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280. Miss Bulgaria Universe in quest in Hollywood

News BG: 2008-10-23

Geri Kochanova went to the USA, where she will be for a month.

Pictures of the Bulgarian beauty have been approved by several American agencies, one of which is the famous Real Talent.

A couple of weeks ago, Geri has been offered a small part in a Hollywood production, but she couldn't leave early enough for the shootings.

Gergana shares that she considers traveling around the States except for hard working and casting.



279. The longest eco-track in Bulgaria

News BG: 2008-10-22

Between October 20 and 27 the longest eco-track in Bulgaria will be officially opened, reports radio Focus-Smolyan.

The track is 100 km long and starts from Hvoyna village, goes through Chepelare and Smolyan and ends in the Greek village Paranesti.

The track goes by some of the most interesting Rhodopean sites - the Bridges of Wonder, Tsirikovata Tsarkva, Pamporovo, Orpheus rocks, the waterfalls' canyon, The Eagle Stone near Smolyan, and the upper course of the Arda river. After Arda village the track goes through to Elidzhe passage near Rudozem and crosses the Bulgarian-Greek border. The route goes on with some of the highest waterfalls in the Rhodope mountains.

Unfortunately, the tourists won't be able to cross the border, until the border point is opened.

It takes five days to go from the beginning of the track to its end. Many shelters, toilets, fountains and summer-house were built alongside the track.

278. European Forest Week promotes protection of local wooded areas

Sofia Echo: 2008-10-21

From October 20 to 24 2008, Bulgaria and the European Union mark European Forest Week 2008, celebrating the contribution of European forests in mitigating climate change and providing wood and renewable energy, securing supplies of fresh water and protecting our environment. In Bulgaria, the State Forestry Agency (SFA) is organising more than 60 events throughout the country to promote the protection of local wooded areas.

SFAs initiatives include planting of new forests, re-creation of habitats of endangered animal and plant species, cleaning green areas in natural and national parks, visits to nature places and making presentations on the role of the forest in the overall picture of environment protection.

Bulgaria, together with Italy and Spain, has had the largest increase in forested areas in Europe. Europe is the only region worldwide that has seen an increase in such areas, SFA said at a news conference devoted to the event on October 20.

European Forest Week was declared by ministers responsible for forests in 46 European countries and is organised by the European Commission, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe and the UN Economic Commission for Europe, in close collaboration with the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, France.

277. Mobile phone company tells foreigners to pay 200 leva to get a contract if they have no Bulgarian ID

Sofia Echo: 2008-10-20

When Pauline and Russell Gascoigne tried to open an account at one of Bulgarias largest mobile service providers, sales representatives gave them two options. Either they could present a lichna karta (Bulgarian ID) confirming their address or, if they did not have one, pay a refundable security deposit of 200 leva.

The Gascoignes found both options unreasonable, for the family did not have Bulgarian IDs, and offered to show their British passports. Neither of their passports was a sufficient identification, they were told, nor was the udostoverenie, or certificate for long-term residence issued to European Union citizens, but which has no photograph or current address.

At first, Pauline Gascoigne said, she thought that the company was discriminating against foreigners, for she knew that Bulgarian citizens were not required to pay a security deposit. The couple visited at least five different shops of the same mobile operator in Pleven, Tryavna and Lovech, and everywhere there got the same reply lichna karta or 200 leva up front.

I have never heard of such a practice and I am quite surprised, a company representative told The Sofia Echo in the first of several phone conversations. Later, the company confirmed that, according to its house rules, the potential client should present a document with a valid address, but previous electricity or water bills were not acceptable.

You do understand that we as a company need to insure ourselves for the amounts due, the representative said.

The companys logic was simple: when there is no proof of valid address, the deposit of 200 leva is imposed and it would be refunded when the contract is terminated.

Pauline Gascoigne understood the rules, but what she kept wondering was how to convince the mobile operator that all she had was a business address and that, according to state regulations, she could not apply for a lichna karta until five years of interrupted residence in the country had passed. The family lives in a house which is their business address since, to be able to buy property in Bulgaria, foreign citizens are obliged to register a company if it is a property with land. According to Gascoigne, she offered to confirm that she had an address, but the sales people were not interested.

In a follow-up phone call the mobile operator said that it was unlikely that all their staff in question had disregarded the business address, but agreed that not all sales clerks spoke sufficient English to explain what was necessary. With miscommunication possibly being the only issue, the mobile operator said that it considered three categories of foreign clients: those with a status of temporary, long-term and permanent residence in the country.

These categories are spelled out by the Migration Directorate at the Ministry of Interior. Any form of address could be verified by any regional office of the Migration Directorate with an official state stamp, which would be accepted by the mobile operator and eliminate the need for a security deposit.

Ignat Arsenov, a legal consultant at the European Consumer Centre-Bulgaria (ECC) told The Sofia Echo that in this case discussed the consumer rights of British citizens had not been violated. Arsenov cited clause 19 of the mobile operators contract regulations on address requirements. Clause 25 indicated that the company could refuse to enter a contract with a private client. Alternatively, they could require the security deposit as defined in clause 56.

According to Arsenov, the case was not an example of discrimination against foreigners, as stipulated by the Consumer Protection Act.

Complaints, however, can be filed with the ECC in Sofia at ecc.bulgaria@kzp.bg.

If there are questions about customers being potentially discriminated against, Arsenov advised that a written request for a detailed review should be filed with the Commission for Protection against Discrimination at 35 Dragan Tsankov Blvd, Sofia.

276. Andy Warhol paintings in Sofia Arts Gallery

News BG: 2008-10-19

Everybody who happens to visit the imposing building of Societe Generale in Paris, situated in the modern La Defance area, can't remain indifferent to the works of art inhabiting the whole space.

Modern and provocative, they tickle the senses and inspire a more dynamic contemporary way of communication.

The collection was initiated in 1995. The original idea of using the newly bought works for decorating offices and conference halls soon developed further and after 2003 the amount of the collection allowed for the donation of works to museums in France and other countries. Today it includes over 170 works by authors from different countries and generations, who represent a variety of styles. Regardless of the deliberately eclectic character of the collection, with its growing we can identify three major genres: abstract painting, photography and sculpture. World known names like Pierre Alechinsky, Pierre Soulage, Antonie Tapies, Andy Warhol and Sol Lewitt appear alongside young talents from the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century.

The exhibition in Bulgaria has been organized in co-operation with Societe Generale Expressbank. The selection of works has been made by the expert team of Sofia City Art Gallery and includes 19 artists with 48 paintings, drawings and photographs. The concept is that we show the diversity of a corporate collection and the opportunities it gives for an international cultural exchange.

The ehxibition will be in Bulgarina until November 7.





275. Bulgarian Government mulls 6.5B leva cash injection in state railways

Sofia Echo: 2008-10-18

Bulgaria would inject 6.5 billion leva in upgrading the country's railways by 2013 if the plan put forth by Transport Minister Petar Moutafchiev and the chairperson of Parliament's transport committee Yordan Mirchev is adopted by the Cabinet, Dnevnik daily reported.

Moutafchiev presented the plan on October 17 and said that the figure was based on "detailed calculations" of how many new train engines, coaches and wagons needed to be bought, as well as the exact cost of repairing or replacing existing railway infrastructure.

Unless an "aggressive investment strategy" was pursued, the two loss-making state-run companies would have to cut down on the services they offer, Moutafchiev was quoted as saying by website mediapool.bg.

The plan envisages the allocation of 3.94 billion leva to operator Bulgarian State Railways (BDZ) and a further 2.56 billion leva for National Railways Infrastructure Company. The bulk of the funds would come from the state budget, but 1.4 billion leva in European Union funds were pencilled in as well, while 360 million leva are expected to come from a World Bank loan.

The plan has been submitted to Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev and is expected to be discussed by the leaders of the three parties in Bulgaria's ruling coalition when they next meet later this month or in November. There was no guarantee that the plan would be adopted, but the ministry would ask that its funds allocation in the 2009 Budget is increased by 70 per cent, Moutafchiev said, as quoted by Dnevnik.

The number of people served by BDZ has dropped to about 35 million a year from more than 110 million in the early 1990s, mainly due to declining quality, Reuters reported.

274. Sozopol sets sights for the rich and famous

Wise Property: 2008-10-17

The municipality of Sozopol, a Bulgarian Black Sea resort town, has implemented a construction plan, which aims to attract the rich and famous. Affluent tourists will be teased with the creation of a small airport for private aircraft, with a runway spanning 1.8km between the Ravna Gora and Izvor villages, Bulgarian construction news website stroitelstvo.bg reported. Sozopol chief architect Roumen Alexandrov and the mayor of the town Panayot Reizi have unveiled the plans which also include a 30ha recreational park near Gradina Camping.

In addition, a new port and three golf courses will be built. The municipality owns the land that one of the golf courses will be built on, and the other courses will be on land currently used for farming.

The local authorities want to create a new image for the resort and provide sleek, chic and modern tourism for the affluent from Bulgaria and abroad. The tourist industry will have several targets, categorised according to the different types of tourist.

Sozopol boasts a very rich history with many archaeological sites and ruins which enhance the areas interest for tourism. The nearby island of St Nikola will be developed as a "tourist super centre", the website reported.

The infrastructure surrounding the airport, the villages Ravna Gora and Izvor and other villages close to Sozopol will take two years to complete. Within 18 months, the waste water treatment station in Sozopol will be operational and would service the municipal centre, the villages Ravadinovo, Chernomorets, Atiya, Dyuni and Alepou.

273. Kibela Royal holiday village to rise near Balchik

Sofia Echo: 2008-10-15

A new holiday village, conveniently located close to the golf course that is being built near the Black Sea town of Balchik, will rise on about 27 000 sq m land plot, weekly Stroitelstvo Gradut reported. Investor of the project is Britannia-Balchik Inc., a partnership with British shareholders, while the design is done by architects Svetoslav Stanislavov and Delyan Zhechev from the Varna-based Disarch studio.

Kibela Royal will be situated in the Tabiyata area and will feature one- and two-family buildings winding in a spiral-like shape, surrounding a middle ground with entertainment and recreation zones, and several outdoor swimming pools.

The buildings bend in a shape of a crescent and a single driveway entrance from the south side will lead into the complex. Every building has an adjoining parking lot, and according to the plan, there are 195 parking spaces.

There are 58 one-family houses with a total built-up area of 8328 sq m. The building's entrance faces the outer street and each one has a small backyard. On the roof there will be a large balcony, which has the potential to be transformed into a living area.

Ten of the one-family houses are connected, according to the plan, and form a different type of three-level buildings with a total built-up area of 1809 sq m. Two small blocks feature buildings with 200 one- two- and three-bedroom flats. Their total built-up comes to 16 000 sq m.

According to the plan, there will be a communal building facing the pools, which will include spa centre, a fitness hall, outdoor bar area, café on the balcony and administrative offices.

Designers have paid special attention to the village's landscaping and every building is envisioned with flower stands of its façade.

272. Bulgarian town of Belogradchik voted an excellent tourist destination

Sofia Echo: 2008-10-14

Bulgarian north-western town of Belogradchik found a place in the list of 20 tourist European Destinations of Excellence (EDEN), which is an initiative launched by the European Commission in 2006, weekly Stroitelstvo Gradut reported.

The places that end up in that ranking are representative of European intangible cultural heritage. Belogradchik has impressed the selectors with its exciting traditions and a collection of Thracian legends and myths that have been featured within the international competition An Excellent Bulgarian Tourist Destination The Spirit of the Thracian people.

EDEN generally draws the attention to less known destinations as it tries to promote their tourist value in its social, cultural and environmental aspects.

Stroitelstvo Gradut reported that the region of Belogradchik has had a successful tourist season, welcoming more than 72 000 tourists since January 2008, with the expectation the number to reach 90 000 by the end of the year. For 2007, the figure was close to 57 000 visitors.

Tourists are most interested to see the Belogradchik rocks within the city's vicinity as well as the famous Magoura cave, where pre-historic drawings have been discovered. For the cultivation of the cave some 400 000 euro will be spend, primarily for making it more accessible. The money would support further archaeological research and restoration of the drawings.

Local authorities expect the tourist industry in the region to get a boost with the building of the first four-star hotel in the north-west Bulgaria called Skalite (The Rocks). Located in the Belogradchik's centre, the hotel offers eight entertainment facilities, a bar with a panoramic view, a spa centre and fitness halls.

For the accommodation of the increasing number of tourists, the building of three more hotels is under way.

271. German firm Degi buys Mall of Sofia

Sofia Echo: 2008-10-13

German company Degi has acquired the Mall of Sofia shopping centre, said the anti-trust authority, which should rule on the deal. Sources told Dnevnik daily that Degi Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Immobilienfonds was also a bidder for the capitals City Center Sofia but lost to US company Heitman, which offered 101 million euro.

Degis marketing director and press spokesman Dietmar Mueller declined to comment until the deal was wrapped up.

No financial details or yield about the new sale are available. City Center Sofia was sold at a 7.1 per cent yield.

In 2006, Mall of Sofia went to Irish investment fund Quinlan Private and GE Real Estate. It was previously owned by Israeli companies Ocif and Aviv, each with a stake of 25 per cent, and IT International Theatres with a 50 per cent stake.

Mall of Sofia was unveiled in May 2006 in downtown Sofia and has a built up area of 73 000 sq m. All 130 shops have been rented out to major global brands for 30-60 euro a sq m a month. The complex boasts Bulgarias first 3D cinema and 12 other cinema halls.

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