News Agency, KUNA, Bulgaria plans to withdraw all its troops from the U.S.-led multinational force. About 120 Bulgarian troops have been monitoring the Ashraf refugee camp 25 miles north of Baghdad. 

KUNA didn't report a reason for Bulgaria's withdrawal. It said Bliznakov had just returned from Iraq where he visited Bulgarian troops and met with a deputy commander of the multinational force to review their work. 

Bulgaria withdrew its combat troops from Iraq in December 2005 amid strong public opposition to the war. Thirteen troops and six Bulgarian civilians have died in Iraq since Bulgaria sent its 400 troops to Iraq in 2003, the BBC reported. 

In February 2006, Bulgaria agreed to send 120 soldiers and 34 support staff to Iraq to guard the refugee camp. 

Economy minister under threat
One minister who is none too popular and may well forfeit his post is Economy and Energy Minister Ruman Ovcharov. Independent deputies initiated a subscription list in the Parliament for his suspension in relation to a recent ongoing political row.

The GERB party has demanded Ovcharov's resignation. The leader of the 'Democrats for Strong Bulgaria' party, Ivan Kostov, is also demanding the resignation of the Economy Minister. Kostov stated that the current situation may be called a war between institutions.

In the centre of the scandal stands Minister Ovcharov from the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP). This is an unprecedented case, say his opponents, above all Luchezar Ivanov, GERB's representative, in which one person set himself over the state and asked for money illegally from judicial officials. 

The party of SDS declared that the Government is unable to rule over Bulgaria. It is obvious that Bulgaria nurtures political corruption; and this is the most massive corruption scandal in the country for the moment, said the leader of the right wing party, Peter Stoianov.

The party insists on the suspension of Rumen Ovcherov and Angel Aleksandrov. They also call on the NDSV party to leave the triple coalition and to remove their party from the Government.

Sofia's Mayor Boiko Borisov said that Brussels could expel Bulgaria from the EU if Ovcharov was not removed from his position. He is here echoing what many have thought - that it was in fact a big mistake to bring in Bulgaria and Romania into the EU before they had put their house in order.

Bulgaria's Economic Growth Slowing Down
Whether corrupt or not, Ovcharov is presiding over a flagging economy. Bulgaria's economic growth was lagging during the first three months of 2007, the Centre for Economic Development (CED) said in a report. Industrial growth in Bulgaria is still on the rise, despite the lowered overall values, but the problems in the railways sector remain worrisome. Unlike previous years, the tourist industry seems to be growing at a slower pace, too.

But CED experts believe that the economic growth in the country may speed up in 2008 and 2009, propelled by the EU funds, if they are properly utilised.

Last year the Bulgarian gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 6,1%, a touch slower than the 6,2% recorded in 2005, and well below the 6,5% official target. In nominal terms, Bulgaria's GDP last year was BGN 49,1 B, or EUR 25,1 B, according to the data by the country's statistics board NSI.

Stanishev urges MEPs to more independence
Bulgaria lacks strong debate in the members of European Parliament (MEP)'s electoral campaign, Prime Minister Stanishev said. Candidates fail to stand out and often rely on the image of party leaders, Stanishev told a press conference on May 2nd.

Stanishev asked MEP candidates to get involved in social activities more often and to participate in debates on Bulgaria's priorities.

Representative of Platform of the European Socialists, Iliana Yotova, said that according to the coalition these priorities include the freedom of the Bulgarian nurses in Libya and the protection of Bulgaria's nuclear energy.

Stanishev said that the Cabinet is carrying out policies in favour of nuclear energy production. Bulgaria initiated the European nuclear energy forum, which will discuss issues like the operation of Bulgaria's Kozloduy and Belene nuclear power plants, he said.

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Plans to cooperate in agriculture field with Bulgaria 

Bulgaria and Latvia's Ministers of Agriculture, Nihat Kabil and Martins Roze, outlined the major perspectives for cooperation in the field of agriculture, forestry development and unified payment scheme for agriculture land, Kabil said at a briefing held after a meeting between the two ministers, New Europe reported.
Kabil reportedly emphasised that this was the beginning of a future cooperation. Roze was cited as saying the two countries had a lot in common and Latvia could serve as an example as to how to absorb European Union funds as the country had achieved 100 per cent success.

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CEZ to invest 96m Euro this year

The owner of three power distributors in western Bulgarian, Czech electricity company CEZ, plans to invest 96 million Euro in Bulgaria this year, Sofia news agency reported. 
A big chunk of the expenditure will be to acquire parts of the power grid owned by local authorities. CEZ plans to also introduce uniform organisational structures in the three companies it owns in Bulgaria to increase efficiency, it was reported. 

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Cooperation agreement inked with Saudi Arabia

Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, met with his Bulgarian counterpart, Ivailo Kalfin, who was in the country on an official visit on April 14th, in what was the first visit by a Bulgarian official to Saudi Arabia since Sofia and Riyadh established diplomatic relations in 1995, Sofia news agency reported. 
During the talks, Faisal stressed that Bulgarian engineering firms have great opportunities for direct participation and investment in infrastructure, transport and construction projects in Saudi Arabia, the news agency reported. The two signed a general agreement on cooperation between their countries and a memorandum on bilateral political consultations between the foreign ministries. Kalfin expressed Sofia's desire to open an embassy in Riyadh shortly. For his part, Prince Saud identified the transit of goods as a sphere of bilateral cooperation. Saudi Arabia is currently building two hi-tech logistical centres which will facilitate goods transit via the Arabian Peninsula, it was reported. Saud said his country offers an "open door" for all Bulgarian goods shipped to the region. Both ministers also considered ways to deepen bilateral cooperation in the energy industry. Kalfin stressed that Bulgaria is interested in diversifying its energy supply sources. The chambers of commerce in Sofia and Riyadh are expected to exchange delegations by the end of this year, the foreign ministry said. The two also discussed current international affairs, focusing on the situation in the Middle East and the Western Balkans. Kalfin acquainted Faisal on the Benghazi AIDS case in which five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor have been sentenced to death. Saud showed full understanding for the Bulgarian position. Meeting with Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, who is Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, Kalfin conveyed an invitation from Bulgarian President Georgi Purvanov for King Abdullah to visit Bulgaria. Prince Sultan showed interest in cooperation in tourism, laying special emphasis on spa tourism in Bulgaria, saying the two countries can also promote their cooperation in the fields of infrastructure and energy. 

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AIGGIG to acquire 65% stake in BTC

Bulgarian Telecommunications Company (BTC) recently confirmed in a statement that Iceland-based Novator Holdings and Vienna-based Viva Ventures GmbH (Viva) have inked an agreement with Insurance giant AIG Global Investment Group (AIGGIG) by which AIGGIG will acquire Viva's 65 per cent stake in BTC for 1.08 billion Euro, Sofia news agency reported. 
AIGGIG is also expected to acquire shortly an additional 25 per cent of the shares of BTC as part of the deal, AIGGIG said. At present, Viva owns 65 per cent of the assets of BTC, and Novator holds an option for purchasing all shares of Viva. The transfer of the BTC shares to AIGGIG will take place on or after June 11, 2007 when all restrictions of the BTC's privatisation agreement of 2004 will expire, it was reported. The deal is signed under certain conditions, including approval by the regulatory and competition protection authorities. The acquisition price per share is 11.25 levs (5.75 Euro) or 2.112 million levs (1.08 million Euro) for the 65 per cent stake, Sofia news agency reported. 
The price includes the recently proposed dividend of 0.55 levs (0.28 Euro) per share. Thus, the total price of BTC is 3.249 million levs (1.661 million Euro). The deal is considered the largest private merger and acquisition transaction in Bulgaria to date. The price of the 65 per cent package is four-fold the price at which the Privatisation Agency sold BTC to Viva three years ago, it was reported. Then the US Advent Investment Company paid 230 million Euro through its Vienna-based subsidiary Viva Ventures. Subsequently Icelandic billionaire Thor Bjorgolfsson acquired an option to buy Viva's stake through his company Novator. Novator has also acquired shares of the BTC through the stock exchange. BTC, the former national telecoms monopoly, has some 20,000 employees and runs more than 2.5 million fixed-line connections.

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