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Digital economy will destroy jobs, but Europe has to pay much more attention on real life-long learning process to help people acquire new skills, Andrus Ansip, the EU Commissioner for Digital Single Market, has told Novinite.

At a press conference after the opening of the CEEDS’15 by Webit, the biggest IT event in Southeast Europe, Ansip was asked whether the Digital Single Market would offer a response to the process of killing jobs triggered by digitalization, or will leave the answer up to member states. A Digital Single Market will boost economies but will also make some seats redundant.  

“I believe in progress which is creating more jobs that destroying them,” Ansip explained, though he also added care has to be taken of “those who have lost their jobs… We will all benefit ffrom digitalization.”

Asked by reporters on a precise timetable about abolishing roaming surcharges across the EU, Ansip reminded that the idea had been put forward as early as 2006 and was backed by both the European Parliament and the Commission.  He called for the step to be taken throughout the bloc, and voiced his disapproval of the model currently tabled for discussion which only gives a traveler abroad five minutes of calls, five text messages and five MB of data at a domestic price. In his words, roaming taxes “are not a sustainable model” and even telecoms have started to realize this.

Last year the EU moved to abolish roaming fees, but government members asked for the changes to be reversed to consider an adaptation period for telecoms.

Asked further on if it is part of the Commission's strategy that, for the progress tech champions in Europe are aiming at, the progress of American companies like Facebook and Google has to be stopped, Mr Ansip said that the Digital Single Market will be accessible to “both our own entrepreneurs and to entrepreneurs from third countries.”

“I think Americans are raising those questions too awkwardly. I am not the kind to prohibit or to make it more complicated for American companies to act in the European Union. Everybody has to benefit from the single digital market in the European Union and I am absolutely sure they will benefit from this."

Bulgarian hospitals use up to three times more antibiotics than in modern European countries, according to Todor Kantardzhiev, head of the National Center of Infectious and Parasitic Diseases.

In a Tuesday interview for the Bulgarian National Radio, he warned that antibiotic misuse increased the number of resistant infections and the number of deaths caused by them.

Citing data provided by the Center, he pointed out that although antibiotic resistance in Bulgaria had decreased substantially over the past 10 years, more changes were required, especially in the field of hospital care.

“Pneumococcal resistance to penicillin was 30%, now it is slightly above 15%,” he noted, adding that the positive trend was due to the increase popularity of microbiological tests to guide the choice of antibiotics.

“However, this is not the case in Bulgarian hospitals, where 2-3 times more antibiotics are prescribed than in Western Europe. We have calculated that around 60% of the Bulgarian parents take antibiotics from the first to the last day of their hospital stay,” he declared.

 

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced on Monday that Turkey will commemorate the mass killings of Ottoman Armenians, which occurred during the First World War.

Davutoglu said that April 24, the day Armenians commemorate the mass killings of their ancestors by the Ottoman Empire, will be marked by a religious ceremony, Hurriyet Daily reports.

While Davutoglu expressed condolences to the grandchildren of the Ottoman Armenians killed in 1915, he abstained from describing the mass killings as genocide.

The first such message of condolence was delivered by then Prime Minister and current President Recep Erdogan in 2014.

Davutoglu assured that the protection of the Armenian cultural heritage and their Ottoman predecessors was a human and historic duty of Turkey.

He announced that the Ottoman Armenians will be commemorated with a religious ceremony organised by the Armenian Patriarchate.

Davutoglu called for a joint commemoration of the victims by Turkey and Armenia and objective assessment of historical events rather than their politicisation.

This statement comes as the West has increasingly renewed its call on Turkey to recognise the mass killings as genocide.

Pope Francis described the killings of Ottoman Armenians as the “first genocide of the 20th century”, while the European Parliament followed suit by adopting a resolution calling on Turkey to recognise the genocide.

An Egyptian court has sentenced ousted President Mohamed Morsi to 20 years in prison over the killing of protesters in 2012.

Clashes between supporters and opponents of Morsi outside the presidential palace in December 2012 left at least 10 people dead.

Apart from Morsi, 12 Muslim Brotherhood leaders and officials also were sentenced to 20 years in prison, while two officials were sentenced to ten years of imprisonment, according to DPA.

This is the first verdict to be issued against the country’s former President, who faces three other trials, according to reports of Al Jazeera.

Morsi was deposed by the army in July 2013 after mass street protests against his rule.

Bulgarian Border Police registered a triple increase in the number of illegal migrant crossings of the border with Turkey in the first three months of 2015.

A total of 956 people were detained as they attempted to cross the border illegally, which is almost a triple increase compared to the same period in 2014.

The largest pressure exerted on the Bulgarian-Turkish border is coming from Syria, private bTV station reports.

Bulgaria is part of the Eastern Mediterranean route of illegal migrants, who cross from Turkey into the EU via southern Bulgaria, Greece or Cyprus on their way to western Europe.

Compared to the Mediterranean countries, no sea crossings were attempted into Bulgaria in the first three months of 2015.

However there is an almost triple increase in the number of illegal migrant crossings of the Bulgarian-Turkish border, including through the Rezovska river.

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

According to the latest Frontex data, the increase of attempted crossings of the Bulgaria-Turkey border was 12-fold compared to last year.

To some extent the increase is due to the measures, which have been taken in order to limit the influx of migrants, such as the protective fence Bulgaria is constructing at the border.

There were 80 000 illegal crossings of the EU borders in the first three months of 2015, more than half of them – 46 000 being seaborne ones.

Over 24 000 migrants have been rescued in the Mediterranean Sea since the EU launched its Triton operation on 1 November 2014.

Bulgaria’s Ministry of Finance launched a new 10-year BGN-denominated government securities (GS) issue with maturity April 22, 2025.

At the auction held on April 20, GS to the amount of BGN 50 million were placed, with the average weighted yield being 2,04%, according to the press office of the Finance Ministry.

The subscription totaled BGN 122.10 million, the bid-to-cover ratio being 2.44.

The spread to the benchmark German Bunds in this segment is 197 b.p.

The issue is a benchmark one in respect of the harmonized long term interest rate to evaluate convergence level, part of the Maastricht criteria.

The participants showed strong interest both in the amount offered for competition orders sale and in the portion of non-competition orders sale determined for allocation among investors.

Banks acquired the biggest amount of GS at the auction, at 74.40%, followed by pension funds with 18.60% and guarantee and contractual funds with 7.00%.

The operation on recovering the debris of the Germanwings plane, which crashed in the French Alps in March, was completed on Monday.

The fragments of the Airbus A320 have been stored in a hangar near the site of the crash, Deutsche Welle reports.

The collection of the debris continued more than two weeks, but the decontamination, which will follow suit, will be a much longer process.

First the authorities have to establish what parts of the soil were contaminated by toxic substances, which included four tonnes of kerosene on board the plane.

A representative of Lufthansa, who is tasked with the restoration of the site, said that the aim was to complete the works before the coming of winter as snow will rule out any operation.

The Germanwings plane was conducting flight 4U 9525 from Barcelona to Dusseldorf, when it crashed in the French Alps, killing all 144 passengers and six crew members on board.

According to investigators, the co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, who had a history of depression, deliberately initiated the descent of the plane after locking the captain out of the cockpit.

It also emerged that doctors had issued him sick notes on several occasions, including on the day of the flight.

A memorial service was held in Cologne to commemorate the victims of the crash, which was attended by relatives and high-level officials, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

 

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Hoyt Yee will visit Bulgaria for the second time in 7 months.

Hoyt Brian Yee is part of the team of Victoria Jane Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the United States Department of State.

No information has been released as regards the purpose of Hoyt Yee’s visit to Bulgaria.

The is to meet with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov at the Council of Ministers building, according to reports of the Bulgarian National Radio.

Hoyt Yee was in Sofia in September 2014, just hours before US President Barack Obama announced that the country would step up economic sanctions against Russia and that it would launch a new round of strikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

During his 2014 visit to Bulgaria, he told BNR that it was important to continue sanctions in order to show Russia that its behavior unacceptable and that it had to be prepared for an escalation of economic sanctions unless it withdrew its troops from Ukraine and stopped its military activities there.

One week after Yee’s visit in September 2014, the Bulgarian government adopted a decision to send weapons to support the Kurdish forces fighting Islamic State.

 

The latest estimates point that about 800 migrants died when their boat capsized off the Libyan coast at the weekend.

Earlier accounts spoke of 700 victims, while one of the surviving passengers claimed there were 950 people on board of the capsized vessel.

The passengers included Syrians, about 150 Eritreans and Somalians, among them children aged between 10 and 12, who left Tripoli on Saturday, the BBC reports.

The captain and a crew member of the vessel were detained by Italian authorities on suspicion of human trafficking and a homicide investigation was launched.

According to officials, the arrested men were the Tunisian captain and his Syrian first mate, who were among the 27 survivors that arrived in Sicily on Monday.

It is believed that the boat capsized when a Portuguese merchant ship attempted to rescue the migrants, which caused panic among the migrants.

At the meeting of foreign and interior ministers in Luxembourg on Monday, the EU presented a ten-point package to address the migrant crisis unraveling in the Mediterranean Sea.

The proposed measures foresee the boosting of search-and-rescue operations and destruction of traffickers' boats.

The EU will also work with the home countries of migrants to attempt to discourage them from making the dangerous sea crossings.

Another steps include increasing the financial resources of Frontex, which is in charge of the EU's Mediterranean rescue operation Triton and extension of Triton's operational area.

These proposals will be further discussed at an emergency summit of EU leaders on Thursday, when the proposed measures should be adopted.

As the talks were taking place on Monday, Italy and Malta were involved in at least two other rescue operations.

According to Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, one of the vessels was a dinghy off the Libyan coast carrying 100-150 people, while the other was a larger boat with 300 people on board.

Earlier on Monday, a vessel ran aground off the Greek island of Rhodes, which resulted in the death of three migrants and the rescue of 80 people.

The continued political instability in Libya has allowed for human trafficking to flourish in the country.

EU High Representative Federica Mogherini revealed that at their meeting the ministers discussed the possibility of supporting a government of national unity in Libya.

Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller will meet with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis in Athens on Tuesday.

They are due to discuss “current energy issues of interest,” according to a media statement of the Energy Ministry, as cited by Reuters.

Gazprom Spokesman Sergei Kuprianov has confirmed Miller's visit but has not disclosed the agenda of the meeting.

During his visit to Moscow at the beginning of the month, Tsipras expressed Greece’s interest in participating in a gas pipeline scheduled to carry Russian gas to Europe.

According to sources close to the matter, the pipeline is to be discussed during Tuesday’s talks in Athens.

European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic has said that the EU pays a lot for energy supplies and expects to be treated as a major customer.

In an interview for Russian newspaper Kommersant, Sefcovic informs that a new legal framework in the field of intergovernmental agreements and commercial supply contracts is being created, adding that the changes are aimed at boosting transparency and security.

He says that the draft for the changes to the EU Regulation (EU) No 994/2010 on the safety of gas supplies and to Decision No 994/2012/EU establishing an information exchange mechanism on intergovernmental agreements between Member States and third countries in the field of energy should be ready in 2015-2016.

The EC Vice President states that the amendments are aimed at boosting transparency in the system of commercial contracts, at the same time respecting trade secrets.

He argues that diversification means lower prices.

Sefcovic underscores that transparency is essential, taking into account that the EU pays as much as EUR 400 B a year for energy supplies and expects to be given adequate treatment as a major customer.

Asked to outline the EU criteria for energy security and the conditions which will make the EU decide that a particular contract constitutes an intergovernmental threat, he says that the criteria have been listed in the EU energy strategy and the document on the EU energy union.

Sefcovic emphasizes that the EU seeks to achieve energy diversification and prevent excessive dependence on a single supplier and make sure that deliveries arrive safely without interruption.

As regards Russia’s decision to quit the South Stream gas pipeline project, he points out that the move has not been discussed with the European Commission or EU Member States or European companies.

“As far as I know, this decision was just announced at a press conference. I'd say it was a clear signal to us that we need to find alternative solutions for energy supplies to Southeastern Europe. We are now discussing opportunities to achieve this. We have created a special high-level group on the development of gas networks in Central and Southeastern Europe and it has already started functioning. The main goal is to make sure that, within a reasonable period of time, each country in the region has access to three different sources of natural gas as a result of developing gas grid interconnections and building gas pipelines,” he declares.

He informs that the first results of the work of the working group are to be available in June.

Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev will visit Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina on April 21-23.

During his meetings with Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga and the Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Mladen Ivanic, Plevneliev will discuss topics such as EU prospects for the Western Balkans, regional cooperation in Southeastern Europe, energy diversification, economic and investment cooperation, and partnership in the sphere of security, according to a media statement of the President’s press office.

During his visit to Kosovo Plevneliev will also meet with the Parliament Speaker Kadri Veseli.

Bulgaria’s president will attend meetings with the Bulgarian representatives at the Kosovo-based offices of international organizations and will visit the KFOR headquarters to meet with the Commander of KFOR, Major General Francesco Paolo Figliuolo, and with the Bulgarian KFOR contingent.

During his visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Plevneliev will meet with the Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Mladen Ivanic and with members of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Dragan Covic and Bakir Izetbegovic.

Plevneliev will also participate in talks with the Chairpersons of the two chambers of the Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Chair of the Council of Ministers Denis Zvizdic.

Plevneliev will visit the EUFOR military base and hold talks with Major General Johann Luif, Head of the EUFOR ALTHEA mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina and with the Bulgarian troops participating in the mission.

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.

He made clear that Germany backed the proposal for doubling the size and the funding of "Triton", an EU sea patrol mission in the Mediterranean.

Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European commissioner responsible for migration issues, noted that the plan would envisage "fingerprinting" for all migrants and "rapid return" for irregular migrants, according to ITV News and The Telegraph.

Avramopoulos also informed about a proposal of a pilot programme to share resettlement of migrants across the 28-member bloc.

Meanwhile, EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini said that responding to the crisis was an issue of political and moral duty.

“The main issue here is to build together a common sense of European responsibility on what is happening in the Mediterranean, knowing that there is no easy solution, no magic solution, but there is a responsibility that we have to exercise together, as Europeans, in consistent and coherent way,” said in a statement.

The 10-point plan, approved by EU foreign and interior ministers, will be submitted to a summit on Thursday.

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.

Enimehmedov has been acquitted on charges of attempting to murder Dogan.

The ruling of VKS upholds the rulings of the courts of first and second instance.

On January 19, 2013, at a conference of DPS at the National Palace of Culture in Sofia, Enimehmedov pointed a gas pistol at Dogan, who was delivering a speech at that time. The pistol failed to fire. The assailant was wrestled to the ground by security guards and delegates, and he was severely beaten for several minutes before being arrested.

Enimehmedov was kept in custody until the pronouncement of the court of first instance on the case, after which he was placed under house arrest.

As the time spent in custody and under house arrest will be deducted from the overall sentence, he will spend around a year and three months in prison.

The penalty would have been much harsher if he had not been acquitted on charges of attempted murder.

Enimehmedov was declared not guilty on charges of attempted murder by the court of first instance.

Expert witnesses said that a lethal shot would have been fired from a distance of 1 centimeter, while Enimehmedov shot from a distance of 20 centimeters and 19 centimeters.

As regards the battery, the investigation, which started months after the incident, has not been wrapped up and no charges have yet been filed.

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.

He also pointed out that Bulgaria had the ambition to become a regional information and communications technology (ICT) hub.

“We see ICT clusters as an important part of the development of the Bulgarian economy,” Plevneliev said, as cited by the press office of the President.

He emphasized that Sofia was third in the ranking of top destinations for start-ups in Europe after London and Dublin, while Sofia Tech Park boasted a unique innovation ecosystem in the region.

Plevneliev suggested that the development of the Single Digital Market would benefit both EU citizens and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), adding that SMEs would get easier access not only to the digital market but also to high-quality administrative service.

Bulgaria’s President insisted that the only way to success for the EU involved integration and connectedness.

He explained that Bulgarian authorities were working to develop a model to unite all administrative services in a single electronic platform, thereby saving time and money for citizens and businesses.

Ansip said that the establishment of the Single Digital Market could contribute to additional growth amounting to EUR 340 B in the EU.

“In physical terms the EU has a Single Market but in digital terms there are 28 small markets with different regulatory policies and this creates barriers,” he added.

He mentioned the three key spheres of focus for the development of the Single Digital Market, including facilitating the access of consumers and businesses to digital goods and services, creating appropriate infrastructure, and introducing standards for the industry.

Ansip is on a 2-day visit to Bulgaria to take part in a public debate organized by the European Commission on the future of Europe, electronic government, and the Single Digital Market.

The European Commission will present its Digital Single Market Strategy on May 6.

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.

The licenses for prospecting and/or exploration of oil and natural gas will be awarded for 5-year periods.

The applicant-merchant or at least one of the participants in the applicant-corporation should have generated total net income of sales for the last 3 financial years, depending on the date on which it was established, not less than EUR 150 000 000.

The applicants’ proposals for the competition shall be assessed on the basis of the proposed working programmes, resources for environmental protection and bonuses as provided for in the competition dossier, according to the Energy Ministry.

The deadline for purchasing the competition dossier expires on the 120th day following the publication of this Decision in the Official Journal of the European Union.

The deadline for submitting applications for participation in the competition expires on the 140th day following the publication of this Decision in the Official Journal of the European Union.

The deadline for submitting the proposals under the competition dossier expires on the 155th day following the publication of this Decision in the Official Journal of the European Union.

The holders of the permits are expected to be selected in early autumn.

The launch of the competitions for the two exploration blocks is part of the commitment of the Bulgarian government to reduce the country’s dependence on imports and to develop its domestic oil and gas reserves.

The government expects that the competitions will attract the attention of leading international companies in the sector, as is the case with the Han Asparuh exploration block.

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.

Dimitrov, who reached the quarterfinals of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters after beating Stanislas Wawrinka and losing to Gael Monfils, retained his 11th position in the ATP ranking.

Two other Bulgarian players – Sesil Karatancheva and Dimitar Kuzmanov recorded progress in their rankings.

Karatancheva, who was ousted in the second round of the qualifications in Stuttgart, moved one place forward and is currently occupying the 109th position in the WTA ranking.

Kuzmanov, who is one of the players representing Bulgaria in the Davis Cup, recorded his best ranking, moving four places to occupy the 307th position in the ATP ranking.

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.

The sum constitutes the difference between Bulgaria’s contributions to the EU budget and the EU funding granted in the period 2007-2014.

In its eight years of EU membership, Bulgaria contributed a total of BGN 6.2 B to the EU budget, at the same time receiving BGN 20.9 B in EU funding.

The EU funding was received under pre-accession instruments like PHARE, ISPA, SAPARD, under the EU Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund, under the EU Financial Tools for the Implementation of the Schengen Acquis, under the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, under direct payments to agricultural producers and under the Kozloduy International Decommissioning Support Fund.

The information provided by Bulgaria’s Finance Ministry fails to make it clear whether the calculations have taken into account the financial corrections imposed on the country.

In his reply to the GERB MP, Goranov also underscores that the benefits are not limited to the balance of cash inflows and cash outflows but also include positive effects such as economic integration, advantages related to the EU single market (including the free movement of people, goods, services, and capital), as well as political stability and security.

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.

The driver of the vehicle, who was traveling at inconsiderate speed, had a flat tyre and lost control of the vehicle.

The vehicle crashed into the guard rail, which led to the injury of three of the passengers with unidentified citizenship.

The injured passengers were admitted to a hospital in Stara Zagora without risk for their lives.

The driver left the site of the crash and the remaining passengers similarly fled and went into hiding.

The policemen detained nine Afghan, three Syrian and two Iraqi citizens, who were uncovered at the nearby petrol station and near the road.

All of them have been detained for 24 hours, while the police continues tracing the whereabouts of the driver.

The police in the region detained fourteen illegal immigrants from Afghanistan in the beginning of April.

Similarly, the driver of the vehicle, who did not stop for a police check, escaped and left the immigrants on their own.

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.

He said that it would have six runways and four terminals, adding that there would be an opportunity to increase its capacity to nearly 200 million passengers a year, according to reports of the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency.

Bulgaria’s Transport Minister made clear that the new airport, which was to replace the Istanbul Ataturk Airport, was located north of the European part of the city between Yeniköy and Akpınar.

Moskovski also predicted an increase in the jobs for air traffic controllers by 40-60% over the next two years.

He said that over 1700 flights crossed Bulgarian territory per 24 hours and in the busiest periods their number reached 3000.

Moskovski argued that airline transportation remained the safest way to travel regardless of the increased frequency of incidents lately.

The event is organized by the Bulgarian Association of Air Traffic Controllers and will continue until April 24 in Sofia.

The International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers Associations represents over 540 000 air traffic controllers from 131 countries.

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.

An explosive has detonated on the portion of the road close to the location where they were staying and near to the UNICEF office where they were headed. Typically the road took no more than three minutes by car.

Currently, the UNICEF headquarters are contacting the families of the affected employees and is in the process of evacuating the injured officers.

There is a Bulgarian in the UNICEF mission in Somalia, but she is located in a different region, so she is alive and healthy, as reported by the organization. 

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.

The caller stated that at least three boats needed help in international waters.

This is the second incident involving migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea on Monday, the first having occurred off the Greek island of Rhodes.

EU foreign and interior ministers are to meet later on Monday in Luxembourg to discuss the migrant crisis.

The meeting was called after a boat carrying up to 700 migrants capsized off the Libyan coast at the weekend, with only 28 of the passengers having been rescued so far.

Italy and Malta announced that they were working on rescuing passengers from at least two boats, which had issued distress signals.

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.

The migrants jumped into the sea and started fleeing to the shore without waiting for help, which resulted in the death of a man, woman and a child.

The Greek police and coast guard officers rushed to the scene to help the migrants reach the shore safely and have managed to rescue 83 people.

According to initial information, the vessel sailed from the Turkish coast, but the smuggler abandoned the migrants in the middle of the sea.

This is the latest in a series of incidents involving migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea, which have intensified with the improvement of the weather and sea conditions.

A boat carrying up to 700 migrants capsized off the Libyan coast at the weekend, with only 28 people rescued so far, while the rest of the passengers are feared to have drowned.

This incident, which according to other sources involved 950 migrants, necessitated a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg on Monday.

 

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.

In this way Shivikov benefited outside the legally established order and lowered the prestige of the Defence Ministry and the Bulgarian armed forces.

The General, who is commander of the 61st Stryamska Mechanised Infantry Brigade, has been released on BGN 1000 bail.

Shivikov became commander of the brigade in 2012 and had been one of the commanders of the Bulgarian contingents, which guarded the airport in Kabul as part of ISAF.

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).

The data has been demonstrated by the newest research of the socio-political perceptions conducted by alfa Research. The survey was taken in the period April 7-15 across a representative sample of 1020 citizens with voting rights in Bulgaria.

The personal rating of Bulgarian Pm Boiko Borisov, however, marks an improvement with 33.4% stated support.

The ranking of the most successful incumbent ministers is also led by the regional development sector with Lilyana Pavlova (26.3%), followed by healthcare minister Petar Moskov (24.3%). Vice MP Ivaylo Kalfin is up next with 19.7%, marking a slight increase in public support, followed by Tomislav Donchev with 15.3%.

The newly-employed Interior Minister Rumyana Bachvarova also registers high levels of public satisfaction. Politicians granted the least approval were Financial Minister Vladislav Goranov, Economic Minister Bozhidar Lukarski, as well as Education Minister Todor Tanev.

 

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.

His collection now consists of over 1200 pots and continues to grow on a daily basis.

Most of the items have been enameled, but there are some made of copper and chrome as well. They all come from a variety of countries - Bulgaria, Russia, Romania, Germany and even Austria.

The oldest item in the collection was produced in Bulgaria back in 1937.

''The teapot remains a fond memory of home comfort that needs to be preserved,'' Dimitrov said in an interview for Pressa Daily.

He often needs to engage in rearranging the items in his collection on account of the limited space he has at the recyclable collecting unit.

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.

The southern lanes in the section, which were closed first, are expected to be renovated by the middle of June, which will be followed by the closure for repair of the northern lanes.

Later on, the section of Tsarigradsko Shose between Fourth Kilometer and the Yavorov Boulevard will be closed for repair works.

The deadline for the complete overhaul, which includes replacement of the asphalt, hydro-isolation and lighting, is the beginning of September.

The repair works on the local lanes of Tsarigradsko Shose should be completed by the end of September.

The length of the renovated section is 5.8 kilometres and the cost is estimated at slightly below BGN 20 M, including the repair of the bridge facilities.

The Sofia Municipality foresees the renovation of a total of 28 kilometres of pavements and 30 kilometres of roads and boulevards during the year.

Repair work also began on the most worn out sections of the Hemus and Trakia Motorways on Monday.

The Bulgarian government allocated BGN 100 M on the repair of the most worn out sections of the motorways.

Three sections of the Trakia Motorway will be renovated – at the exit of Sofia and near Pazardzhik and Plovdiv.

The repairs works on Hemus Motorway will take place on four sections between Shumen and Varna.

A total of six viaducts will be renovated on the two motorways, private bTV station reports.

According to schedule, the main repair works on the motorways should be completed by the beginning of July, but in some sections they will continue after that.

It is expected that there will be no repair works on Trakia Motorway during the summer.

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.  

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.

According to local analysts the trial will determine the fate of the third largest party in Greek Parliament that gained a lot of support at the outburst of the economic crisis in the country, the New York Times reported.

Party founder Nikos Michaloliakos and many MPs with leadership roles did not attend the trial session located in a specially assembled hall in the prison of Korydallos.

Lawyers of the defendants did not provide any explanation regarding the absences.

Party leader Michaloliakos and his right hand Christos Papas had to attend as free citizens after the 18-month term of their detention passed at the end of March.

Other prominent party figures, however, as for example speker Ilias Kasidiaris are already in jail without trial.

The trail is expected to run longer than a year, on account of the serious accusations and numerous racist attacks that Golden Dawn has been charged with. The first incident that attracted attention was the murder of leftist rapper Pavlos Fyssas. Giorgos Roupakias, a supporter of the party, confessed to having committed the crime and after a search of party members' homes, weapons and Nazi paraphenalia have been found.

The party was later charged on account of its possible involvement with a Pakistani immigrant murder assault.

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.

The victims are believed to be members of the Ethiopian Church, who had been captured by IS militants in Libya.

The video is similar to earlier ones released by IS, including the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians in February.

The latest recording has a length of 29 minutes and bears the official logo of the media branch of IS, but its authenticity has not been independently confirmed.

Ethiopian Information Minister Redwan Hussein, who condemned the killings, said that the government was attempting to identify the nationalities of the men depicted in the video.

The USA similarly expressed its condemnation of the “brutal mass murder”, which once again demonstrated the need for political resolution of the conflict in Libya.

The video depicts a masked militant threatening to kill the Christians unless they convert to Islam or pay special tax.

It is believed that the latest killings occurred in the south and east of Libya, which has been affected by civil war and surge in violence since last summer.

Bulgaria could become Europe's Silicon Valley if it tackles corruption and changes the attitudes of politicians, a Bulgarian IT entrepreneur tells the BBC in a report of the British broadcaster.

The man shares that his company has clients from all around the world including South Africa and India. He adds than when he started his business back in 2001, "for a single position we had seventy developers", while for each offer now there are two, three or a maximum of five CVs.

In his words, brain drain was and "still is a big issue" in Bulgaria.

The BBC reminds that "during the Cold War Bulgaria produced 40% of Eastern Bloc computers" and "had more computers per person than almost any other country".

Back then its IT industry "was worth over USD 13 B a year".

Nowadays, it informs, an IT engineer receives about EUR 1300 per month, or "over three times the average salary" (which, for the record, was at EUR 400 per month nationwide and EUR 535 for the capital Sofia in 2014).

But there is also a reminder that, alongside Greece, Italy and Romania, Bulgaria is "the joint most corrupt" EU member, according to Transparency International.

At the end of the video, car dashboards "of the best cars in the industry... like Mercedes and VW" are shown, and the interlocutor is heard saying "all [are] made in Bulgaria".

You can watch the BBC' report here.

 

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.

It is believed that the victims were Kenyan and Somali citizens working for the mission of the UN.

UNICEF announced that four of its officials were among the dead, while four others were in critical condition.

The militant Islamist group Al-Shabaab, which pledges allegiance to al-Qaeda, is fighting against the government of Somalia to gain control of the country.

Recently, the insurgents have carried out deadly attacks on Somalia's Higher Education Ministry in Mogadishu and the Garissa University College in neighbouring Kenya.

Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the latest incident, which occurred in Garowe, the capital of the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, where attacks are less common.

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.

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.

Less than 50 people live in 1,135 towns or 21.56% of the total number of living . Cities in Bulgaria are 257, and villages - 5009, according to national statistics.

Meanwhile, over the course of the past year one town has been officially closed down, and one has been annexted to a neighboring one.

In all six regions of the country, population has decreased in 2014.

The least number of people has been registered in the Vidin municipality - 93 361, or approximately 1.3 % of Bulgaria's total population. Sofia is on top of the chart with - 1,316, 557 people or 18.3% of people.

Only two municipalities have registered an incraese in the population - Sofia by 0.5% and Kardzhali by 1%.

The biggest decrease in population has been registered in Vidin by 2.2% and Smolyan by 1.9%. The smallest Bulgarian municipality is Treklyano with 625 inhabitants.



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.

The minimum pension was BGN 154 (EUR 77) in 2014, and the average one was at BGN 311.35 (nearly BGN 156).

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.

According to the proponents of the project, the agreement will prove immensely beneficial, as it will facilitate buying and selling of goods and services.

Critics ,on the other hand, argue that certain US trade practices should definitely not be imported in Europe, especially those in the sectors of food, health and environmental protection.

Additionally, a number of protests were organized all across Europe prior to the start of the new round of negotiations. Opposition to the project is especially fierce in Germany with over 23,000 people protesting in Munich and close to a total of 3,000 in Lepzig, Stuttgart and Frankfurt.

Brussels, Madrid, Helsinki, Warsaw and Prague also joined the marches as people were alarmed by a specific clause in the agreement. If approved, it would prescribe that corporations will be able to sue governments in tribunals at higher than national level.

Meanwhile, the EU Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström will present a report in Brussels regarding the benefits of the proposed free trade agreement.

Experts in Sofia have also shared their concerns that a possible approval of the project will further enhance the access of US-produced GMO food products on the local market, as corporations will be able to easily go about state legislations.

 

 

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.


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.


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.

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.

Renzi called human trafficking "the slavery of the 21st century".

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. 

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.

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.

Juha Sipilä, a former IT businessman who headed the Center Party a few years ago, is set to win Finland's general poll held Sunday.

An official projection by public broadcaster YLE suggests Sipilä's Center Party is likely to get 46 seats, while the National Coalition Party of PM Alexander Stubb will have 37 seats in the 200-strong Parliament.

Results as of 22:30 local time, with 88 percent of votes counted, also give Center a clear lead at 22.3% of ballots, while the NCP and the eurosceptic Finns Party are tied at 17.5%.

Social Democrats come next with 16.5 percent.

Novinite is publishing an text by Isidoros Karderinis, a Greek author whose articles on the country's economy has been widely published in Greek and Spanish economy magazines.

Isidoros Karderinis was born in Athens, Greece in 1967. He has a degree in economic science with postgraduate studies in tourist economy.

This article appeared on The Economy Journal, an English-language magazine published in Spain. 

It is exactly five years since Greece joined the European Support Mechanism with the close cooperation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). At that time, the key and critical financial data were the following: GDP amounted to 222.151 billions at the end of 2010. The public debt was 148.3% as a percentage of GDP. Unemployment stood at 12.5%. The percentage of Greeks sho were living below the limits of poverty (earning less than 60% of the national median disposable income) was 27.6%.

The policy of extreme austerity applied in the country at the behest of international creditors over the years has further aggravated the economic and social reality. As a result, GDP had shrunk to 186.54 billions in 2014. Public debt has soared to 176% as a percentage of GDP. Unemployment has risen dramatically to 26%, affecting mainly young people many of whom have brilliant scientific knowledge and as a result migrate abroad. This serious loss of talent could help the country at this critical juncture. The percentage of Greeks living below the limits of poverty is 34.6% or 3.795100 people.

So, one understands from the above that the programme of fiscal consolidation in a country that was already in recession before 2010 has completely failed and it would not be rational, economically and socially, to continue its application. This particularly restrictive fiscal policy and austerity measures form an exceptionally lethal debt-recession-austerity spiral, ruling out any prospect for development.

The debt is huge and unbearable

Therefore, the observed persistence in strict continuation of the extreme austerity programme by creditors will have truly tragic consequences for the country. It will lead to total economic disaster, which will not be healed for decades and certainly to an incredibly serious humanitarian crisis for the standards of a post-war Europe. The homeless and impoverished citizens who one can already be seen in the streets of Athens will multiply rapidly. Suicides due to hopelessness and despair caused by the inability to survive will continue its frantic growth trend. Children blacking out in schools due to lack of adequate nutrition will become everyday part of life.

The question then arises with intensification this critical period is what should be done in order for Greece to leave the pitch dark tunnel of deep economic crisis and enter the bright avenue of development and progress.

First, the burden of debt the Greek economy carries on its back is huge and unbearable, and there seems no possibility of payment in full. Therefore, we need to write off the majority of the nominal value of the debt so that the debt burden of the country will be below 100% and become sustainable with a technique that will not harm the other peoples of Europe. The repayment of the remaining debt will be connected with a “development clause”, so as to serve from the development and not from any budget surplus.

Secondly, require the reconstruction of production in the country with these key elements:

a) The sustainable equilibrium of the balance current account through changing the mix of produced products in the country, thus strengthening the export orientation margins of many sectors of the Greek economy;

b) The industrialization with the implementation of an integrated sustainable industrial policy and the development of domestic research and production of a wide range of high added-value products. The processing sector is particularly critical since it is impossible to hope for a country that will rise in the value chain in the global apportionment of labour without creating the necessary manufacturing base that includes primarily the manufacture of finished industrial products;

c) The special emphasis on tourism, to which Greece has a strong comparative advantage and shipping -Greece has the largest merchant fleet in the world- and certainly agriculture for the production basic social goods, and

d) The efficient exploitation of raw materials -such as bauxite from which aluminium is produced- and the potentially large oilfields located both in the Aegean and the Ionian Seas.

Building a modern and efficient State

Thirdly, we need to build a modern, efficient and rational state that will operate with honesty and will not interpolate countless bureaucratic obstacles to business development and the effective fight against the Lernean Hydra of corruption and tax evasion, to remove the multiple negative economic, social and political consequences caused and finally to apply fair taxation. The economic effects have not only to do with the losses of state finances but also with adverse effects on the private sector. When the notion that only with the bribing of individuals holding nodal positions in public administration can achieve the desired effect is consolidated, investments are discouraged, fair competition is distorted and businesses that refuse to engage in such lawless and immoral trade are condemned to stagnation.

The social and political consequences of corruption are also extremely serious. Corruption causes citizens’ resentment, frustration and a collapse of a strong sense of values. It consolidates the belief that nothing works properly and that law-abiding citizens do not feel justified in being so. Institutions are undermined, shaken and ultimately slandered by the same democracy in the eyes of citizens. We need the immediate establishment of a fair tax system that will not encourage, and will not "justify" tax evasion, but will contribute decisively to the development of taxpayers’ consciences, and will have as a result a significant increase in government revenue.

Greece can’t handle austerity any longer

These measures should apply immediately to pull to pull Greece out of it state of coma and recession, and lead to the much-desired path to development, away from the wild and dead-end austerity policies, which form the spearhead of financial capitalism in its attempt to repay in full their debt, and maintain its sovereignty in an era of intense and generalised capitalist crisis.

For their part, European citizens should stand in solidarity with the drama of the Greek people who, during all these years, have become a guinea pig, since the vast majority of money borrowed by the Greek government does not go to Greek taxpayers, but rather to banks or to the payment of loans, or to recapitalize Greek banks, most of the cost of which the taxpayers bear.

In conclusion, Greece does not stand to continue with austerity. It has already reached its farthest limits, after the standard of living having collapsed, and with it, the dignity of the Greek people, and this will have to be understood by the creditors. Otherwise, the time of conflict and rupture will not be far off.

The best Bulgarian tennis player Grigor Dimitrov is considering whether to replace his coach Roger Rasheed, media sources suggest.

Reports come after a tough season for Dimitrov, who was suffered a number of defeats in the past months securing more than two victories in a row only in a total of two tournaments.

Rasheed was absent from the Masters tournament in Monte Carlo and this gave additional fuel to rumors, the news website Dnevnik.bg writes citing "specialized media outlets".

Rasheed used the phone and the Internet to help Dimitrov during his Monte Carlo matches.

Dimitrov has not yet commented.

On Friday he was defeated by France's Gael Monfis 1:6, 3:6 after a week of successes.

French President Francois Hollande has called on European interior and foreign ministers to gather for an urgent meeting after a boat with up to 700 migrants capsized in the Mediterranean.

In an interview with France's Canal+, Hollande said urgent measures are needed to tackle "this kind of [people] trafficking, because those who bring people onto such ships are traffickers, even terrorists," Hollande warned.

He said the number of vessels and aerial vehicles patrolling Mediterranean waters and the air above, respectively, should be swiftly increased.

Twenty ships and three helicopters are taking part in a rescue operation off the coast of Libya south of the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Earlier reports by the Times of Malta suggest the migrants piled up on one side of the ship (which they were using to make it to Italy) in order to attract the attention of a Portugal-flagged ship.



Italy is to hold its own emergency cabinet meeting at 16:00 CET.

Polls suggest the center-right opposition could defeat conservative National Coalition Party in the vote that is being held across Finland on Sunday.

The National Coalition Party, which dominates a five-party government headed by Prime Minister Alexander Stubb, gas come under fire over some of its attempt at reforms it says are crucial for keeping the economy afloat. For Finland, 2014 was marked by stagnation and had an unemployment rate of 9.2 percent.

Stubb took over in June after his predecessor Jyrki Katainen stepped down to run for the EU Commission.

His main opponent is Juha Sipila, once an IT millionaire who came at the helm of the Center Party in 2012.

A survey published by public broadcaster YLE puts projected support for the Center Party at 24%, while the NCP is likely to garner 16.9% of the vote, according to the data.

Finland has some 4.5 million eligible voters.

Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko has said he will not attend Victory Day celebrations in Russian capital Moscow on May 9.

Lukashenko has cited the need to receive Minsk's own parade marking the 70th anniversary since the end of World War Two in 1945.

"It is unacceptable when there is no Commander-in-chief does not attend [such an event]. Under the Constitution in Belarus, except for the Commander-in-chief nobody can receive a parade. Therefore the parade either does not [happen] or it does. If there is a President - there is a parade," Lukashenko is quoted by Belarusian News (Belorusskoe Telegrafnoe Agentstvo BELTA) as saying.

Lukashenko will be in Moscow for May 7 and 8 commemorations to show his country's unity with Russia, but will return to Minsk afterwards.

His comments come after a mass boycott of the Victory Day anniversary by most EU member states' leaders, including by Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev.

So far less than half of 60 heads of state invited to the event have confirmed their participation. Those who have said "yes" include presidents ot Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, and also Czech President Milos Zeman, whose attendance and subsequent remarks by the US envoy raised tension between Prague and Washington.

Bulgarian capital Sofia will soon become the 19th sister city of the Macedonian capital Skopje, after the latter city's municipal council approved the move.

Skopje Mayor Kotse Trayanovski is quoted by Macedonia's MIA news agency as saying the move will contribute to boosting bilateral economic cooperation.

Bulgaria's ambassador to Macedonia Ivan Petkov has welcomed the step, voicing his hope it could further improve relations.

Moscow has not proposed to Athens to make advanced payment for the construction of a "Greek leg" of the so-called "TUrkish Stream" pipeline, the Kremlin says.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov refuted on Saturday the claims made by a Greek official and than cited by media outlets such as Der Spiegel weekly and the prominent magazine Forbes. "Putin said it himself at the press conference [with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras] that nobody has asked [Russia] for aid. But of course, the issue of energy cooperation was touched," RIA Novosti quotes him as saying.

According reports that circulated on Saturday, Greece could receive EUR 5 B next week in the form of "advanced payment", a sum which would virtually amount to timely aid for the debt-ridden country as it is seeking to avoid default.

Tsipras and Putin agreed last week to cooperate on Turkish Stream project, which was announced as an alternative to the abandoned South Stream pipeline project in December.

Russia says Turkish Stream will carry billions of cubic meters of gas to Turkey, and Europe could received supplies via a gas distribution center at the border with Turkey's neighbor Greece.  

"The Iron Curtain is back... It stretches along part of the Bulgarian and Greek frontiers with Turkey," an article published by Newsweek argues.

Titled "Migrants Face Brutality As Bulgaria Recreates the Iron Curtain", it says "the new fortress Europe aims to keep out refugees fleeing the carnage in Syria and Iraq" and gives examples of what it calls "brutal results" of containment policies.

Focused on examples of incidents at the Bulgarian-Turkish border, the text also claims that, even though Bulgaria's "containment plan" to curb the flow of refugees is working (with 6000 people having crossed illegally into Bulgaria in 2014, up from 11 500 the previous year," it "exacts a human cost".

The widely condemned "pushback" policy, which consists of refusing asylum seekers entry and forcing their return to the country from which they tried to enter Bulgaria, is also discussed. Sofia is arguing border guards are not engaged in such activity anymore, but the article cites "evidence" by Human Rights Watch indicating "the policy is still in operation."  

Newsweek cites reports by human rights organizations on Bulgaria and Greece which contain testimony of "refugees" (though they were actually asylum seekers at the time of the alleged incidents) who were hit by Bulgarian border guards and were pushed back to Turkey while trying to enter the country. These claims have been systematically rejected by authorities in Sofia.

Human Rights Watch's reports, also cited in the article, suggest there have been three separate incidents involving forced return of asylum seekers from Bulgaria to Syria "involving at least 43 people".

The article itself is available here.

Hundreds are now feared dead after another boat, said to be carrying out between 500 and 700 migrants, overturned off Libya.

The incident occurred some 200 km south of the Italian island of Lampedusa, according to Italian coastguard officials quoted by the BBC.  

As many as 28 migrants have been rescued, according to the website of the Time of Malta news outlet (Malta is located not far from Lampedusa).

The edition reports that migrants moved to one side of the boat to draw the attention of a passing merchant ship. This seems to have caused the boat to capsize.

This week alone there have been several other incidents involving migrants who tried to flee North Africa. On Wednesday, a boat carrying about 550 migrants overturned off the Lybian coast, leaving about 400 of them dead.

Italian coast guard officials say some 10 000 migrants have been rescued between this Monday and Thursday alone while trying to reach Italy across the Mediterranean, but another 900 are thought to have drowned.

This has been the most intense influx of asylum seekers since the beginning of the year. For the past three-and-a-half months, at least 31 500 migrants have entered Italy and Greece seeking to escape from the civil war in Libya and the instability elsewhere in Africa.

UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler told the BBC that Sunday's incident could be the largest loss of life in a single incident on record.  

 

French companies are considering the option to move their China-based production facilities to Bulgaria, Economy Minister Bozhidar Lukarski has said.

Lukarski told Darik Radio that this was "the impression" conveyed by a business forum held in Paris at the same time when the Thracian exhibition, displaying Bulgarian treasures including a life-size head of ruler Seuthes III, was opened at the Louvre.

Lukarski explained that it was the dollar jumping high that made production costs in Bulgaria more attractive than those in China.

He added that "several" (though unnamed) French investors are expected in Bulgaria "next month" to consider either joint projects with Bulgarian companies or deals involving the companies' possible purchase "if there is interest on the Bulgarian side."

In his words, "a very serious project" involving funding from a Scandinavian country should be expected soon.

Lukarski, who is a member of a junior coalition partner, the right-wing Reformist Bloc (RB), added that the government was seeking options to reduce the administrative burden on businesses and also to work toward lower electricity prices for industrial consumers, who pay the biggest energy bills compared those in all other EU countries.

There were 164 Bulgarian villages with no residents as of December 31, 2014, national statistics show.

Most of the depopulated places are located in the country's north, with the regions of Veliko Tarnovo (the old capital of Bulgaria) and Gabrovo in the north-central area containing, respectively, 57 and 61 now derelict villages. Northern Bulgaria is considered to have benefited less than the south from the years of democratization.

However, the area around Kardzhali, a Southern Bulgarian town with a predominant population of ethnic Turks, comes third with 11 empty villages, according to the National Statistical Institute.

Throughout the country there are as many as 1135 village whose population is below 50 people. This constitutes 21.6 percent of the total, which includes 257 towns and cities and 5009 villages.

There are seven cities housing about 1/3 of Bulgarians. These include Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna, Burgas, Ruse, Stara Zagora and Pleven.

Southwestern Bulgaria has the largest share of the country's population (29%) compared to other regions, while the northwest, considered the poorest region within the EU, has the smallest one with just 11.1 percent of the total.

Data released earlier this week showed that Bulgarian citizens numbered 7 202 198 people in 2014, a figure suggesting a 0.6 percent drop in that year alone. This is more than the negative 0.5 average rate for the past decade.








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