Early Elections by the Fall

June 30, 2005 by  
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The New Time political party is urging for early elections that should take place in the autumn. At a special press conference the party leader Emil Koshlukov pointed out that early elections would be necessary having in mind the situation in the country. Koshlukov also expressed hopes that Simeon Saxe-Coburg will keep up his promise and will not form a coalition with the socialist Coalition for Bulgaria. He said that the early elections will not affect Bulgaria’s EU entry.

The New Time political party will stay out of the 40th Bulgarian National Assembly as the “”hedgehogs”” of the Bulgarian politics couldn’t garner the needed support of at least 4% of the voters. The New Timers received some 3,4% of the votes, thus remaining out the next Parliament.”

Bulgarian Elections 2005: Bulgarian Socialists Claim Victory

June 25, 2005 by  
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SOFIA, Bulgaria (Reuters)
Bulgaria’s opposition Socialists claimed victory over the ruling centrists in Saturday’s elections, but exit polls suggested they may struggle to form a government. Any protracted coalition wrangling between parties could unsettle investors seeking quick economic and social reforms to secure EU entry in 2007 and increase impatience in a general population over poor living standards.

A Gallup exit poll for BTV television gave the ex-communists 32.2 percent of the vote versus 20.5 percent for ex-King Simeon Saxe-Coburg’s ruling National Movement for Simeon II (NMS). Earlier opinion polls had given the Socialists 40 percent, a vote that would have allowed them to form a government quickly. “We have won the elections,” said Socialist deputy leader Rumen Petkov. “But the results are not satisfactory.”

Three other local polling agencies put the Socialists, led by progressive Sergei Stanishev at 30.7-32.1 percent and the NMS at 19.5-21.1 percent. The next government must complete a mountain of difficult reforms under increased scrutiny from Brussels as skepticism over further EU expansion grows after recent French and Dutch rejections of the bloc’s constitution. Although investors have praised Saxe-Coburg’s government as the best since the fall of communism, public discontent over poverty and crime forced the only ex-monarch to second place.

Nationalists rise
Analysts say the surprise emergence of the nationalist Attack party, seen winning 7-7.9 percent and crossing the threshold to parliament, may have undermined them. “The result for Attack is a surpise and has eroded support for the Socialists,” said Kancho Stoichev, an analyst with Gallup. Analysts said the Socialists are expected to seek a coalition with the mostly ethnic-Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) — Saxe-Coburg’s current ruling partner — and deputies from other parties.

“A left-center coalition is more likely,” MRF leader Ahmed Dogan said, apparently throwing his support behind the leftists. The Socialists have not ruled out seeking a grand coalition including the ruling centrists. Saxe-Coburg has made clear he will not join a grouping he does not lead but his party may find another role for him, such as the presidency, or some of his deputies may defect. The Socialists have been eager to show they have changed since they were ousted in 1997 after plunging the country into economic disaster. But despite vowing economic prudence and reforms crucial for EU accession — such as revamping a lumbering judiciary — the Socialists’ plans for more social spending are a bigger risk for the economy, analysts say.

Banished in 1947 at the age of nine by the communists, the former boy-king returned to win a landslide election victory in 2001. He led Bulgaria into NATO and to the threshold of the EU, boosted economic growth to 6 percent and cut unemployment. Despite his achievements, failure to deliver on brash 2001 pledges to make all Bulgarians wealthy in 800 days has angered voters. Bulgaria’s 2004 per capita GDP of 2,498 euros makes it second only to Turkey as the poorest EU member or candidate.

There are many Bulgarians still queuing outside the polling stations in the country despite the official end of the election day, Biser Troyanov, spokesman of the Central Elections Committee. He also pointed out that currently CEC is trying to connect all the regional Elections committees to explore the situation.

At 8 pm the preliminary results were announced with socialist Coalition for Bulgaria garnering 33,7% of the votes, followed by Simeon II National Movement (SIINM) with 21.1% and Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) – 11.9%. This year’s surprise came from the nationalistic coalition Attack (Ataka), which gathered nearly 9% of the votes.

UDF Leader: We’ll Seek Right-Centre Coalition
We will seek a right-centre coalition in the cabinet to be formed, Nadezhda Mihaylova, leader of United Democratic Forces, said as early exit poll results were announced on the night of June 25.

The right-wing party is among the favorites for entering the 40th parliament of Bulgaria in a close-up margin with the Democrats for Strong Bulgaria of former Prime Minister Ivan Kostov. Nadezhda Mihaylova told Sofia News Agency that the Bulgarian Socialist Party will obviously be unable to form a government of its own and her party will focus on coalescing with other parties of the right and the centre political spectrum. In response to a question whether this desired coalition might involve the party of Ivan Kostov, she said that talks are just to come ahead. Mihaylova stressed also on the “positive fact” that the right-wing election racers have earned totally more votes that the party of Simeon II National Movement.

King’s Party Doesn’t Rule Out New Coalition
The king’s party Simeon II National Movement (SIINM) has not been defeated, Deputy Prime and Transport Minister Nikolay Vassilev said not ruling out the possibility of the forming of a new ruling coalition. The current government was formed by a coalition and if we sum up the percents of the three partners in the coalition the result will equal that of Coalition for Bulgaria, Vassilev pointed out. Vassilev, however, declined to comment on the future coalition members.

Nationalists Turn Fourth Biggest Parliamentary Power
The nationalist coalition Attack, the fist to gain seats in Bulgaria’s Parliament, ranks fourth among election racers, show results after fifty percent of the votes were processed. The Attack (Ataka) coalition, which has been described as a phenomenon and sprang the biggest surprise in the elections, collects 8.9% of the votes.”

Bulgaria Worries about EU Entry

June 20, 2005 by  
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By Nicholas Wood, International Herald Tribune

Bulgaria is to hold parliamentary elections Saturday, with its voters keenly aware that whatever government they elect, their chances of joining the European Union in the near future have become more remote. All of the mainstream political parties competing in the election are unified in their aim of achieving European Union membership by Jan. 1, 2007, as scheduled in negotiations. But comments made by leading European politicians suggesting that enlargement of the 25-member bloc should be slowed in the wake of French and Dutch votes rejecting the European constitution have sent shudders through the political elite.

Many now fear Bulgaria’s membership may be delayed by a year or more. Opinion polls predict that the country’s former communists, the Bulgarian Socialist Party, will win the largest number of seats and oust the former King of Bulgaria, Simeon Saxecoburggotski, who has led the government for the last four years.

The suggestion that enlargement could be delayed has intensified claims among parties that they are most capable of implementing the reforms needed to obtain membership on time. The EU enlargement commissioner, Olli Rehn, recently warned Bulgaria and Romania that unless they accelerated the pace of reforms they risked seeing their applications set back by a year.

Politicians here said there was a genuine commitment to completing reforms – in such areas as the judicial system and the prosecution of organized crime – but they also say that the EU has moved the goal posts. Senior politicians here appear bitter that, having asked Bulgaria and other East European states to implement difficult political and economic reforms, West European countries are not willing to do the same themselves – most notably in the area of farm subsidies – and are instead blaming enlargement for their problems.

“Every country should be judged according to its accomplishments,” said Sergei Stanishev, leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, who is tipped to be the country’s next prime minister. “It wouldn’t be fair for the Bulgaria to pay the price of the internal problems of the European Union,” he said in an interview at the party’s last election rally held Thursday night in Sofia.

Were membership to be delayed, the majority of politicians and analysts here say it would have a destabilizing effect in the country. Throughout the past 15 years, many Bulgarians have endured economic hardship as state run businesses have been closed down, people laid off, and price controls abolished in favor of an open market. While Bulgaria has seen strong economic growth (5.4 percent last year), and unemployment levels have dropped from to 13 percent from 18 percent during the last four years, many people appear frustrated about the pace of change, and concerned also that the country is not getting the best deal possible from the EU.

“It’s hard to make ends meet with the money we earn, but I’m not hoping for anything good when we join,” said Maria Nikolova, a 50-year-old stall holder in Sofia’s Zenski Pazar, or Ladies’ Market. Bulgarians earn, on average, 230 lev, or about $142, a month. Another stall holder, Constantin Nikolov, 51, said he believed the EU would at least curb corruption among Bulgarian politicians.

Hostility toward Europe, has emerged on the fringes of an otherwise overtly pro-European election campaign. Senior members of Stanishev’s party have called for the renegotiation of an agreement to shut down two nuclear reactors in a Soviet-built power station. Polls show that many Bulgarian believe the closure will lead to higher electricity prices, or to power cuts. “If Bulgaria’s membership is delayed this question will be put again,” said Rumen Ovcharov, a former energy minister and Socialist member of Parliament.

The rise of Ataka, an ultranationalist party formed just two months ago, is seen by diplomats and mainstream parties as one of greatest causes for concern in Bulgaria’s EU relations. Ataka, which has campaigned with the slogan “Bulgaria for the Bulgarians” and is predicted to win as much as 7 percent of the vote, is suggesting that Bulgaria should withdraw from NATO, and opposes EU membership. Its leader, Volen Siderov, blames the country’s Roma and Turkish minorities for crime and corruption in the country. By delaying membership, mainstream Bulgarian politicians and analysts argue that animosity toward the EU will grow and the momentum for reform would be undermined.

According to Ovcharov: “If the EU tells us you will now have to wait, people will ask why and what do we have to wait for.” “The reality,” said Antoaneta Primatarova, a former deputy foreign minister and the ex-Bulgarian ambassador to the EU, “is that the EU will have to reform.” And, she added, “it will be as painful as was for former communist states.”

Elections in Bulgaria

June 15, 2005 by  
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Bulgaria’s parliamentary elections are due in June 25, 2005. The basic power in the Parliamentary Republic is the legislative one, exercised by the Parliament (The National Assembly). It is unicameral and consists of 240 members, elected directly by the voters for a four-year term, on the basis of the proportional representation. For the parties and the pre-election coalitions to enter the National Assembly, they must collect at least 4% of the total number of votes at the elections.

Currently the ruling party Simeon II National Movement has the largest grouping in the assembly, followed by the Coalition for Bulgaria, led by the Bulgarian Socialist Party. The United Democratic Forces, comprising MPs who left the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) early in 2004 to found Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria, comes third; the predominantly ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms follows next. These outnumber the UDF and the New Time group, the parliamentary group of the agrarian People’s Union and the Democratic Party, and the independent MPs.

When Two Cultures Collide

June 10, 2005 by  
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By Kathryn Donev

In general it is believed that when any two individuals come together, in the midst there will be some sort of tension. The coming together or collision consequences in tension that is the result of differing opinions and viewpoints. One major origin of such strain or confusion is due to misinterpretation. What is said is viewed erroneously and internalized or personalized in error. Furthermore, when this phenomenon occurs with two individuals from differing cultures, there is greater opportunity for misapprehension. It has been said that whatever is perceived by an individual is the true reality for that particular person. Meaning, how ever one views an event, even if falsely done, is what actually took place in that individual’s personalized world. It is such concept that must be taken to heart in order to genuinely be culturally sensitive. When two cultures collide there must be open-mindedness and understanding of another’s world view. Yet, the straightforward part is to understand this concept and the difficult part is to place such concept into actuality.

Our Ministry in the Yambol Region

June 5, 2005 by  
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Chaplaincy in Bulgaria

June 5, 2005 by  
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Since 1995, Cup and Cross Ministries International has worked toward a vision of the establishment of a Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association – an organization that incorporates pastoral care to prisons, military, police and hospitals. Our outreaches have been able to provide pastoral care and social services to the needy in a time of severe economic crises and political tensions. Our presence has been an answer for people in need for both physical and spiritual support. In the beginning of the 21st century, we are witnesses of a miracle as this vision comes into reality. Today, police and military officers participate in services led by the same ministers and pastors who once, during communism, they were ordered to arrest for the preaching of the Gospel.

History of Events

In September of 1944 the Communist revolution took over Bulgaria. All prior Protestant activates were outlawed. Pastors and ministers were imprisoned. Some were brutally executed. Any attempt for ministry in public was equal to a death sentence. The church went underground for 45 years until the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and a Holy Ghost revival swept through the country. In the summer of 2000 the Bulgarian Church of God organized a chaplaincy seminar in the Military School in Veliko Turnovo. This was done with the partnership of NATO’s head chaplain along with the representative of the Orthodox Church in Bulgaria, the director of the school under the patronage of the vice-president of Bulgaria Mr. Kavaldjiev. More than 250 officers, spiritual leaders and civil representatives participated. The goal of the seminar was to awaken the interest of the community and appeal for changes in the Bulgarian constitution, which would guarantee the freedom of military personnel to access the chaplain’s services and care.

The Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association

In February of 2002 a chaplaincy seminar, organized along with the Church of God Chaplains Commission, was held in the National Palace of Culture in Sofia. More than 60 pastors, chaplains, students and church workers from different denominations attended. These were people actively involved in military, hospital and prison ministries. The seminar was a stepping-stone for the development of the chaplaincy ministry in Bulgaria. It served as a beginning point of the structural development of the department of chaplaincy and caregivers in the Bulgarian Church of God and facilitated to the establishment of the Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association of which Cup & Cross Ministries became a charter member.


June 1, 2005 by  
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