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Bulgarian report
by Euro Reporter
2015-02-03 10:35:02
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Bulgaria eyes new fighter jets

Bulgaria is considering buying new fighter jets for its air force, the defence minister said. Defence Minister Nikolai Nenchev said he aims to visit the US in the first quarter of this year to discuss the potential procurement, as reported by local news weekly Sofia Globe.

The defence investment strategy presented by the country's previous government states Bulgaria aims to acquire new fighter jets to replace its Soviet-built aircraft. When the country joined NATO in March 2004, Sofia vowed to replace six of its Mikoyan MiG-21 aircraft and acquire eight new fighter jets by 2016.

Nenchev said that, due to the "inflated" cost of maintenance, the Bulgarian ministry would also no longer rely on Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG to repair and service the country's 12 MiG-29 fighter jets, and could instead opt for awarding a new contract to a Polish defence company.

The current contract is set to expire in September, and the Defence Ministry is negotiating with Poland, which offers preferential conditions to Bulgaria, according to Nenchev. It is also noteworthy that Poland is a NATO member state, according to the minister. The two engines of Bulgaria's MiG-29 fighters are enabled with a take-off thrust of 8,300 kgf, according to data from the Bulgarian Air Force.


Bulgaria economy minister presents ministry’s priorities

Bulgarian Minister of Economy Bozhidar Lukarski and his deputies Daniela Vezieva and Lyuben Petrov presented the programme and the five major priorities of the work of the Ministry of Economy at a press conference held at the head office of the ministry in the capital city Sofia. “The major priorities are focused on improving the business environment and cutting the administrative burden in Bulgaria,” Minister Lukarski said. The efforts of the ministry will be concentrated on the electronic organisation of the public procurements, aiming to guarantee higher transparency. “Our ambition is the end of 2015 to be the optimal timeline for realisation of the measures connected with the introduction of electronic services,” he said.

In this direction, the most important goals envisage easing the procedures on business start-up and development and giving “a second chance” to entrepreneurs that have gone bankrupted over circumstances beyond their control. Encouragement of the small and medium enterprises is another priority outlined in the work of the ministry. “We plan to encourage the export through improvement of the access of small and medium enterprises to the markets of third countries.  Optimisation and activation of the work with our trade representations, mostly those in Asia, the Middle East and North America,” Minister Lukarski explained. The third major priority is the maximum and transparent absorption of the European funds.

The fourth priority is the encouragement of investments in sectors with high added value. “This will be done though amendments to the Investment Promotion Act, accounting the specific characteristics of the different sectors, improving Bulgaria’s image and encouraging the private investments in innovative companies,” the minister commented further. The fifth priority of the Ministry of Economy is connected with the improvement of the connection and ties among education, labour market and business.  “We will achieve this through encouragement of the duel educational system, encouragement of the entrepreneurship initiative among the students and development of training companies at the schools,” Minister Bozhidar Lukarski said.


Bulgaria's refugee centres under curfew

Accommodation centres hosting asylum seekers and refugees across Bulgaria are to be imposed a curfew as of Monday, February 2. The measure will prevent about 3700 of refugees from leaving their compounds after 20:00 EET, or 22:00 EEST in the summer. It was introduced last week at the proposal of State Agency for Refugees (DAB)'s Chairman Nikola Kazakov three weeks after he was reappointed by the government following the dismissal of his predecessor Nikolay Chirpanliev.

Kazakov told reporters on Friday that the curfew had been in force during his previous term in office, but had been later abandoned. Over the weekend Marko Petrov, who heads an accommodation centre in Harmanli in Bulgaria's south, told Darik Radio that its residents were often out in the evenings until 1-2 AM. Though he asserted the locals shouldn't be afraid of them, inhabitants of a number of Bulgarian towns and villages hosting such centres have raised their concerns over what they call "dangerous people" in the streets threatening their possessions and even their lives.  
Such measures are currently used in a few European countries such as Belgium, Luxembourg and Estonia. Bulgaria is currently hosting mostly Syrians who fled the country's nearly four-year-long, devastating civil war. The country is now expecting an additional influx of asylum seekers, with the DAB claiming it has the ability to host them as accommodation centres are used only at 61 percent of their capacity.


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