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The rescued pilot surviving pilot of the Russian warplane downed by Turkey has said that no warnings of airspace violation were issued by Turkish Air Force.

The surviving pilot of  the Su-24 bomber has told Rossiya-1 TV channel that there was no possibility for his plane to enter the Turkish airspace as the weather was clear and the jet was flying at an altitude of 6,000 meters.

"All our mission flight was in my personal full control until the explosion of the missile," he said on Wednesday, according to TASS.

"In fact there were no warnings either via radio communication or optically. There were no contacts at all," pilot navigator Captain Konstantin Murakhtin said. “That's why we were keeping our combat course as usual”.

Turkey, however, has said that it has warned the Su-24 to change course.

The Russian warplane was shot down on Tuesday by a missile fired from a Turkish F-16 fighter jet close to the border with Syria and fell in flames on Syrian territory. The two pilots ejected the falling plane.

Flight commander, Lt. Col. Oleg Peshkov, was shot dead by militants from the ground while parachuting to safety, the Russian military said earlier.    

Turkey has released audio of its communication with the Su-24, saying it was warned to change course 10 times in the space of five minutes as it neared the edge of Syrian airspace.

Bulgaria and its allies in NATO and the EU are interested in fast de-escalation of the tensions resulting from the downing of a Russian warplane by Turkish Air Force, the government in Sofia said on Wednesday.

“Solutions must be sought on a bilateral basis through active contacts between Moscow and Ankara,” the cabinet said in a statement following a session of “competent authorities” chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Rumyana Bachvarova.

The meeting also discussed the conclusions of Tuesday’s meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Brussels called over the incident.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s suicide bombing of a bus carrying members of the Tunisian presidential guard.

The Islamist militants have released a statement via the social media accounts on Wednesday, newswires reported.

The statement was accompanied by a photograph purportedly showing the suicide bomber dressed in white and wearing an explosives vest. He was named as Abu Abdullah at-Tunisi.

The jihadist group claimed that 20 people had been killed in the attack.

An earlier official death toll put the number of the victims at at 12, while CNN quoted an official in the Prime Minister's office as saying that 15 people had been killed in the blast.


Bulgaria said on Wednesday that supplies of Russian natural gas to the country and the volumes for transit to its neighbours are flowing normally - several hours after Russia said it has stopped supplying gas to Ukraine.

Bulgaria, which is almost entirely dependent on Russia for its gas imports, receives them via a transit pipeline crossing Ukraine and Romania.

“Currently, there is no change” in the contractual volumes and pressure fed into the national and transit gas transmission networks, the Energy Ministry in Sofia said on its website.

The gas volumes transported via the transit network on Bulgarian territory are also within the contractual parameters. The Bulgarian network for transit transmission is ensuring chiefly natural gas transport to Turkey, Greece and Macedonia.

The Energy Ministry also said that there are more than 450 million cubic meters pumped into the underground gas storage  in Chiren, in northern Bulgaria.

The present capacity can provide storage of up to 550 million cubic meters of gas for the needs of home consumers, according to Bulgartransgaz company.

Russian energy giant Gazprom said earlier on Wednesday that it has stopped supplying gas to Ukraine after the government in Kiev reportedly failed to make the agreed advance payments for new gas supplies.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk, however, said that his government ordered the country's gas company Naftogaz to stop purchasing natural gas from Russia as "the price offers from our European partners are much better than those from our northern neighbor," according to interfax.com.ua.

State-owned Bulgarian Development Bank (BDB) and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) have signed a memorandum of understanding that aims to encourage future cooperation in cross-border funding, bilateral loans, investments and trade, the BDB said on Wednesday.

The document formalizes a commitment to long-term strategic partnership between the two banks and provides for the exchange of expertise and good practices in the area of co-financing of major infrastructure projects and the implementation of joint research and analysis, the BDB said on its website.

The MoU was signed on Tuesday during the China and Central and Eastern European Countries Economic and Trade Forum in Suzhou, China.

After the signing ceremony, top BDB and ICBC officials discussed opportunities for the opening of bilateral credit lines to stimulate Bulgarian exports to China, with priority attached to  agricultural exports, as well as exports of Chinese companies to Bulgaria.

ICBC said it was ready to share know-how related to financing of small and medium-sized enterprises, which accounts for about 15% of the bank's portfolio, according to BDB. The Chinese bank also showed interest in the opening of direct credit lines to the BDB as well as taking part in future bond issues of the Bulgarian bank.

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China also expressed interest to programs of national character, as well as the provision of direct credit lines of BDB and participation in future financings of Bulgarian Development Bank.

The BDB is focused on lending to small and medium-sized enterprises. Its subsidiary, the National Guarantee Fund, issues guarantees for bank loans to the non-financial sector.

The ICBC, the world’s largest bank by assets, is present in 41 countries worldwide, providing financial products and services to five million corporate customers and 465 million personal customers. In 2014, ICBC was named the “Global Bank of the Year” by The Banker, ranked in the first place among the Top 1000 World Banks by The Banker and the largest enterprise in the world among the Global 2000 listed by the US magazine Forbes.


A new EUR 20 bank note entered into circulation on Wednesday, the European Central Bank announced.

The new note is more resistant to counterfeiting and includes a new kind of security feature: a “portrait window” near the top of the hologram stripe, which becomes transparent when seen against the light.

A portrait of Europa, a figure from Greek mythology, can be seen in the window on both sides of the note, the ECB said.

The new note, 4.3 billion of which have been printed so far, will gradually replace the EUR 20 banknotes of the first series, which will however remain legal tender.

It is the third banknote of the Europa series and follows the new EUR 5 and EUR 10 notes. The other denominations will be introduced gradually over several years. 


Representatives of the tourist sector are moderate optimists that the forthcoming winter season in Bulgaria will be a successful one.

This was stated by Bulgarian Deputy Tourism Minister Irena Georgieva, who attended the opening of the Go2Balkans tourist exhibition in Inter Expo Center in Sofia on Wednesday.

All tourist representatives from Bulgaria are concerned about the warm weather, but the rate of bookings is going well, with their number expected to grow at the last moment.

This winter Bulgaria will rely in an increase in the number of tourists from Israel, Moldova, the United Kingdom, Slovakia, Macedonia as well from the traditional Balkan markets – Greece, Romania and Turkey.

The three Balkan states are among the countries generating the greatest number of tourists and revenues to Bulgarian incoming tourism.

In 2014, there were more than one million Greek visitors to Bulgaria, the number of tourists from Romania was slightly over half a million, while Turkish guests were slightly below half a million.

The minister had no observation that the crisis in Greece has reflected on the number of tourist trips completed by Greeks in the summer and expressed hope that it would not seriously affect the forthcoming winter season.

Georgieva assured that the tourism ministry will support each initiative on creating joint tourist Balkan products, with one such possibility existing within the framework of the Danube strategy and the development of cultural-historical routes in particular.

According to her, Bulgaria was working hard on creating a Danube brand.

The minister reminded that Bulgaria and Romania have signed a memorandum on cooperation and have advanced on the creation of a joint tourist center in China.

There were also negotiations with Greece on developing similar joint products and means aimed at establishing the Balkan region as a tourist destination.

Georgieva revealed that Bulgaria was also participating in the so-called 16+1 format, which brings together sixteen countries from Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and China.

In her words, the participants in the format are holding talks on Chinese investments in CEE and in particular the tourist coordination center created with the aim of attracting Chinese tourists to the region.

She reminded that Chinese tourists are interested in visiting at least three destinations per trip, with their holiday lasting minimum of ten days to two weeks.

Georgieva expressed hope that in the near future Bulgaria will be able to attract Russian tourists not only to come on holidays, but also to experience the more specialised kinds of tourism offered by the country.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made clear Turkey was only defending its security when shooting at a Russian warplane reportedly flying in its airspace close to the border with Syria on Tuesday.

In his words, Ankara had no intention "of escalating the incident" and its goal, apart from defending the country, was to defend "the rights of our brothers", according to Today's Zaman.

This was an apparent reference to Turkmens living in Northern Syria, an ethnic group Turkey considers part of its own population due to ethnic and historic ties. Moscow earlier suggested Turkmens had mingled with Islamic State (IS) fighters where the Russian plane had dropped bombs a little before the incident took place.

According to Erdogan, the plane was shot at while in Turkey's airspace but had crashed inside Syria.

His Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, on the other hand, accused on Wednesday Turkey of purposefully working to incite Radical Islam inside its own territory.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has described the incident with a Russian warplane at the Turkish-Syrian border as a "planned provocation".

A day earlier, hours after the incident occurred, Lavrov canceled a visit to Turkey that had been scheduled for Wednesday.

English-language Zaman reports Lavrov and his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, discussed the developments over the phone, more than 24 hours after the jet was downed.

TASS quotes Russia's top diplomat as suggesting the attack by two Turkish F-16s on the Russian fighter bomber SU-24 looked deliberate.

He argued that the "hotline" set up between Turkey and Russia after Moscow's decision to start an operation in Syria had not been used to prevent the incident.

"This raises a lot of questions," he said.

He pointed to the fact the Russian aircraft had been downed after hitting oilfields used by the Islamic State (IS) group.

Lavrov thus made a reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin's Tuesday comments that Turkey used much oil from IS-controlled oilfields.

On Wednesday, Putin accused the government of Turkey of fomenting radical Islam in the country.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that the current Turkish leadership has purposefully pursued the Islamisation of the country for a number of years.

Putin made it clear that Islam was a great world religion and one of the traditional ones, including in Russia.

The Russian president assured that Russia supports Islam and will continue to do so, with the problem being in the support of a more radical branch of the religion.

He warned that Russian citizens staying in Turkey could be facing serious danger and reminded the advice of the Foreign Ministry towards Russians to refrain from visiting Turkey.

The comments of Putin come in response to the downing of Russian Su-24 warplane by Turkey near the Turkish-Syrian border on Tuesday.

Ankara claims that the Russian aircraft had violated Turkish airspace and had been warned ten times before being shot down, while Moscow maintains that the airplane was in Syrian airspace.

The warplane was brought down by an air-to-air missile launched by a Turkish F-16 fighter jet. Both pilots managed to eject themselves, but one of them was killed midair by gunfire from the ground.

The other pilot was rescued by Russian and Syrian forces and brought to safety to a Russian airbase in the region.

On Tuesday, Putin said that the incident will have negative consequences on the relations between the two countries.

On Wednesday, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev blamed Turkey for worsening the relations between Russia and NATO.

The second pilot of the Russian Su-24 warplane, which was brought down by Turkey near the Turkish-Syrian border on Tuesday, is safe and sound.

This was announced by Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu on Wednesday, TASS news agency informs.

The pilot was rescued by Russian and Syrian forces and taken to base, in an operation which lasted for twelve hours.

Ankara claims that the Russian aircraft had violated Turkish airspace and had been warned ten times before being shot down, while Moscow maintains that the airplane was in Syrian airspace.

The warplane was brought down by an air-to-air missile launched by a Turkish F-16 fighter jet.

Both pilots managed to eject themselves, but one of them was killed in midair by gunfire from the ground.

Chinese companies have demonstrated interest towards major infrastructure projects in Bulgaria.

According to Bulgarian Regional Minister Lilyana Pavlova, the Chinese have showed greatest interest towards the Cherno More (Black Sea) motorway, the planned tunnel under Shipka peak and the Ruse-Svilengrad road.

As regards the Ruse-Svilengrad road, the Chinese are more interested in combining the road with the tunnel under Shipka.

The original Bulgarian proposal projects the following route: Ruse – Veliko Tarnovo – Hainboaz Pass – Svilengrad.

Pavlova is part of the Bulgarian delegation of seven ministers headed by Prime Minister Boyko Borisov during their visit to China for participation at the fourth leaders' meeting of Central and Eastern European (CEE)countries and China.

At the forum, the regional minister presented the priorities of Bulgaria and the opportunities for participation in public-private partnership in the construction of infrastructure.

She noted that Bulgaria supports not only the 16+1 initiative, but also the EU-China Connectivity Platform and the One Belt, One Road initiative.

In her words, Bulgaria is to insist on part of the routes of these corridors to pass through the country and the opportunities have been discussed at the forum.

The priority of Bulgaria is to complete its motorway ring and concrete projects for which funding is being sought.

Among these projects are: Hemus and Cherno More motorways, the Sofia-Kalotina, Sofia-Vidin and Ruse-Veliko Tarnovo roads.

Transport Minister Ivaylo Moskovski, who is also in China, added that many countries in Europe and Asia are in favour of restoring the Silk Road, but this will be difficult to complete as it passes through many countries, with some of them experiencing problems.

All Bulgarian infrastructure projects, which could be offered to concession were presented at the forum.

Apart from airports and ports, there is an idea to also offer to concession railway lines such as Ruse-Varna and Vidin-Kulata.

Moskovski added that a concession of Plovdiv Airport is forthcoming.

The anti-discrimination authority of Bulgaria is to hold a session on Thursday after claims lodged by a Bulgarian citizen over a brand biscuits whose name she considers "racist".

"Negarche", a brand roughly translated as an insulting word for some African people (in this case referring to a kid), are Bulgarian biscuits that have been manufactured for decades, some time before non-discrimination standards were established.

However, the non-discrimination commission's website shows a claim has been filed by Albena Jones, a Bulgarian citizen against the company producing Negarche over what she believes is racial bias.

The website Money.bg quotes the company as saying Jones' compaint is groundless, while the biscuits themselves are popular among consumers.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev blamed Turkey for worsening the relations between Russia and NATO.

Medvedev described the Turkish action of taking down the Russian Su-24 warplane near the Turkish-Syrian border on Tuesday as criminal, which will have three consequences.

First of all, this will lead to dangerous worsening of relations between Russia and NATO, which can not be justified by any interests, including protection of state borders.

Second, Turkey demonstrated that by its actions it actually protects the militants of Islamic State (IS).

According to Medvedev, this was not surprising, considering the information on the direct financial interest of some Turkish officials linked with the supply of IS-produced petroleum.

Third, the longstanding good neighbourly relations between Russia and Turkey, including in the economy and humanitarian spheres, have been undermined.

The worsening of relations will be difficult to repair and among its direct consequences might be the cessation of a number of important joint projects.

In the words of Medvedev, this could also result in Turkish companies losing their positions on the Russian market.

Earlier on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the incident will have negative consequences on the relations between the two countries.

Ankara claims that the Russian aircraft had violated Turkish airspace and was issued with ten warnings, while Moscow maintains that the airplane was in Syrian airspace.

The warplane was brought down with an air-to-air missile launched from a Turkish F-16 fighter jet, TASS news agency informs.

The two pilots ejected themselves, with one of them reportedly killed in midair by fire from the ground.

Some BGN 1 M will be spent on electric cars for civil servants working in the state and municipal administration, Bulgaria's Environment Minister Ivelina Vasileva said on Wednesday.

In an interview with private national bTV station, she opined the move would set an example for citizens to follow.

Bulgaria has traditionally ranked among Europe's worst air polluters, and several governments have maintained that incentives for the use of e-cars will help deal with the problem.


Bulgarian ambassador to Turkey, Nadezhda Neynski, said on Wednesday that the worsening of relations between Russia and Turkey could lead to an increase in the refugee wave.

In an interview for private NOVA TV, Neynski commented the downing of the Russian Su-24 warplane by Turkish fighter jets near the Turkish-Syrian border on Tuesday.

Ankara claims that the Russian aircraft was brought down after it had violated Turkish airspace and had been issued with ten warnings.

Moscow maintains that the airplane was in Syrian airspace, with Russian President Vladimir Putin saying that the incident will have a negative consequence on the relations between Moscow and Ankara.

A visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Ankara had been scheduled to take place on Wednesday, but was cancelled after the incident.

According to Neynski, the two countries should continue the dialogue as a military conflict was definitely not a solution.

In her words, two forthcoming events will determine to some extent the development of relations.

One of these events is the meeting of the Heads of State or Government of the EU member states with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, which is scheduled to take place in Brussels on Sunday.

The other event is the scheduled visit of Turkish President Recep Erdogan to Moscow on December 15, where he is expected to hold talks on all issues concerning Syria as well as developments in the field of energy.

Neynski added that it was important to see what will happen in this twenty-day period and whether the visit of Erdogan to Russia will take place.

According to her, it is apparent that the two sides should move towards reconciling their positions as well as to establish what exactly had taken place near the border.

This should be pursued both at direct talks between Russia and Turkey as well as the level of NATO-Russia.

In her words, the differences in the stances of the two countries and the tension were indirect causes of the incident.

Neynski reminded that Turkey had repeatedly claimed that military operations could cause a refugee wave and worsen the humanitarian situation.

According to her, these were some of the risks for Bulgaria, with economic consequences also likely to affect the country.

Russian energy concern Gazprom has stopped supplying UKriane with gas, with CEO Alexey Miller saying Kiev is failing to make the payments needed.

A prepayment system was introduced by Moscow last year, amid a gas pricing dispute that started soon after Crimea was incorporated into Russia.

Interfax quotes Miller as saying Ukraine has issued no new supply requests.

Russian daily Kommersant, on the other hand, says Ukrainian officials are accusing Russia of not abiding by earlier gas contracts.

Ukraine's gas reserves are currently estimated at 2 million tons, and amount that will only be enough for less than a month.

At least twelve people were killed as an explosion targeted a bus carrying presidential guards in the Tunisian capital of Tunis on Tuesday.

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi declared a thirty-day state of emergency, saying that the country was in the “state of war”.

The interior ministry described the incident as a “terror act”, with no group so far having claimed responsibility for the attack.

The exact cause of the explosion has not been identified yet, but reports suggest that a bomber detonated explosives in the vehicle.

The explosion occurred at a bus stop where the presidential guard picks up and drops off its staff, Al Jazeera informs.

The country has been gripped by instability, with armed groups having targeted security forces and civilians on several occasions.

In June, a gunman reportedly affiliated to Islamic State (IS), killed 38 European tourists in the coastal resort of Sousse.

In March, armed men claiming to be local affiliates of al-Qaeda, attacked the Bardo National Museum in Tunis, killing more than twenty people, mostly European tourists.


Security has been stepped up for Hungary's top officials after police detained six people last week, Reuters reports citing anti-terror police.

Four of the pople arrested were heading to Budapest in a car where explosives were found.

Separately, a "bomb laboratory" was discovered with explosives and devices "suitable for killing people to the utmost extent", the agency quotes the Counter Terrorism Center's Director General Janos Hajdu as saying.

An Islamist link is not ruled out in the investigation.


The hostage siege, which took place in the northern French town of Roubaix near the border with Belgium on Tuesday, ended with one of the gunman reportedly killed.

Their is no information on the exact number of hostages, but all of them are now safe and in secure place, the BBC reports.

Similarly, the exact number of the abductors remains unknown, with reports suggesting that there were up to three armed men, who reportedly were planning a bank robbery.

According to reports, one of the abductors was killed during the police operation and at least one suspect was arrested.

The incident is not believed to have been related to the security situation in France following the deadly attacks in Paris on November 13, which claimed the lives of 130 people and left hundreds injured.


The Bulgarian Academy of Science has suggested the arrival of migrants from the Middle East and North Africa, but also from EU accession countries can be used to tackle the demographic crisis Bulgaria has plundged into.

A report on population trends until 2030 unveiled by the academy on Tuesday reads that some 7200 migrants from the region should be accepted and convinced to stay.

It also suggests growth rate can be improved by an influx of nationals from EU accession countries. While last year 8975 citizens of such countries were granted residence permits, the overal number for the next 15 years could be increased to 45-185 000 through specific policies.

Expats who left the country over the course of 25 years should also be encouraged to return, with the academy saying Bulgaria needs 60-80 000 of them to help reverse demographic trends.

The best-case senario for Bulgaria would be a zero growth rate in 2030, against the backdrop of negative values throughout the past two-and-a-half decades. In 2014, the rate was a negative 0.6%.

Bulgaria's population, currently about 7.2 million, has shrunk by more than two million since the fall of Communism, partially due to the mass exodus of Bulgarians that started in the 1990s, with many looking for a job in Western and Southern Europe. As of the last few years, between 50 and 70 000 Bulgarians leave the country annually.

A recent report by the National Statistical Instutute (NSI) warned the country's population could sink below five million by 2070.

Armed men may have taken hostages in the town of Roubaix in northern France, near the border with Belgium, local media reported on Tuesday.

Witnesses have said gunshots were being fired in the incident that took place at a residence at around 7 p.m. local time (18:00 GMT).

"An operation is underway after hostages were taken. Gunshots were fired and the neighbourhood has been cordoned off," a police source has told Reuters. "A bank director and his family may have been taken as hostages."

French media have described the hostage-takers as heavily armed, and the counter-terrorism unit RAID has arrived at the scene, though a police source told Reuters that there is no apparent connection to the 13 November terror attacks in Paris.


A Russian Mi-8 helicopter has come under attack during a search and rescue operation tasked with saving the two pilots of the downed Su-24 warplane in Syria, the Russian military said on Tuesday.

The Russian General Staff said that two Mi-8s were involved in the operation taking place in an area controlled by Syrian rebels. One of the helicopters was shot down and a Russian marine was killed.

“Personnel from the search and rescue team and the helicopter's crew have been evacuated and are now located at the Hmeymim air base,” Lieutenant-General Sergei Rudskoi, the head of the Main Operations Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, told reporters on Tuesday, according to sputniknews.com.

“The downed helicopter was destroyed by mortar fire from territory controlled by armed gangs,” he added.

The search and rescue operation continues, Rudskoi said.


NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called for calm on Tuesday following the downing of a Russian warplane by Turkey.

“Diplomacy and de-escalation are important to resolve this situation,” Stoltenberg said in a statement after an extraordinary meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Brussels.

Stoltenberg said that he is looking forward to further contacts between Ankara and Moscow.

“I have previously expressed my concerns about the implications of the military actions of the Russian Federation close to NATO’s borders. This highlights the importance of having and respecting arrangements to avoid such incidents in the future,” Stoltenberg said.

Russia maintains that its Su-24 fighter bomber was above Syrian territory on Tuesday when it was hit by a missile fired from a Turkish F-16 fighter jet. According to the Turkish military, the Russian warplane had violated Turkey's airspace close to the border with Syria and had ignored 10 warnings to leave issued in the space of five minutes.


Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has said that his country exercised its “international right and national duty” by downing a Russian warplane which the authorities in Ankara said had violated the Turkish airspace.

Turkey has the right to take “all kinds of measures” against border violations, Davutoglu said on Tuesday, according to Anadolu Agency.

“We would like the entire world to know that we will take all necessary measures and make any sacrifices when it comes to the lives and dignity of our citizens and for the security of our borders while our country is in a circle of fire,” Davutoglu said

A Russian Su-24 fighter bomber was shot down on Tuesday morning by Turkish Air Force as part of rules of engagement and violation of airspace in the Kızıldag region near the border with Syria. Turkey's Presidency has confirmed the warplane belonged to Russia and it was shot down after violating Turkey's airspace.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday the warplane was flying over Syrian territory at a distance of 1 km. from the border with Turkey when it was hit by an air-to-air missile fired from a Turkish F-16 fighter jet.

Russia has lodged a formal protest with Turkey over the downing of its Su-24 jet, TASS reported on Tuesday.

“The Russian Defense Ministry urgently summoned the Turkish military attache to present an official protest over the actions of the Turkish Air Force,” the Russian news agency said, citing a statement from the ministry.

The ministry also said that it considers the downing of the Su-24 fighter bomber over Syria by a Turkish Air Force plane "an unfriendly act".

Russia will continue carrying out airstrikes against terrorists in Syria despite the downing of the plane, according to the statement. 

Eight people have been arrested in a crackdown on a Europe-wide organised crime group suspected of arranging for mainly Albanian nationals to be brought into the EU in breach of immigration law, Europol announced on Tuesday.    

The group, comprised mainly of Czech and Albanian nationals, has been operating since late 2013, Europol said in a press release.

The group smuggled "irregular migrants to the UK via two routes: either from Turkey or Greece to Belgium and then on to the UK in vehicles driven by Czech and Slovak drivers, or from Bulgaria or Serbia to the Czech Republic, and then via Germany to the UK by ferry or train," Europol said.

The action against the group was taken on Tuesday by judicial and law enforcement authorities from Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany and the UK with support from Europol and Eurojust.

Europol disclosed neither the nationality of those arrested, nor where the arrests had been made.


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has cancelled his visit to Turkey scheduled for Wednesday following the downing of a Russian warplane by a Turkish Air Force jet.

"It has been decided to cancel the meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and the Turkish Republic planned for tomorrow in Istanbul,” TASS quoted Lavrov as saying to reporters on Tuesday.

Lavrov planned to take part in a session of the Russian-Turkish Strategic Planning Group in Turkey on Wednesday.

Terrorist threats originating from Turkey’s territory are increasing, Lavrov said.

"And this can be said irrespective of what has taken place today," Lavrov said, apparently referring to the downing of Russian Su-24 fighter-bomber earlier on Tuesday.

He also said that the Foreign Ministry in Moscow doesn’t recommend to Russian citizens to travel to Turkey as “the threat of terrorism in Turkey is no less than in Egypt”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier on Tuesday that the downed Su-24 was no threat to Turkey and warned that the incident would have "serious consequences" for the relations between Moscow and Ankara.

Putin said the Russian warplane was flying over Syrian territory at a distance of 1 km. from the border with Turkey when it was hit by an air-to-air missile fired from a Turkish F-16 plane.

According to the Turkish military, the Russian warplane had violated Turkey's air space.

The European Commission proposed on Tuesday a euro-area wide insurance scheme for bank deposits.

The EU executive body also set out further measures to reduce remaining risks in the banking sector in parallel.

“A European Deposit Insurance Scheme (EDIS) will strengthen the Banking Union, buttress bank depositor protection, reinforce financial stability and further reduce the link between banks and their sovereigns,” the Commission said in a press release.

European Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, responsible for the Euro and Social Dialogue, commented that completing the Banking Union is essential for a resilient and prosperous Economic and Monetary Union.

“The Commission's proposal for a European Deposit Insurance Scheme builds on national deposit insurance schemes and would be accessible only on the condition that commonly agreed rules have been fully implemented,” Dombrovskis said, according to the press release.

The scheme would develop in three stages. It would consist of a re-insurance of national Deposit Guarantee Schemes, moving after three years to a co-insurance scheme, in which the contribution of EDIS will progressively increase over time.

As a final stage, a full European Deposit Insurance Scheme is envisaged in 2024. The scheme includes a series of strong safeguards against 'moral hazard' and inappropriate use, in order to give incentives to national schemes to manage their potential risks in a prudent way.

A national scheme will only be able to access EDIS if it fully complies with relevant Union law.

Alongside introducing EDIS and in parallel to the work on the legislative proposal, the Commission will pursue measures to reduce risks and ensure a level playing field in the Banking Union, according to the press release.

These measures include reducing national options and discretions in the application of prudential rules; harmonising national deposit guarantee schemes; enforcing existing rules so that the use of public funding to maintain a solvent and resilient banking sector is minimised; and, achieving greater convergence in insolvency law.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday described the shooting down of a Russian warplane by Turkey as “a stab in the back” committed by "accomplices of terrorists".

"I understand each country has its own regional interests, and we have always respected that. But we shall never tolerate crimes like today's one," the Russian President said.

Putin said the Su-24 warplane was hit by air-to-air missile fired by a Turkish F-16 plane while it was flying over Syrian territory at a distance of 1 km. from the border with Turkey.

He also said the plane was flying above Syria’s northern Lattakia province where Islamic militants coming from Russia are concentrated, according to TASS.

"Our pilots and jet posed no threat to the Turkish Republic. This is obvious. They were conducting an operation against ISIL," Putin said, using another name for the Islamic State group.

The Su-24 fighter-bomber ventured into Turkey’s airspace, according to the Turkish military. They also say the Russian jet was warned 10 times within five minutes that it was violating Turkish airspace before it was engaged.

Russia's Defence Ministry says the plane stayed on the Syrian side of the border. 

The two-man crew is believed to have ejected before the jet crashed in Syria’s Latakia province, but Syrian rebels claim at least one of the pilots was dead.




The Bulgarian capital of Sofia will host for a third consecutive year the Sofia International Literary Festival, which starts on November 25 and will continue until December 13.

This year’s edition is focused on literature from the Iberian Peninsula and will present some of the most popular names in contemporary European literature.

The festival is organised by Bulgarian Book Association and consists of a preparatory part which begins on Wednesday and includes poetry, deuces, discussions, music, cinema and exhibitions.

The official start of the main part of Sofia Literary Festival will be given in the marble lobby of the National Palace of Culture (NDK) in Sofia on December 8.

For one week literature lovers will have the opportunity to meet with more than 50 writers from Spain, Portugal and Bulgaria who will gather in Sofia to promote European literature.

The audience will have the opportunity to meet with José Carlos Somoza, Maite Carranza, José Rodrigues dos Santos and many other poets and writers.

The Festival is organised with the institutional partnership of NDK, Cervantes Institute in Sofia, Camões Institute and with the financial support of Sofia Municipality.

Detailed information about the festival program, participants and events can be found on the website of the festival.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the downing of the Su-24 warplane near the Turkish-Syrian border on Tuesday will have a negative consequences on the relations between Moscow and Ankara.

Putin identified the attack as a crime and highlighted that Russia will not tolerate it, TASS news agency quotes him as saying.

According to the Russian president, the shooting down of the airplane goes beyond normal struggle against terrorism and was a “stab in Russia's back delivered by terrorist accomplices”.

Putin noted that the aircraft was brought down by an air-to-air missile launched from a Turkish F-16 fighter jet.

According to Turkey, the Russian airplane had violated Turkish airspace and was issued with ten warnings before being attacked by two Turkish F-16 fighter jets, while Russia maintains that the airplane was above Syrian territory.

The fate of the two pilots remains unclear, with earlier reports suggesting that both pilots managed to eject the airplane.

Later reports emerged that one of the pilots was dead.

The Turkish military attache in Russia has been summoned to the Russian Defence Ministry.

Meanwhile, the governing body of NATO, the North Atlantic Council will convene at an extraordinary meeting on the request of Turkey.



Bulgarian Economy Minister Bozhidar Lukarski presented the industrial zones around Sofia and Plovdiv to Chinese investors.

Lukarski together with six other ministers is part of the Bulgarian delegation headed by Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, which is on a visit to China for participation at the fourth leaders’ meeting of Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries and China, which is taking place in the Chinese city of Suzhou on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Bulgarian cabinet expressed its strong support for the partnership initiative between the countries of CEE and China, the government’s press service informs.

According to Lukarski, the most significant results from such a partnership would be the increase of Chinese investments in Bulgaria and the growth of trade exchange between the two countries.

The economy minister said this during the session of the fifth economic and trade forum between the countries of CEE and China dedicated to the development of industrial parks.

The forum is accompanying the leaders’ meeting, the so-called 16+1 initiative, which is attended by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.

Lukarski presented Bulgaria as an excellent place for doing business, which offers considerable economic and logistical advantages to Chinese companies.

In his words, the strategic location and good infrastructure connectivity position Bulgaria as the “Eastern gate of Europe”.

Lukarski identified machine construction, automobile industry, electronics and electronic technology, information and communication technologies (ICT), chemical and pharmaceutical industry, agriculture and food industry as Bulgaria’s priority sectors, which hold potential of attracting Chinese investments.

Another possible field, which has potential to attract Chinese investors, is the joint construction of industrial and technological parks.

On behalf of the Bulgarian government, Lukarski invited Chinese companies to invest in Bulgarian industrial parks as either strategic investors for joint construction or as individual investors in their concrete sectors.

The minister highlighted that Bulgaria offers industrial and high-tech parks and zones, which are supported by the state and which might be of interest to Chinese companies.

In particular, Lukarski presented the Bozhurishte economic zone, which is managed by the state National Company Industrial Zones.

The zone has a strategic location in proximity to the capital of Sofia and spans an area of 2.7 million square metres.

The zone also has well-developed infrastructure and is directed towards production, logistics and services.

Sofia Tech Park was identified as the first science and technology park in Bulgaria, providing excellent opportunity to extend the activities of R&D centres from China and Europe.

The main focus of the state-owned park is on: ICT, natural science – biotechnology; foods and agriculture; green energy and clean technologies.

The Euro-Chinese economic zone Thrace (Trakia) was presented as a public-private initiative, including nine municipalities, six industrial zones and three clusters in the region of Plovdiv in central Bulgaria.

So far, the zone has successfully attracted investments of more than BGN 1 B and more than 110 foreign and local leading companies.

The aim of the zone is to create a bridge between Europe and China and to become a centre of industry, commerce and modern logistics.

It is situated strategically on Trakia motorway, which connects Europe with Turkey and the Middle East.

Lukarski expressed hope that the forthcoming concession of Plovdiv Airport will additionally aid the logistics and development of the business in the region.

The first stage of development of the zone foresees investments of EUR 150 M.

Logistical hub Plovdiv has the aim to combine growing traffic from China to the EU through electronic trade with integrated logistics and an aviation project.

The competitive advantage of the project lies in the integrity of its components – Plovdiv Airport, the economic zones situated in the vicinity, the free trade zone, which would create a one-stop shop for Chinese importer companies in the EU.

According to him, these advantages, coupled with the favourable economic, tax and price conditions, make Bulgaria competitive to other entry points to the EU market.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has said it would be "an honour" for his country to host a meeting of mayors from China and Central and Eastern European (CEE) states.

Borisov has extended the invitation during the Fourth China-CEE Summit currently taking place in the city of Suzhou, China.

In his words, a meeting bringing together the mayors of all participating states' respective capitals should take place in Sofia as early as 2016.

The PM has praised the 16+1 initiative which China and the CEE region use to explore options for deepening economic ties and boosting trade exchange.

The Bulgarian heavyweight boxer Kubrat Pulev will face Maurice Harris from the US at a Sauerland Event promotion in Hamburg on December 5.

In his last bout in October, Pulev defeated the Brazilian George Arias, but did not show an impressive performance.

In his professional career, the Bulgarian has recorded 21 victories (eleven of them by knockout) and suffered only one defeat.

In November 2014, the Cobra was knocked out by the reigning heavyweight world champion Wladimir Klitschko from Ukraine.

Harris, known as “Sugar Moe”, is the former US Boxing Association heavyweight champion.

Throughout his professional career, he has recorded 26 victories (eleven by knockout), suffered twenty defeats (13 by knockout) and achieved three draws.

In his last encounter, the US was defeated by Alexander Ustinov from Russia in a match for the vacant WBA international heavyweight title.


Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has said it is too early to speculate about what caused the crash of a Russian Su-24 at the Syrian-Turkish border, local media report.

Peskov has made clear "no definitive statements" can be made as of the moment, less than two hours after first reports emerged that Turkey had downed a Russian aircraft which it claims had violated its airspace.

Russia disputes this, arguing the plane did not breach the airspace of Turkey and was possibly shot down by rebels.

Putin is expected to make a statement later on Tuesday. The Russian President is now meeting Jordan's King, Abdullah II.

Meanwhile, some Russian media outlets report the country's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is to cancel his visit to Turkey planned for Wednesday, November 25. However, this has not been officially confirmed.

UK Ambassador to Bulgaria Emma Hopkins said on Tuesday the EU needs to jointly manage common borders and apply stricter control as part of a "new Schengen stage".

In an interview with private bTV station, Hopkins opined Europe was facing an unprecedented threat requiring a more efficient control of the bloc's external borders.

She also downplayed concerns voiced by many in Europe over the migrant crisis, putting emphasis on the much bigger burden on Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, three countries which have already accepted millions of migrants from Syria.

Ambassador Hopkins also warned a distinction should always be made between the terrorism threat and the migrant flow.

In her words, the Islamic State (IS) group could be defeated if European countries joined forces.

Hopkins arrived in Bulgaria in the spring of this year.

She told bTV she enjoyed traveling and was working to learn Bulgarian.

Chinese entrepreneurs will build a large forage factory in northeastern Bulgaria.

The factory, which will be located in the breadbasket of Bulgaria – the region of Dobrudja, will process forage plants for export.

This was announced by Bulgarian Agriculture Minister Desislava Taneva after business meetings at the international economic forum in the Chinese city of Suzhou.

The construction permit is expected to be issued in two months and there is interest for building further production capacities.

The Chinese entrepreneurs have already spent a year and a half in Bulgaria on projecting and applying for construction permit, with the building expected to start soon.

Once the factory is built, it will become one of the largest forage production capacities in Bulgaria, daily Sega informs.

Taneva added that the certification of Bulgarian fruits and vegetables for export to China is expected to start soon.

A Bulgarian delegation headed by Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and consisting of seven ministers is on a visit to China for participation at the fourth leaders’ meeting of Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries and China which is scheduled to take place in Suzhou on Tuesday and Wednesday.

On Monday, it became clear that a Chinese company will build a sunflower oil production plant in the industrial zone of Burgas.

Workers at museums, galleries and municipal libraries will stage protests across Bulgaria on Tuesday against the insufficient funding allocated to the cultural sector.

They will protest against the systematic underfunding of the cultural heritage and the inadequate remuneration of employees in the cultural sector.

The protesters invite citizens to join their day of discontent by offering free admission to certain cultural institutions, staging processions and other activities.

The protesters will be supported by the officials of the National Library, who have scheduled their own demonstration to take place on December 10.

According to the workers, the funds foreseen in the 2016 budget are less than what is necessary for switching to the system of delegated budgets in state museums.

Among their demands are: increasing the basic sums paid by the state; directing BGN 4 M towards regional libraries through municipalities; allocating additional funds to the outdoor areas of cultural institutions; increasing the salaries of specialists, who are currently being paid BGN 400-550, by 50 %.

Specialists warn that without fulfilling these conditions, the museums and galleries will be no longer able to safeguard the cultural heritage.

Most of the workers in the cultural sector will protest symbolically or during their lunch breaks.

The National Historical Museum (NIM) has declared an “open door day” on Tuesday, with workers going to explain to visitors their activities and their working conditions.

Writers, readers and workers will organize a large-scale protest reading at the stairs of the Sofia library on Slaveikov square.

Between 12 and 13 EET, the workers are expected to hold a protest at the staff entrance of the building of parliament.

Out of 3000 people working in the cultural sector, more than 2200 have confirmed their participation in the protests.

An aircraft in service with Russia's air forces has been shot down by Turkey in the air near the border with Syria, local media report citing military sources.

Turkey's Presidency has confirmed the plane was Russian, after initial suggestions it might have been in service with the Syrian air forces.

The incident occurred north of the Syrian port of Latakia. Reportedly, Turkish authorities had issued ten warnings in less than 5 minutes against possible violations of the country's airspace.

The fate of the two pilots is not clear, with unverified footage showing one of them has been killed. Earlier reports suggested they were captured by Syrian Turkmen.

Hürriyet Daily News quoted PM Ahmet Davutoglu's office as saying Ankara is to consult with NATO and the United Nations on the latest developments.

According to information available so far the Su-24 was gunned down from the ground while flying at an altitude of 6000 meters.

It was difficult to immediately confirm whether the downed Su-24 was part of Syria's or Russia's air forces.

Ankara suggests the aircraft had entered into Turkey's airspace.

But Russia's Defense Ministry, quoted by Sputniknews, says it had not breached the airspace of Turkey.


Turkish armed forces' chief of staff is to make a statement on the development.

Latest developments come just a day before a visit by Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Ankara planned for Wednesday, November 25.

French company Engie and US-based Cheniere have confirmed they are interested in importing natural gas to Bulgaria starting in 2016, a specialized energy website has announced

It also quotes Ivan Ivanov, head of Bulgaria's energy watchdog KEVR, as saying at an energy conference the two companies were willing to deliver gas, but had previously experienced difficulties with their access to the gas grid which were removed after KEVR gave the green light to a new set of rules.

These allow free and non-discriminatory access to the network of state-owned company Bulgargaz. Authorities hope the step would encourage more companies to deliver gas to Bulgaria and help reduce energy dependence on Russia.

French President Francois Hollande is actively seeking support from both his Euro-Atlantic allies and Russia in the fight against Islamic State (IS) in response to the deadly attacks in Paris on November 13 which claimed the lives of at least 130 people and left hundreds injured.

Hollande is scheduled to meet his US counterpart Barack Obama at the White House on Tuesday just a day after having hosted British Prime Minister David Cameron at the Elysee Palace in Paris.

On Monday, Cameron vowed to provide new assistance to Paris in the French airstrikes against IS targets in Syria, which have intensified in the aftermath of the deadly attacks in Paris.

The British prime minister also pledged to ask the British Parliament for approval to join the fight against the extremist militants.

Cameron also offered to provide a British airbase in Cyprus for use by French fighter jets from where to conduct their airstrikes.

On Tuesday, Hollande is expected to ask the US president to commit more assets in the fight against IS, the Voice of America reports.

France moved its only aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle into position in the Mediterranean on Monday.

At their meeting on Tuesday, Obama is expected to express support and solidarity to France.

The two leaders are also expected to highlight the need to strengthen the trans-Atlantic relationship.

Later in the week, Hollande will travel to Moscow to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

Russian airstrikes in Syria have been criticized by the West for targeting mainly rebels opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad rather than IS.

Moscow intensified the airstrikes after it became clear that the Russian aircraft in Egypt's Sinai peninsula had been brought down by a bomb.

IS has claimed responsibility for both bringing down the Kogalymavia airplane and the attacks in Paris.

A Russian inspection group is in Bulgaria on a three-day visit in order to oversee military activities, reported the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The inspection is a clause of the Vienna Document, established in 2011 by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), of which both Bulgaria and the Russian Federation are members.

On the first day of its visit, on Tuesday, November 24, the inspection group will check up military activities in Plovdiv, where the Bulgarian army’s main military units are located.

The schedule of inspections for Tuesday also includes meetings with commanders of the military units at the locations scheduled for observation.

At 15:00 local time, the delegation will visit the training area in Southwestern village of Novo selo.

The Vienna Document is the first international agreement aimed to establish and implement a system of confidence and security building measures. Under the agreement, OSCE member states consent to exchange on an annual basis information about military forces and all military activities on their territories.

No-one has been hurt after a bomb exploded near the Federation of Greek Enterprises' building in Athens, Geeece.

The blast occurred in the small hours of Tuesday near the Syntagma Square in downtown Athens where Parliament is located, local media outlets report.

Windows of nearby buildings were damaged by the explosion.

Attacks carried out by far-left groups and anarchist have been on the rise since the crisis began in Greece in 2008.

Tuesday's incident, however, has been the first such attack since Alexis Tsipras, head of leftist SYRIZA party, took over as Prime Minister in January.

Europe, the Americas, Russia and China shoud unite to counter terrorism applying a full range of security measures, Bulgaria's President Rosen Plevneliev has said.

"Our weapon is integration, not isolation," the President has said, urging the bloc to take steps toward "more Europe" and not "less Europe."

In his words, all religious groups such as Christians, Muslims and Jews should keep on living together and produce a united response against terrorism.

President Plevneliev made his comments during a ceremony to confer high military ranks on Bulgarian armed forces' officers on Monday.

The head of state opined Bulgaria should show solidarity and help any EU member state in need, but will then expect reciprocal measures in behalf of the "European family."

He called for increased external border controls, but warned against such measures adopted at borders between EU member states, saying it would incite further division in Europe.

Lawmakers in Bulgaria are to put to a final vote a deal signed with Poland on the repair of the country's MiG-29 fighter jets.

MPs are widely expected to ratify the deal which will send six MiG-29 engines to be overhauled in Polish facilities.

The document was signed in October during a visit by Defense Minister Nikolay Nenchev to Poland.

Under the agreement, in the space of twenty days after the signing of the contract, Poland will lend two of its MiG-29 engines for temporary use, so that almost immediately one of the Bulgarian fighter jets will be capable of conducting flights.

The move has infuriated the Soviet-made aircraft's original manufacturer, Russian RSK MiG corporation, which said Polish had no license to carry out the repair works. Warsaw disputes this.

Nenchev for his part says the deal with Poland is less expensive than the cost initially offered by RSK MiG.

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