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Bulgarian report Bulgarian report
by Euro Reporter
2011-06-01 07:45:56
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Health Minister pushes for complete smoking ban

The Bulgarian Health Ministry will submit a proposal to Cabinet, outlining amendments to the Health Act, calling for the introduction of a complete ban on smoking in enclosed public places, starting from June 1 2012, Health Minister Stefan Konstantinov told media during the World No Tobacco Day. Lawmakers have been battling on the issue for more than a year and have been giving conflicting information regarding the ban in Bulgaria and its implementation. The Health Act envisaged that smoking will be banned completely from all public places in the country starting July 2010, but Parliament eventually backtracked on that decision, allowing for a "partial ban" to be instigated.

Many establishments were worried that, if the ban was enforced completely, they would simply run out of business as smokers are forced out. Hence an agreement was made for certain restaurants and bars to have segregated smoking areas, while smaller establishments would decide whether to be all-smoking or non-smoking. Health inspectors began actively verifying compliance with the partial ban, which went into force in December 2010, as checks were launched in February. Fines for pubs and restaurants range from 300 leva on the first offence to 1500 leva for a repeat violation, while companies will be fined from 500 to 10 000 leva for failure to comply with the ban.

At the end of 2010, Konstantinov said that he was fighting for a complete ban on smoking which he wanted to be put into effect in 2011, but Prime Minister Boiko Borissov had said that such a measure could not be adopted earlier than 2013-14, Dnevnik daily reported. Bulgaria, along the rest of the world, marks World No Tobacco Day on May 31. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), six million people die of smoking-related diseases every year and 600 000 of these are passive smokers. Most victims of tobacco use belong to countries with low or average income. The southwest town of Kyustendil is the only place in Bulgaria where a full ban on smoking in public places is enforced.


Foreign Minister says Bulgarian envoys do not write cables like their US colleagues

Bulgarian envoys around the world do not write reports in the same style as their American counterparts, Foreign Minister Nikolai Mladenov told the Nova TV channel in an interview, when asked if there was a Bulgarian equivalent to the American letters revealed by WikiLeaks. "Our diplomats make psychological evaluations of people prior to a meeting, but we do not write letters in the same way as the Americans do," he said. "The big problem here is - the way in which those letters are being interpreted and presented to the public. They do not constitute the entire relationship between two respective countries; they are only individual elements of the equation," Mladenov said.

"I don't read the cables. There is an enormous amount of trust between Bulgaria and the United States," Mladenov said. Mladenov went on to say that there will be people who will try to twist the interpretation of certain cables, which will then serve as the basis for an attack against the Government, but that they will not succeed.

Regarding the contemplated US plan for a missile defence shield, Mladenov said that the installations which will be placed in Romania will cover most of Bulgaria, which is what Bulgaria's condition to the US was in the first place. "Bulgaria has a firm position on the planned NATO missile defence shield and that was that the shield should cover the entire country and offer thorough protection," Prime Minister Boiko Borissov told NATO’s parliamentary assembly in Varna on May 30 2011. It is unknown if any of the missile defence shield equipment will be sent to Bulgaria. Mladenov did not disclose any information on the matter, while Borissov said that this decision will depend on NATO alone.


Bulgaria 4th in EU by Unemployment Hike

Bulgaria is among the countries with the highest annual increase of its unemployment rate, according to data released Tuesday by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In April 2011, the unemployment rate in Bulgaria was 11.4%, compared to 10% in April 2010.

Other countries with high increase of unemployment rate year on year are: Greece (10.2% to 14.1% between the fourth quarters of 2009 and 2010), Lithuania (15.8% to 17.3% between the fourth quarters of 2009 and 2010), and Ireland (13.3% to 14.7%). The largest falls of the unemployment rate were observed in Estonia (18.8% to 13.8% between the first quarters of 2010 and 2011), Latvia (20.1% to 17.2 % between the fourth quarters of 2009 and 2010) and Sweden (9.1% to 7.4%).

The Eurozone seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 9.9% in April 2011, unchanged compared with March. It was 10.2% in April 2010. The EU unemployment rate was 9.4% in April, compared with 9.5% in March. It was 9.7% in April 2010. Eurostat estimates that 22.547 million men and women in the EU, of whom 15.529 million were in the Eurozone, were unemployed in April 2011. Compared with March 2011, the number of persons unemployed fell by 165 000 in the EU and by 115 000 in the Eurozone. Compared with April 2010, unemployment decreased by 702 000 in the EU and by 457 000 in the Eurozone.

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