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SOFIA MORNING NEWS FOR 2015-04-21
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21 April 2015, Issue 4210
by Novinite.com
Bulgaria's Daily Newspaper since 2001
9827 subscribers of Novinite.com
150673 articles
590 interviews
9884 pictures
 
BUSINESS POLITICS WORLD SOCIETY SPORTS FORUM
 
Bulgaria Launches Tenders for Oil, Gas Exploration Rights at Silistar, Teres Blocks


The tenders for oil and natural gas exploration rights for Block 1-14 Silistar and Block 1-22 Teres, two exploration blocks located in Bulgaria's Black Sea continental shelf and exclusive economic zone, are underway. read
Bulgaria GDP Growth 1.2% in 2015, 1.5% in 2016 - IMF


The Bulgarian economy is expected to grow moderately this and next year, according to projections of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).read
Bulgaria's Labor Min Tables Tough Measures to Boost Work Safety


Labor and Social Policy Minister Ivaylo Kalfin has proposed Criminal Code amendments targeting employers who do not sign contracts with workers.read
 
 
MORE TOP NEWS
Bulgaria’s Profit from EU Membership in 2007-2014 at BGN 14.7 B

President Plevneliev: Bulgaria Can Become Regional ‘Engine’ for ICT Industry in Europe

Bulgarian PM Borisov Receives High Public Approval Rating

Village Population in Bulgaria Marks Decrease

Repair Works Begin on Two Bulgarian Motorways, Largest Sofia Boulevard

Attacker of Bulgarian Politician Ahmed Dogan Conclusively Sentenced to 3 1/2 Years in Prison

Bulgaria C-Bank 'Warned Greek-Owned Banks' over Grexit Scenario

Minister Predicts 50% Increase in Air Traffic over Bulgaria after Launch of Istanbul New Airport

EU Mulls Doubling of Triton Funds – German Interior Minister

EU, US Hold New Round of Talks on Proposed Free Trade Agreement

VIEWS ON BG
BBC: Is Bulgaria Europe's Silicon Valley?


UPS & DOWNS
Sofia Airport, Varna Airport Voted among Top 10 Airports in Eastern Europe

Bulgarian PM, President Express Condolences to Families of Air Crash Victims
QUOTE OF THE DAY

''What is the problem with the Prime Minister stating his opinion? He is not the Pope in order to put a final decision on every issue,'' stated Bulgarian Justice Minister Hristo Ivanov. "We live in a democratic society, and everybody is entitled to have an opinion.''

The statement was made with regards to the opinion expressed by PM Boiko Borisov that the Higher Judicial Council (VSS) has not been performing in a satisfactory manner.

''The Higher Judicial Council can't be replaced through a press conference,'' Ivanov added. ''If we are talking about an early termination of its mandate, this can only happen after a decision is made by Parliament. The decision will concern possible ammendments to the Constitution and Parliament will determine what form they will take.''

He further noted that the evaluation for the work of VSS needs to be given by those who have representatives there - magistrates and Parliament, as those evaluations would be truly the ones that can be relied on.

Ivanov added that all ammendments to the Constitution do not depend on the Justic Minister.

''We never manage to focus on principle matter, but instead we always bring the issues down to personal matters,'' Ivanov explained.

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TOP NEWS
PRESIDENT PLEVNELIEV: BULGARIA CAN BECOME REGIONAL ‘ENGINE’ FOR ICT INDUSTRY IN EUROPE

Bulgaria has the potential to become an “engine” for positive change in Southeastern Europe as regards the plans of the European Commission for the Single Digital Market, according to President Rosen Plevneliev.

Plevneliev met with Andrus Ansip, the European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, on Monday in Sofia.
During the meeting Plevneliev praised Bulgaria’s traditions in the area of information technologies and programming. read more


BUSINESS

REPAIR WORKS BEGIN ON TWO BULGARIAN MOTORWAYS, LARGEST SOFIA BOULEVARD

Repair works began on Monday on two Bulgarian motorways – Hemus and Trakia and the largest boulevard in Sofia – Tsarigradsko Shose.

The repair works of the Tsarigradsko Shose began in the section between Sofia Ring Road and the crossover above Aleksandar Malinov Boulevard, daily Dnevnik reports. read more


BULGARIA GDP GROWTH 1.2% IN 2015, 1.5% IN 2016 - IMF

The Bulgarian economy is expected to grow moderately this and next year, according to projections of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In 2015 the IMF says GDP will be up 1.2%, and in 2016 gross output will increase by 1.5 percent. This is less compared to last year, when growth was at 1.7%.

IMF forecasts released as part of the World Economic Outlook report, made available over the weekend, suggest Bulgaria cannot pin its hopes on catch-up growth on which many governments in the EU's poorest nation have relied.

Bulgaria is still ranked as part of "Emerging and Developing Europe", though so are other EU member states from Eastern Europe, including Poland, Romania, Hungary, and Croatia.

Among them, however, the country has the second-worst GDP forecast for 2015-2016, outpacing only Croatia whose economy contracted 0.4% in 2014 and will grow sluggishly in 2015 (0.5%) and 2016 (0.1%).

To compare, Poland's GDP will enjoy a stable growth of 3.5% in 2015-2016, up from 3.3% last year. This is also close to the "Emerging and Developing Europe" average levels (the region also includes Turkey and Serbia): it grew 2.8% in 2014 and economies are projected to increase by 2.9% and 3.2% in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

In terms of current account balance, Bulgaria had a zero current account balance last year and should not expect severe fluctuations in 2015 (0.2% of GDP), though this will change the year after (negative 0.8% of GDP).

Unemployment is projected to gradually decrease from 11.5% this year to 10.9% in 2015 and 10.3% in 2016, above rates of other "developing" EU states except Croatia (17.1% in 2014, 17.3% in 2015, 16.9% in 2016).

The table contains a footnote reading that "emerging" European countries include Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia and Montenegro, though economic data for these is not included. read more


FINANCE

BULGARIA C-BANK 'WARNED GREEK-OWNED BANKS' OVER GREXIT SCENARIO

Bulgaria's central bank recommended Greek-owned banks to clean their portfolios of securities and deposits which "could incur losses" if Greece leaves the euro, media reports suggest.

The Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) "kindly advised" in March those financial entities, Capital daily quotes a source from a lending institution whose shareholders include Greek citizens.

However, according to Capital the source added local branches of Greek-owned banks had already taken the step to prevent any repercussions if Greece quits the Eurozone.

Four Greece-based banks operate in Bulgaria, including UBB, Postbank, Piraeus Bank and Alpha, holding 23% of assets in the banking system as of end-2014.

Last week Greek daily Kathimerini wrote that central banks of all Southeast European nations had recommended Greek banks that are active in the respective countries to sell off state securities.

In February, a Reuters report opined that strong banking and trade links of Southeast European countries with Greece put states in the region at risk if Athens moves to leave the single currency area.  

read more


ENERGY

BULGARIA LAUNCHES TENDERS FOR OIL, GAS EXPLORATION RIGHTS AT SILISTAR, TERES BLOCKS

The tenders for oil and natural gas exploration rights for Block 1-14 Silistar and Block 1-22 Teres, two exploration blocks located in Bulgaria's Black Sea continental shelf and exclusive economic zone, are underway.

The announcements were published in the Official Journal of the European Union on April 18. read more


TOURISM

MINISTER PREDICTS 50% INCREASE IN AIR TRAFFIC OVER BULGARIA AFTER LAUNCH OF ISTANBUL NEW AIRPORT

Transport Minister Ivaylo Moskovski has predicted an increase in air traffic over Bulgaria by around 50% as a result of the opening of the Istanbul New Airport, İstanbul Yeni Havalimanı.

Speaking Monday at the opening of the 54th Annual Conference of International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers Associations (IFATCA), Moskovski noted hat the Istanbul New Airport was expected to be one of the largest in the world and to service around 150 million passengers a year. read more


DIPLOMACY

BULGARIAN PM BOYKO BORISOV 'TO VISIT EMIRATES' IN END-APRIL

Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borisov will be looking for UAE investors during his visit to Dubai later this month, government sources say.

The visit is most likely to be scheduled for April 27-28, the sources are quoted by daily Standart as saying.

Borisov is set to meet Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, United Arab Emirates Vice President and Prime Minister and also the emir of Dubai.

According to the report, Borisov will seek to draw investment from the prosperous emirate, with an emphasis on agriculture.

Economy Ministry data suggests that the UAE have made investment into Bulgaria worth EUR 38.1 M and EUR 21.5 M in 2011 and 2012 respectively. Then 2013 saw a withdrawal of capital, but FDI attraction was renewed last year with EUR 3.9 M in new projects.

Borisov, who has already tried to seal closer cooperation with other Gulf states such as Qatar,

In April 2014 he led a delegation of his center-right GERB party, then in opposition, to Dubai, and the UAE's Economy Minister Sultan Bin Saeed al Mansoori agreed in principle that the emirates should move toward expanding cooperation with Sofia.


read more


BULGARIA'S CHIEF PROSECUTOR VISITING MACEDONIA

Chief Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov and his deputy Borislav Sarafov are paying a visit to Macedonia on Monday and Tuesday, according to the prosecuting authority's website.

Tsvetomir Yosifov, who heads the International department at the Supreme Prosecutor's Office of Cassation, is accompanying them.

The three are set to meet Tsatsarov's Macedonian counterpart Marko Zvrlevski and other officials. The Bulgarian officials are traveling to the southwestern neighbor at Zvrlevski's invitation.

A cooperation agreement is expected to be signed between the two prosecuting authorities which will allow them to work together to counter organized crime, corruption, people trafficking, arms trade, extradition and other issues.

A proposal to set up a Balkan Network of Chief Prosecutors will also be on the table during the visit. The step was put forward during Zvrlevski's visit to Sofia last September.


read more


BULGARIA IN EU

BULGARIA’S PROFIT FROM EU MEMBERSHIP IN 2007-2014 AT BGN 14.7 B

Bulgaria’s profit from the eight years of EU membership stands at BGN 14.7 B, according to Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov.

Goranov presented the data in a written response to a question of an MP from center-right party GERB (Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria), according to reports of the BGNES news agency. read more


DOMESTIC

BULGARIAN PM BORISOV RECEIVES HIGH PUBLIC APPROVAL RATING

Bulgarians deem most successful the government policies connected to infrastructure (38%), culture (29%) and foreign policy (25%).

Meanwhile, the most unsuccessful areas have been the income policy (9%), followed by economics, social activities and education (each with 17% stated disapproval). read more


SOCIETY

VILLAGE POPULATION IN BULGARIA MARKS DECREASE

Depopulated towns in Bulgaria are 164 as of December 2014, as reported by the National Statistical Institute (NSI).

The biggest number of locations with no inhabitants are in the municiplaities of Grabrovo, Veliko tarnovo and Kardzhali - respectively 61, 57 and 11. read more


BULGARIA'S LABOR MIN TABLES TOUGH MEASURES TO BOOST WORK SAFETY

Labor and Social Policy Minister Ivaylo Kalfin has proposed Criminal Code amendments targeting employers who do not sign contracts with workers.

Under changes put forward by Kalfin, an employee in Bulgaria could be facing imprisonment if a worker the latter dies in a work-related accident and an inspection establishes he or she has not signed a labor contract.

This follows last week's two incidents which claimed the lives of four workers. A miner died at the Obrochishte manganese mine in Northeastern Bulgaria on Tuesday, and on the next day a hotel collapsed near the Black Sea city of Varna leaving four construction workers dead.

It was revealed that the four who died in the latter accident had neither insurance nor labor contracts.

Kalfin told private national bTV station on Monday that he relied on support from the main opposition parties, the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS).

He reminded that the proposal was based on a draft prepared by an expert team under the tenure of his predecessor, Hasan Ademov, who took the office in the socialist-liberal cabinet of 2013-2014.

Asked about speeding up the pension reform, Kalfin said the government would inevitably have to boost social contributions on paid by employers, a measure that would certainly meet the resistance of business representatives. read more


BULGARIAN STORMS GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS WITH TEAPOTS

A man from Bulgaria's Ruse boasts a huge teapot collection and is even considering attempting to enter the Guinness Book of World Records.

Thirty-seven Anton Dimitrov who loves drinking tea in the winter, is currently working at a recyclables collecting unit in Ruse, Pressa Daily reported. It is exactly there that he has discovered the charm of the overused teapots and started collecting them. read more


INCIDENTS

STONES HURLED AT BULGARIAN SOCIALIST PARTY HEADQUARTERS

An unknown man has thrown paving stones at the main office of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) in downtown Sofia, party officials say.

No-one has been injured. The attacker has apparently broken part of the glass walls around the main entrance.

BSP Spokesman Atanas Merdzhanov warned that "when in the opposition there is so much antagonism and desacrating monuments is perceived as ways of expressing aesthetic sentiments, then paving stones turn into means of expression," as Dnevnik.bg quotes him as saying.

Merdzhanov is referring to last years' incidents related to the Mound of Brothers, a memorial dedicated to the Soviet Army for its contribution to the liberation of Europe in World War Two. read more


SPORTS

BULGARIA'S TOP TENNIS PLAYERS RETAIN WTA, ATP RANKINGS

Bulgaria's top female and male tennis players Tsvetana Pironkova and Grigor Dimitrov retained their respective WTA and ATP rankings.

Pironkova, who was defeated in the qualifications of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, retained her 52nd position in the WTA ranking. read more


CRIME

ATTACKER OF BULGARIAN POLITICIAN AHMED DOGAN CONCLUSIVELY SENTENCED TO 3 1/2 YEARS IN PRISON

Oktay Enimehmedov has been conclusively sentenced to three years and six months of imprisonment over the 2013 attack against Ahmed Dogan, honorary leader of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) party.

The final verdict issued by the Supreme Court of Cassation (VKS) concerns charges of hooliganism and a death threat against Dogan, according to the Legal World magazine, as cited by dnevnik.bg. read more


GENERAL ACCUSED OF MALFEASANCE, ORDERED SUBORDINATES TO RENOVATE DWELLING

The Sofia Military District Prosecutor's Office charged Bulgarian Brigadier General Dimitar Shivikov with malfeasance in office for ordering his subordinates to renovate his dwelling.

Shivikov was accused of diverting four subordinates from their military duties in Karlovo and using their labour unlawfully for renovating his dwelling in Sofia, daily Dnevnik reports. read more


BULGARIAN POLICE DETAINS 17 ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS NEAR STARA ZAGORA

The Bulgarian police detained seventeen illegal immigrants in the district of Stara Zagora, which is the second case in the region in less than a month.

The immigrants were traveling in a vehicle, which was involved in a road accident on Trakia Motorway near the town of Chirpan, private bTV station reports. read more


VIEWS ON BG

BBC: IS BULGARIA EUROPE'S SILICON VALLEY?

Click here to read the story:
www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=168003


WORLD

BOAT CARRYING 300 MIGRANTS ISSUES DISTRESS SIGNAL, 20 FEARED DEAD

The International Organization for Migration received a distress call from a sinking boat carrying 300 migrants in the Mediterranean Sea.


A spokesman of the organisation said that some twently people are believed to have drowned, the BBC reports. read more


FOUR UNICEF OFFICERS MURDERED IN SOMALIA

Four UNICEF employees have been murdered during an attack in Somalia, as reported by the organization's local headquarters.

Their car has been attacked in the region of Garowe. Information on the incident is still incomplete, but accoridng to preliminary information, four other UNICEF emplopyees have been hurt and are in severe condition. read more


IS RELEASES VIDEO DEPICTING `KILLING` OF ETHIOPIAN CHRISTIANS

Islamic State (IS) released a new video, which purportedly shows the killing of up to thirty Ethiopian Christians in Libya.

The video depicts one group of men being beheaded on a beach and another group being shot in the head in a desert, the BBC reports. read more


BOMB TARGETS UN OFFICIALS IN SOMALIA, KILLS SEVEN PEOPLE

A bomb attack on a United Nations (UN) vehicle left seven people dead in the Puntland region of Somalia.

According to an eyewitness, the bomb was attached to a UN bus, while initial reports spoke of a suicide attack, the BBC reports. read more


EU

EU MULLS DOUBLING OF TRITON FUNDS – GERMAN INTERIOR MINISTER

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere has expressed support for a proposal to double funding for the EU naval operation in the Mediterranean.

De Maiziere, as cited by DPA, said that the European Commission had presented a 10-point plan to address the migration crisis during Monday’s meeting of EU foreign and interior ministers in Luxembourg. read more


AT LEAST THREE DIE IN LATEST MIGRANT INCIDENT OFF RHODES ISLAND

At least three people died in the latest incident involving migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea, which occurred on Monday off the Greek island of Rhodes.

According to local media reports, a boat carrying more than 200 migrants hit a reef at Zephyros beach in Rhodes, the Greek Reporter informs. read more


FINLAND'S JUHA SIPILä WINS GENERAL VOTE

Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb has admitted defeat in parliamentary elections held in the country on Sunday, with his party coming second.

The opposition Centre Party, led by millionaire former IT businessman Juha Sipilä, has won with 21.2% of the vote, while support for Stubb's National Coalition Party (NCP) was at 18.2%.

According to YLE, Finland's public broadcaster, the conservative NCP has only a narrow lead on the right-wing Finns party, known for its euroscepticism, which has mustered 17.6% of the vote.

Social Democrats are fourth at 16.5%.

Seat allocation according to YLE's website, however, gives Finns the second-largest number of seats in the 200-member Finnish Parliament, with the party projected to have 38 MPs and the NCP set to get 37 despite its result.

Centre will have 49 seats, which is 14 seats more than what it had in the outgoing legislature.

Sipilä, who headed the Centre Party several years ago, will now have various options to form a coalition government.

Two immigrant MPs, Nasima Razmyar (Social Democrats) and Ozan Yanar (Greens), will also join Parliament. Razmyar was born in Afghanistan, while Yanar was raised in the UK and Cyprus after his family left Turkey.

read more


EU FOREIGN MINISTERS TO DISCUSS MED INCIDENT

Foreign ministers of EU member states are set to discuss Sunday's incident in Mediterranean in which hundreds are feared dead.

A vessel carrying up to 700 migrants capsized late on Saturday off Libya. Only 28 have been rescued so far. A survivor is quoted by various news sources as saying there were as many as 950 people on board, about 50 of them children and nearly 200 women.

Earlier, French President Francois Hollande had called for an extraordinary EU meeting also involving interior ministers of member states to deal with "this kind of [people] trafficking, because those who bring people onto such ships are traffickers, even terrorists,"

EU internal affairs commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos is also to attend the meeting. Avramopoulos canceled his visit to the Spanish exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, located on the northern coast of Africa, in order to take part in the discussion.

Many Africans try entering the EU via Ceuta and Melilla, cities surrounded by Moroccan territory.

But the Mediterranean stretch between Libya and the Italian island of Lampedusa has often been used to as an entry point as well, with hundreds losing their lives every month while attempting to flee unrest in Northern Africa and elsewhere on the continent.

Between Monday and Thursday of last week, Italian coast guard officials put the number of African migrants reaching the country to 10 000. In three more days the number bubbled to 13 500.

Italian PM Matteo Renzi also demanded on Sunday that a summit meeting be held. Italy is one of the hardest-hit countries by the refugee influx. The BBC quotes him as saying that Libya was the biggest problem, since some 90% of migrants setting off for Italy started there. read more


SOUTHEAST EUROPE

GREECE LAUNCHES TRIAL AGAINST NEO-NAZI GOLDEN DAWN PARTY

The trial proceeding against 89 members of the Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn started Monday in Athens.

Party leaders have been accused of creating ''a criminal organization'', but they were not present in the court room as reported by AFP. Accusation to party members also included murder, racist violence and possession of weapons. read more


GREECE'S MONEY TO END IN JUNE - IMF EUROPE HEAD

Greece will likely run out of money in June and negotiations on reform have to be completed by that time, the IMF's European head has said.

Paul Thomsen, Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)'s European Department, warned in an interview with German daily Handelsblatt [DE] that an agreement must take place by end of June to avoid a situation in which Greece could slide into bankruptcy.

Thomsen added that he believed Greece would remain within the Eurozone, but made clear members of the EU's single currency area should prepare to take measures in case of a "Grexit" scenario. In his words if Athens quits the Eurozone, a strong signal should be sent to those countries which are waiting to get into the area to dispel any doubt that the "Grexit" will put a wheel on their integration.

He explained that, even though negotiations between Greece and lenders had recently gathered pace, the parties were "far" from achieving their goal.

Earlier, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis warned that an event of Grexit could spread to other countries as well.

"Once the idea enters peoples' minds that monetary union is not forever, speculation begins ... who's next? That question is the solvent of any monetary union. Sooner or later it's going to start raising interest rates, political tensions, capital flight," the English-language version of daily Kathimerini quotes him as saying in an interview with Spanish TV La Sexta.

read more


INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS

EU, US HOLD NEW ROUND OF TALKS ON PROPOSED FREE TRADE AGREEMENT

The tenth consecutive round of negotiations between the EU and the US regarding the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is set to start Monday in New York.

Talks continue as the proposal for an economic agreement was made more than two years ago. The idea behind it was for the biggest trade zone in the world to be created. read more


FRANCE STILL IN TALKS WITH RUSSIA OVER MISTRAL WARSHIPS

The two Mistral warships France was to deliver to Russia are still subject to discussion, French President Francois Hollande has said.

Hollande told Canal+ TV station on Sunday that the Paris is "busy negotiating a solution to the crisis," according to DefenseNews.

The delivery of the two amphibious assault ships, the Sevastopol and the Vladivostok, has been put on hold over the Ukraine crisis, with Paris arguing the delivery is tied to the lowering of tensions in the country's east.  read more



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