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The "Sveta Zona" temple, one of the oldest and most beautiful buildings in Bulgaria's Melnik, will open its doors for the public once again.

This is in fact one of the most valuable cultural temples in the region, built in the beginning of the 13 century. The set date for the event is 31 August and the day prior to the official opening of the temple, a holy liturgy will be held in town. 

It was built in quite an inaccessible place, 1,5 km above the town of Melnik, as part of a mediaeval fortress and a monastery, built at the order of the Despot Aleksi Slav.

"We put lots of efforts into restoring the temple. Now Melnik will have one more church in town,'' shared father Nikolay, who serves in the local church. He reminded tourists that there used to be over 70 temples in Melnik, and people even started comparing it to Jerusalem.

 

One of Plovdiv's historic hills was on fire earlier Wednesday evening - Djendem tepe, also known as the Youth Hill caught on fire.

Information of the fire was reported to local authorities around 8 pm tonight. It appears that some of the grass and bushes caught on fire beacuse of the high temperatures. 

Luckily, the fire was put out rather quickly and there were no severe damages done of neither the hill, nor nearby buildings.

Bulgarian energy minister Temenuzhka Petkova has met with representatives of the China General Nuclear power Group (CGN). Accoding to government information, the meeting was held in respose to a request of CGN.

Petkova shared the vision of the government, stating that the country is looking for a strategic investor, that will not receive government guarantees for long-term energy purchases on the Bulgarian market.

CGN then proceeded to questions related to the parameters of the Belene project and how it could be launched after the decision of the Geneva Court. 

Bulgarian government has issued an order for 12 university majors to become protected by law.

The order concerns academic programs, where students have shown little interest in recent years but the country needs highly qualified experts in exactly those fields, or unique to the Bulgarian educational system academic programs.

The list includes language and cultural studies of Arabic, Korean, Armenian, Greek, Portuguese, Romanian, Hungarian, Japanese and Hebrew. 

The reason those majors need to be preserved concerns already signed contracts and agreements among Bulgarian government, educational institutions and businesses.

" I don't see a perspective on a solution to the migrant crisis in Europe. All I see is every country trying to save itself in panic and looking for a clause in their EU membership contract that would allow it to act separately,'' stated Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov.

He noted that '' the big countries in the EU are struggling severely and their societies are starting to fight back on political decisions."

"By following thousands and thousands of restrictions, as administered by the EU, Bulgaria is spending thousands on a daily basis, on monitoring the borders, food and shelter, statute interviews for each and every registered migrant,'' Borisov added.

''In Serbia, borderline police is securing that exit from Bulgaria, so it's no longer available to refugees. Unfortunately, the situation is Greece is not good either. Having that in mind, our only option is to look for a partnership with Turkey,'' he added, explaining that 26 000 migrants who crossed the EU borders have now been returned to Turkey.

 

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has asked for an urgent meeting with his Bulgarian colleague Boiko Borisov. 

On that account Borisov will be attending the opening of the new bridge over the Bosphorus, 24 chasa reported.

Initially, the Bulgarian Prime Minister had planned not to attend the event, mainly because of the appointed negotiations with Germany's Angela Merkel. The Chancellor invited 8 EU PMs in her quarters to discuss current events.

According to unconfirmed information, however, after Yildirim extended his request to Borisov, she agreed to postpone the high-level meetings and instead of Friday afternoon, they will be held late on Saturday, August 27. 

In this way, reporters say, Borisov will also be able to share the position of Turkey on matters of regional security.

An irregular Afghan migrant has been shot dead in Serbia after crossing the border from Bulgaria, possibly by a hunter, the Defence Ministry in Belgrade has announced.

A joint army and police patrol on a routine mission on a road near the city of Pirot heard a shot around 9pm on Tuesday and then came across six migrants, one of whom had a gunshot wound in his chest, the Serbian Defence Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

The patrol also found four hunters on the scene.

When doctors arrived, they could only register the death of the 20-year old migrant, a citizen of Afghanistan, according to the statement.

One of the hunters, a resident of Pirot, was detained in police custody for 48 hours on suspicion he had shot the migrant.

Serbia deployed joint army and police patrols at the country’s borders with Bulgaria and Macedonia last month to control the inflow of irregular migrants. Most of the migrants aim to reach Hungary via Serbia and continue their journey north to wealthier EU states.

 

Turkish tanks and warplanes backed by aircraft from the U.S.-led coalition launched their first co-ordinated offensive into Syria to try to push the Islamic State (IS) group away from the border and prevent further gains by Kurdish militias, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

Turkish tank units and Syrian rebels backed by Ankara crossed into northern Syria to drive the jihadist militants out of the border town of Jarablus, the newswire said citing military sources.

Turkey’s operation Operation Euphrates Shield around Jarabulus is a response to the threat posed by terror groups like Islamic State and the Kurdish PYD party, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said in a speech in Ankara on Wednesday, according to Anadolu Agency.

Ankara, which regards the PYD as an extension of Kurdish militants waging an insurgency in southeastern Turkey, has been alarmed by the group’s recent gains in northern Syria.

“Right now, unfortunately, all the attacks which happened in Gaziantep and Kilis... brought this issue to this point,” the Turkish news agency quoted Erdogan as saying.

Turkey had vowed on Monday to "completely cleanse" Islamic State militants from its border region after the Gaziantep suicide bombing.

Earlier this week, Turkey ordered residents of the town of Karkamis to leave it following a mortar shelling by Islamic State militants in Syria. Karkamis lies just across the border from Jarablus.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry has condemned Wednesday's operation, describing it as blatant violation of Syrian sovereignty, SANA news agency reported.

 

The death toll from a devastating earthquake that rocked central Italy on Wednesday morning has reached 38 by the middle of the day, according to local media reports citing official figures of the country's civil protection service.

The authorities fear that the number of the victims would rise further with at least 35 people dead in the town of Amatrice alone.

Dozens of people are feared trapped under the rubble.

The quake measured 6.2 on the Richter scale, according to the US Geological Survey. The disaster struck at 3.36am, in Norcia, a town south of Perugia, bringing buildings crashing down to the ground. A series of strong aftershocks followed.

The towns of Amatrice and Accumuli in the northern Lazio region were devastated, along with Arquata and Pescara del Tronto, in the eastern region of Marche.

 

The government has proposed to appoint Brigadier General Tsanko Stoykov as Air Force Commander to replace Maj Gen Rumen Radev who resigned earlier this month.

Stoykov, 53, is serving as Defense Attache in the Bulgarian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

The government said in a statement after a weekly meeting on Wednesday that it also proposed to President Rosen Plevneliev to promote Stoykov to the rank of Major General.

 

 

Bulgaria will conduct policing of its airspace jointly with the United States for a week next month, Defense Minister Nikolay Nenchev has announced.

"The government has adopted a decision today on joint air policing, joint protection of our airspace with the U.S. The mission will start on September 9 and will complete on September 16,” Nenchev told reporters after a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

The joint air policing will involve two U.S. aircraft, Nenchev said.

Bulgaria wouldn’t have to pay for the U.S. participation in the mission, Nenchev added.

Former Air Force Commander Maj Gen Rumen Radev, who resigned earlier this month, has firmly opposed the idea that Bulgaria must pay for the costs incurred by a NATO partner country in a joint air policing mission in Bulgaria.

The option of signing a deal with Poland for joint policing of Bulgaria’s air space remains and further talks will be held in this direction, Nenchev said. 

Ludogorets (Razgrad) has reached the group stage of the Champions League after a 2-2 draw in an away match against Czech champion Viktoria (Plzen) on Tuesday.

With an aggregate win of 4-2, Ludogorets is also the first Bulgarian team to have entered the Champions League groups for a second time. 

Montenegro's Foreign Minister Igor Luksic has withdrawn from the race for the post of UN Secretary-General, the AP reported on Tuesday.

The move by Luksic, who came in last in the latest round of informal voting on candidates vying to succeed Ban Ki-moon, leaves 10 candidates in the race, including Bulgaria’s Irina Bokova.

Bokova, UNESCO Director-General, ranked fifth in second straw poll vote in the UN Security Council held earlier this month.

United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon’s term of office will expire at the end of 2016.

In his letter, Luksic said that "for the sake of equal ownership of all the regions within the U.N. I hope the Eastern European argument will prevail when it comes to the final decision."

The informal tradition of regional rotation is a major factor in appointing the Secretary-General. No Secretary-General yet has come from Eastern Europe. 

A third straw poll in the selection of a United Nations Secretary-General will be held on August 29. The final decision will be made in October.

The fifteen members of the Security Council  vote "encourage", "discourage" or "no opinion" on the candidates, with the vote also aimed at persuading some of the contenders to leave the race.

Luksic is the second of 12 contenders for the UN top job to withdraw from the race. Vesna Pusić, Croatia's former Foreign Minister, quit earier in August after coming in last in the first round of informal voting held last month.

 

Deutsche Welle has published a news report, in which Ambra Montanari and Giovanni Piazzese tell the story of an Afghan man smuggling migrants into Serbia from Bulgaria last year.

“For thousands of migrants who crossed the border between Turkey and Bulgaria the only alternative is to leave the latter with the help of smugglers,”the authors write.

You can read the DW news story “Smuggling migrants through Bulgaria” here.

 

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has reported that 269,244 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea in 2016 through 21 August, an increase of 3,218 since 17 August.

The number of arrivals so far in 2016 is slightly lower than the number recorded through the first eight months of 2015, when a total of 354,618 migrants and refugees were recorded crossing the Mediterranean, the majority of them coming from Turkey to Greece.

Arrivals in Greece total 162,599 in 2016 through 21 August, down from 234,357 in the first eight months of 2015.

Arrivals in Italy have also decreased, albeit at a lower rate. A total of 104,141 migrants and refugees arrived in Italy across the Mediterranean this year so far, compared with 116,147 in 2015 through 31 August.

 

 

At least five people have been reported dead in a 6.2 magnitude earthquake which struck central Italy on Wednesday morning.

Other people are trapped under collapsed buildings, according to local media reports.

The first tremor struck at 3.36am in Norcia, a town south of Perugia. It was at a very shallow 10km depth, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. A second tremor of a 5.4 magnitude followed an hour later.

There are reports of collapsed buildings in Accumoli and Amatrice, towns in the Lazio province of Rieti.

In Rome, some 170 km from the epicentre, some buildings shook for 20 seconds, according to La Repubblica newspaper.

 

 

 

The huge fire between the towns of Ostar kamak and Ivanovo is now under control. The firefront of 3 km has now been put out, regional authorities reported.

The natural distater spread across 3000 dka, and most of the damaged areas were full of pine trees. Reasons for the fire reamin unknown, but an investigation is ongoing to establish if it was in fact an arson.

Thanks to the active efforts of regional authorities, volunteers and firefighters the damage has been limited to the forest and did not spread across nearby towns.

Most probably the mayor of the Harmanli municipality will issue an order for the state of emergency to be lifted by the end of the day.

There are at least 41 000 migrants in Greece, most of whom Syrians, who are ready to be resettled across Europe.

The statement was made by Greek Minister of migration Yanis Mutsalas. According to information provided by the UN, the number of people entereing Greece over June and July was 54 000 people. 

A total of 41 000 out of them have requested a refugee statute and have submitted a request for resettling. Merely 2000 of them have agreed to go back to their countries of origin.

Meanwhile, additional 11 000 people are still awaiting registration. They have recently reached Greece by sea from Turkey. 

"You have our unconditional support for entering the EU,'' wrote Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov in an address to his Serbian colleague Alexander Vucic.

Borisov praised the copperation between the two countries in the fields of economics, infrastructure, security, regional development, etc. He also pointed out that namely Bulgaria and Serbia through their mutual cooperation, should aim for lasting peace and prosperity in Southeast Europe.

''Bulgaria will support the European perspective for Serbia and the right of their citizens to be a part of the European community,'' Borisov noted. 

Dimitar Tsonev, a popular Bulgarian journalist and TV host, has died.

Tsonev passed away a week before his 57th birthday on 30 August, public TV channel BNT reported on Tuesday.

Doctors have been fighting for Tsonev's life since he suffered a massive stroke on 14 August.

An emblematic face of BNT, he has hosted a popular talk show there since 2014. Tsonev co-hosted another talk show in bTV private station from 2012 until 2014. 

Bulgarian mountaineer Boyan Petrov has been seriously injured after a car hit him and another man on the side of E-79 main road leading to the border with Greece, local media reported on Tuesday.

Their lives are not in danger, according to the results of the initial medical examination, public radio BNR said.

The incident took place around 11.30am when Petrov and Andrey Kovachev from Green Balkans, a  Bulgarian nature-conservation NGO, were inspecting an area between the town of Simitli and Kresna Gorge slated for the construction of a section of Struma Motorway.

Bulgarian environmentalists have been opposed to parts of the construction project which, they say, would inflict damage to the wildlife in Kresna Gorge.

Petrov and Kovachev were hit by a Romanian-registered car. The driver lost control, the car swerved to the opposite side of the road and smashed into the two men, BNR said. Petrov and Kovachev were taken to hospital in the city of Blagoevgrad.

The incident took place less than a month after Boyan Petrov climbed Nanga Parbat peak. The Bulgarian mountaineer is famous for his 14x8000 Project for climbing the 14 peaks on Earth which are higher than 8000 meters.

Bulgaria’s Defence Minister Nikolay Nenchev has proposed to appoint Brigadier General Tsanko Stoykov as new Air Force Commander, Nova TV has reported.

Nenchev made the announcement before reporters on Tuesday, Nova said.

Gen. Stoykov, 53, is serving as Defense Attache in the Bulgarian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

The position of Bulgarian Air Force Commander has remained vacant after Maj. Gen. Rumen Radev retired earlier this month. The retired general is now the nomination for President of Bulgaria of main opposition Socialists and left-wing ABV party.

Bulgaria will hold presidential elections on November 6.

Monetary deposits of households in Bulgaria have increased by 7% year-on-year, reaching BGN 43.70 B as of end-July 2016.

The figure is equivalent to 49.1% of 2016 GDP forecast by Bulgaria’s central bank (BNB) said in its latest  monetary statistical report released on Tuesday.

The year-on-year increase in the volume of household deposits recorded at the end of July is almost identical to a 6.8% annual growth registered at end- June 2016.

Loans to Bulgarian households totalled BGN 18.23B at the end of July 2016, equivalent to 20.5% of 2016 GDP projected by the BNB. The loan volume was 0.4% lower compared to the same month of 2015. The rate of decrease has slowed down compared to the 0.7% annual decline recorded for June 2016.

Loans for house purchases totalled BGN 8.73 B at the end of July 2016, increasing by 0.6% year-on-year. By comparison, loans for house purchases showed 0.2% annual growth in June 2016.

Consumer loans amounted to BGN 7.28 B as of end-July, decreasing by 1.1% compared to the same month in 2015. The decline followed an annual drop of 1.3% for June 2016.

 

Bulgaria’s producer prices in agriculture have dropped by 0.8% year-on- year in the second quarter, as the crop output index rose 0.6%, while the animal output index fell 2.2%.

The prices of goods and services used by agricultural producers in the second quarter of 2016 fell 4.8% compared with the same period of 2015 and was down by 3.8% compared to 2015 average, the National Statistical Institute (NSI) announced on Tuesday.

Cereals  prices were 5.7% lower in the second quarter of 2016 compared to the same period of 2015; soft wheat dropped by 10.3%, barley prices decreased by 6.8%, and prices of fresh vegetables fell  15.7%. The prices of industrial crops rose 9.9%, fodder prices soared 28%, and fresh fruit prices increased by 10.5%.

Compared to the second quarter of 2015, an increase was registered in the price of live animals (+1.3%), while the prices of animal products fell 4.7%, the NSI said.

 

Bulgarian prosecutors have pressed charges of people smuggling against four Afghan citizens who attempted to smuggle 29 Syrian nationals into Bulgaria from Turkey.

The Afghans led the group of irregular Syrian migrants across Rezovska river, which that forms part of Bulgaria’s border with Turkey in Tsarevo Municipality, on Friday. The group included 15 persons under the age of 16 and a three-month old baby, Bulgaria’s Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement on Tuesday.

The four Afghan nationals, who were detained by police, weren’t registered as refugees in Bulgaria, according to the statement.

They face up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to BGN 30,000 if convicted.

 

Bulgarian Army servicemen have joined efforts to put down a wildfire in Harmanli Municipality for a second time in as many days, the Defence Ministry announced on Tuesday.

Thirty-one servicemen equipped with specialized vehicles help firefighters contain the spread of fire in an area between the villages of Ostar Kamak and Nadezhden in Harmanli Municipality, the ministry said in a statement.

The fire has spread across a pine forest in the area. No evacuation of the two villages is needed, the authorities have said.

On Monday, the army was called in to help batlle another fire that broke over the weekend in Harmanli Municipality, in Sakar Mountain located next to the border with Turkey.

The fire that raged between the villages of Izvorovo and Dripchevo ehgulfed over 5,000 hectares of vegetation, including 500ha of almond trees and vineyards, sunflower fields and pastures before it was contained. A Bulgarian Air Force Mi-24 helicopter took part in fighting the blaze there on Sunday.

 

Bulgaria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will grow by a real 3% in 2016, according to the chairman of the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Tsvetan Simeonov.

The average wage will exceed BGN 1,000 (EUR 500) in 2016, public radio broadcaster BNR quoted Simeonov as saying on Monday.

Simeonov also said that high-tech, outsourcing, car and machine parts manufacturing, pharmacy and cosmetics continue to be the engines of the Bulgarian economy. According to Simeonov, red tape and frequent changes to legislation remain the main obstacles to doing business in Bulgaria.








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