Zeevi files claim against Bulgaria
Zeevi Holdings has submitted an official claim for USD 230 million against the Bulgarian government, claiming breaches in the privatization contract of Balkan Airlines, to the International Arbitration on Trade and International Law with the United Nations in Paris (UNICTAL).
CEO Zvi Frank confirmed the information, saying that the decision had been taken by the company's managers in Tel Aviv. Zeevi Holdings bought a 75 percent stake in Balkan Airlines in June 1999 for USD 150,000. The deal includes airport hotels, Black Sea hotels and property in 12 countries - property which Zeevi proceeded to sell, contributing thus to the worsening situation of Balkan Airlines.
"The grounds for the suit are a lack of cooperation towards preserving the position of Balkan as a national carrier, the misrepresentation of facts in the privatization contract, and a failure to report on tens of millions of dollars of debt before signing the deal."
Zeevi's claim is intended to offer them protection against the potential fines Bulgaria might impose for the holdings' failure to abide by the investment program and the contract. "As long as they wish it, we shall go to arbitration," commented transport minister Antoni Slavinski.
On its part, Zeevi proceeded to cancel all flights as of 14 February.
MP quits UDF
Dimitar Ivanov, MP and member of the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF), has left the faction and resigned from his post of deputy chairman of the National Assembly's Power Generation Commission. His move was due to the fact that the leadership of the UDF did not support the idea of amending the article of the Constitution that restricts the possibility of ex-King Simeon II running for president.
Ivanov intends to submit a draft amendment to the constitution as soon as possible, despite the fact that he is not too optimistic about the success of his initiative. Ivanov also said that he would support a possible political formation led by Simeon II. Ekaterina Mihaylova, head of the UDF parliamentary faction, described Ivanov's actions as hasty and unfounded.
Political life will become very interesting when His Majesty Simeon II joins in, Sofia Mayor Stefan Sofiyanski said on 12 February, mentioning also that monarchy has serious adherents in Bulgaria. Now all depends on whether the numerous monarchist formations will be able to unite before the elections, he said.
The elections will show whether the strong support His Majesty enjoys would prompt the entrance of a new political force into the National Assembly, Sofiyanski said. The Mayor also said that a fourth political force in the National Assembly would be the most natural ally of the UDF.
Radio journalists still protest
Bulgarian National Radio journalists continue their protest against Ivan Borislavov, whom they believe to be incompetent to act as director general. For the first time since the beginning of the protests (6 February), President Stoyanov came up with a comment. "I will not hesitate to voice my opinion if BNR Director General Borislavov does not live up entirely to the public's expectations," Stoyanov told journalists in Asenovgrad.
The President explained that he had refrained from taking a stand up till now because he had not questioned the National Commission for Radio and Television (NCRT)'s choice. Commenting on the protest of the BNR journalists, the president stressed that he takes it to be a sign of concern over the fate of national radio. Earlier in the day, BNR's Hristo Botev program acting director Georgi Vasilski declared an indefinite hunger strike. Vasilski says his strike will last till Borislavov resigns.
Ambassadors discuss the Roma
The situation of the Roma in Bulgaria and the progress of their integration into society were discussed last week at a meeting of ambassadors and diplomats of EU member states and the chairmen of the Parliamentary Committees on Human Rights and Education. The meeting was held at the initiative of Swedish Ambassador Sten Ask.
Ivan Sungarski of the Human Rights Committee and Georgi Panev of the Education Committee of the Parliament presented to the other participants to the meeting the national legislation on minorities and the education law, which says that access to education is equal for all citizens of Bulgaria. The participating ambassadors made recommendations for the integration of the Roma into society. The two sides agreed to have follow-up meetings and continue their discussion.
And in other news...
- Bulgarian private and state-owned ships have lost over 636,000 tons of cargo as a result of the blocked traffic along the Danube in 2000, according to a survey used in a report by the chief of Bulgaria's Danube Waterway Maintenance Agency. The report is addressed to the Danube Commission in Budapest and has been prepared on its request. The direct losses sustained by the Bulgarian river shipping companies total USD five million plus another USD three million in lost profits.
- The mayors of 22 municipalities pronounced outbreak of influenza and closed children and maternity consulting medical services. The planned operations at the hospitals and visits were terminated.
Nadia Rozeva Green, 16 February 2001
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