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Eurozone: the next national goal


Bulgaria’s Economic and Social Council (ESC) declared that the accession to the Exchange Rate Mechanism and the Eurozone should be among the national goals for the Bulgarian economy. The ESC wants to speed up the process in order to access Eurozone: first of all, to grant the shortest stay possible in the ERM II (the Eurozone waiting room). The positive effects of the Eurozone for Bulgaria would be the inclusion in the European Central Bank, the reduction of transaction expenses for the banking system, refinancing of banks, lower interest rates on loans, opportunities for re-financing accumulated debts.

Bulgaria: low unemployment in 2017

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According to the economists, thanks to the growth of the economy by 4%, the unemployment in Bulgaria has been low during 2017. However, the new jobs are concentrated in the biggest cities, such as Sofia: here about 70% of the new jobs were created. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry reports that the highest number of unemployed is among the people with secondary education (about 100000 people).

Bulgaria, Poland Unanimous on Topic of Security


Speaking at a joint news conference with his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda here on Thursday, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev said that in respect of security, the two countries have “total unanimity that Europe is faced with a number of important challenges from within, as well as from without”. Radev continues his visit to Poland which opened on October 4. Radev said further that as far as the threats facing Europe are concerned: terrorism, addressing the migration crisis, the two heads of State have a clear position that this is a problem which requires a single European solution which should also observe the sovereignty of the individual countries and guarantee their security. Radev thanked Poland for its unconditional support for Bulgaria’s membership in the Schengen Area. “Given that Bulgaria fulfilled all technical requirements back in 2011, we think that Bulgaria not being part of the Schengen Area is unfair”, he said. Radev also thanked Poland for its support through Frontex in the protection of the EU external borders. He noted that it should be clear to all member states that the EU’s external borders are not those of Bulgaria, Greece or Italy, but rather that these are Europe’s common borders so that true solidarity is needed with real actions in support of these countries. The Bulgarian President also thanked for the overall awareness of and support for the management of the migration flows and fighting the smuggling of humans.

President Radev: The Decision for New Fighters, Modernisation of the Army Is in the Hands of the Prime Minister


“The decision for buying new fighters and the comprehensive modernization of the army is in the hands of the Prime Minister. As I have already said, the responsibility is also his”, President Rumen Radev told journalists. Taking a question whether he will discuss the key issues related to the modernization of the army with the PM, Radev said he had hoped the Prime Minister to curb his supporters in Parliament, but that had not happened. “To judge by all actions of GERB, I can see that either the Prime Minister is losing control or else he is encouraging his party in its actions, so that I no longer see any sense in such a meeting”, the Head of State said. Asked whether there is some tension between GERB and the President, Radev answered that such a “battle” is under way, although the party does not dare to declare it, that is if they want a conflict – they will get it. What concerns him more is not such a conflict, but all processes under way in the country, and that against the backdrop of the forthcoming Presidency of the EU. Radev added that he is also concerned with the manner in which this EU Presidency is regarded, with what Bulgaria will gain from it, rather than whether it will be successful or not, for the European practice is to “get a pat on the back”. Radev thinks the incumbents regard this Presidency as some omerta which will guarantee peace at home and legitimacy abroad.

Labour Ministry to Propose Increase of Guaranteed Minimum Income


The Labour Ministry will propose an increase of the guaranteed minimum income (GMI) from 65 to 75 lv, Labour Minister Bisser Petkov told journalists on Sunday. He said that the GMI hadn’t been adjusted since 2008 and that some 80 million leva would be needed for the increase. Petkov recalled that the Labour Ministry has proposed an increase of the means tested criteria for entitlement to child benefits to 450 lv from 400 lv. This is done to prevent the exclusion of working families with lower wages from receiving child benefits. Petkov said that a second increase of the minimum contributory pension to 200 leva will increase the incomes of over 820,000 pensioners. From July 1 2018, the increase will be by 3.8 per cent, said the Minister.

Brussels will Check Bulgaria’s Progress in Judicial Reform


The European Commission’s Expert Mission on the Co-operation and Evaluation Mechanism begins work today in Sofia, reported BGNES. The mission will last for three days and includes meetings with representatives of the legislative, executive and judicial authorities as well as independent control bodies. Euroexperts are in the Bulgarian capital for the preparation of the Annual Progress Report. This time, the report is expected to be released earlier, not as usual on the last Wednesday of January. The reason – the EC does not want to make recommendations with regard to a Member State which is at the same time President of the Council of the European Union, and Bulgaria becomes one on January 1, 2018 for a period of six months. The EC Commission report, which will be announced by the end of 2017, may also be one of the last, according to EC Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s announcements that at the end of the mandate of this Commission, the so- called “monitoring mechanism” for Bulgaria and Romania will be terminated and replaced by a common monitoring that will apply to all EU Member States.

President Radev Meets with Bulgarians in Chicago


Bulgaria needs new strategic investors to help transform the business climate in the country, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev said at a meeting with Bulgarians who work for global companies operating in Chicago’s financial city, his press secretariat reported Sunday. In Radev’s words, advertising Bulgaria to the would-be investors should not rely on low labour costs but rather on the quality of human capital, and this requires that the connections between the educational and research institutions and business be strengthened. “Unless they see the opportunities for their career development in Bulgaria, the people will continue leaving the country,” the President noted, quoted by his press secretariat. No institution alone can make Bulgarians abroad return to their homeland: this requires national efforts and the whole society’s responsibility into turning the country into a much more attractive place to live, Radev also said. Earlier in the day, Radev visited the John Atanassov Bulgarian school in Chicago. He thanked the US authorities, the teachers and the Bulgarian community in Chicago for their efforts to preserve the Bulgarian language in the city, and awarded Boyanka Mladenova with the Bulgarian President’s Badge of Honour.

Karakachanov: Bulgari supports unity and territorial integrity, offers help in resolving name issue


Bulgaria supports Macedonia’s state unity and territorial integrity and is ready to help in resolving the name dispute with Greece, Bulgarian Defence Minister Krasimir Karakachanov stated Monday after the meeting with his Macedonian counterpart Radmila Sekerinska in Skopje. I want to underline this explicitly in order to end political speculation – we support the state unity and territorial integrity of the Republic of Macedonia. We do not have a problem with the name of the Republic of Macedonia, we recognize the country under its constitutional name. We are ready to help in resolving the dispute with other countries in order doors for full-fledged NATO membership to finally open for Macedonia, Karakachanov said. Karakachanov and Sekerinska underlined that today’s meeting was held to show the bilateral treaty signed by the two countries will not be left to mere words.

President, FM Go to New York for 72nd UN General Assembly Session


President Rumen Radev will make a working visit to the US on September 18-24 and will represent Bulgaria at the 72nd Regular Session of the UN General Assembly. On September 18, Radev will participate in the annual Tribute to the Heroes of the Global Campaign Against Extremism and Intolerance and will deliver an address. He will talk with US Jewish organizations. On September 19, the President will participate in the opening of the General Debate of the 72nd Regular Session and will hold bilateral meetings with counterparts. On September 20, Radev will address the General Assembly at around 7 pm Bulgarian time. On September 21, the Bulgarian head of State will hold a working meeting with US business representatives, organized by the Business Council for International Understanding, and will familiarize them with his country’s investment opportunities. On September 22, Radev will meet with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. On September 23 and 24, Radev will visit Chicago to meet with the local Bulgarian community. Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva will be on Radev’s delegation.

President Radev Urges Europe to Drop Idealism When it Comes to Migration and Security


Bulgarian President Rumen Radev said during the final news conference of the 13th Arraiolos Group Meeting of presidents of EU Member States in Valletta, Malta, that when it comes to the security of people, there is no place for compromises and illusions. “The European Union must drop its idealistic approach and analyze the problem in depth”, he said as quoted by his Press Secretariat. In Radev’s words, the efforts of the EU on migration must focus on preventing new migrant flows by helping to provide prospects for a good life for the people in their countries of origin. “Instead of providing social support to the migrants in Europe, we have to orient our policies towards creating stable societies to ensure a normal living in the countries of origin of illegal migrants”, the President said. He said that solidarity and social justice should remain key issues in the debate on the future of Europe. “If Europe is to remain an important factor on the global stage, we have to preserve the principles of solidarity and cohesion among the member states. Achieving equal living standards in Europe’s East and West, and equal pay for equal work across the EU is an irrevocable conditions for the Union to be successful and united in its foreign policy”, Radev said.

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