Stoyanov's US tour
President Petar Stoyanov ended an official visit to the United States last week. The visit started in San Francisco and ended in New York, where the President was one of the 33 world leaders who took the stand in front of the UN Millennium Summit on 7 September. The President emphasized the decision by the government to increase its financial contribution for United Nations peacekeeping operations, the importance of a long-term strategy for economic stabilization of the Balkan region and its accelerated integration into European organizations.
President Stoyanov also met with newly elected Hungarian president, Ferenc Mádl, the British prime minister, Tony Blair, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, the French president, Jacques Chirac, and other heads of state.
Mihailova on women in transition countries
Foreign Minister Nadezha Mihailova delivered a report on the problems of women in countries of transition and their participation in social and political life at an international conference in Vienna on 8 September. The forum, organized by the European People's Party, which Mihailova co-chairs, discussed issues related to women's place in the EU and the consequences of EU enlargement for women in the member states.
Elections take precedence
Prime Minister Ivan Kostov opened the fall session of the National Assembly on Thursday last week, noting that the successful implementation of the parliamentary elections in 2001 is the most important task facing the government. Kostov emphasized that this is the first time after 1989 that a parliament and a government will complete their terms of office and that this is the greatest proof of the vitality of Bulgarian democracy.
Ill-minded border practice
The Bulgarian foreign ministry on 3 September said the Macedonian authorities were intentionally detaining Bulgarian trucks headed to Kosovo through the Blace crossing point, thus causing food cargoes to spoil, AP reported. A note sent to the Macedonian embassy in Sofia called for an immediate solution to the problem and threatened "reciprocal measures" if this did not happen. It described the situation as "an ill-minded practice" rather than "an incident." Earlier on 1 September, AP reported that Bulgarian shipping officials said the country's Danube fleet is in danger of coming to a virtual halt because of "chronic difficulties in passing the Yugoslav stretch of the river."
Due to the recent stepping up of border patrols, Bulgarian customs officials say they have seized about one hundred kilos of heroin in two separate incidents at a border crossing with Turkey. The first batch was found in a Turkish-registered bus travelling on a regular route from Turkey to Albania; the second, in a Macedonian car. So far this year, customs officials have seized over 1500 kg of heroin, almost four times more than last year. Bulgaria lies on the main route used for trafficking drugs from Asia into Europe.
Thracian palace discovered
Archaeologists in southern Bulgaria have unearthed the remains of what they believe was a palace of a monarch and the biggest ancient Thracian sanctuary in the Balkans, in the latest of a series of major Bronze Age finds, local media reported on Tuesday. Parts of an ancient three-story building dating from the 4th or 5th Century BC were unearthed under a medieval fortress near the village of Perperek, some 200 miles southeast of Sofia.
Archaeologists said the palace could have belonged to a leader of Thrace, a Balkan civilization that flourished in the Bronze Age. A staircase carved out of rock and leading up three floors with intact internal corridors and at least 20 well-preserved rooms were uncovered, the report said.
In a similar find near Starosel, 100 miles east of Sofia, archaeologists discovered a rare Thracian temple dating back to the 5th century BC. "This is the most impressive and well-preserved Thracian monument unearthed in the Balkans to date," the head of the expedition, Georgi Kitov, told Reuters shortly after the discovery's announcement. It is also highly probable that the site hosts the burial chamber of one of the most powerful Thracian leaders at the time, King Sitalk.
Michael Chorny, a Russian businessman, along with four other businessmen, has been barred from Bulgaria for the next ten years. Chorny will appeal the decision and may sue the head of the National Security Service, his lawyer said last week. The Interior Ministry said that the ban was "triggered by actions threatening the security and interests of the Bulgarian state and information about connections with international crime organizations."
Chorny, who was in France, denied the charges made against him. "If the decision is not repealed by the court, my client may sue the person who has signed it, National Security Service (NSS) Director Atanas Atanassov," Batkov said. Chorny, 49, holds Russian, US and Israeli passports. He is a shareholder in Bulgaria's only GSM (Global Systems for Mobile Communication) operator Mobiltel, Yukos Petroleum and two private banks, Roseximbank and Neftinvestbank, the ministry said.
Russian oil company Yukos issued a statement reiterating that it has nothing to do with Yukos Petroleum. Batkov said Chorny had directly or indirectly invested USD 203 million in various projects, including a soccer club. Bulgaria's government and President Petar Stoyanov backed the NSS decision in separate statements issued through the state news agency, BTA.
Nadia Rozeva Green, 8 September 2000
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