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SOFIA MORNING NEWS FOR 2014-04-24
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24 April 2014, Issue 3906
by Novinite.com
Bulgaria's Daily Newspaper since 2001
10346 subscribers of Novinite.com
142744 articles
590 interviews
9189 pictures
 
BUSINESS POLITICS WORLD SOCIETY SPORTS FORUM
 
US Increases Military Presence in CEE, Black Sea


The USA will send around 600 troops to Poland and the Baltic States for infantry exercises, said the Pentagon.read
Atanas Paparizov Elected Head of Bulgaria's Permanent Mission to WTO


The government has elected Atanas Paparizov head of Bulgaria's Permanent Mission to the World Trade Organization (WTO). read
Bulgaria's Debt Was EU's Second-Lowest in 2013


The debt of Bulgaria amounted to BGN 14.733 B last year, as the latest statistics show. The account deficit in 2013 was BGN 1.read
 
 
NOVINITE INSIDER
Whose Foreign Minister Is Kristian Vigenin?

» More

MORE TOP NEWS
Retail Chains Contributed BGN 1 B in VAT to Bulgaria's Budget

Possible Gas Reserves at Bulgaria's Khan Asparuh Block at 100 bcm

Hamas, Fatah 'to Form Unity Government'

Finland to Sign Memorandum on NATO Assistance

Sofia, Stara Zagora Finalists in Bloomberg European City Contest

Bulgarian Court Overturns Marijuana Grower Acquittal

US Embassy in Sofia's Ex-Employee Investigated over 'Mafia Links'



Cas Mudde: EU Far Right Has No Convincing Economic Program


UPS & DOWNS
Dimitar Berbatov Contender for 'Goal of the Season'

South Korean Ferry Captain Abandoned Sinking Vessel
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TOP NEWS

BUSINESS

RETAIL CHAINS CONTRIBUTED BGN 1 B IN VAT TO BULGARIA'S BUDGET

The entry of the modern retail chains in Bulgaria brought mostly benefits to the country's economy, shows a survey of the Institute for Market Economy (IME). 

Their presence in the country “legalized” the turnovers of the retail trade, and brought BGN 5 B to the economy in the period 2004 – 2013. In the same period those chains paid BGN 1 B in VAT. 

According to the analysis of the IME, around 72% of the goods, offered in the ten largest retail chains were produced in Bulgaria and certain product categories, such as chicken meat and dairy products are totally dominated by Bulgarian produce. 

Since 2007 the 10 largest FMCG chains in Bulgaria paid BGN 475 M taxes and insurance on their employees' salaries and another BGN 78 M corporate taxes. The cumulative effect of the direct and indirect taxes and of the “legalization” of the turnovers in the FMCG retail sector between 2007 and 2013 is estimated at around BGN 1.93 B. 

The ten largest chains employ more than 23 000 people and pay them salaries, which are by around 38% higher than the average in the sector. 

The IME quotes GfK data, according to which, in 2013 the hypermarkets, excluding discounters and cash&carry chains, held around 16% of the retail market in Bulgaria. At the same time the share of small independent stores decreased from 39% to 27% in the period between 2009 and 2013. read more


FINANCE

BULGARIA'S DEBT WAS EU'S SECOND-LOWEST IN 2013

The debt of Bulgaria amounted to BGN 14.733 B last year, as the latest statistics show.

The account deficit in 2013 was BGN 1.178 B, or 1.5% of the country's economy, according to data by the National Statistical Institute (NSI) cited by Expert.bg and confirmed by Eurostat. read more


GREECE TO REQUEST APPROVAL FOR CORPORATE TAX CUTS

The Greek government is to ask the Eurozone whether it could introduce a gradual decrease of corporate taxes, with the request due to be made on next euro area meeting on May 5.

Greece's forthcoming taxation proposal was among measures envisaged in a deal between the ruling center-left PASOK and center-right New Democracy that outlines measures to promote economic growth, Kathimerini has revealed. read more


ENERGY

POSSIBLE GAS RESERVES AT BULGARIA'S KHAN ASPARUH BLOCK AT 100 BCM

OMV Spokesperson Robert Lechner has confirmed potential hydrocarbon accumulations in the Khan Asparuh exploration block in Bulgaria's Black Sea.

In an interview for Pressa daily, he confirmed that there was potential for finding hydrocarbon accumulations in the Khan Asparuh block, adding that it was too early to come up with a conclusive statement on the matter. read more


BULGARIA'S FOREIGN MINISTER PLEDGES TO IMPLEMENT SOUTH STREAM PROJECT

Bulgarian Foreign Minister Kristian Vigenin has pledged that Bulgaria will do everything within its power to implement the South Stream project.

“There is a total agreement in Bulgaria on the matter – not only within the authorities, but also between the opposition and the ruling parties,” Vigenin said in an exclusive interview for the Russian state wire service ITAR-TASS. “For us South Stream is an important project.”

In his words, “in spite our wish to help Ukraine to stabilize, we see that the situation there will not calm down soon.”

“Bulgaria and some other EU member states should not be the hostages of Ukraine’s instability,” Vigenin said.

“Therefore, the interests of European citizens, including Bulgarians, should come first. We will do everything within our power to have the South Stream project implemented,” Vigenin stressed.

According to him, it was true that the big problem of Bulgaria and several other EU member states is that nearly 100% of the natural gas they use is Russian and it was important to provide alternative sources, but South Stream offered another advantage – an alternative route for Russian gas. 

“This is why, if we talk of energy security, for us it is important that Russian gas comes to Bulgaria independently of other transit countries,” Vigenin noted. “From this point of view, the value of this project for Bulgaria is very big and this is why we shall do everything possible to realize this project.”

Last week the EU announced that it no longer considers South Stream a priority and the EU Parliament passed a resolution that the project be stopped. read more


EX BULGARIAN PRESIDENT: BULGARIA MUST OPPOSE SOUTH STREAM SUSPENSION

Bulgaria's official stance on the South Stream gas pipeline project has to oppose its suspension, according to former two-term Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov.

Speaking during a Wednesday visit to Blagoevgrad, he criticized the activities of the socialist-led coalition government and Energy Minister Dragomir Stoynev, stressing that it had been Stoynev who had offered EU Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger to take charge of the negotiations for the project. read more


PROPERTIES

APARTMENT PRICES IN BULGARIA ON THE RISE AFTER 1.5 YEARS' DROP

After 1.5 years of drop, prices of residential property in Bulgaria posted an increase in Q1 2014, shows data of the National Statistics Institute (NSI). 

Compared to the previous quarter, the average price rose by 0.2% to BGN 864.52 per sq/m and reached the prices in Q1 2013. 
The most significant increase was marked in 18 regional centers, most notable in Stara Zagora and Veliko Tarnovo. 

Prices in Sofia rose by 0.4%. 

Prices in nine regional centers dropped – most notably in Vidin and Kyustendil. Prices in the Black Sea cities Varna and Burgas also decreased. 

Most expensive is the residential property in Sofia – an average of BGN 1463 per sq/m, Varna – BGN 1370 and Burgas – BGN 1110 per sq/m. 

The NSI data is based on real property sales in the regional centers and does not include the newly completed buildings. read more


DIPLOMACY

ATANAS PAPARIZOV ELECTED HEAD OF BULGARIA'S PERMANENT MISSION TO WTO

The government has elected Atanas Paparizov head of Bulgaria's Permanent Mission to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Bulgaria's Permanent Mission to the WTO was established in 1996 within the framework of of Permanent Mission of the Republic of Bulgaria to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva. read more


HAMAS, FATAH 'TO FORM UNITY GOVERNMENT'

Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah have reached a reconciliation deal, after claiming to represent Palestine as rivals since 2007.

The two movements' representatives announced attempts to form a unity government would be formed in the coming weeks. read more


DEFENSE

US INCREASES MILITARY PRESENCE IN CEE, BLACK SEA

The USA will send around 600 troops to Poland and the Baltic States for infantry exercises, said the Pentagon. 

According to Rear Admiral John Kirby, this is in response to Russia's incursion into Ukraine.

The first contingent of 150 soldiers from the Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Italy, will arrive in Poland on Wednesday to conduct infantry exercises. 

Another 450 soldiers will be deployed to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania for similar duty. The American forces will be replaced to ensure a continual presence in the region.

"Russia's aggression in Ukraine has renewed our resolve to strengthening NATO's defense plans and capabilities, and to demonstrate our continued commitment to collective defense in reinforcing our NATO allies in Central and Eastern Europe," Kirby told reporters at the Pentagon.

Meanwhile, a third US military frigate sailed into the Black Sea late on Tuesday evening, said the US Navy. USS Taylor's official mission is to “support peace and stability in the region.”

The ship was in the Black Sea earlier this year, during the Sochi Olympic Games, but had an accident and had to return to base for repairs. 

“The US Navy routinely operates ships in the Black Sea consistent with the Montreux Convention and International Law. Taylor's mission is to reassure NATO allies of the US Navy's commitment to strengthen and improve interoperability while working toward mutual goals in the region,” read a US Navy statement released on Tuesday. 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has previously stated that the US has been violating the Montreux Convention which restricts the number of US vessels operating in the Black Sea and sets a time limit of 21 days for each one. read more


FINLAND TO SIGN MEMORANDUM ON NATO ASSISTANCE

Finland is to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with NATO, under which it will be able to receive assistance from foreign forces.

The country's Defense Minister Carl Haglund was however ruled out that it could join the alliance. read more


BULGARIA IN EU

15 PARTIES, 6 COALITIONS, 6 INDEPENDENT CANDIDATES RUN IN EU ELECTIONS

15 political parties, 6 coalitions and 6 independent candidates submitted documents for participating in the European Parliament elections in Bulgaria on May 25.

The deadline for the registration of lists of candidates with the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) expired late on Tuesday, according to reports of Sega daily. read more


ENVIRONMENT MINISTRY TO FINE 87 MUNICIPALITIES OVER EU PROGRAM

Eighty-seven Bulgarian municipalities are to be fined over infringements related to the Environment Operational Program.

The penalties count reach a total of BGN 180 M (EUR 90 M), after abuse during public procurement procedures was found out by the Ministry of Environment and Waters, Investor.bg has reported. read more


SOCIETY

SOFIA, STARA ZAGORA FINALISTS IN BLOOMBERG EUROPEAN CITY CONTEST

Bulgaria's cities of Sofia and Stara Zagora are among the 21 final contenders in an innovation contest devised by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The Bloomberg Philanthropies foundation announced the 21 European cities which had been selected among 155 candidates to continue their participation in the 2013-2014 Mayors Challenge, a competition aiming to inspire cities to generate innovative ideas that solve major challenges and improve city life. read more


SOFIA ART PROVOCATEURS PAINT GARBAGE CONTAINERS FOR EARTH DAY

The Destructive Creation art team last night painted several garbage containers in downtown Sofia to mark Earth Day. 

The containers bore the slogan “Drop Your Garbage On the Ground”. 

Quoted by Bulgarian-language media, representatives of the anonymous group explained that those containers were for people who like to drop their garbage on the ground. “Now they have a special place for that,” said the group. 

The art provocateurs Destructive Creation are mostly known for painting the Monument of the Soviet Army in Sofia with US comic strip characters and “dressing up” another communist-era monument as a Martenitsa. 

Recently they also “dressed up” various monuments in Sofia in blue cloth to raise public awareness for autism. read more


BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT TO SPEND BGN 7.2 M ON SUBSIDIZED EMPLOYMENT

Bulgaria's Government approved the spending of additional BGN 7.2 M on social policies in 2014, reports BTA. 

The sum will be spent by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies for providing part-time six-month employment for 5000 people from disadvantaged social groups and long-term unemployed. 

The jobs will be mostly in road repair, gardening and landscaping and guarding of municipal property and schools. 

The people will be hired by the municipal authorities. According to BTA, the government expects that the six-month project “will have a beneficiary effect on the employment levels and will thwart the risk of poverty among the people from disadvantaged social groups.” read more


CRIME

BULGARIAN CUSTOMS OFFICERS BUST SYNTHETIC DRUG TRAFFICKING CHANNEL

Bulgarian customs officers at the Danube Bridge border crossing point seized over a kilogram of synthetic drugs worth around BGN 37 000.

According to reports of the customs unit in Ruse, the joint operation with officers of the State Agency for National Security (DANS) and Border Police busted a synthetic drug trafficking channel from the Netherlands to Bulgaria. read more


BULGARIAN COURT OVERTURNS MARIJUANA GROWER ACQUITTAL

A second-instance court in Bulgaria has decided to reverse the acquittal of Marin Kalchev, who was earlier tried for owning and growing cannabis at home.

Kalchev is now to pay a BGN 1000 (EUR 500) fine and to cover trial expenses, after fresh ruling by the city of Lovech's District Court. read more


US EMBASSY IN SOFIA'S EX-EMPLOYEE INVESTIGATED OVER 'MAFIA LINKS'

Gregory V. Houston, formerly working for the security of the American Embassy in Bulgaria, was investigated under suspicion of ties to te Bulgarian mafia and illegal activity.

An article in the Newsweek magazine dedicated to a murder of staff at the US Consulate in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, surprisingly involves the name of Houston and makes the revelation. read more


BULGARIAN CLINIC REPORTEDLY INVOLVED IN ORGAN TRANSPLANTS RING

A Bulgaria-based clinic was reportedly involved in an illegal organ transplants ring dismantled by Israeli police.

The crime ring was uncovered in an operation conducted with the cooperation of Interpol, according to reports of the Bulgarian National Radio (BNR). read more


WORLD

UKRAINE'S 'ANTI-TERRORIST' OPERATION CONTINUES

The acting Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov ordered that actions against rebel groups in the east and south of the country be renewed.

His decision was announced short after two men were found dead after being "brutally tortured", in Turchynov's words quoted by the BBC. read more


SOUTH KOREAN FERRY DEATH TOLL TOPS 150

The number of victims of the sunken South Korean ferry Sewol passed 150 and is expected to rise, as divers found new entries to the submerged levels. 

Dozens of bodies recovered on Tuesday and 28 the day before. Over a hundred passengers remain missing.

Meanwhile, South Korean authorities broadened their investigation on Monday as they arrested four additional crew members and barred the family who owns the ferry’s operating company from leaving the country.

“The measure is to question them and hold them responsible for the poor management of the vessel,” a prosecution official told the nation’s Yonhap News Agency.

An extra deck was added to the 20-year-old ferry after the company acquired it in 2012, raising questions about how well balanced the modifications made it.

The ferry’s captain and two crew members have already been charged with negligence of duty and violating maritime law after abandoning the ship without efficiently helping passengers, an act labeled “unforgivable” and “murderous” by President Park Geun-hye on Monday.

According to the Korea Herald, the captain is likely to face a life sentence in prison. 

Not all crew members are accused of wrongdoing, though.

Some reportedly gave their life jackets to passengers, and one woman refused to leave before helping students off the ship. She was later found dead, becoming one of at least seven crew members who lost their lives or are still missing. read more


POSSIBLE MALAYSIAN PLANE DEBRIS FOUND IN AUSTRALIA

Pieces of debris that "might turn out to be a wreckage" of the Malaysian MH370 flight were found at a beach in the west of Australia, according to local media reports.

Authorities are now to investigate whether the remains actually belonged to the Malaysian plane that went missing in March with 239 people on board while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, the newspaper West Australian has revealed. read more


INTERVIEW

CAS MUDDE: EU FAR RIGHT HAS NO CONVINCING ECONOMIC PROGRAM

Click here to read the story:
www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=160007


OPINIONS

WHOSE FOREIGN MINISTER IS KRISTIAN VIGENIN?

In a series of statements on Tuesday, Bulgaria's Foreign Minister Kristian Vigenin did his best to support the implementation of the South Stream project. 

First he described to reporters last week's resolution of the European Parliament on stopping the project as “an emotional plea for the faster stabilization of Ukraine” and added that South Stream was a national project of vital importance. 

Later in the day, in an exclusive interview for the Russia's ITAR-TASS, Vigenin pledged that Bulgaria will do everything possible to implement South Stream. Furthermore, he said that there was a total national agreement, including within the opposition, that it must be completed. 

Vigenin's statements come against the background of the increasing  concern with EU's dependence on Russian natural gas and the seeking of alternative   sources.  

Apparently, however, Kristian Vigenin must have forgotten that Bulgaria is an EU member and is expected to behave like one, rather than like “Russia's Trojan Horse”, as recently described in a scathing Reuters article. 

If a foreign minister is representing a country's foreign policies and best interests, then whose foreign minister is Kristian Vigenin? read more



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