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360. Extrapack builds a second base in Veliko Turnovo

Sofia Echo: 2009-01-29

Extrapack OOD has invested 25 million euro in a second large production base in Veliko Turnovo, on the motorway at the entrance from Sofia, approximately five km west from the first factory.

The facility will embrace a total area of 16 500 sq m. The project was conceived by chief architect Plamen Tsanev. The company in charge of construction is Technobuild, while Dike 2000 is the consulting firm operating alongside Technobuild during the construction process.

Extrapack is the first Bulgarian company to produce bio-dissolving bags. Its rapid expansion in the business meant that they needed to increase the capacity of their operation, thus the construction of the second factory in their home city of Veliko Turnovo, reports Stroitelstvo Gradut.

Apart from production line facilities, the complex will also accommodate an administrative building, two storeys of office buildings, auxiliary and logistical support facilities for material and personnel, and a restaurant. A substation of 110 kilovolts will also be built, along with a pool with a cooling system designed to facilitate the machinery and equipment of the base, as well as a small recycle and treatment station incorporated within the main factory.

In parallel with the new installation, the first factory, which has a total area of 14 000 sq m, will also be fully operational. Extrapack was founded in 1995. According to Milen Tsenkov, the company's executive manager, Extrapack aims to expand its line of products and become more efficient and competitive, but they will not change their line of business. The company's main objective is to use the revenue to re-invest in the training of qualified personnel as well as state of the art modern technology. The second factory will augment the potential of the company and help it develop for the next 10 to 15 years, Tsenkov told Stroitelstvo Gradut.

Approximately a third of new equipment for the new factory will be installed in the summer of 2009. There are currently 500 employees at Extrapack, but with the new operation, another 160 jobs will be created.

359. Japanese Prince to open a museum of Thracian culture in Bulgaria

News BG: 2009-01-28

Japanese prince Akishino will open the new museum of Thracian culture in the east Rhodope Mountains near the Aleksandrovska tomb in the town of Haskovo, The Standart learnt.

The museum will be finished in May 2009. The second son of Japan emperor Akihito and his wife Michiko will visit Bulgaria in May. Japan granted about $3,5 million for the establishing of the museum.

The tomb was discovered by the late archaeologist Dr Georgi Kitov in 2002 by the village of Aleksandrovo near the town of Haskovo. The project for establishing a museum started in 2003, told The Standart professor Nikolay Ovcharov. The museum will provide detailed information on all Thracian monuments situated in the east Rhodopes - Perperikon, Tatul, The Womb cave and Gluhite Kamani (Mute Stones) Sanctuary by the town of Lyubimets. The museum complex will include a replica of Alexandrovska Tomb, professor Ovcharov explained. Nikolay Ovcharov and Bulgaria's President Georgi Parvanov, who is on an official visit to Japan, will open in Tokyo an exhibition of Thracian treasures tomorrow.

"The idea of the exposition is to show Bulgaria's treasures and to promote them in such way that more and more Japanese to prefer Bulgaria as tourists destination," commented professor Ovcharov.

During his meeting with Japanese PM Taro Aso Bulgaria's president Parvanov extended gratitude for the positive development of the cultural relations between the two countries and emphasized on the need of intensifying the development of that sphere.

"Japan has always supported Bulgaria during the transition period. It is one of the biggest donors to our country," said Parvanov during his meeting with PM Aso.

Bulgaria's Head of State raised the issue of tourism once again at his meeting with the chairmen of the Upper and Lower House of Japanese Parliament. During the talks was noted the need of popularizing the Bulgarian tourist centers.

358. Scary monsters at the mummers' carnival "Surva '09" in Pernik

News BG: 2009-01-27

The 18 edition of the International Mummers' Festival "Surva 2009" took place in Pernik during the weekend.

Around 2000 participants and 40 groups marched on Pernik's main street, demonstrating typical Bulgarian customs and contesting for the best costume and mask.

The record for the biggest mask is for the group from the village of Gabrov Dol - seven metres. The oldest participant in the festival is also from that village - the 86-year-old Nestor Nestorov.

The foreign groups were given a special stage, where they could dance, sing and perform in a typically Bulgarian manner.

Mummers' carnivals are extremely spectacular and distinctive for Bulgaria. The participants dance in the streets making as loud noises with their bells, as possible, pretending to scare and drive the evil forces out of the place. The uglier are the masks and the louder are the bells - the greater will be the chance of completely driving the evils away...

It is more than obvious that this tradition follows a pre-Christian tradition (like most of the carnivals).

Read more about the mummers at http://www.homes4ubulgaria.com/bulgaria/topics/mummers.php

357. Emir Kusturica Emir Kusturica & No Smoking Orchestra in Kavarna

News BG: 2009-01-26

Emir Kusturica & No Smoking Orchestra will open the summer season in Kavarna on June 1.

The cult Serbian director of "Black Cat, White Cat", now the bass player of the band, tours Europe and enjoys the acclaim of Western audiences.

The "No Smoking band" (Zabranjeno Pusenje in their original Serbo-Croatian language) was born in Sarajevo in 1980 and soon became the most significant musical expression of "New Primitivism", a cultural resistance movement created in the transition years of post-Tito Yugoslavia.

They were one of the most popular musical acts of the 1980s in Yugoslavia, selling hundreds of thousands of records.

Under the name "Emir Kusturica & No Smoking Orchestra" they released four albums. In 1998 the "No Smoking Orchestra" composed the music for Emir Kusturica's film "Black Cat, White Cat", which won the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival the same year.

The Bulgarian band, based in the Netherlands, The Pomorians was recently invited to join the No Smoking Orchestra for a concert in France.

The concert will start at 8.30 p.m. at the town's square and as usual, it will be for free.

356. Real estate in Bulgaria decreases in price

News BG: 2009-01-24

Real estate in Bulgaria has decreased in price in the fourth quarter of 2008 compared to the third quarter, data by the National Statistics Institute published today shows.

The index of market prices of real estate in Bulgaria for the fourth quarter of 2008 compared to the third quarter of 2008 is 95.9%.

The index of market prices of real estate for 2008 compared to 2007 is 124.9%, i.e. real estate in Bulgaria has increased in price on average by one fourth in the past year.

In the fourth quarter of 2008 compared to the third quarter a decrease is registered in the prices in 23 municipal cities, as the most significant is in Veliko Tarnovo - by 11.7%, Pleven - 11.6%, Targovishte - by 11.2%, Pernik - 10.3% and others.

An increase of prices has been reported in the cities: Kyustendil - by 1.6%, Silistra - by 2,5%, Vratza - by 3.2% and Montana - by 3.7%.

The average price of real estate in the capital is 2373.83 levs/square meter, followed by Varna - 2101.17 levs/square meter and Burgas - 1791.50 levs/square meter.

In the period from October to December, real estate in Varna has increased on average by 1.3%, in Burgas it has increased in price by 2.1%, in Plovdiv it has dropped in price by 2.1%, in Sofia real estate is down by 0.7% compared to the third quarter of the year.

355. No demand for panel buildings in Bulgaria's capital - real estate agency report

Sofia Echo: 2009-01-23

Prices of new apartments in some areas of Sofia have dropped so dramatically, that they have pushed apartments in panel-blocks out of the market, according to real estate agency Yavlena.

A recent research by Yavlena, quoted by Investor.bg, showed that in some areas of Bulgaria's capital real estate is offered for sale mostly by those who urgently need money, while buyers are those who urgently need a home. The only exceptions, according to Yavlena, were people who had money to invest in real estate and who manage to close deals at prices up to 20 per cent below those of early 2008.

In one of the most sought-after parts of the city, the southern boroughs, final sales prices are generally only up to five per cent below asking price and were still in the 1050 to 1250 euro a sq m range, Yavlena said.

In the city centre, where prices in early 2008 could reach 3000 to 6000 euro a sq m, prices were currently around 2000 euro a sq m and rarely was the final sales price different from the asking price, Yavlena said.

In Studentski Grad (Student Town) prices for two-room apartments did not change much, while in the Iztok borough they went down from a little more than 100 000 euro in early 2008 to between 75 and 95 000 in early 2009.

Outside Sofia, in Veliko Tarnovo demand for more expensive housing had increased, while the average price a sq m had gone down slightly, Yavlena said. In villages around Veliko Tarnovo, newly built houses had mostly been bought up by Russians, Yavlena said.

In Bourgas, sales were also down, while the average sales price a sq m had gone down from 802 euro in early 2008 to 703 euro a sq m in early 2009, Yavlena said.

354. Austrias WBG to build biomass plant in Ihtiman

Sofia Echo: 2009-01-22

Austrian company WBG has tested its 4 million euro biomass power plant, which will heat public and private buildings in the town of Ihtiman near Sofia, Ilko Yotsev, managerial agent of the firms Bulgarian unit, told Bulgarian daily Dnevnik.

The facility would have a rated capacity of 3 MW that may be expanded to 10 MW and run on 10,000 tonnes of wood waste a year.

The investor has deployed an eight-kilometer heating distribution network and installed a cutting-edge plant room control technology.

Heating would reach the first consumers within ten days from testing completion, according to Yotsev.

Tariffs were estimated to be some 30 per cent lower than those of Bulgarias conventional gas-fired heating utilities.

The company planned to have 20 MW of biomass energy capacities across the country to help reduce its dependence on gas supplies, Yotsev said.

The new plant was operated by local firm Bio Energy.

353. Zift to open the Days of Bulgarian Cinema in Prague

News BG: 2009-01-21

The movie "Zift" by Yavor Gardev will open the Days of Bulgarian Cinema in the Czech Republic tonight at 8.30 p.m. in the central Prague cinema "Svetozor".

Before the official opening at 6.45 p.m., the documentary "The black and white movies translator" by Teddy Moskov and the short movie "Hidden" by Stefan Valdobrev.

The organizer of the event is the Bulgarian Cultural Institute in Prague, the Ministry of Culture press-centre announced.

The Bulgarian programme will continue until January 22. The viewers will be able to select between the most successful movies from Bulgaria in the recent years. The vent will include the special guest appearances of Yavor Gardev and Stefan Valdobrev.

Bulgraian cinema will also be repsresented by "Sewers" by Lyudmil Todorv, "Investigation" by Iglika Trifonova, and "Passage Number 8" by Boris Despodov.

352. Thousands of visitors since the opening of Picasso exhibition in Sofia

News BG: 2009-01-20

Only a month after the official opening of the "I don't seek. I find: Pablo Picasso", 71 originals works by Picasso, 11 ceramics copies and 24 photographs, taken by Lucien Clerg, were seen by more than 20 000 people according to the National Gallery of Foreign Art's statistics.

The bad weather and the various holidays did not stop art lovers to enjoy Pablo Picasso's original works. The 81 pieces, gathered at one place for the first time, will be exhibited in Bulgaria until March 15.

The collection belongs to some of the most precious collections of Picasso in Mallaga, Barcelona and Madrid.

Organizers of the "I don't seek. I find" exhibition are "Barouh and Partners" with the financial support of M-Tel.

Only during the first month, the free service "Audioguide" which gives details on a particular work, has registered over 5254 calls.

A separate premise with posters for all current exhibitions of Picasso throughout the world is opened in the gallery.

The "I don't seek. I find" exhibition will be in the National Gallery for Foreign Arts, Sofia until March 15.

351. Squat for culture

Sofia Echo: 2009-01-19

There is this one simple, golden rule for whenever you find yourself at the receiving end of sarcasm and ridicule - at least for those of us who do not have the sense of humor to gracefully deal with the situation; whatever you do, do not react. Keep you head up, if necessary laugh about it, but above all, let it slide.

Someone forgot to tell Bulgarian state officials.

As if, after the rounds of denial that inevitably follow every single critical EU report about the absence of any progress in Bulgaria's fight against organised crime and corruption it was still necessary, the artwork by Czech artist David Cerny which portrayed Bulgaria as a Turkish toilet, has shown once and for all that Bulgarian officials are truly selected for their inability to deal with criticism and completely and utterly lack any sense of humor.

Anyone who is even remotely familiar with the country's policy (or lack thereof) on contemporary culture can not be the least bit surprised by the official reactions.

The Culture Ministry, who, when it was invited to propose a programme to present Bulgaria at Europalia in Brussels several years ago could not come up with anything better than yet another exhibition of Thracian gold and a folk dance group (and this only well past deadline), only seemed to have one concern: make sure it would not be associated with the artwork or the Bulgarian artist who allegedly took part in the project.

The reaction of Bulgarian officials in cases like this can be summed up in three words: deny, deny, deny.

Deny you have had anything to do with it.

Deny its right to exist (in this case demand it to be taken down).

Deny it ever existed in the first place.

Bulgarian daily Dnevnik summarised the position of the Culture Ministry in three brilliant words; "Niamame nishto obshto" (We have had nothing to do with it).

Unfortunately, the same could be said for the ministry's involvement in almost anything that has happened in contemporary art in Bulgaria the past decade or so.

In real life however, I have yet to meet the first Bulgarian who is upset, offended, outraged or even mildly "not amused" by the artwork.

Bulgarian artists meanwhile started an online petition against what they call the censorship of David Cherny, demanding that Bulgaria would immediately retract its demand to have the offending artwork taken down, or in case it has been taken down to have it immediately restored.

In the petition the artists said Bulgaria's demand to take down the artwork amounts to censorship and an infringement on freedom of speech, and was a demonstration of a lack of cultural understanding or even a lack of culture of those who have been elected to run this country

Meanwhile, the young socialists, this time organised in a club that, in a media statement sent out via email with a half-dozen pictures attached, called itself the Discussion Club for Social and Local Policy, and who are always ready to please the powers-that-be in the mother-party, presented already beleaguered Czech ambassador Klepetko, with toilet bowl. If this is the extent of intelligent contribution to a debate on culture we can expect from the next generation in that party, we do have something to worry about.

Balchik mayor Angelov showed he had completely lost contact with reality when he invited Cherny to Bulgaria "so he could see for himself that Bulgaria could be associated with many more pleasant things than a toilet." Maybe Angelov had not gotten on to the fact that it was exactly Cherny's childhood visits to the country that left him with the image of the toilet?

Mister Angelov, when was the last time you saw the inside of a public toilet in this country? And what memory do you think it would take to wipe out that experience?

If any of the officials who are playing upset now, would care half as much next time the culture budget was discussed, artists, cultural institutions and contemporary art in this country would be in a different state.

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