» Sofia Morning News is a daily online newspaper published by Sofia News Agency (novinite.com), the biggest real time news provider in English in Bulgaria. It covers the latest economic, political, cultural and sports news happening in Bulgaria, major world events and foreign media analyses.

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SOFIA MORNING NEWS FOR 2015-03-27
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27 March 2015, Issue 4190
by Novinite.com
Bulgaria's Daily Newspaper since 2001
9869 subscribers of Novinite.com
150170 articles
590 interviews
9822 pictures
 
BUSINESS POLITICS WORLD SOCIETY SPORTS FORUM
 
Germanwings Co-pilot Deliberately Crashed Plane


Brice Robin, the Marseille public prosecutor, told a press conference that the co-pilot of the Germanwings jet that went down in the French Alps, killing 150 people, had crashed the plane deliberately. read
Bulgaria 'Stage of Hybrid War over Ukraine,' Official Report Says


Information campaigns and cyber attacks carried out on the sidelines of the conflict in Ukraine are an example of a "new type of fighting a war", Bulgaria's Defense Ministry points out in a document.read
Bulgarian Energy Ministry to Review Westinghouse Contract


The agreement between Bulgarian government and the US-based company Westinghouse regarding the construction of a seventh block to the Kozlodui nuclear power plant will be reviewed. read
 
 
NOVINITE INSIDER
Ivan Krastev: Mass Emigration Has Dramatically Hurt Bulgaria's Economy, Political System

» More

MORE TOP NEWS
One Germanwings Pilot 'Left Cockpit' before French Alps Crash

Bulgarian Workers Are Safe as Situation in Chile Normalises

Secretary of Bulgarian Anti-Human Trafficking Commission Charged with Corruption

EU Launches Proceeding on Agricultural Land Ownership Laws in Bulgaria

Bulgaria Parliament Appoints New Audit Office Head

Bomb Kills Journalist in Istanbul, 3 Injured

Bulgaria's Top Tennis Players Off to Successful Start in Miami Tennis Open

Police Searches House of Germanwings Co-Pilot

At Least 17 'Killed' in Saudi Arabia-Led Military Offensive in Yemen

Ex Svilengrad Customs Office Chief Released on Bail

VIEWS ON BG
BBC: Only Qualified Musicians Allowed to Plovdiv's Main Street


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

"They are counting on us to govern in the next 20 years so they can get their money back."

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov explaining the success behind the country's move to secure EUR 3.1 B from international markets.

This is the biggest amount of debt issued by a country in the region of Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa through a single syndicate of banks. 

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TOP NEWS
GERMANWINGS CO-PILOT DELIBERATELY CRASHED PLANE

Brice Robin, the Marseille public prosecutor, told a press conference that the co-pilot of the Germanwings jet that went down in the French Alps, killing 150 people, had crashed the plane deliberately.

Robin said Thursday that the co-pilot, identified as Andreas Lubitz, 28, a German citizen, had pressed a button to accelerate the Airbus A320’s descent when alone in the cockpit, according to reports of The Guardian. read more


BUSINESS

BULGARIA’S VIDIN PLAGUED BY WEEK-LONG GARBAGE CRISIS

Bulgaria’s northwestern municipality of Vidin has initiated steps to terminate the waste disposal contract with concessionaire Titan AS amid a garbage crisis of over a week, according to Dobromir Dilov, interim Mayor of Vidin.

Speaking at a sitting of the Vidin Municipal Council, he made clear that a shortage of funding for waste disposal had caused the concessionaire to dump the waste in several places in the city, and not at the designated landfill, thereby forming several micro-landfills. read more


ENERGY

BULGARIAN ENERGY MINISTRY TO REVIEW WESTINGHOUSE CONTRACT

The agreement between Bulgarian government and the US-based company Westinghouse regarding the construction of a seventh block to the Kozlodui nuclear power plant will be reviewed.

The statement was made by Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova Thursday. read more


BULGARIA COALITION PARTNERS TO BACK IVAN IVANOV AS ENERGY COMMITTEE HEAD

The main coalition partners in Bulgaria's government have agreed to support the candidacy of Ivan Ivanov, an energy expert and former lawmaker, to take over the national energy regulator KEVR.

The Commission for Energy and Water Regulation, which was renamed in February (its previous acronym DKEVR indicated it was state-owned) is to have new leadership after Parliament amend the Energy Act last month.

KEVR's members are now to be voted by Parliament, and not unilaterally appointed by the cabinet, in a move the ruling axis says will reduce "political pressure" on the watchdog.

DKEVR has been involved in a number of political and economic scandal in the past few years, due to speculation that keeps a tight grip on electricity prices at the behest of the government and contributes to excessive regulation on Bulgaria's energy market.

In 2013 the electricity price hike that it approved resulted in heftier bills for consumers whose street protests led to the resignation of PM Boyko Borisov during his first term in office.

Last year, the regulator was involved in a bitter dispute with power grid operators over their alleged debts to the National Electricity Company (NEK).

Legal changes to procedures and regulations of KEVR are likely to require the appointment of a new head. Ivan Ivanov, who now stands chances to take over from Svetla Todorova, is affiliated to the right-wing Reformist Bloc, the junior partner in Bulgaria's governing coalition, and in previous legislatures was MP from the Democrats for Strong Bulgaria (DSB), one of the RB's leading parties.

The main ruling party GERB says it will back his candidacy, according to former Energy Minister and Energy Committee chief in Parliament Delyan Dobrev. read more


DIPLOMACY

BULGARIA, MONTENEGRO TO BOOST COOPERATION IN CULTURE

Bulgaria and Montenegro will boost cooperation in the field of culture by signing an intergovernmental agreement during the forthcoming meeting of delegations from the two states.

Bulgarian Minister Boyko Borisov will meet his Montenegrin counterpart Milo Dukanovic, who will be on an official visit to Sofia on March 27, the government's press service reports. read more


DEFENSE

BULGARIA 'STAGE OF HYBRID WAR OVER UKRAINE,' OFFICIAL REPORT SAYS

Information campaigns and cyber attacks carried out on the sidelines of the conflict in Ukraine are an example of a "new type of fighting a war", Bulgaria's Defense Ministry points out in a document.

Its recently published Report on the state of the armed forces in 2014 [BG], the ministry says it is concerned over "attempts at manipulation of public opinion through disinformation, propaganda campaigns, media manipulation, using social networks for disinformation, attempts of populist party leaders to manipulate groups of voters and to stir confusion among the population, etc."

On Wednesday Parliament passed the text after a closed-doors session. Together with the Ukrainian developments, it points to budget shortfall and to the state of the army as issues of concern.

According to the document, the security environment in 2014 was marked by "dynamic and controversial changes which generated risks that are hard to predict and threats to international and national security of the Republic of Bulgaria."

The crisis in Ukraine and the dynamics of "hybrid war" (in the text it is always in quotation marks) poses risks to the national security system along with the influx of asylum seekers that could potentially include people affiliated to terrorist or criminal organizations, the document warns further.

It adds that development of coordination and improvement of interaction mechanisms among defense and security-related institutions is "a necessary condition to successfully cope with contemporary challenges, including "hybrid war" and terrorism".

Also, "the crisis in Ukraine is an example for the growing vulnerability of the states when instruments of the hybrid war are effectively used to achieve political ends."

This is the second reference to a "hybrid war" in a Bulgarian defense document over the past months. The first text was included in a report called "Bulgaria in NATO and in European Defense 2020" (note: Novinite used the name "Outlook 2020" for the working paper before a final version, translated into English, was uploaded on the ministry's website).

Prepared under an interim government in August 2014, an initial version of the text stated that there are threats facing Bulgaria related to “hybrid wars, energy dependence, Russian propaganda, failed states, terrorism and migration”.

However, the document was edited after being subject to much controversy both in Bulgaria and abroad (mostly in Russia), raising tensions between then-PM Georgi Bliznashki and interim Defense Minister Velizar Shalamanov.

This time, Russia is mentioned only six times throughout the document: three times in relation to Crimea and broader Ukraine-related developments, once regarding the maintenance of Russian-made aircraft used by the Bulgarian Air Force, and two when discussing multilateral diplomacy. read more


NOVO SELO DRILLS IN MID-APRIL TO BRING 1000 FOREIGN TROOPS TO BULGARIA

About 1000 troops are expected at the Novo Selo military ground for the international drills scheduled to begin April 16.

This will follow another major exercise between March 28 and April 15, according to daily Trud newspaper.

On March 15, a joint tactic exercise involving both Bulgarian and US troops began at Novo Selo, with US Army having deployed 350 people and 50 units of military vehicles.

Earlier, Defense Minister Nikolay Nenchev announced the US would spend about USD 30 B on modernizing infrastructure at the Novo Selo range.

On Wednesday, Bulgaria's Defense Ministry reported that a period of intense exercises is beginning for the Bulgarian Armed Forces which is to last until end-November.

Bulgaria will take part in over 20 exercises abroad, and for its part will host a number of drills within this period. read more


BULGARIA IN EU

EU LAUNCHES PROCEEDING ON AGRICULTURAL LAND OWNERSHIP LAWS IN BULGARIA

The European Commission took a decision Thursday on demanding a clarification on the laws regarding the acquisition of agricultural lands passed in Bulgaria, Hungary, Lithunia and Slovakia.

As announced by the commisison's press office, several of the directives in the laws can be considered as hindrances to the free movement of capital within the borders of the EU. All restrictions to agricultural land ownership need to be substantiated and justified so that no doubt is left on possible discrimination against foreign investors. read more


BULGARIA FAILS TO ADDRESS SHORTCOMINGS IN TREATMENT OF PRISONERS, CONDITIONS OF DETENTION - COE

The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) has leveled serious criticism at Bulgaria.

In a public statement concerning Bulgaria made on March 26, the CPT draws attention to shortcomings in the treatment and conditions of detention of persons deprived of their liberty. read more


DOMESTIC

BULGARIA PARLIAMENT APPOINTS NEW AUDIT OFFICE HEAD

Tsvetan Tsvetkov, the single candidate to take over the National Audit Office, has been approved by an overwhelming majority in Bulgaria's Parliament.

As many as 146 MPs voted to back Tsvetkov. Only one rejected him, and twenty-one abstained, most of them being from the socialist opposition. The nationalist Ataka party did not take part in the vote.

Tsvetkov's candidacy was put forward by the senior coalition partner, conservative Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party.

He told Parliament that the institution he is taking over urgently needs to improve quality of financial audits and to boost control over interim reports, also forging relations of better interaction with the legislature.

Initially there had been two candidates, Tsvetkov and one from the nationalist coalition Patriotic Front, Goritsa Grancharova

However, the PF withdrew their proposal an hour before the vote in Parliament, announcing it was convinced of Tsvetkov's qualities, but also would like to see Grancharova in his team.

The appointment of a new National Audit Office head came after legislation was amended by the current Parliament, reducing the strength of the auditing body's management to 5 members, down from nine.

This constitutes a reversal to changes made by the previous legislature under the socialist-liberal government led by PM Plamen Oresharski, which put in question a number of acts passed during now-PM Boyko Borisov's first tenure. Outgoing head Lidiya Rumenova was elected shortly after the changes.

read more


BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT ADOPTS CHANGES TO ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS ACT

The Bulgarian Parliament approved on Thursday at two readings changes to the Electronic Communications Act.

This happened after the Constitutional Court had returned some of the provisions allowing monitoring through the internet and telephone call logs for review. read more


SOCIETY

UNUSUAL SUBWAY MAP AMUSES ONLINE COMMUNITY

The subway in Bulgaria's capital Sofia recently started giving bilingual audio directions - in both Bulgarian and English.

Since the subway extension to the airport is scheduled to launch in April, an increased influx of foreigners is expected in town, according to an official statement released Monday. read more


ENVIRONMENT

CHILE FLOODS LEAVE 200 BULGARIANS STRANDED

About 200 Bulgarians assisting in the construction of a photovoltaic power system are currently affected by the torrential rains hitting Chile in the last few days.

At least two people have died and 24 have been reported missing as a result of the floods, with roads sealed off and power supply disrupted.

"Here in the Atacama desert there is a state of emergency over the heavy downpours. There are about 200 Bulgarians taking part in the construction of a photovoltaic central, a Bulgarian named Ivan Dodurov, has told private national NOVA TV station."

Bulgaria's Foreign Ministry has not yet officially commented on the situation of the Bulgarian group. read more


BIRD FLU CAUSED DEATH OF PELICANS IN BULGARIA'S SREBARNA RESERVE

Bird flu was identified as the cause of death of the 21 pelicans, which were found dead in Bulgaria's Srebarna nature reserve on Tuesday.

This emerged after the samples, which had been taken from two of the dead birds, were examined by the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency (BABH). read more


INCIDENTS

ONE GERMANWINGS PILOT 'LEFT COCKPIT' BEFORE FRENCH ALPS CRASH

One of the pilots got out of the cockpit of the Germanwings Airbus A320 and could not get back in, the New York Times quotes a "senior military official" as saying.

The plane with 150 people on board was flying from Barcelona in Spain to Düsseldorf in Germany when it went down and plowed into the mountains near the French town of Barcelonette, 100 km north of Nice.

Comments from the official came after the French Bureau of Investigations and Analysis retrieved the information stored in the cockpit voice recorder.

The agency's head Remi Jouty then said obtaining "usable" information from the recordings could take days.

But the New York Times quotes the unnamed official as saying that, following a "very smooth, very cool" conversation in the early part of the flight, a pilot who left the cockpit failed to reenter.

"The guy outside is knocking lightly on the door, and there is no answer... And then he hits the door stronger, and no answer. There is never an answer."

The official is described as an "investigator".

Authorities are trying to establish what exactly led to the crash, which seems to have happened in good weather, and with the pilot sending no distress signal from the cockpit after the plain started inexplicably to descend.

The last message sent out was at 10:30 CET, and ten minutes later the aircraft had sunk at a speed said to be two to three times the average for landing approach.

Officials are yet to investigate, and most sources are basing their conclusions on preliminary information.

Wednesday, Tuesday and Friday have been declared days of mourning by the EU Commission. read more


BULGARIA'S PAZARDZHIK DECLARES PARTIAL STATE OF EMERGENCY

The district governor of Bulgaria's Pazardzhik declared a partial state of emergency on Thursday due to burst dikes.

The protective dikes of river Topolnitsa in the vicinity of Pazardzhik and river Luda Yana near the village of Pishtigovo have burst. read more


SPORTS

BULGARIA'S TOP TENNIS PLAYERS OFF TO SUCCESSFUL START IN MIAMI TENNIS OPEN

Bulgarian tennis player Sesil Karatancheva goes on with her stable performance in the Miami Open tournament.

The second best in the Bulgarian ranking was off to a successful start Thursday, defeating US player Lauren Davis by 6:3, 7:6 (5). Karatancheva will be facing the ranked number 21 in the tournament Garbiñe Muguruza in the next round. read more


CRIME

SECRETARY OF BULGARIAN ANTI-HUMAN TRAFFICKING COMMISSION CHARGED WITH CORRUPTION

Antoaneta Vasileva, Secretary of the Bulgarian National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, has been charged with corruption, according to the press office of the prosecuting authority.

The Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office pressed charges against Vasileva in connection with two cases of offence concerning her professional conduct. read more


EX SVILENGRAD CUSTOMS OFFICE CHIEF RELEASED ON BAIL

The Plovdiv Appellate Court has released the former Director of the Svilengrad Customs Office Todor Karaivanov, Todor Karaivanov, on a bail of BGN 5000.

Karaivanov was arrested on January 28 in an operation of the State Agency for National Security (DANS). read more


BULGARIAN POLICE BUSTS BURGLARY RING

Bulgarian police have busted a burglary ring which operated on the territory of Varna, Targovishte, Dobrich, Stara Zagora, Burgas, and Silistra.

The police operation started on March 24, when four members of the crime group were arrested in Varna and in Sliven, according to reports of Darik radio. read more


VIEWS ON BG

BBC: ONLY QUALIFIED MUSICIANS ALLOWED TO PLOVDIV'S MAIN STREET

Click here to read the story:
www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=167516


WORLD

BULGARIAN WORKERS ARE SAFE AS SITUATION IN CHILE NORMALISES

All 198 Bulgarians working on the construction of a photovoltaic power system in the region of the Atacama desert in Chile, who were affected by the floods that hit the area, are safe.

This was announced by the owner of the Blagoevgrad-based firm Ivan Chapov in an interview for Darik radio on Thursday. read more


AT LEAST 17 'KILLED' IN SAUDI ARABIA-LED MILITARY OFFENSIVE IN YEMEN

Seventeen people could have died so far in Yemen during the offensive of Saudi Arabia and regional allies early on Thursday, AFP reports citing civil defense sources.

Saudi forces, which some media outlets say number 100 aircraft, bombed positions of Houthi rebels in the country's capital Sanaa alongside jets from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Jordan, according to Al Arabia TV station.

Houthi Shia rebels overthrow Yemen's President in February, deepening turmoil in a country torn for years by unrest and civil war.

A Houthi spokesperson told Al Jazeera that militants deem the attack to be "a declaration of war on Yemen".

Gulf states including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar earlier vowed to help Pressident Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in the conflict with Houthi rebels. The government in Ryadh, which is the leading force behind the airstrikes, considers the Houthi cabinet to be "illegitimate".

The US says it does not provide direct support to the coalition, but President Barack Obama has authorized "the provision of logistical and intelligence support to GCC-led military operations".

read more


POLICE SEARCHES HOUSE OF GERMANWINGS CO-PILOT

Police searched the house of the Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz on Thursday, as it emerged that he intentionally initiated the descent of the plane, which crashed in the French Alps on Tuesday.

According to the local government in Dusseldorf, the most recent regular security check on Lubitz, which had been carried out on January 27, established nothing unusual. read more


SOUTHEAST EUROPE

BOMB KILLS JOURNALIST IN ISTANBUL, 3 INJURED

An explosion at the office of a magazine linked to an Islamic group has caused the death of one journalist and has left three others injured.

The reasons for the attack are not yet, though investigators say a "bomb" is likely to have caused the blast. Police have sealed off the region.

On Wednesday evening, the bomb hit the headquarters of Adimlar (translated as "Steps") weekly.

The injured were immediately taken to hospital, and doctors say there is currently no risk to their lives.

Radical Great Eastern Islamic Raiders' Front (iBDA-C) is the name of the group which struggles to reestablish a Caliphate through unification with Sunni Muslim states in the Middle East.  read more


ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT VOTES APPROVAL FOR FORMER FINMIN'S ARREST

The Romanian National Directorate (DNA) has requested that that the former Finance Minister Darius Valcov should be arrested.

Local Senate has officially approved the request, after Valcov himself appeared in front of MPs and made a statement that he would welcome a lawsuit as it will be a chance for him to prove his innocence, as reported by Romania Insider. read more


CROATIAN CULTURE MINISTER RESIGNS OVER FINANCIAL IRREGULARITIES

Croatian Culture Minister Andrea Zlatar Violic resigned on Wednesday over financial irregularities concerning her use of the ministry's funds.

Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic accepted the resignation of Violic, who apologised for her inadequate control and non-compliance with financial regulations. read more


OPINIONS

IVAN KRASTEV: MASS EMIGRATION HAS DRAMATICALLY HURT BULGARIA'S ECONOMY, POLITICAL SYSTEM

The issue of Eastern European emigration to the UK, as well as its implications in both regions are discussed in the opinion piece by Bulgarian journalist Ivan Krastev for The Guardian.

The brain drain of the East has largely caused heated debates all across the continent. read more



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