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SOFIA MORNING NEWS FOR 2014-11-27
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27 November 2014, Issue 4091
by Novinite.com
Bulgaria's Daily Newspaper since 2001
10561 subscribers of Novinite.com
147719 articles
590 interviews
9636 pictures
 
BUSINESS POLITICS WORLD SOCIETY SPORTS FORUM
 
Bulgaria Will Not Sign TTIP Unless US Lifts Visa Requirements - Minister


Economy Minister Bozhidar Lukarski has said that Bulgaria will not sign the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) unless the US lifts visa requirements. read
Bulgaria Charges Seven with Promoting Islamic State, Propagating War


Bulgarian prosecutors have charged seven people with membership of a criminal group preaching radical Islam and propagating war, local media reported on Wednesday. read
Bulgaria's 2015 Draft Budget Includes Minimum Wage Freeze


Keeping the minimum wage at its 2014 levels and slashing money for salaries in the administration by 10 percent are among the core points of next year's draft budget published on the Finance Ministry's website.read
 
 
MORE TOP NEWS
Bulgarian Energy Holding Conducts Top-level Reshuffle at Several Companies

Pazardzhik Imam Charged With Membership of War-Propagating Group  

Bulgaria Nationalist Leader Volen Siderov Gives Up Immunity

Minister Vows Comprehensive Audit of Bulgaria’s Energy Sector

Russia Will Build South Stream if Europe Wants to Reduce Gas Transit Risks - Minister

Bulgaria to Negotiate Easing of Visa Regime for Balkan Tourists

Bulgarian Cabinet Dismisses Nearly All District Governors

Bulgarian Parliament Boosts Healthcare Budget with BGN 100 M

Bulgaria Deputy DefMin 'Threat to National Security' - Patriotic Front

UNESCO Adds Production of Chiprovtsi Carpets to ‘Intangible Heritage’ List


UPS & DOWNS
Bulgaria to Negotiate Easing of Visa Regime for Balkan Tourists

Bulgarian TPP Carries Highest Pollution Cost in Europe
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TOP NEWS
EU COMMISSION ISSUES FINAL WARNING TO BULGARIA IN FOUR AREAS

The European Commission on Wednesday asked Bulgaria to comply properly with EU law in four areas or face referral to the European Union's Court of Justice.

The four sectors, on which the EU executive body has issued reasoned opinions on Bulgaria, are exchange of information on traffic offences, energy efficiency, citizens' exposure to sulphur dioxide and the setting up of penalties against airlines breaching EU traffic management rules. read more


FINANCE

BULGARIA'S 2015 DRAFT BUDGET INCLUDES MINIMUM WAGE FREEZE

Keeping the minimum wage at its 2014 levels and slashing money for salaries in the administration by 10 percent are among the core points of next year's draft budget published on the Finance Ministry's website.

The latter move is related to a process of "optimization" that state structures are expected to undergo in 2014.

A decision to freeze the minimum wage comes despite calls from trade unions and Social Minister Ivaylo Kalfin to increase it by BGN 40 compared to this year.

Currently at BGN 340, the minimum wage is however projected to grow by BGN 20 in 2016 and BGN 20 more in 2017.

The budget also includes a budget deficit of three percent to GDP (down from this year's expected 3.7%) that is to gradually shrink to 2% in 2017. Income is estimated at 36.8% of the economy and expenditure at 39.8% for next year.

Fresh borrowing of BGN 8.1 B is expected in 2015. Bulgaria's debt would thus reach a total value of BGN 24.5 B, or 29.7% of the economic output.

Pensions go up over the next three years, with 1.9% from July 1, 2015 and 2.4%/2.8% the same day in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

GDP growth is projected at 0.8 percent, with domestic demand expected to boost growth rate to 1.5 percent in 2016 and 2.3 percent in 2017.

The maximum insurable earnings will be BGN 2600 in 2015, BGN 200 more than in 2014, but will remain frozen in the two years after, the draft also reads.

No changes to social and health insurance has been envisaged, but the minimum insurance thresholds corresponding to different occupations will see an average increase of four percent.

The flat tax system is to remain in force. Under a recent amendment, bank deposit interests are to be imposed a two-percent levy.

Technically, lawmakers have not yet moved to overhaul even this year's budget, but a final vote is expected later on Wednesday. read more


ENERGY

BULGARIAN ENERGY HOLDING CONDUCTS TOP-LEVEL RESHUFFLE AT SEVERAL COMPANIES

The Board of Directors of the Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH) has carried out a top-level reshuffle at a number of state-owned energy companies.

Georgi Hristozov and Georgi Zlatev have been removed from the Board of Directors of the Maritza Iztok mines (Mini Maritsa Iztok EAD) and are to be replaces by Dian Chervenkondev and Nikolay Dikov, according to a media statement of BEH. read more


MINISTER VOWS COMPREHENSIVE AUDIT OF BULGARIA’S ENERGY SECTOR

Bulgaria’s Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova has vowed a comprehensive audit of the sector to establish the financial gap and identify ways of overcoming it.

During a Wednesday sitting of the Branch Council for Tripartite Cooperation, she declared that urgent reforms aimed at coping with the imbalance in the system would be applied as soon as the current situation of the energy sector was clear. read more


RUSSIA WILL BUILD SOUTH STREAM IF EUROPE WANTS TO REDUCE GAS TRANSIT RISKS - MINISTER

Russia will build the South Stream pipeline if Europe needs to diminish transit risks and secure stable gas supplies, according to Russia’s Economic Development Minister Alexey Ulyukayev.

Ulyukayev, as cited by ITAR-TASS, suggested that the South Stream gas pipeline project would only be built if European consumers wanted to reduce transit risks. read more


TOURISM

BULGARIA TO NEGOTIATE EASING OF VISA REGIME FOR BALKAN TOURISTS

The Bulgarian Minister of Tourism Nikolina Angelkova is planning to hold working meetings with her Balkan counterparts at which to discuss the possibilities of easing the regime on issuing of tourist visas.

Angelkova announced this at the opening of the first edition of the Go2Balkans forum, which is attended by tour operators and other companies in the field of tourism from ten countries of the region, reports dnevnik.bg. read more


DEFENSE

US ARMY MIGHT DEPLOY TANKS TO BULGARIA

The US Army is planning to station about 150 tanks and armored vehicles to NATO countries, including Bulgaria, next year, a US general has said.

“I’m going to look at options that would include distributing this equipment in smaller sets, company-size or battalion-size, perhaps in the Baltics, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, places like that,” Ben Hodges, who heads NATO's Allied Land Command, was quoted by the Enquirer as saying.

Troops might also be deployed for several months to carry out joint drills in these countries.

In a phone interview Hodges explained nearly 50 armored vehicles were already in place and another 100 M1 Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles would be "pre-positioned" in Germany and possibly elsewhere.

He added the equipment sent to Eastern Europe would "stay behind" after the joint exercises.

The move is part of the so-called "Operation Atlantic Resolve", a US gesture of support for allies in Eastern Europe in the light of what the alliance has described as possible aggression from Russia.


read more


BULGARIA HAS NOT RECEIVED REQUEST FOR DEPLOYMENT OF NATO TANKS

Bulgaria’s Defense Ministry and Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry have not received an official request for stationing tank bases on the territory of the country, according to Defense Minister Nikolay Nenchev.

Commenting on allegations of plans to station tank bases in Bulgaria for NATO military trainings, Nenchev assured journalists Wednesday that there was no cause for concern. read more


BULGARIA IN EU

BULGARIA WILL NOT SIGN TTIP UNLESS US LIFTS VISA REQUIREMENTS - MINISTER

Economy Minister Bozhidar Lukarski has said that Bulgaria will not sign the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) unless the US lifts visa requirements.

Lukarski argued Wednesday that Bulgaria’s stance on the TTIP was not much different from that of the other EU Member States, the difference being that Bulgaria wanted the visa regime to be included as a key point in the negotiations. read more


DOMESTIC

BULGARIAN CABINET DISMISSES NEARLY ALL DISTRICT GOVERNORS

Bulgaria's government has decided to replace twenty-four out of twenty-eight district governors.

Only those in Plovdiv and Varna, the districts with two largest cities (except for the capital Sofia), and in Haskovo and Silistra (smaller entities to the south and north-east of Bulgaria respectively) remain in office after a Council of Ministers session on Wednesday.

So far no reasons have been cited for the move.

Bulgaria's interim cabinet, which was in office until the current government of conservative GERB and right-wing Reformist Bloc (RB) took over this month, was widely criticized for embarking on large-scale reshuffles of the administration, including the replacement of more than half of the district governors. read more


BULGARIA DEPUTY DEFMIN 'THREAT TO NATIONAL SECURITY' - PATRIOTIC FRONT

Orhan Ismailov, an ethnic Turk who has been appointed Deputy Minister of Defense, could disclose secret information to the Turkish intelligence, a nationalist leader has said.

Orhan Ismailov owes his "heady career" to the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), Valeri Simeonov, who co-chairs the nationalist coalition Patriotic Front, told the Bulgarian National Television.

Last Wednesday Simeonov placed a one-week ultimatum saying Prime Minister Boyko Borisov should decide within that time whether to replace Ismailov, adding the PF could withdraw its support from the cabinet if the "controversial deputy" is in.

So far Borisov has declined to make the reshuffle demanded by the nationalists.

Later on Wednesday Simeonov flew into anger after the host of the Bulgarian National Radio's morning broadcast asked him why the PF was rejecting Ismailov only because of his name.

"We will never be against any Turkish name," he made clear, adding Ismailov's political biography was rather dubious.

Just aged 23 Ismailov was appointed "by the DPS" to the "Commission for Control on Information," Simeonov said, perhaps referring to the State Commission on Information Security (DKSI) of which he was Deputy Chair between 2003 and 2007.

"Then he was sent to another commission. Even if he were [Albert] Einstein he would not have had such capabilities."

He also cited as an evidence the fact that Korman Ismailov from the Freedom and Dignity People's Party (NPSD, part of co-ruling Reformist Bloc) who raised the deputy's candidacy, had studied in the Turkish city of Konya where Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had supervised his Master's thesis. However, Davutoglu has never taught there. read more


IVAYLO KALFIN APPOINTED CHAIR OF NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR TRIPARTITE COOPERATION

Ivaylo Kalfin, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Labor and Social Policy, has been appointed Chair of Bulgaria’s National Council for Tripartite Cooperation.

Vladislav Goranov, Finance Minister, will also be a representative of the government on the Council, according to the press office of the Council of Ministers. read more


BULGARIAN MPS TO HAVE FINAL VOTE ON 2014 BUDGET

A second vote whether to update this year's state budget is scheduled for Wednesday.

The new budget, prepared after the one drafted by the previous elected government registered a BGN 1 B shortfall in its income statement. Additional expenditure is also urgently needed to tackle the aftermath of the crisis at Corporate Commercial Bank (KTB), with deposits worth BGN 3 B due to be paid starting 4 December.

Earlier this week the temporary Budget Committee in Parliament approved the draft legislation on a second reading.

A new cap on the deficit (3.7 percent of GDP) and public debt (BGN 4.5 B additionally) will be introduced, with the ruling coalition arguing the move is inevitable despite the threat of an excessive deficit procedure which could be triggered by the EU Commission.

The bill has seen some amendments since first unveiled by the Council of Ministers. It now includes the proposal of Deputy PM and Social Minister Ivaylo Kalfin (ABV) to grant a Christmas bonus to every pensioner, with BGN 50 M set aside to that end. read more


CULTURE

UNESCO ADDS PRODUCTION OF CHIPROVTSI CARPETS TO ‘INTANGIBLE HERITAGE’ LIST

The production of Chiprovtsi carpets has been inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The Chipovtsi carpet is a type of handmade carpet with two absolutely identical sides. read more


HEALTH

BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT BOOSTS HEALTHCARE BUDGET WITH BGN 100 M

The National Assembly voted to increase the budget of the National Health Insurance Fund (NZOK) with further BGN 100 million.

The update of the NZOK's budget for 2014 was approved by the members of Parliament without debates at a second reading. read more


SPORTS

LIVERPOOL –LUDOGORETS CHAMPIONS LEAGUE MATCH IN SOFIA ENDS 2:2

Wednesday’s Champions League Group B match between Ludogorets and Liverpool ended in a draw.


Dani Abalo (3') and Georgi Terziev (88') scored for Ludogorets and Rickie Lambert (7') and Jordan Henderson (37') for Liverpool. read more


LIVERPOOL LEADS TO LUDOGORETS 2:1 IN FIRST HALF

Liverpool leads 2:1 to Ludogorets in the first half of the match at the Vasil Levski National Stadium in Sofia.


Dani Abalo scored for Ludogorets in the third minute of the match, after which Liverpool’s Lambert leveled up the score in the 8th minute and in the 37th minute Henderson scored for Liverpool. read more


LUDOGORETS, LIVERPOOL FACE OFF IN DECISIVE ENCOUNTER

The reigning Bulgarian champion Ludogorets faces English side Liverpool in a decisive Champions League Group B match, that is to determine which of the two teams is to continue its participation in the European tournaments.

Before the Wednesday game, the two teams occupy the bottom two places in Group B, with an equal number of points – 3, but the English side has a better goal difference. read more


CRIME

BULGARIA CHARGES SEVEN WITH PROMOTING ISLAMIC STATE, PROPAGATING WAR

Bulgarian prosecutors have charged seven people with membership of a criminal group preaching radical Islam and propagating war, local media reported on Wednesday.

The group, which was found to have propagated ideas relating to Islamic State organisation, comprised Bulgarian nationals of Roma origin who used Arab names to communicate among themselves. read more


PAZARDZHIK IMAM CHARGED WITH MEMBERSHIP OF WAR-PROPAGATING GROUP  

Bulgarian prosecutors have formally charged imam Ahmed Musa Ahmed with membership of a group propagating war and anti-democratic ideology.

Criminal charges will be also brought against another five people detained in a large-scale operation conducted by the Chief Prosecutor's Office and the State Agency for National Security, or DANS, in several Bulgarian cities on Tuesday BNR radio station reported on Wednesday.  read more


FIVE DETAINED IN PAZARDZHIK RELEASED, IMAM REMAINS UNDER ARREST

Five of the six people detained in the city of in Pazardzhik for suspected propagation of anti-democratic ideology, have been released, BNR radio station reported on Wednesday.

Imam Ahmed Musa Ahmed, seen as the spiritual leader of Muslims in the Roma neighbourhood of the city in southern Bulgaria, remains in police custody. The maximum period of police detention under Bulgarian law is 72 hours. read more


BULGARIA NATIONALIST LEADER VOLEN SIDEROV GIVES UP IMMUNITY

Volen Siderov, who heads the ultra-nationalist party Ataka, has renounced the immunity he enjoys as a lawmaker in order to face prosecution.

Parliament Speaker Tsetska Tsacheva announced at the beginning of Wednesday's plenary session that Siderov had submitted the day before a declaration to request the move.

Siderov's immunity was demanded by Chief Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov in mid-November.

Ataka's leader is accused of hooliganism (he verbally assaulted a French cultural attaché during a Sofia-Varna flight in January) and infliction of minor injuries to a police officer.



read more


LEBANESE POLICE ARRESTS 'DANGEROUS' BULGARIAN DRUG EXPERT

The Central Narcotics Bureau busted a drug ring in Lebanon that had employed a Bulgarian chemist to produce Captagon pills for export to a country in the Gulf, Lebanese police said on Tuesday.

A statement of the Internal Security Forces (ISF) said that the Central Narcotics Bureau had been notified that a Bulgarian chemist specialising in manufacturing Captagon pills and freebase cocaine had entered Lebanon. read more


WORLD

SECOND NIGHT OF UNREST IN FERGUSON, PROTESTS HELD ACROSS US

Tensions have escalated again in Ferguson, over the past hours, with protesters marching there and also in a number of US cities.

This was the second night of protests after a court ruling sparked unrest across Ferguson, where Michael Brown was shot dead by police officer Darren Wilson in August.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced the number of National Guard troops deployed to Ferguson, a suburban St Louis city, to preserve peace. Some 2200 National Guard officers had been deployed earlier this week.

Monday night saw the arrests of 80 people over alleged burglary and trespassing.

Ferguson's population is mostly black (67.4% as of the 2010 census), but mainly white police officers are in charge of patrolling.

Many in the city's African-American community have demanded that the officer be charged with murder, but the grand jury decided not to press state criminal charges against him.

Some protesters carried signs reading "Black Lives Matter", and many chanted "Hands up, don't shoot".

According to some witness accounts from the site of the incident, Brown's hands were raised when he was shot dead.

In the cities of New York, Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles and elsewhere smaller crowds also took to the streets in protest.

US President Barack Obama stressed he could not comment on concrete cases that are within the competence of local judiciary officials, but added there was clearly "a sense" among "many communities of color" that "laws are not being enforced uniformly or fairly".

In his words, however, there is "no excuse" for rioting.

Meanwhile Wilson gave his first public comments since the tragic event in August, telling ABC News he had feared for his life and could not have reacted differently. He also said he was convinced he had done his job "right".

read more


TONY BLAIR URGES WEST-RUSSIA COOPERATION AGAINST ISLAMIC EXTREMISM

The West should cooperate with Russia in confronting Islamic extremism, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has said.

In an interview for the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, Blair pointed to Islamic extremism as presenting the largest long-term threat to security. read more


EU

JUNCKER UNVEILS EUR 300 B INVESTMENT PLAN AHEAD OF NO CONFIDENCE VOTE

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has announced what he describes as an investment package of EUR 315 B for the next three years.

The so-called "Investment Plan" is aimed at boosting the growth of EU economy by 0.7 to one percent and opening a million new jobs.

EU institutions are expected to only provide a small chunk of the money. Juncker's idea does not involve raising and setting aside EUR 315 B, but just EUR 60 B from the European Investment Bank (EIB) via "EU guarantees" issued by the Commission itself.

The remainder will be secured from public and private investment.

In Juncker's words it is time for Europe to kick-start growth without boosting public debt further.

The "investment plan" will only constitue a third of the strategy to provide employment opportunities to Europeans currently out of work.

Though admitting his plan had certain flaws, Juncker insisted it was not just "money moving around".

EIB President Werner Hoyer, who spoke after Juncker, made clear his institutions was committed to the project.

Experts composing an "investment committee" will be in charge of evaluating Juncker's proposal.

The project has met mixed reception, with some analysts doubting its feasibility.

Wednesday's announcement comes just hours before a vote of no confidence against Juncker over tax avoidance schemes carried out in Luxembourg while he was the country's Prime Minister. read more


CATALONIA 'COULD BREAK AWAY IN 18 MONTHS' - PRESIDENT

Catalan government head Artur Mas has voiced his intention to call early elections as a step toward gaining independence from Spain.

Mas told a 3000-strong multitude at a conference in Barcelona he believed this was "the only instrument" allowing Catalans to decide on their future as a nation, Spanish daily El País quotes him as saying.

He added this required the presence of certain conditions and the willingness of both political parties and non-profits to transform themselves into a de-facto "independence referendum".

In his words, pro-independence parties can run in the elections by merging their lists, a move that could give a pro-Catalan government the opportunity to "found a state" of its own within eighteen months. Within that time, Barcelona should engage in dialogue with international institutions and begin setting up state structures, a process which could be brought to an end "by end-2016".

He was explicit that he did not wish to top a unity list if it is formed.

During the event Mas pointed to the need of early elections as a "substitute" to the local referendum on independence which the Constitutional Court of Spain declared illegal this autumn.

But Catalonia's President refused to be more specific about a date to hold a snap general poll, underlining his intention to bring it forward only if there is broader political will for independence.

Mas was applauded by delegates at the conference and his speech was frequently interrupted by voices from the multitude chanting "independence."

Barcelona has long demanded the right to hold a Scotland-style referendum and to be granted more rights (including to manage its own revenues) through a constitutional reform. At the same time Mas has often voiced his doubts as to whether Madrid will be willing to carry them out.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy slammed Catalonia's regional authority as an "anti-government" and said the independence plan tabled by Mas "is leading nowhere".

Catalonia's President is going "against what is happening in the world", La Vanguardia quoted Rajoy as explaining, referring to the processes of integration. The Prime Minister added forcing people to choose "between being Catalans or Spaniards" "makes no sense" and "is against freedom and rights."  

read more



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