Bulgaria's government survived a third vote of no-confidence in parliament. 133 deputies of the 216 in attendance voted against a proposal by the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party. The vote was triggered by corruption allegations against the government. Altogether 133 deputies voted against, 67 supported the motion and 17 abstained.
Bulgarian environmental authorities reported massive air pollution Thursday last week originating from Romania. The port of Nikopol on the Danube river was covered for an hour by a cloud of ammonia, originating from the chemical plant at Turnu Măgurele, with concentrations more than five times above acceptable levels. This is the third air pollution incident in the past two months. The Bulgarian government made an official complaint to and urged Romania to shut down the plant. Many Nikopol residents keep gas masks at their homes because of systematic air pollution.
The parliament has voted to reduce the length of mandatory military service from 12 months to a lower nine to six month period. The new law, to come into effect in October, requires all men at the age of eighteen to serve nine months, except those with a university degree, who will serve six months. The move is part of a military reform to comply with standards in NATO.
A joint declaration by Presidents [Petar] Stoyanov and Boris Trajkovski of the Republic of Macedonia on the situation in Southeast Europe and regional security was released at a news conference in Skopje on Monday last week, at the end of the first day of Stoyanov's official svisit to Macedonia. Stoyanov and Trajkovski condemned all forms of violence and extremism, coming from any country that maintains tension. The two presidents declared themselves in favour of the return of all refugees and displaced persons to their homes in Kosovo. Stoyanov and Trajkovski stated that it is possible to ensure lasting peace, stability and prosperity in the region only if great-state and nationalistic concepts are renounced and all issues and problems are solved peacefully and through dialogue.
Bulgaria is emerging as the main Balkan partner of Italian entrepreneurs, radio Deutsche Welle said in its Bulgarian-language service. A report from Rome said that this conclusion is based on a several-time increase of Italian investments in Bulgaria over the past two years. Only one year ago a large part of the Italian entrepreneurs considered Bulgaria as something like the Wild West, according to Marucio Dzana of the Association of Italian companies abroad. This attitude has changed and today a large part of the investors shift their interest from Romania to Bulgaria.
According to Dzana, preconditions for building confidence include the progress of reforms, the political stability and changes in legislation promoting the inflow of foreign investments. The lack of restrictions on foreign capitals, the 10-year guarantees for investments and most of all the cheap labour force create preconditions for Italian presence, the report says.
Bulgarian opera singer Nikolai Gyaurov was conferred the "Doctor honoris causa" title of the Musical Academy of Sofia and of the Moscow Conservatory of Music "Tchaikovsky."
Bulgaria's gross domestic product grew 2.4 per cent in real terms in 1999, the National Statistics Institute said Friday last week. The institute said GDP in 1999 amounted to BGL 22.78 billion (USD 11 billion).
Nadia Rozeva, 19 May 2000
Bulgarian News Agency