Bulgaria News (Novinite) (Sofia News Agency) Real time news provider in English that informs its readers about the latest Bulgarian news - economic, political and cultural, foreign media analysis on Bulgaria and world news.

  • WHO: Omicron does not require Development of New Vaccines
    on December 1, 2021 at 2:12 pm

    The World Health Organization has no data that there is a reduction in effectiveness of existing coronavirus vaccines following the emergence of the Omicron variant. The EU Could Approve a Vaccine against Omicron in 3-4 Months The WHO does not consider it necessary to develop new vaccines, as pharmaceutical companies need to make only minor changes to the composition of already developed preparations. /BNT

  • Explosion in Munich Wounded Dozens and stopped the Movement of Trains
    on December 1, 2021 at 2:09 pm

    The bomb exploded shortly after noon in front of a Deutsche Bahn construction site in Munich. According to the fire service, three people were injured, one of them seriously. Trains have been stopped around Munich Central Station, a spokesman said. The movements of trains to near and far destinations are affected, the tram depot is locked. It is not known how long the traffic will be stopped. Police and the fire service explained that it was a large-scale operation, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported. According to police, a loud explosion was heard near Donnersbergerbrücke, after which a column of smoke rose. According to the fire department, it was an explosion. "We are here to ensure the safety of people," said a spokesman for the fire service. Three people were injured. The cause of the explosion remains unclear. There are suspicions that this is a World War II bomb. Donnersbergerbrücke is located not far from the main train station in the center of Munich on the main route of the Munich city railway. Many fire trucks and about 50 emergency services were on the scene, and a federal police helicopter was circling over the area. /BGNES

  • The Modernization of the Bulgarian Air Force Can Go Awry
    on December 1, 2021 at 2:01 pm

    "A very important priority for the next government must be to ensure full readiness for the acceptance of purchased and already paid F-16 fighter jets and to achieve full operational capability very quickly once they arrive - say, by 2024-2025. But it must be achieved on the horizon of the next government." This was announced on Friday during the political consultations on "National Security" by the former Minister of Defense Todor Tagarev, who is currently an expert on military issues of the leading parliamentary party "We Continue the Change". Rapid achievement of this goal is key, as the new NATO fighters will be the platform on which to reform and modernize our Air Force as a whole. They are directly related to the acquisition of new three-coordinate NATO radars and possibly in the near future - the replacement of the army's anti-aircraft missile systems, which are Soviet-made and will hardly be able to work in sync with NATO fighters.   What are the risks for the Air Force at the moment? However, full operational readiness is unlikely to really happen in the period 2024-2025, as former Minister Tagarev would like. The reason is that the assembly of the fighters is delayed due to the pandemic and due to problems with external subcontractors in the logistics chain, as Greg Ulmer, vice president of the American corporation Lockheed Martin, which produces F-16s in Greenville, South Carolina, admits to Aviation Week and Breaking Defense. The company's previous goal was to hand over the first machine of the new Block 70 model for the needs of the Bahraini Air Force at the end of 2022. Аccording to the statement of the Vice Marshal of Bahraini Aviation Sheikh Hamad bin Abdullah al-Khalifa during the air show in Dubai, however, the delivery of the first fighters for the country will be sought by 2024. "We are currently behind on schedule by about 12 months," confirms Greg Ulmer of Lockheed Martin. The corporation did not say exactly which foreign subcontractor was delaying the production of the fighters. However, it is known that components for the fuselage of the F-16 Block 70 must be made by the Indian industrial giant Tata, and the wings - by the Israeli state defense corporation IAI. "We continue to take proactive action with the F-16 Program Office, our suppliers and our international partners to mitigate the impact and increase production efficiency, including by hiring more than 300 employees at our plant in Greenville, South Carolina." commented for "Capital" representatives from Lockheed Martin, without giving more details about the delay and possible new delivery times. The company only added that it has already added more component suppliers to the program, such as the concern's plant in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and PZL Mielec in Poland. The Bulgarian Ministry of Defense unofficially commented for "Capital" that so far they have not received notification from the United States that there may be a delay in supplies to Bulgaria and that they hope the US corporation will be able to catch up with the internal redistribution of resources. However, this will not be easy, as before the Bulgarian eight machines Lockheed Martin has to produce 16 units for Bahrain and 14 for Slovakia. Under our agreement with the United States, the fighter jets were to be handed over to Bulgaria 48 months after the conclusion of the agreement, which was ratified at the end of July 2019. In the context of current developments around the pandemic, however, delivery seems physically impossible in 2023. According to the plan, our country was to receive two ready-made machines in the autumn of 2023, four - in the spring of 2024, and the last two - in the summer of the same year. The Chief of Defense, Admiral Emil Eftimov, also spoke about this recently. There is also a subtle point in this case - "transferring to the Bulgarian side" does not mean the immediate adoption of armaments, let alone the transition to full operational capabilities. Before that happens, the F-16 fighters must pass several weeks to several months of tests in real conditions in the United States and take off by Bulgarian pilots, who are currently being trained to use them at the US Air Force Academy.   Possible political consequences The possible delay in the production deadlines of the Bulgarian F-16s may entail more political consequences on Bulgarian soil. The reason is that the caretaker government has already started the procedure for the possible purchase of the second batch of eight fighters, which our country has generally committed to acquire. At the end of the summer, the acting Minister of War Georgi Panayotov sent to Washington the so-called Letter of Request for Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LoR for LOA) - a letter-request for preparation of a draft contract, in which there is a "precise breakdown of values ​​by components, systems, services, etc.". According to "Capital", the response from the American side is expected sometime in late February or early March. It is important to note that the parameters of the US binding offer in question will be valid only for a certain period of 3-4 months, during which the government and the Bulgarian parliament will have to decide whether to conclude a new interstate agreement with the United States or not. At the end of Borissov's rule, Lockheed Martin announced that if our country quickly ordered the second eight F-16, it would eventually receive them together with the first order. But if the offensive for a new contract to order more fighter jets coincides with US acknowledgments that there are difficulties with the timely delivery of the first batch, this fact is likely to give more and more convincing arguments to opponents of the subsequent deal. Moreover, the implementation of any large-scale military projects in the conditions of the economic and social crisis caused by the pandemic will be extremely complex and politically "difficult to sell" to the Bulgarian taxpayers. Especially when our country has prepaid BGN 2.2 billion for fighter jets, which is not sure exactly when it will receive.   And more obstacles Achieving the full operational capability of the new F-16s will also be problematic due to delays in repairing and modernizing the infrastructure at Graf Ignatievo Air Base. According to the statements of the acting Minister of War Panayotov, the previous government has distributed and prepaid huge sums to "its favorite companies" (of the order of at least BGN 184 million), which, however, are delaying or not even fulfilling their commitments. According to him, this will at best delay the completion of the project and the certification of the air base by 6-8 months, which in turn may prevent the new NATO fighters from being accepted by the Bulgarian Air Force in time. The rearmament with the F-16 is also likely to lead to a reform of the anti-aircraft missile forces. Velizar Shalamanov, a former caretaker defense minister and current national security expert for Democratic Bulgaria, hinted at something similar during political consultations on the new government. "Immediate replacement of anti-aircraft systems is needed, because there is no way for an F-16 to fly in Bulgarian airspace if it works with complexes of the type we have. In 1999, NATO asked us to turn them all off so that their F-16s could fly over. 16 ", he said during the talks. In principle, the Ministry of Defense has developed technical specifications for a possible order for a new air defense, but such a project has neither been discussed in parliament nor included in the group of the army's top-priority modernization programs. The purchase of new anti-aircraft missile systems would cost between several hundred million and several billion, depending on the type of systems, their range and the quantities we are ready to acquire. It is possible that our country will initially focus on a more cunning option, using systems for ground launch of long-range anti-aircraft missiles AMRAAM, which in principle we have already ordered for the armament of the new F-16. However, such systems will be only a basic solution, as they are designed only for short and medium distances, ie. have operational-tactical rather than strategic importance for the defense of NATO's eastern flank. /Momchil Milev, Capital

  • Bulgaria’s Caretaker Government offers the minimum Wage to become BGN 710
    on December 1, 2021 at 1:23 pm

    We propose to introduce in the next budget an increase in the minimum wage and it will become BGN 710, said today in the Council of Ministers the Minister of Finance Valeri Belchev. Over 750 thousand people in our country work on the minimum wage. They now receive BGN 650, which, according to Belchev, are extremely insufficient to support a household. Every citizen with an income of up to BGN 510 will be entitled to child benefits, which will increase by 20 percent, Belchev said. According to him, this is a serious increase that will affect 20 thousand children in Bulgaria. We are significantly increasing the maternity allowances for children up to two years of age, as they increase from BGN 380 to BGN 650, Belchev also announced. With regard to pensions, we intend to propose, even after the abolition of covid measures, that the absolute value of income for retirees be at least maintained at current levels, he added. This would mean an average increase in the pension of each pensioner by BGN 84, the minister informed. He also said that the government proposes to keep the supplement to the pensions of BGN 120 in the next six months. I very much insist that the budget for 2022 be adopted within this year. Although some of the political forces prefer to slow down the process and leave the payment of the budget to a regular government, we are obliged to comply with the law and protect the country from risks, said the caretaker Minister of Finance Valeri Belchev. Belchev announced that the basic scenario of the budget for next year has already been prepared. An interdepartmental procedure for calculating budget revenues and expenditures is underway this week, which will end on Friday, so on Monday next week we will start signing the State Budget Act for 2022, the minister informed. He said the process would take about a week, and discussions with all municipalities and the fiscal council would begin next Monday. Concluding this process on 16 December as planned, we intend to invite the National Council for Tripartite Cooperation. On December 17, the formal document will be submitted to the Council of Ministers, Belchev announced. We have not envisaged reforms in the structures, because these will be decisions of the parliament and the regular government. I think we provide a good base on which to work, said the Minister. According to him, it is very important for the political parties to unite around the fact that there should be a budget within this year, to make their talks and compromises and to accept the framework as it is. is possible, but it is important to secure the financial year. /ClubZ

  • Health Minister Katsarov: 1.5 Million Tests have been Provided to the Bulgarian Education System
    on December 1, 2021 at 1:17 pm

    "There may be mobile teams in testing laboratories in front of students 'and teachers' schools." This was stated to BNR by the Minister of Health Stoycho Katsarov. He stressed that the Ministry of Health is doing everything possible to help the education system by purchasing tests for Covid-19. "Contracts have been signed and 1.5 million tests have been provided to the education system," the caretaker minister said, adding that another 600,000 tests were due by Friday (November 26th): "They have been detained by customs and will be delivered by the end of this week." A second call has been announced for another 2.5 million tests for schools: "Yesterday I signed contracts for the companies that won the contract for another 2.7 million tests, which have a delivery date of December 9. That is, a total of 1.5 million have been delivered since November 8 and we expect more than 3 million. These 4.5 million tests would be enough to test all children by the end of 2021. " According to him, the problem is with the supplies: "There are delays in transport, there are delays in customs, especially for these gentle tests, which are for children." Minister Katsarov reiterated that his order was to return the students to school, but in a safe environment. /BNR