{"title": "Bulgaria - Press-June 21","content": "
BULGARIA - KOSOVO Sofia, June 21 (BTA) - 'West Loosens Purse Strings forBalkans' is the headline of the top story in '24 Chassa.' Itcovers the G-8 Summit in Cologne, where measures forpolitical and economic stabilization of the Balkans wereunveiled Sunday. The seven most industrialized nations maymeet in Bulgaria, the daily writes. It quotes the Summitcommunique as saying that the parties to the Stability Part,including Bulgaria, commit themselves to implementingdemocratic and economic reforms as well as bilateralcooperation between themselves, with a view to advancing tointegration at the individual level towards theEuro-Atlantic structures. 'Pari' gives the greatestprominence 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 forthe region,' political scientist Ivan Krastev says in atwo-page interview for 'Demokratsiya.' The European Unionwill not discuss the reconstruction of the Balkans beforenext year, the daily writes, quoting the latest issue of'The Economist.' 'Balkans Need Much More than Concrete and Capital:'under this heading 'Sega' translates an almost page-longarticle from the latest issue of 'Newsweek. 'The hard part- the important part - is not about patching what was. It'sabout building something better in southeast Europe,' theweekly is quoted as writing. It projects Bulgaria's GDPgrowth for 1999 at 1 per cent. 'Newsweek' has the followingto say about post-crisis Bulgaria: 'Loss of trade andtourism hit hard. Looking to nab reconstruction contracts.' 'The Balkans' gross domestic product will contract by8,000 million US dollars, Bulgaria's economy is expected togrow 1 per cent,' writes 'Pari,' quioting the latest'Economies and Transition' report of the EconomistIntelligence Unit. 'While the war was in progress, the Consultative Councilfor National Security with President Peter Stoyanov did notmeet once. On Wednesday the Council will convene to discussBulgaria's share in the post-war reconstruction of theregion. Is this necessary, once nothing substantial can beadded on the subject?' asks journalist Tanya Djoeva in a'Novinar' comment. She speculates about the rise of yetanother alleged friction between Prime Minister Ivan Kostovand President Peter Stoyanov, this time over themisunderstanding around Romania's stand on a second bridgeover the River Danube and the possibilities for settlementof the Russian debt to Bulgaria. 'To justify its meeting,the Consultative Council could outline Bulgaria'sdevelopment after July 1 if the structural reform is notcompleted, or determine what non-combat units the BulgarianArmy will commit to Kosovo's reconstruction,' the authorsuggests. 'Novinar's' top story is headlined 'Kostov Fingers UNfor Corruption.' The daily quotes the Prime Minister assaying in an interview for the 'Focus' weekly of Munich thatthe Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has notapproached Bulgaria for assistance so far even though thecountry 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 thefront-page of 'Sega.' 'Consensus Greenlight for NATO, 'All Parties Let NATOIn,' '205 Truckloads of Turkish Commandoes to CrossBulgaria:' these front-page headlines appear in 'Novinar,''Sega' and 'Zemya,' respectively. Starting on Wednesday atthe earliest, troops of all NATO member states will bepassing via Bulgaria, after Parliament ratifies theagreement on transit passage of peacekeepers for Kosovo.This can happen as early as Monday, at the extraordinarysitting of Parliament. 'All parties said they will vote infavour,' writes 'Novinar.' The note verbale from Brusselsarrived Friday evening, the daily recalls. 40 PER CENT OF BULGARIANS HAPPY WITH KOSTOV TENURE Forty per cent of Bulgarians approve of the way the IvanKostov Government is running the country, and 47 per centdisapprove, according to a national representative pollwhose results are reproduced in 'Troud.' According to 46 percent of the respondents, Bulgaria stands to gain if theGovernment serves out its term of office until 2001. Twentyper cent of the interviewees think otherwise. Half ofBulgarians believe that the Government defends the top stateadministration, big business (mainly foreign capital), thepolice and the military. 'In a word, this is a very thinsocial stratum, relying on the repressive state apparatus tohelp it hold out,' sociologist Kolyo Kolev sums up. 'It isthe same in the West, too. Unlike there, however, people inBulgaria sense that the group of the outcasts also includesintellectuals, junior and medium civil servants, andBulgarian producers,' the pollster notes. He concludes thatthe electorate believes that the Government is transfixed bythe goodwill of big rich uncles from the West. People donot mind this global scheme of the incumbents (with theexception of a handful of intellectuals and private businessentrepreneurs), but the big rich uncles from the West nevercome, Kolev reasons. DRIVE AGAINST CORRUPTION 'The fight against corruption is above all a fightagainst the bribe-taking bureaucrat. And this fight will bewaged under the watchful eye of this very bureaucrat. Inother words, the State must cure its vices itself. Theresult is a foregone conclusion: a storm in a teacup,' '24Chassa' editorializes in connection with the decision toextend the fight against corruption in the Balkans to theInternet. The decision was taken at an internationalconfernece organized by Coalition 2000. The action will bepart of the Balkan Forum for Transparency and Stability, thepaper writes, quoting Western expert Brian Michael.According to Ognian Shentov, President of the Center for theStudy of Democracy, the fight against corruption is one ofthe purposes of the Balkan Stability Pact. The daily reports that the idea to licence BulgarianInternet service providers will be discussed at a specialconference in the US, now that the Bulgarian InternetSociety has sued the Bulgarian Telecommunications Company(BTC) for its plan to introduce licences. 'Internet SocietyPresident Veni Markovski said the licensing idea ispolitically motivated and has been ordered to the BTC fromabove,' '24 Chassa' reports. 'There Is Corruption. So What?' This is the heading ofa signed comment in 'Troud.' 'Finance Minister MouraveiRadev [interviewed on National Radio and quoted in thepaper] did not deny that power-wielders are corrupt, whichhas also drawn criticism from the IMF. He argued, however,that corruption is worse in Brussels. A day earlier theFloor Leader of the UDF [the ruling Union of DemocraticForces] Ekaterina Mihailova sounded reassuring on thematter: there is corruption, but the fight goes on. Thecorrupt bureaucrat realizes that as long as the incumbentstake this view and as long as the fight continues at thispace, he can survive undistirbed until retirement,' theauthor concludes. 'Coalition 2000, touted as a non-governmentalorganization, consists mainly of public employees,''Monitor' writes editorially. The paper devotes two pagesto this story. Dragomir Draganov MP of the Euro-Left told'Monitor' that the opposition Anti-Corruption Commissionwill unveil its exposing report on corruption in Bulgariabefore the end of this month. The Vitosha Research Agencyfound in its latest opinion poll that 1,122 respondents agedover 18 believe that customs officers are most corrupt,'Monitor' writes. Next come policemen, doctors, courtofficials, business persons, municipal employees and judges. 'When we speak of corruption, we should be precise. Inorder to accuse somebody of a crime we must havesufficiently reliable evidence, which should be handed tothe law enforcement authorities and go through the properprocedural channels,' National Assembly Deputy Chair PetyaShopova, MP of the Euro-Left tells a 'Troud' interviewer.In her opinion, the structures of state power must exercisevery rigorous control so as not to lay themselves open tosuspicions of corruption. 'The source of the corruption allegations about severalEuro-Left MPs is not Prime Minister Kostov but one of thecheerleaders in his entourage, a young MP,' TsvetelinKunchev 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 againstus. But what else can we expect with this undemocraticrule,' Rossen Karadimov of the Euro-Left says in thisconnection in a 'Sega' interview. FORTHCOMING LOCAL ELECTIONS 'Clearly, during the coming decade independent mayoralcandidates will not manage to overpower party headquarters.This was evident in previous elections. It will be just asevident in the local elections this coming autumn. The Leftleaders should therefore do better to act more modestly andhonestly,' reads an editorial comment in '24 Chassa,'reacting to a televised statement by the leader of thelargest opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) GeorgiPurvanov that the Socialist mayors of several towns haveproven that they are mayors of all residents and will seekre-election. They will be nominated as independents, afterwhich they will be supported by the Left forces, Purvanovexplained. 'Why should we hide behind independent masks, once manyof our terms in office are successful?' 'Troud' writes thatpuzzled Socialists have been asking this question at the BSPmunicipal conferences. The BSP decision-making ExecutiveBureau believes, however, that the candidates should betterbe billed as independent right now instead of declaring themindependent afterwards, the paper adds. 'The incumbents are not afraid of the BSP about theforthcoming local elections. Purvanov is simply no longerneeded by the ruling Right, and it is casting him to thewolves. Nobody likes weak politicians,' reads a signedcomment in 'Troud' in connection with the BSP's financialdifficulties which have led to suspension of the publicationof the Socialists' daily 'Douma' and to the risk that theparty may lose its headquarters at 20 Positano Streetbecause of unpaid rent. 'The UDF leader and Prime MinisterIvan Kostov has assumed correctly that under Purvanov theBSP will continue to marginalize itself. Dealing him alawful yet humiliating blow, Kostov is clearing the way forhis enemies, he is consolidating the hardliners in the BSP.He needs them because, as a good tactician, Kostov knowsthat before elections the failthful should be worked upagainst an enemy to match,' the author concludes. Euro-Left leader Alexander Tomov seeks alliance with theUDF for the local elections, 'Demokratsiya' reports in itstop news story. 'The united Left front against the UDF willobviously not work,' the paper writes in a signed comment.'The Euro-Left allowed its position on the Kosovo crisis tocoincide with the position of the BSP, and this made itunnoticeable 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 wouldEuropeanize the left-hand end of Bulgaria's politicalspectrum,' the comment says. The leader of the largelyethnic Turks' Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) AhmedDogan is ready to support the strong candidates of theUnited Democratic Forces, the paper also writes. 'MRFDecides on Local Polls in July,' according to 'Monitor.' 'State Administration Minister Mario Tagarinski invokesthe recommendations of the Council of Europe fortransparency of media enterprises. But there isn't andthere cannot be a recommendation to confuse journalists withcivil servants and newspapers and with the administration,'journalist Milena Neshkova writes in '24 Chassa' under theheading 'Authorities Spy on Press, Posing as Citizens.''When it says 'transparency,' Strasbourg has in mindinformation about the owners and their participatinginterests and not abot editorial policy and the people whoshape it, as it is in the Tagarinski Bill,' the authorargues. In her opinion, the new version of the Access toPublic Information Bill is tangibly better than the previousobscurantist version, but paradoxes can still be found. 'Ifa civil servant wants to withhold any information, he willsimply label it 'official secret.' A carefully filteredinformation is nothing but misinformation,' Neshkova notesin connection with a clause in the bill accoding to whichaccess to information may be partial or full. 'PrimeMinister Kostov assumed Tagarinski's liabilities when hesigned the bill. Now Parliament has the say, i.e. there isstill a chance of removing the papers from the incongruouscompany of the state administration,' the comment concludes. * * * In a 'Personal View,' contributed to '24 Chassa,' LyubenKornezov MP of the BSP notes that the Civil Servants Act,passed by the majority, runs counter to the threefundamental principles on which the status of civil servantsshould rest: ensuring their stability, minimizingbureaucracy, and guaranteeing their political neutrality.According to Kornezov, the law will soon have to be amendedas it may benefit the incumbents but definitely does notbenefit Bulgaria. * * * 'Troud' reports two more arrests in connection with theOctober 2, 1996 assassination of former prime ministerAndrei Loukanov in front of his Sofia home. 'Sega' alsogives leading space to the story under the headline 'FifthNabbed for Loukanov Murder.' Ivan Malchev of Sandanski(Southwestern Bulgaria) and his cousin Georgi Alexandrov ofElin Pelin (near Sofia) are being held at the detentionfacility of the Special Investigations Service in Sofia,'Troud' learnt from their relatives. The two are nephews ofAngel Vassilev, boss of the Colonel building company, whohas been arrested in the Czech Republic. This brings to sixthe number of arrests in connection with the Loukanov case,the paper adds. For its part, 'Sega' counts five incustody, reporting that Alexandrov has been released. 'TwoArrested for Loukanov Shooting,' runs a heading in'Demokratsiya.' 'Back two years ago, the chiefs of the SpecialInvestigations Service said that the Bulgarian connectionwas the most promising lead in the Loukanov assassination.The latest arrests have specified this connection all tooclearly, narrowing the circle of suspects to people of thecompanies in the Orion group, which Loukanov described as a'group of bandits,' former BSP leader and prime ministerZhan Videnov - the notorious 'circle of friends',' writesjournalist Angelina Petrova in 'Monitor.' 'Once Orion is notconnected with the BSP, why are the Socialists so anxiousabout the latest move in the investigation into Loukanov'sassassination?' the author asks. * * * 'Troud' and '24 Chassa' come out with several-page-longsupplements entitled 'New Money,' devoted to the July 5re-denomination of the Bulgarian lev. 'The re-denominationwill show how poor we have remained,' 'Novinar'editorializes on the story. * * * 'IMF envoys are expected in Sofia in the middle of theweek. The Government will discuss with them a revision ofsome of the key parameters of the IMF three-year programmefor Bulgaria,' reports 'Novinar,' quoting the FinanceMinistry. '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 nextIMF mission. Trade unions and de-mothballed financiers addfuel 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 standsthe best chances of winning the bidding for the flagcarriertoday [Monday],' the daily adds.