EU DELAYS SOUTH STREAM TALKS WITH RUSSIA
European Commission will halt parts of the negotiations with Russia over the South Stream pipeline project.
Talks will continue on a technical level, but political negotiations will be suspended in light of "broader developments" in European relation with Russia, EC Spokeswoman Sabine Berger was quoted by Fox News as saying on Monday.
Earlier, EU Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger hinted at a possible delay, explaining that Europe "did not have an urgent need to seek ways of increasing its gas imports".
South Stream negotiations are the latest political process involving the EU and Russia to be affected by Moscow's alleged role in tensions on Ukraine's Crimean peninsula. Over the last few days, talks on visa liberalization and an economic agreement were suspended by Brussels in response to Russian actions on Ukrainian territory.
Since December 2014, the EC has had the final say in talks with Russia over the South Stream pipeline. It was given the right to do so by member states involved in the project, amid EC's fears that the South Stream does not meet the bloc's new rules on energy liberalization.
The South Stream has been planned to supply Central Europe with gas, reaching the heart of the continent through Bulgarian soil.
It will make its way to Bulgaria bypassing Ukraine and crossing the bottom of the Black Sea.
Under the agreement, its gas supplies will also be designated to Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia, Austria, and Italy.
Estimates suggest that in 2018, when the pipeline is to be finished, its infrastructure could carry around 30% Europe's gas supplies. read more
BULGARIA TO START BUILDING INTERMODAL TERMINAL IN VARNA IN 2015
The construction of the new intermodal terminal in Bulgaria's Black Sea city of Varna may start in 2015, according to Transport Minister Danail Papazov.
Speaking Monday in Varna, Papazov noted that a working group was preparing the terms of reference of the facility. read more
BULGARIA'S TELECOM REGULATOR TO GAIN MORE POWER
Bulgaria's telecoms might be forced to abide by the Communications Regulation Commission (CRC) rulings, even if they appeal them in court.
16,000 PRIMARY LABOR MARKET JOBS CREATED IN NORTH BULGARIA
The new rules are provided in draft amendments to the Communications Act, tabled for discussion in Parliament on Friday.
Currently the telecoms are not obliged to apply the CRC regulations, if they disagree with them and appeal them in court. The regulations come into effect only after all possibilities for appeals are exhausted and the supreme court has ruled in favour of the CRC.
If the amendments come into effect, the telecoms will have to apply the CRC regulations immediately. If the courts rule in favour of the telecoms, then the application of CRC ruling will be discontinued.
The amendments were prompted by the EC reminder that Bulgaria does not apply in full the European regulations. read more
A total of 16,000 new jobs will be created in Northern Bulgaria in 2014, according to the Regional Employment Office in the city of Lovech.
The new jobs will be mainly on the primary labor market, explained the director of the Regional employment office Mincho Dikov. Three times more jobs have been created since the beginning of the year, compared to the same period of 2013. read more
BULGARIA'S FOOD STORES' TURNOVER DROPS SIGNIFICANTLY
The turnover of the specialized stores for food, drinks and tobacco products has dropped significantly in January.
BULGARIA GOVT SEEKS INVESTOR FOR BANKRUPT GLASS FACTORY IN RAZGRAD
According to the data of the National Statistics Institute (NSI) the drop, compared to December 2013 is 15.6% and year-on-year is 3.8%.
The retail of food, both in specialized and unspecialized stores, is going down for the sixth month in a row.
Meanwhile, the NSI data shows that the purchases of non-food increases. The sales of computers in January, for example has risen by 13.8% year-on-year. The home appliances' sales have increased by 12.1% for the same period. read more
Bulgaria's government is seeking a strategic investor for the bankrupt glass factory "Diamant" in Razgrad, according to Deputy Prime Minister Daniela Bobeva.
Speaking Monday in the northeastern city of Razgrad, Bobeva also made clear that the government was looking for opportunities to restart the operations of the local meat processing plant "Rodopa." read more
1000 “PRAVETZ” LAPTOPS TO BE RELEASED ON THE MARKET
The first 1000 laptops of the legendary Bulgarian computer brand “Pravetz” will be soon released on the market.
IRAQI BUSINESS WANTS DIRECT FLIGHTS TO BULGARIA
According to the brand owner Boiko Vuchev, they will be sold in a store in a Sofia shopping center and on the company website.
The laptops are assembled in Bulgaria of computer parts from Taiwan and will feature the latest Intel processors. There will be several modifications, depending on the size of the RAM memory and the processors.
According to the initial information the laptops were going to feature own operating system, based on Linux, but now Vuchev said they will be sold with Windows 8.1, because the development and testing of the own OS took longer than expected.
“Pravetz” is a Bulgarian brand from the 1980's when computers of this brand were practically the only available PCs in the country. Legend has it they were developed via reverse engineering from an Apple II computer.
They were produced in a factory in the town of Botevgrad, near Pravetz – the home town of Bulgaria's communist ruler Todor Zhivkov.
Production was discontinued in the early 1990's and the Pravetz brand has been available for registration since 1991. read more
The Iraqi business wants direct flights to Bulgaria, a Bulgarian-Iraqi bank and easing of visa regime.
BULGARIA'S MUNICIPALITIES DEMAND 30% OF TOTAL FLAT TAX
This transpired at a business forum for Iraqi companies organized by Bulgaria's Agency for Small and Medium Enterprises.
Among the members of the business delegation were Iraqi state companies from the construction, energy, tourism, pharmacy, electronics, insurance and food processing sectors.
Mohamed Shaker Mambud, chief secretary of the International Union of Iraqi Businessmen, said there was a serious interest in medical tourism of Iraqis in Bulgaria.
Bulgaria's deputy minister of economy Krasin Dimitrov presented at the forum the experience of Bulgarian companies in the construction of infrastructure projects in Iraq. read more
Bulgaria's National Association of Municipalities insists that 30% of the collected flat tax should be distributed among municipality budgets.
"It has already been decided that by 2015 part of the personal income tax will enter municipalities budgets as revenue. The Financial Ministry will soon introduce the proposal to the Council of Ministers. We have proposed a 3% of the 10 percent tax, however the exact percentage is still not clear," the deputy executive director of the National Municipalities Association Emil Savov told Bulgaria on Air TV. read more
BULGARIA INSISTS ON BUILDING SOUTH STREAM GAS PIPE – ENERGY MINISTRY
Bulgaria's Ministry of Economy and Energy has insisted that the South Stream gas pipeline must be built because the project is essential for the security of supply to the country.
The media statement comes after an announcement by EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger that the European Commission would delay talks on the implementation of the project. read more
BULGARGAZ TO LOWER NATURAL GAS PRICE IN Q2
Bulgaria's state company Bulgargaz offered to lower the price of natural gas by 2.37% in Q2, 2014.
BULGARIA HAS ACHIEVED ITS 2020 RENEWABLE ENERGY TARGET
The company has filed the offer with the State Energy and Water regulator, which is expected to consider it by the end of March.
It was expected that the price in Q2 would remain unchanged. Bulgargaz, however, offered to lower it by BGN 17.20, to BGN 618.20 per 1000 cubic meters, without VAT and excise duty. read more
Bulgaria, Estonia and Sweden have achieved their 2020 renewable energy targets, according to Eurostat.
The share of renewables in gross final energy consumption is one of the headline indicators of the Europe 2020 strategy. The target to be reached by 2020 for the EU28 is a share of 20% renewable energy use in gross final energy consumption. The national targets take into account the Member States' different starting points, renewable energy potential and economic performance. read more
BULGARIAN INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION GREW IN JANUARY
BULGARIA MULLS PARTICIPATION IN TOURIST EXHIBITION IN UKRAINE
Industrial production in Bulgaria was up 1.4% in January and grew 2.3% on a yearly basis.
Data by the National Statistical Institute has shown that car manufacturing has registered an increase of 48.5% compared to January 2013, as Bulgarian website Investor.bg reports.
Printing was up 17.5%, machinery construction rose 16.3%, and pharmacy had a 15.1% higher output.
The sectors above, as well as communication and information technology, are considered by the World Bank as fields with huge potential for development in Bulgaria.
Vehicle manufacturing (cars excluded), however, has dwindled by 31.9% compared to January last year, as well as metallurgy (17.6%), and tobacco production (11.2%).
Industrial production, along with consumption and exports, are expected this year to drive the economy further than the 0.9% increase of GDP in 2013. read more
Bulgaria's Ministry of Economy and Energy is reconsidering the country's participation in the tourism expo in Ukraine, due to the tensions there.
BULGARIA REIMBURSED BY EC FOR BGN 957M AID SCHEME FOR FARMERS
The companies have till Monday to say if they want to participate in the exhibition in Ukraine in the end of March and then the ministry will decide whether or not to set up a Bulgarian stand, reported the national TV channel bTV.
Bulgaria's tourism sector, however, reacted sharply and said the government's idea is inadequate. According to representatives of the tourist companies the expo in Ukraine is one of the largest in the region and not participating in it would be unprecedented.
The companies are optimistic and expect more tourists from Belarus, Russia, Poland, the Czech Republic and Ukraine. According to the tour operators, there might be a slight drop in the tourists from Ukraine, but it would be insignificant. read more
Bulgaria has received a reimbursement of BGN 957 M from the European Commission for subsidies under the single area payment scheme.
The sum of BGN 957 from the state budget was used for payments to farmers under the single area payment scheme on January 30 by the State Fund Agriculture (SFA). read more
PETITION FOR ELECTION RULES REFERENDUM BROUGHT TO PARLIAMENT
Bulgarian Parliament received on Monday the 560 000-strong petition calling for referendum on election rules.
The list, reportedly containing over half a million signatures, made its way to Parliament's building with a rally in the center of the capital Sofia, repeating their earlier demand that a national poll on the issue be held simultaneously with May 25's European elections, DARIK radio has reported. read more
BULGARIAN SUPREME JUDICIAL COUNCIL MEMBER TO BE SACKED
Bulgaria's Supreme Judicial Council (VSS) is to permanently remove its member Kamen Sitnilski.
The "judicial Parliament" will take the decision months after it suspended him on a temporary basis over suspicions he had participated in backdoor vote-rigging for the appoiting of members of the council.
Bulgarian DARIK radio has revealed that the three-member disciplinary committee (composed by VSS magistrates), to which Sitnilski's case had been delegated, will also declare itself in favour of dismissing him.
It will take then 17 out of 25 votes in the VSS to remove its member.
In case the magistrates agree to discharge him, his ousting will be the first dismissal in the Supreme Judicial Council since it was established in 1991.
Former Deputy Chief Prosecutor Kamen Sitnilski was suspended for six months on July 26.
The VSS then opened the proceedings on the proposal of the VSS Ethics Committee, after leaks of wiretaps containing conversations between Sitnilski, Rumen Boev, a VSS member, and other magistrates.
On the recordings, they are heard as agreeing how they would vote at the delegate assembly convened in the autumn of 2012 to elect VSS members from the prosecutors' quota.
The final decision is scheduled for Thursday, March 13. read more
LEADER OF DPS PARTY VOWS FIRM SUPPORT FOR BULGARIA'S COALITION GOVT
Lyutvi Mestan, leader of liberal party Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), has expressed firm support for Bulgaria's socialist-led coalition government.
Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski gave a press conference Monday with the leaders of the parties supporting the Cabinet, Lyutvi Mestan (DPS) and Sergey Stanishev (the Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP) to an audience of over 200 journalists. The press conference was aimed at dispelling doubts of backstage policymaking. read more
BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS' LEADER WARNS AGAINST SUBSTITUTION OF POLITICS
European elections should not fall victim to the substitution of politics in Bulgaria, the ruling party's leader said.
BULGARIAN PM HIGHLIGHTS MAIN ACHIEVEMENTS, FUTURE COMMITMENTS
Stanishev made his comments on Monday at a meeting of cabinet and party chiefs with the media that took place in Bulgarian capital Sofia.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski and the head of ethnic Turkish Movement of Rights and Freedoms (DPS), Lyutvi Mestan, also attended the event.
The head of the Bulgarian Socialist Party warned against what he considered the conversion of politics into "a territory of hatred, of local gossip, brawls and monopoly on the truth". He also expressed his concern over the use of hate speech, which he said was becoming more and more attractive to politicians.
In Stanishev's words, his party insists that the government step up the implementation of its program approved by Parliament, and as long as it does, it count on count on BSP's support, Bulgarian newspaper Standart quoted him as saying.
He broached tough issues in Bulgarian politics such as healthcare, such as the state of the National Health Insurance Fund, the resources of which are constantly being drained due to malfunctions and administrative abuse.
The BSP's leader vowed to put an end to vicious practices in healthcare and encouraged the cabinet to step up efforts of industrial renaissance, a prospect which is currently being widely discussed across Europe.
He also praised the leadership of the DPS, which has a few ministers in the government has drawn much criticism over some of its political stances, as well as its economic connections.
Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski held a press conference in front of over 200 journalists to brief them on the government’s progress since assuming power.
In a rare for Bulgaria “State-of-the-Union-like” address, Oresharski outlined the progress his cabinet has made, despite taking over at an extremely difficult moment and constantly being pressured by protests. read more
BRITS SAVED IN BULGARIA'S PIRIN MOUNTAIN RESCUE OPERATION
Two British tourists were rescued in a 5-hour long operation on steep and hazardous terrain in Bulgaria's Pirin mountain, Sunday night.
The two male snowboarders, 28 and 30, got lost in the fog and ended up on extremely hazardous avalanche terrain. read more
BULGARIA COMMEMORATES 71 YEARS OF RESCUE OF JEWS
The 71th anniversary of the rescue of Bulgaria's Jews in WWII was commemorated with a solemn ceremony near the memorial sign in Bulgarian capital Sofia Monday.
The ceremony was attended by the Parliament speaker Mihail Mikov, Interior Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev, Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandakova, official representatives of the Jewish community in Bulgaria, members of Parliament, among others. read more
CODE YELLOW ISSUED IN 15 BULGARIAN DISTRICTS
Code Yellow weather alert has been issued in 15 Bulgarian districts due to snowfall, black ice, strong wind and heavy precipitation.
Code Yellow over strong wind is declared in Varna, Dobrich, Shumen, Silistra, Razgrad, Targovishte, Ruse, Veliko Tarnovo, Gabrovo, according to the National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology with the Bulgarian Academy of Science. read more
DREAM THEATER TO PLAY IN SOFIA
The American progressive rock band Dream Theater will play in Bulgaria's capital Sofia on July 29.
The concert, part of Dream Theater's tour “Along For The Ride”, will take place in Festivalna Hall.
It would be the third Dream Theater concert in Bulgaria.
BULGARIA’S STILIYAN PETROV PLAYS CHARITY MATCH FOR LEUKEMIA
Tickets go on sale on March 14 at the ticketpro.bg website and the box offices. Tickets bought between March 14 and 21 will be at a 10% discount. read more
Bulgaria’s ex-national team captain Stiliyan Petrov returned to the pitch in a charity match, organized by his foundation for gathering funds for the treatment of leukemia.
Petrov, who was diagnosed with the disease 2 years ago, and has since fought through it, gathered the ovation of the Aston Villa supporters who had come to see the match. The Bulgarian even managed to score a goal through a penalty kick, despite his team losing 3:8 to the legendary Aston Villa side of 1982, which won the European Cup of Champions. read more
BULGARIA’S DIMITROV BEATS HAASE IN INDIAN WELLS
Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov beat Dutch Robin Haase 6:4, 6:3 in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, USA.
Dimitrov, who started from the second round due to his high seeding, had no serious troubles against Haase. Once again, the Bulgarian’s strong serve came to his aid, with 9 aces and an impressive 86% of points won on his first serve. read more
BULGARIA'S COMMON CRIME OP RESULTS IN 26% CRIME DROP – IM
A total of 18% crime decline has been registered in Bulgaria since the beginning of the year, Interior Ministry chief secretary Svetlozar Lazarov announced.
Since the start of the special police operation to tackle common crime for the period Feb 10 – March 6, the crime drop has been about 26%, Lazarov told Bulgarian National Television. read more
DEBT OF WORLD GOVERNMENTS EXCEEDS USD 100 TRILLION
Global debt levels have increased 40% since the beginning of the financial crisis, amounting now to more than USD 100 trillion.
YANUKOVYCH TO SPEAK FROM RUSSIA ON TUESDAY
Data published by the Switzerland-based Bank for International Settlements (BIS) has revealed the USD 30 trillion jump in debt between mid-2007 and mid-2013 was nearly twice the size of US economy (around USD 16 trillion), as Bloomberg reports.
Analysts at the BIS have explained that the expansion of government spending in recent years has been main cause of debt issuing on such a scale.
This surge of liabilities has also originated the wave of austerity that spread throughout developed (and some developing) countries worldwide, leading to governments reducing spending and increasing taxes to rein in economies and retain international investors on their markets.
Created in 1930, the Bank for International Settlements has its headquarters in Basel and aims at providing assistance to central banks. It also publishes macroeconomic surveys on a monthly and yearly basis. read more
Ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych will make a public statement on Tuesday according to unnamed sources.
Yanukovych’s address is expected to be at midday, from the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, Radio Free Europe reveals. This would be only his second public appearance since he fled Ukraine last month. read more
'SECURITY BREACH' MAY HAVE LED TO DISAPPEARANCE OF MALAYSIAN PLANE
GREEK BANKS ARE BACK ON CAPITAL MARKETS
Security lapse might have been committed prior to the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
Malaysian officials are increasingly looking into this scenario after Malaysia's Transport Minister Hishamuddin Hussein confirmed at least two passengers were using stolen passports, Al Jazeera English has reported.
The plane with 239 people on board, which took off from Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, mysteriously vanished from radar early on Saturday, somewhere between Malaysia and Vietnam, while en route to Beijing. Hijacking has not been ruled out as an option.
Two passengers are being investigated over the incident after it was revealed they were traveling with stolen Austrian and Italian identity documents, according to Malaysian sources close to the probe. They had also purchased tickets for an onward flight from Beijing to Amsterdam. According to reports by The Guardian, they were of Asian appearance and held the passports of Luigi Maraldi and Christian Kozel.
Interpol announced that it was working to establish the "true identities" of these travelers. It also revealed the passengers they had documents "stolen" in Thailand years ago. Experts, however, have suggested that stolen traveling with stolen or fake documents is rather a common practice on regional flights.
Another five passengers, who were booked on the flight, did not board, and their luggage was consequently removed.
Authorities in Kuala Lumpur have so far given no specification on the possible security lapse, which could have involved immigration officials.CCTV footages at the airport are being carefully looked at to determine whether a lapse was actually committed before or during boarding.
At the sea off Vietnam, where the plane went missing, 34 aircraft and 40 ships from nine nations are searching debris of the plane, but official reports state nothing has been found. Vietnamese authorities are said to have found an object bearing resemblance to a door, but this has not been verified.
The incident off the South Asian coast is still puzzling Malaysian, Vietnamese, Chinese and US authorities. It seems the plane might have inexplicably turned back short before passing over Vietnam, but apparently has neither returned nor crashed, as no wreckage has been found in the rescue operation. read more
Greek banks have returned to international capital markets after five years of financial turmoil for the country.
EC POSTPONES DECISION ON OPAL GAS PIPELINE
This development followed talks between Greek politicians and their international lenders, with the latter insisting that Athens raise some EUR 2 B in bond and share offerings, The Financial Times has reported.
As a Greek senior official hinted on Sunday, this move ahead of the upcoming Eurogroup meeting on Monday could lead to euro area countries acknowledging the good results Greece has shown dealing with its financial difficulties.
Negotiations over the terms of unblocking the EUR 11.9 B worth tranches to the country are also scheduled for this week. A positive outcome would mean that Greece could finally receive parts of the loan that it has been waiting since the end of 2013.
The three lenders, which are the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, are said to be close to a deal with the government in Athens, as Bulgarian website Dnevnik.bg reports, citing Greek newspapers.
If successful, the upcoming talks could pave the way for transferring the sum within 15 days.
Greece's second bailout was worth EUR 170 B and had many strings attached, including a severe austerity program that contributed to crippling the debt-ridden country's economy.
Experts now believe the South European country is making its way out of the recession and faces slim changes of leaving the Eurozone. read more
The European Commission has postponed the decision on increasing Gazprom's access to the OPAL gas pipeline, which can be fed by the Nord Stream gas pipeline.
The press secretary of EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger, as cited by ITAR-TASS, explained that additional technical clarificationswere necessary, adding that the EC reaffirmed its commitment to a swift clarification of the remaining issues. read more
CHINA URGES CALM, RESTRAINT IN RESOLVING CRIMEA
The President of China, Xi Jinping, has urged Barack Obama and Angela Merkel to pursue all possible diplomatic means for resolving the Ukraine crisis.
China has been mostly on stand-by so far and refrained from expressing a clear position on the situation in Crimea. However, the country’s President has made private phone calls to the leaders of the United States and Germany over the weekend to discuss the issue. read more
JOURNALISTS ABDUCTED, BULGARIAN TV CREW HARASSED IN CRIMEA
Three Ukrainian journalists were kidnapped in the autonomous Crimea region.
UKRAINIAN TV CHANNELS BANNED IN CRIMEA
According to Ukrainian news agency UNIAN, all of them were in the same car, traveling to the north of the Crimean Peninsula from the mainland.
They were halted at a border checkpoint recently set up near the village of Perekop. Their car was ransacked, and the journalists themselves were forced out of the vehicle by armed men which set off in an unknown direction.
The equipment of a Bulgarian TV crew was also ransacked in Crimea.
No trouble followed upon entering Crimean territory, but the crew was stopped near Simferopol, apparently for a routine search, as Mario Gavrilov, Bulgarian National Television's special envoy to Crimea, reported over Skype during the morning program of the public broadcaster's BNT1 channel.
The Bulgarians were checked by masked men armed with AK-47 assault rifles, some with Russian insignia. They thoroughly examined the crew's baggage and allowed them to go on, but seized all their helms and vests, which had been provided by the TV.
Gavrilov said the checks were conducted in a rather aggressive manner.
Tensions have been rising in Ukraine's region of Crimea, after the local government announced it was seceding from Ukraine and would join Russia, with the measure coming into effect after a referendum on March 16.
Lots of steps have been taken in Crimea toward splitting over the past few days. Setting up of Crimean institutions (not dependent on Kiev) has been initiated, and Ukrainian TV channels on the peninsula are not broadcasting anymore.
Some administrations in Crimea, like Sevastopol, have already approved Russian as an official language in court, and a fiscal shift to Russian currency could reportedly be expected soon. read more
All Ukrainian television channels broadcasting has been shut off in the Crimea while Russian TV channels are broadcast on some of the vacated frequencies.
The television station Inter has been blocked and NTV is broadcasting on its frequency, Russia's Channel One is available on the frequency of the blocked 1+1, an Interfax-Ukraine correspondent reported, cited by KyivPost. read more
NORTH KOREA'S KIM JONG-UN UNANIMOUSLY ELECTED TO ASSEMBLY
North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong Un was elected unanimously to the highest legislative body, state media reported on Monday.
There was no one else on the ballot and the voter turnout in his district was 100%
North Koreans went to the polls on Sunday to approve the new roster of deputies for the supreme people’s assembly, the country’s legislature. The vote, more a political ritual than an election by Western standards, is generally held once every five years.
Though results for the other seats in the assembly had not yet been announced, North Korea’s media quickly reported Kim had won in his district located on the symbolic Mount Paekdu with a unanimous vote.
In the previous elections, 687 deputies were chosen. This is first time the election had been held since Kim inherited power after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, in 2011. read more