President Stoyanov in Davos
Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov, who is in Davos to take part in the World Economic Forum, met Friday with EU Enlargement Commissioner Günter Verheugen. The President said that Bulgaria treats with due seriousness the recommendations included in the European Commission's annual report on the country's progress in the political sphere concerning the integration of the Roma, improving the work of judiciary and the fight against corruption.
Regarding the conclusion of the report that Bulgaria still does not have a functioning market economy, Stoyanov and Verheugen agreed that the Bulgarian economy has been making remarkable progress over the past years.
Visa regime with Russia
A visa regime between Bulgaria and Russia will most probably enter into force in the middle of 2001, according to Vladimir Kissyov, Deputy Foreign Minister and Chief Negotiator with the European Union. "The future visa agreement between Bulgaria and Russia will envisage a mechanism to avoid any strain on bilateral business relations," he assured.
On Wednesday, Russia turned down Bulgaria's proposal to conclude an agreement on readmission of aliens as a basis for negotiations on relaxed visa regulations. Russian Ambassador Vladimir Titov presented a note to this effect to the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry. Deputy Foreign Minister Marin Raikov told Titov that Bulgaria accepts Russia's proposal to launch negotiations on a visa agreement.
EPP to hold summit in Sofia
The summit of the European People's Party (EPP) will take place in Sofia on 26 April, EPP Chief Secretary Alejandro Agag said after a meeting Wednesday with Prime Minister Ivan Kostov.
Agag stated that it would be "an exceptional event" and that the decision to hold it in Sofia was a clear demonstration of EPP's support for Kostov as Prime Minister, for the ruling Union of Democratic Forces (UDF; affiliated EPP member) and for Bulgaria as a candidate for full EU membership. Agag further expressed the firm belief of his party that the UDF, headed by Kostov, will win the upcoming general elections.
The Sofia forum of EPP will outline the party's future strategy in the Balkans and with its future partners, Serbia and Croatia. Several prime ministers will be participating, including José María Aznar of Spain, Wolfgang Schüssel of Austria, Viktor Orbán of Hungary and Mikulás Dzurinda of Slovakia.
Agag had a working lunch with Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova, who is also Vice President of EPP.
Coalition for Bulgaria is the name of a new coalition created by the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), Socialist spokesman Mladen Chervenyakov told a news conference Tuesday.
Also on Tuesday, the BSP top leadership approved the text of an election message to the voters and a social contract with the electorate. Economic upsurge of the country by promoting entrepreneurship; tax concessions for producers, for export-oriented production and high-tech; removal of the unnecessary licensing and registration regimes; encouraging investment; and facilitating the access to loans are the key components in the "social contract" the BSP will offer to the electorate.
King Simeon II in Sofia
Bulgarian King Simeon II unexpectedly arrived in Sofia on Tuesday. Unlike other times, only a few journalists met him at the Sofia Airport. "I will have time for everything this time," he told them.
King Simeon II, who arrived alone and is staying at Vranya Palace near Sofia, does not have a specific program for now, his press secretary, Galia Ditcheva, said. According to his legal adviser, Assen Oshanov, the King will stay in Bulgaria for quite a long time.
Svilanović in Sofia
Nadezhda Mihailova and Goran Svilanović, the foreign ministers of Bulgaria and Yugoslavia, signed an intergovernmental agreement on the readmission of illegal residents in the two countries. Svilanović was on an official visit in Bulgaria.
"Yugoslavia is interested to improve its relations with Bulgaria and with all its neighbours," Svilanović stated. "We want to show in this way that the Balkans now have democratically elected governments that are ready to assume responsibility and solve problems related to corruption and the serious economic situation," he said. The common aim of the countries is EU membership.
"Each country has its own pace in this process and its own objectives, but together we can achieve faster accession to the EU for all countries of the region," Svilanović said. "We appreciate the distance covered by Bulgaria in the last few years, especially the international reputation it has acquired. Yugoslavia wants to take the same path," said the minister. Other common aims are participation in the Stability Pact and in major regional infrastructure projects, such as the construction of the Sofia-Niš highway and the cleanup of the Danube.
Yugoslavia should join all Balkan initiatives related to the fight against organised crime and corruption, Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov suggested at a meeting with Goran Svilanović on Thursday.
Matilda Nahabedian, 26 January 2001
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