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Petyo Ivanov, CEO of Bulgaria’s state-owned gas supplier Bulgargaz, has said that gas rates are expected to drop by around 13% from April, with a possibility for a new price decrease of up to 10% in July.

Ivanov told the Bulgarian National Radio that a new price decrease of up to 10% in the third quarter of 2015 was likely, provided that crude oil prices and the USD-BGN exchange rate remained at the current levels.

He also said that Bulgaria’s local gas production had decreased from a rate of 16% to 4%.

The CEO of Bulgargaz made clear that the quantities of locally produced natural gas earmarked for the domestic market were decreasing compared to the first years of exploitation of the gas fields.

Ivanov explained that Bulgargaz would start buying gas for the Chiren underground storage with its own money, with the total amount being around 280 million cubic meters.

“We will also work to find alternative forms of financing, including by announcing a procedure for a lending institution,” he said.

He pointed out that the debts of thermal power plants to Bulgargaz amounted to BGN 270 M at present, including a total of BGN 190 M owed by Sofia-based heating utility Toplofikatsiya-Sofia.

 

Nicolas Sarkozy's Union for Popular Movement (UMP) party proved to be the big winner at the second round of France's local elections.

Paris and Lyon, France's two biggest cities have been excluded from the vote on Sunday.

The representatives of the conservative party will be taking over two thirds of the 102 ''departments'' in France, Reuters reported. They have marked a considerable increase from the 41 municipalities they are currently in charge of.

"The French people have massively rejected the policies of (President) Francois Hollande and his government," he told party supporters. "The time for change is now."

Meanwhile, the biggest loser in the elections turned out to be namely the socialist party led by current French President Francois Hollande.

"The French have declared... their anger at a daily life that is too difficult," stated French PM Manuel Valls, who added that the loss is ''incontestable''. He noted that there is a need for more job opportunities.

Marine Le Pen's far-right National Front party also marked an increase in popularity. Its platform involves a number of proposed anti-immigration policies, said to be the main reason behind the success. 

"I thank all our voters for this magnificent success,'' she said in a news conference following the announcement of the preliminary results, the BBC reported. ''The goal is near, reaching power and applying our ideas to redress France."

After the first round of the elections, the National Front proved to be a force to be reckoned with, but according to AFP news agency informants, other parties allegedly took measures to limit their influence in the second round. 

The Speaker of the Croatian Parliament Josip Leko arrives in Bulgaria Monday on a 1-day visit at the invitation of Bulgarian counterpart Tsetska Tsacheva.

Leko will be officially greeted in front of the Monument to the Unknown Soldier in Sofia, where he will lay wreaths, according to reports of the Bulgarian National Radio.

After the meeting with Tsacheva, Leko will meet with President Rosen Plevneliev and Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.

Meanwhile, a delegation of the Committee on European Integration and Interregional Cooperation at the Serbian Skupština also arrives in Bulgaria on Monday.

 

Hundreds of mothers will be attending a mass breastfeeding in a mall in Bulgaria's capital Sofia.

The event is scheduled for Monday between 12:30 and 15:30 and has been organized by people in the Facebook group, ''Let's Support Breastfeeding in Public Spaces''.

''This event was created to support breastfeeding women,'' the group's creators stated on the event page. '' This is not a provocation, and neither is it aimed at promotion. All people present are obliged to follow the norms of decent behavior! All indecent, intolerable and impudent actions are completely forbidden!''

According to the event's attendance list, 1,300 mothers will be attending the mass breastfeeding session.

The organizers added that the demonstration was also provoked by various opinions and news articles online.

Breastfeeding in public spaces raised a lot opf alarm in the Bulgarian public space after Denitsa Panayotova announced on March 23 that she has started a lawsuit against a mall in Sofia. The decision was made after a security guard at the mall asked her to stop breastfeeding in front of a store.

After Panayotova complained to the chief of security, she was told that the sight of a breastfeeding woman in the mall is unpleasant and disturbing to customers at the mall. The event made her feel humiliated although she was just doing what she though was best for her child.

The debate has been revolving around the topic of what is appropriate in public spaces, as well as the controversy of mall policies – with posters and billboards of half-naked women, but not allowing public breastfeeding.



As he was desperately trying to enter the cockpit of the crashed Germanwings plane, captain Patrick Sondenheimer shouted,'' Open the damn door!''

The last words of the captain were revealed through the black box recording found after the accident, as reported by German newspaper Bild Sunday.

Second pilot -Andreas Lubitz, who had locked the door to the cockpit apparently was silent and did not reply. Meanwhile, all 150 passengers could be heard screaming in the background, realizing what was about to happen.

The transcript of the last moments before the plane crash were published by the German newspaper Bild on Sunday.

According to the information revealed, the captain left Lubitz in charge, as he hadn't had time to go to the restroom before the takeoff in Barcelona.

Additionally, it has been stated that Lubitz was suffering from vision problems, caused by a detached retina. Prosecutors in Düsseldorf said that he might have been concealing his condition from the airline. However, this was merely one of the hypotheses during the investigation.

Meanwhile, Lubitz's ex-girlfriend, Maria W., 26, said that he had been ''tormented'' and that he was always saying that he would do something to change the system, so that ''everyone will then know my name and remember me.''

She added that he had a recurring nightmare the he was going to be in a plane crash, the RT reported.

According to a statement of the Düsseldorf University Hospital, Lubitz had been undergoing diagnostic tests and not psychological treatment as had been alleged, as reported by DPA news agency.

The version claiming that the incident was a terrorist act was also largely rebuked, after German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere stated no connection had been found between Lubitz and any terrorist group.

His colleagues described him as slightly quiet, but a fun guy to be around. Some sources had alleged that he had been suffering depression on account of the fact that his medical issues would not allow him to pursue his dream of one day becoming a senior pilot.

After the tragedy, more severe security measures had been imposed by several airlines, stating that there should be two crew members in the cockpit at all times. Formerly, that was not a requirement in Europe, but had been implemented in the US following the 9/11 terrorist act of 2001.

Investigators of the crash of the Germanwings plane said on Sunday they have isolated 78 DNA strands from the remains of the 150 people that died in the worst aviation disaster in French history in the last 15 years.

Most human remains were being winched up to helicopters before being transported to a lab where a 50-strong team of forensic doctors and dentists and criminal police specialists is working to identify the victims, comparing their DNA samples to samples taken over the past days from relatives of the deceased.

However, investigators have denied German media reports that body parts of German co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, who is suspected of having deliberately steered the Airbus 320 into a mountainside in the French Alps on Tuesday, had been identified.

The suspicion is based on a transcript from the cockpit voice recorder which has been recovered. The other so-called black box containing recordings of flight data hasn’t been found yet, according to the BBC.

German and European pilots’ associations have urged caution in stating the cause of the crash until the flight data recorder is found and the investigation is brought to a conclusion.

Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin, who is one of the lead investigators, said the construction of a road that will allow all-terrain vehicles to access the steep and remote mountainside, would be completed by Monday evening. 

According to French investigators, the plane has crashed at a speed of 700 kilometres per hour, killing all 150 people on board, most of them German and Spanish.

The debris of the crashed aircraft is scatered across an area covering about two hectares with some slopes as steep as 60 degrees near the village of Le Vernet.

 

The newly appointed Chairman of Bulgaria’s National Audit Office Tsvetan Tsvetkov has backed a suggestion to set up a new body specifically charged with looking into the wealth of politicians.

In an interview with BNR radio Tsvetkov said on Sunday a change to existing legislation might be needed to enable inspection of the sources of funds and properties owned by politicians.

It is outside the powers of the National Audit Office now to check whether politicians own or use properties registered in someone else’s name, or stay at posh hotels while on trips abroad.

“Maybe a specialized body should be set up as is the case in Romania, for example,” said Tsvetkov.

Restaurant and hotel owners held a procession in the city of Burgas on Sunday, calling on the government to ease visa regulations for Russian tourists to help Bulgaria’s tourism sector cope with a recent decline in the number of Russian visitors.

The procession of some 100 motor cars comprised representatives of hotel and restaurant owners as well as the Bulgarian Investment Building Association. A BIBA official told state news agency BTA the sector wants relaxed visa regime to apply also to nationals of Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

Bulgarian tour operators have recently voiced concern about an  expected drop in the number of visitors from Russia during summer 2014 due to the fall in the Russian rouble and the EU sanctions against Moscow over the conflict in Ukraine.

Cheaper rouble make it more expensive for Russian tourists to spend their summer holidays in Bulgaria where the currency is pegged at a fixed exchange rate to the euro.

At the same time, neighbouring Turkey and Eurozone member Greece are more flexible in their approach, seeking to attract Russian tourists during the summer.

Therefore, the protesters said, Bulgaria needs to introduce a relaxed visa regime and free visas for Russian tourists, including issuing visas upon arrival at the international airports in the Black Sea cities of Varna and Burgas.

A year or two ago about 600,000-700,000 Russian visitors stayed in Bulgaria for different period of time. In addition to visitors on a tourism package there were owners of holiday properties in Bulgaria as well as company owners who had moved their business to Bulgaria among them.

Bulgaria’s Tourism Minister Nikolina Angelkova has said a tough summer season was lying ahead and urged the industry to make a more efficient use of EU funds to improve the quality of services.

“Bulgaria’s tourism market is not limited to Ukraine and Russia and the outflow does not depend on Bulgaria and was not caused by Bulgaria,” she said on BNR radio last week.

Bulgarian tour operators expect the number of visitors from Poland to grow by six or seven percent and those from the Czech Republic to increase by five or six percent this summer, Angelkova said earlier this month.

An increase is also expected in the number of visitors from neighbouring Turkey and Greece (+10%), Serbia (+2%) and Macedonia (+3%). Tourists from Belarus are expected to increase by about five percent, while the number of visitors from Latvia, Lithuania and Moldova is projected to rise by about 40% each.

 

 

 

 

Tsvetan Vaslilev, majority owner of collapsed Corporate Commercial Bank, has said the crisis at the bank has been orchestrated by politicians.

In an interview with Bulgarian journalist Yavor Dachkov posted on the Glasove website on 29 March, Vasilev claimed that in April 2014 he was asked to transfer - for free - stakes in major Bulgarian companies controlled by Corpbank, or KTB, to entities thought to be linked to a Bulgarian politician and media tycoon. 

“After I refused, they caused the crisis at KTB,” Vasilev said.

Bulgaria’s central bank BNB seized control of KTB, the country’s fourth largest bank, in June following a deposits run, which, according to Vasilev, was initiated with the aim of seizing assets of key Bulgarian companies controlled by Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) that were financed by KTB.

Vasilev said he met the leaders of the three biggest political parties in Parliament in May and June 2014 to warn them of the pending attack against the bank but “they all ran away from responsibility”.

“I warned the three of them, not only those who were in power,” Vasilev said, referring to the leaders of the then-governing Socialists and the allied Movement for Rights and Freedoms, or DPS, party.

“The third was the current premier, Boyko Borisov,” Vasilev said, referring to the leader of centre-right GERB party, in opposition at the time.

”I had a meeting with him on June 6 and I warned him things could turn catastrophic – not so much for me and the bank but for the state,” Vasilev said but declined to reveal what the two of them told each other.

Vasilev also said he warned the BNB governor Ivan Iskrov about the pending attack on the bank.

Vasilev denied the BNB’s claim that an audit had found a gap of BGN 4 B in KTB’s balance sheet, saying the shortfall had been fabricated with the aim of creating formal grounds for scrapping the bank’s licence.

Referring to the deal with LIC33 group for acquring control of major Bulgarian companies, Vasilev said the transaction won’t go through unless the buyer failed to repay debts to KTB owed by those companies.

LIC33 announced last week it was acquiring key telecommunication and defence industry assets in Bulgaria for a token price of EUR 1 and commitment to repay EUR 900 M in outstanding debt of those companies.

An earthquake measuring 4.5 on the Richter scale has been registered in Romania’s Vrancea region early on Sunday, the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) reported.

The tremor, with an epicenter 135 km. north of Romania’s capital Bucharest, was also felt on the upper floors of high buildings in Bulgaria’s Danube city of Ruse.

The earthquake occurred at a depth of 141 km at 02:44 a.m. on Sunday.

There have been no reports of damage to infrastructure or injuries to people in Romania and Bulgaria following the earthquake.

 

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies have carried out a third night of airstrikes on Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, to stem advances by Houthi rebels, Euronews reported on Sunday.

In his opening address at an Arab summit in Egypt, Yemen's President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi directly blamed Iran for “destroying” Yemen and creating “a regional crisis.”

Saudi Arabia’s navy evacuated dozens of diplomats from Yemen on Saturday and the United Nations pulled out its international staff.

Meanwhile, Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi has demanded that Houthi rebels surrender.

At an Arab Leaguesummit meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, Hadi called on rebels to give up territory they took in recent offensives, and demanded that their leaders turn themselves over to government forces. He added that Saudi Arabia-led airstrikes against the rebels will continue until they stop fighting.

"Operation Decisive Storm will continue until all the goals are achieved, and the Yemeni people start enjoying security and stability," Hadi said, according to Al Jazeera.

The mental health of the co-pilot of crashed Germanwings passenger plane was a "serious lead" in the inquiry, but not the only one, French prosecutors said on Saturday.

French police chief Jean-Pierre Michel told AFP news agency in Dusseldorf that the investigation has found some elements which allowed it to make progress on this lead, “which is a serious lead but which can't be the only one."

The health status of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, 27, is believed to have been linked in some way to the worst disaster in aviation history in France but no conclusive evidence has emerged so far.

Investigators have found that Lubitz concealed a sick note which declared him unfit to work on the day of the disaster from his employer. Having done that, he boarded the Barcelona to Dusseldorf flight as a co-pilot and is suspected of having deliberately steered the Airbus A320 aircraft into a mountain side in the French Alps on Tuesday, killing himself and the other 149 people on board.

Germanwings confirmed the sick note for the day of the crash was not submitted to the company. Torn-up doctor's notes found in his home would have excused Lubitz from work for medical reasons. The fact that Lubitz appears to have been signed off as sick raises the question of whether there was - or should have been - contact between his doctors and the airline, the BBC commented.

The Dusseldorf University Hospital said on Friday that Lubitz had been evaluated at its clinic in February and then on 10 March but it did not say whether he had been treated for vision problems as officials told the New York Times earlier. The hospital also said that media reports Lubitz was treated there for depression were inaccurate.

Germany's mass-circulation Bild newspaper has quoted Lubitz's former girlfriend as saying he had told her: "One day I'm going to do something that will change the whole system, and everyone will know my name and remember."

"I never knew what he meant by that but now it makes sense," Bild quoted the "shocked" flight attendant identified only as Maria W. as saying on Saturday.

Bulgaria’s top male tennis player Grigor Dimitrov proceeded with ease to the third round of the men's singles competition at the Miami Open.

Dimitrov defeated the Canadian Vasek Pospisil with 6:2, 6:2, in just an hour to proceed to the third round of the tournament.

The Bulgarian’s next opponent will be John Isner from the USA, as the two have not met before.

Dimitrov started with a break against Pospisil and managed to defend it, coming 2:0 in the lead in the first set.

After that, the Bulgarian managed to achieve another break and came in the lead with 5:1, later closing the set with 6:2.

The Canadian opponent proved to be of Dimitrov’s match only in the beginning of the second set.

Although the Bulgarian was 1-2 behind, he managed to recover and won five successive games, claiming the set and the match.

Bulgaria repeated its World Cup 2014 qualification performance against Italy in matchday 5 of the EURO 2016 qualification Group H on Saturday.

Italy was 1-0 in the lead, but Bulgaria managed to make a 2-1 comeback, which eventually ended 2-2.

Thus, Bulgaria repeated its performance against Italy, which the team achieved in the qualifications for World Cup 2014, when the two teams similarly drew 2-2 in Sofia.

The Bulgarians were 0-1 down after an own goal by defender Yordan Minev in the 4th minute, but managed to make a quick comeback several minutes later.

First, former captain Ivelin Popov (11th minute) and Iliyan Mitsanski (17th minute) contributed for Bulgaria’s comeback.

Bulgaria maintained the lead until the 84th minute, when Italy’s Eder Martins restored the score.

Thus, Bulgaria retained its fourth position in Group H with five points, behind Croatia (13), Italy (11) and Norway with 9 points.

The teams of Bulgaria and Italy are tied 2:2 in a EURO 2016 qualifiers game played Saturday at the Vasil Levski Stadium in Sofia, Bulgaria.

This comes after Bulgaria had been leading for more than an hour in a match that to a large extent will determine its chances for the EURO 2016 championship.   

Bulgaria's Yordan Minev scoring an own goal in the 4th minute of the match.

Six minutes later Ivelin Popov (Bulgaria) scored helping Bulgaria to catch up.

17' Ilian Mitsanski heped the Bulgarian team take a twist bringing the result to 2:1, but in 81' Italy's Eder curled the ball into the corner. 

Bulgaria's men national football team faces Italy on Saturday in matchday 5 of the EURO 2016 qualification Group H.

The outcome of the match will to a large extent determine whether Bulgaria will preserve its meager chances of qualifying for EURO 2016.

This will be the first official match for Bulgaria's new coach Ivaylo Petev, who succeeded Lyuboslav Penev after the team recorded several poor performances under his performance.

Petev still has not announced the new captain of the team and he intends to do so immediately before the start of the match.

Italian coach Antonio Conte will be forced to make some changes to his squad as several key players such as Claudio Marchisio and Alessandro Florenzi are injured.

This will be the 18th encounter between Bulgaria and Italy, with the Italians having established a convincing advantage in the previous matches, recording 9 victories, 6 draws and only 2 defeats.

Bulgaria and Italy were in the same group in the qualifications for the 2014 World Cup, which was held in Brazil.

Then Bulgaria performed relatively well against its opponent, managing to draw 2-2 in Sofia and conceding a minimum 0-1 defeat in Palermo.

At present Bulgaria occupies the fourth position in Group H with 4 points, behind the joint leaders Croatia and Italy, each with 10 points, and third-placed Norway with 9 points.

The match, which kicks off at 21:45, will be played at the Vasil Levski National Stadium in Sofia and will be broadcasted live on BNT1 and BNT HD with a commentary studio starting at 21:00.

The chairperson of the State Agency for Refugees (DAB) Nikola Kazakov stated on Saturday that Bulgaria should grant over 10 000 people with refugee status by the end of the year.

Kazakov said that most of the refugees in Bulgaria were Kurds from Syria and Iraq and nearly half of the newcomers in 2015 were illiterate.

In his words, a completely new strategy for solving the refugee problem was already prepared, Kazakov revealed in an interview for the Bulgarian National Radio.

According to him, several strategies were in place until the end of 2014, which would be replaced by a single, united strategy that takes into account the new challenges.

Kazakov added that the European Commission has readiness to allocate additional funds for urgent measures addressing the refugee problem, next to the EUR 10 M that had already been negotiated.

Bulgarians and people around the world are preparing to observe the global initiative Earth Hour by switching off their lights for one hour on Saturday.

The Earth Hour is a worldwide movement for protection of the environment and raising awareness for the dangers of climate change, organised by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

It encourages people around the world to show their commitment to the planet by switching off all non-essential lights for one hour between 20:30 and 21:30 local time on the last Saturday in March.

It started as a lights-off event in 2007 in Sydney, but since then it gathered millions of followers, encompassing individuals, households, communities and businesses around the world.

Earth Hour has been observed in Bulgaria since 2008 and this year's edition is dedicated to the Bulgarian rivers.

This year the tagline for the global campaign is “Change Climate Change”, which returns the movement to its original focus to initiate citizen action on global warming.

Over 170 countries and territories have confirmed their participation, among them 1200 landmarks and iconic buildings and nearly 40 UNESCO world heritage sites.

Clocks in Bulgaria will go one hour forward on Sunday, as Bulgaria is switching to daylight saving time.

The switch to daylight saving time means that the clocks will have to be turned one hour forward at 3 a.m, to 4 a.m.

Daylight saving was introduced in Bulgaria on 1 April 1979 as a measure to preserve energy through the extended use of natural light.

The two female tennis players representing Bulgaria at the women's singles competition in Miami were defeated in the second round on Friday.

Tsvetana Pironkova was defeated by the Italian Flavia Pennetta with 7:6 (1), 3:6, 3:6, while Sesil Karatancheva lost to Garbine Muguruza from Spain with 1:6, 3:6.

The match between Pironkova and Pennetta, which lasted two hours and 20 minutes, was particularly dramatic as the two opponents exchanged a total of 17 breaks.

Pironkova did not start the match well and conceded a break in the first game, but equalised immediately, daily Dnevnik reports.

The two players exchanged another couple of breaks in the seventh and eight games, bringing the set to a tiebreak, which was convincingly won by the Bulgarian.

The exchange of breaks continued in the next two sets, but Pennetta took the initiative and won the match.

Bulgaria's other female representative, Karatancheva suffered a heavy defeat, as she won only four games.

Bulgaria's top male tennis player Grigor Dimitrov begins his participation in the men's singles on Saturday.

Dimitrov, who is seeded ninth, proceeded directly to the second round of the tournament, where he is to face the Canadian Vasek Pospisil, who defeated Juan Martin Del Potro from Argentina.

This will be the third encounter between the two, the Bulgarian having won the previous two matches.

Bulgaria's former Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev holds no ambitions of returning to the leadership of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP).

Stanishev, who is currently one of Bulgaria's 17 Members of the European Parliament (MEP), will focus on his leadership of the Party of European Socialists (PES).

His priority was to be reelected as leader of PES in the summer, Stanishev said in an interview for Darik radio on Saturday.

Stanishev described the three years, in which he simultaneously held the leadership positions of BSP and PES, as being difficult.

He commented the plans of BSP and its leader Mihail Mikov to introduce amendments to the party's statute.

The foreseen amendments aim to limit the mandates of municipal and district party leaders in the event of electoral losses.

Another change is banning former leaders of BSP, such as Stanishev, to run as candidates for the position at the regular congress of the party.

Stanishev deemed these changes to the statute as unnecessary as these would not solve the party's problems.

According to him, BSP should come out more united from the forthcoming congress, which will take place next Saturday and Sunday.

In his words, BSP had to concentrate on the forthcoming local elections and posing a more formidable opposition to its main competitor GERB.

Saudi Arabia evacuated dozens of its own and foreign diplomats from the city of Aden as it continued the airstrikes on Yemen.

Operation Decisive Storm, which is conducted by a Saudi Arabia-led coalition is aimed at halting the progress of Houthi rebels.

Yemen's President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who fled from Aden to Saudi Arabia, will address an Arab League summit in Egypt, the BBC reports.


It is likely that among the topics of the summit's agenda, which is focussed on the crisis, will be a possible ground offensive.

The Saudi Royal Navy conducted on Friday operation Tornado to evacuate dozens of diplomats from Aden.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait relocated their embassies to Aden after the rebels gained control of Sanaa.

Since the start of the airstrikes, which are supported by US President Barack Obama, but opposed by Iran, at least 39 civilians have been killed.

The Houthis want to replace the incumbent government of President Hadi, which is accused of being corrupt.

Somali troops regained full control of a hotel, which extremist gunmen stormed and occupied for 12 hours following a suicide attack, which killed at least 17 people and left dozens injured.

According to information, Somalia's permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva was among those killed in the attack on the hotel in Mogadishu, the BBC reports.

Al-Shabaab, which is an Islamic extremist group linked to al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack on the hotel, which is popular with Somali officials and foreigners.

The attack started on Friday, when a suicide bomber detonated his car at the hotel's gate and gunmen quickly proceeded to occupy the hotel.

The security forces waited until daylight on Saturday, when they stormed the hotel, raised the siege and regained control of it.

Yordanka Fandakova, the mayor of Bulgaria's capital, announced on Saturday that Sofia Airport will be accessible by underground from April 2.

Thus the underground will cover the distance between the airport and the central bus and railway stations in 15-20 minutes, the mayor said in an interview for private bTV station.

Fandakova confirmed the information, announced by the director of Sofia Metropolitan on Friday, that the metro extension to Business Park Sofia will be launched on May 8.

The mayor revealed that public transport vehicles in Sofia were renewed at an advanced pace, with 66 new vehicles already in use and another 60 to enter into service until the middle of the year.

Asked whether she was planning to run for a third term, Fandakova stated that it was too early to predict and for the time she preferred to focus on advancing the completion of the current projects.

Israel will resume the transfer of tax revenues levied on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, which had been suspended since January.

The re-elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu justified this move with rising humanitarian concerns, the deteriorating situation in the Middle East and the rise of extremism.

Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon, the Israel military and the Shin Bet domestic security service have all supported the move, the BBC reports.

Israel suspended the payments as a retaliatory measure against the decision of Palestine to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) and various other international treaties and covenants.

Following the accession of Palestine to the ICC, which will take effect on April 1, the Palestinians will be able to file lawsuits against Israel for alleged war crimes.

The suspension of tax revenues, which provide two-thirds of Palestine's income, forced Palestinians to cut the salaries of civil servants by 40 % and declare an emergency budget.

The governor of Palestine's central bank said that the freeze of tax transfers was resulting in rapid economic deterioration and exposed the banking system.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu clarified his position on an independent Palestinian state, saying that he is not rejecting the two-state solution outright, but was impossible at present.

The Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, who is suspected of intentionally crashing the plane in the French Alps, wanted to change the whole system and everyone to remember his name.

This was revealed by an ex-girlfriend of Lubitz, who also pointed to his increasing problems as the reason for them to split, the German newspaper Bild informs.

She confirmed his mental problem as a possible motivation for Lubitz to crash the plane, as he feared that he will be declared unfit and disallowed from flying.

These developments come as the police uncovered two torn-up sick notes, including one for the day of the crash, which reveal that the co-pilot had been concealing a mental illness from his employer.

According to internal aviation authority information, Lubitz had suffered a serious depressive episode in 2009, which interrupted his training for year and a half.

It was also revealed that Lubitz knew the region of the crash site, which he visited regularly on gliding holidays, the BBC reports.

He was “passionate” and “obsessed” with the Alps, as he had gone on family holidays in the region since the age of 9.

So far the investigation has uncovered neither political nor religious motives for the co-pilot's actions and similarly no suicide notes have been found.

Meanwhile, the European Aviation Safety Agency called on airlines to implement new safety measures, including the requirement that two crew members should be present in the cockpit at all times.

It was revealed that the pilot had gone out of the cockpit, but was not allowed back in, giving Lubitz opportunity to initiate the descent, killing himself and all remaining 149 people on board.








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