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(PE) Press - Review

(PE) Press - Review

Sofia, December 3 (BTA)

HIGHLIGHT

"Troud", "24 Chassa", "Sega", and "Monitor" frontpage photos of the thousands of people who attended the funeral of popular Bulgarian stage and movie actor and former culture minister Stefan Danailov, which included President Rumen Radev, former president Georgi Parvanov, BSP leader Kornelia Ninova, former PMs Ognyan Gerdzhikov and Plamen Oresharski, former king and former prime minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and many more  prominent political and public figures, as well as the actor's many students from the National Academy of Theatre and Film Arts. Danailov passed away in the early hours of November 27and was laid to rest at the Ivan Vazov National Theatre on December 2. "Douma" writes that only the great Lambo (Danailov's nickname) is capable of gathering politicians, young people, seniors, journalists, veterans, MPs and even homeless people, who all waited for over four hours to bow to "the human face of politics" and the "Bulgarian strength, talent and honesty".


ENVIRONMENT

"Troud", "24 Chassa", "Monitor" and "Telegraf" write that Prime Minister Boyko Borissov attended the 25th Climate Change Conference in Madrid where he stated that countries like Bulgaria, Poland and others that rely more heavily on coal in their energy production, will require higher levels of investment and active social measures. He added that at the same time, according to Eurostat, Bulgaria ranks second in the EU in decreasing its carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels, with a drop of 8.1 per cent from last year, following only Portugal with 9 per cent. The Prime Minister stressed that in Bulgaria nuclear energy plays a vital role in guaranteeing the national, regional and European energy security while at the same time it comes at affordable prices and is a key factor in Bulgaria's transition to a low-carbon economy. Borissov also pointed out that the EU is merely responsible for 9 per cent of global emissions, while the biggest polluters - China and the USA - are not present at the conference. He said that the EU is indeed cutting down its emissions, and that the health and quality of life of all people should always come first.

"24 Chassa" takes a look at Ursula von der Leyen's European Green Deal on its front page, which will be presented within 10 days. The plan aims to make Europe the first climate neutral continent by 2050, which means carbon emissions must be completely reduced. It will cost about three trillion euros, a third of which will be covered by the European Commission, and the rest by the European Bank and the Member States.

"Troud" writes on its front page that the European Parliament's Committee on Petitions (PETI) closed the petition of environmentalists against the construction of the Struma motorway on Kresna Gorge and the region. All Bulgarian MEPs in attendance defended the motorway's construction, while Radan Kanev from Democratic Bulgaria, who moved the petition to the EP and defended it, did not attend the meeting.


INTERNATIONAL POLITICS

The 12 years of the functioning of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM), by which the European Commission monitors Bulgaria's progress in reforming its judicial system and in fighting corruption and organized crime, was summed up at a conference at the European Parliament in Brussels on Monday. Multiple publications, including "Telegraf" "Monitor" and 24 Chassa", quote Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov who said that Bulgaria has successfully implemented many clear and observable benchmarks from the CVM, adding that the results are stable and the process of change is irreversible. Tstatsarov and his Depute and future Prosecutor General, Ivan Geshev, listed some of the things accomplished so far, including battling organized crime, establishing an e-justice system and a system for battling high-ranking corruption, which have lead to the freezing of over 3 billion leva worth of assets. Tsatsarov went on to say that the will conform to any decision of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe for future monitoring mechanisms for the independent investigation of high-ranking judiciary officials, but believes that such rule of law monitoring mechanisms should be applied to all Member States. Ivan Geshev, who was elected as Prosecutor General after much controversy, and European Chief Prosecutor Laura Kovesi will be among the key note speakers in a Brussels forum aiming to create a European strategy for battling organized crime in the next days.

"Troud" publishes an interview with Finnish Ambassador to Bulgaria, Paivi Blinnikka, focusing on her experience observing both the Bulgarian and Finnish EC Presidency. Her Excellency Paivi Blinnikka praised Bulgaria's first Presidency as a successful and well organized one. She noted the good bilateral relations between the two countries, but said that there is much room for development as well, especially in science and education, trade, tourism and mostly in just learning about each other's cultures. Blinnikka spoke about the Western Balkans, noting that rule of law for EU Member States and the consolidation of the EU as a global factor is of the most importance, but also that negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania should be held as promised and expected. The Finnish Ambassador also said that an important challenge that the EU needs to focus on are its divisive issues, as it needs to find a way to make faster and better decisions. When it comes to Brexit, her personal prognosis is for a Boris Johnson win in the British elections and for a completion of Brexit by January 31st, after which she expects a period of chaos before the EU and Britain find a way to build a new basis for their relationship.

"Troud" writes that the Joint Bulgaria-North Macedonia Multidisciplinary Expert Commission has had very little progress in the pass six months on its goal of reaching agreements on the various historical and educational disputes between Bulgaria and North Macedonia, according to Commission Co-chair Assoc. Prof. Naum Kraychev. The Commission will also stop its activity for the next six months on account of the parliamentary elections in North Macedonia.

INTERNAL POLITICS

"Sega" writes that Denitsa Sacheva will become the new Labour and Social Policy Minister on Tuesday, which the publication notes is exceptionally fast. On Friday Prime Minister Boyko Borissov demanded and accepted the resignation of the Minister of Labour and Social Policy, Biser Petkov. Council of Ministers' press release stated that the PM's staffing decision was based on reasons accumulated over time. Prime Minister Borissov believes that the pace at which the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy is working does not meet socio-political expectations. Many, including Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov, Vanya Grigorova from the Podkrepa Confederation of Labour, financial expert Mika Zaykova and mothers of children with disabilities from the "System Kills Us" initiative however do not agree, regarding  Petkov as a qualified and level-headed politician and doubting that Sacheva will manage to fix the complicated issues of the ministry. 

"24 Chassa" quotes a Facebook post by independent municipal councilor from Save Sofia, Boris Bonev, who urges to be elected as  deputy chair of the Sofia Municipal Council so that he can be able to effectively affect change, as the first independent municipal councilor in over 17 years with over 40,000 votes. Bonev explains that as an independent, this would be the only way he can participate on the level of his party-affiliated colleagues and urges the political groups in the Council to prove that "politics is not an exclusive club, but a democratic way of solving issues". The GERB party have already expressed their support for Bonev.

"24 Chassa" takes a look at the situation in the country a month after the local elections. Changes in the Election Code made it so that only settlements with population of over 350 can have a local election, as opposed to a population of 100 as it was previously. In any settlement with a population under 350, a mayoral deputee is appointed by the local mayor. In cases when people are not happy with the choice or there are multiple options, a vote is held anyway in the form of a town meeting. The publication takes a look at how different newly appointed mayors have dealt with the situation. A total of 1,493 villages have been affected by this change in legislation. A very practical consequence of this, besides people losing their right to vote, is that in smaller settlements mayors can act as a notary, but mayoral deputes can not, forcing people to travel in order to get their documents notarized.

ECONOMY

"Sega" takes a look at bank profits on its front page, which have reached a record of over 1.4 billion leva in the past 10 months, per Bulgarian National Bank data. That is 15 million leva more than the same time in 2018. So far all data indicates that 2019 will break 2018's record, which marked the first time profits were higher than before the global financial crisis.

"Sega" writes that the number of employed disabled people has doubled because of mandatory quotas, according to Labour and Social Policy Ministry data for 2019, with over 12,000 people finding employment. Only 500,000 leva out of the 4 million leva provided by the State for the employment of disabled people have been spent, because employers are not interested in hiring disabled people, said former labour minister Ivan Neykov, who is now head of the Balkan Institute for Labour and Social Policy.

"Douma" writes that paying taxes in the EU is the most complex in Bulgaria and Italy, according to the PxC consulting company's Paying Taxes global index. Bulgarian businesses take over 440 hours annually to deal with taxes.

HEALTHCARE

"Monitor" reports on its front page that one in every seven Bulgarians has no access to healhcare, according to the European Commission's annual report for 2018. The report notes that long-term unemployed people and the Roma population do not have health insurance and often have no means to pay for helthcare services. They can use emergency services, but have no access to long term treatment. There are no healhcare facilities for the poorest members of society in the country and no NGOs or religious organizations are currently dealing with the issue. 

HOME AFFAIRS

"Monitor" writes that over 8,000 local government officials have to report their earnings to the state, per amendments to the Anti-Corruption Act from a few moths ago. Newly appointed officials will be the first to comply to the new requirements. For any high ranking government representative that does not declare his or her ownings, a check for illegally owned property will be launched.

NATURE

The Geminid meteor shower, the second largest during the year, can be viewed between December 4 and 17 in the Bulgarian sky, "Telegraf" reports, providing interesting information about meteorite showers.

BTA

Floods Have Killed at Least 25 People in India

Floods Have Killed at Least 25 People in India

At least 25 people have died and hundreds have been evacuated to temporary camps after monsoon rains flooded lowlands in southern Indian state Tamil Nadu, the BTA quoted the Associated Press as saying.

Seventeen people were killed in the city of Coimbatore when a wall collapsed as a result of heavy rainfall. Eight more have been victims of various ferry-related incidents since 29 November.

Tamil Nadu’s, head of the regional government, called an emergency meeting and ordered the reservoirs to be monitored. A government hydrologist in the state capital, Chennai, said urban reservoirs, completely depleted by drought in the summer, are now full to half capacity, which is enough to guarantee water  for the 10 million city for the next six months.

In 2015, monsoon rains took the lives of over 250 people in Tamil Nadu.

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