Press Review

Sofia, January 13 (BTA) -

POLITICS

Mediapool.bg quotes GERB floor leader and deputy leader Tsvetan Tsvetanov as saying that Parliament will back the cabinet's proposal for a start of negotiations with the US on the acquisition of eight F-16 aircraft. Speaking on Bulgarian National Radio on Sunday, Tsvetanov said: "I believe the proposal made by the working group and approved by the Council of Ministers is the best possible option and something Bulgaria can be proud of for decades. This is an investment in security." As expected, last week the government proposed to Parliament to start negotiations with the US on the purchase of F-16 Block 70 aircraft.

"24 Chassa" reports that on Saturday the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) approved its firm position against the Istanbul Convention against domestic violence in both key documents which will be adopted by the party's congress on January 26 ahead of the European elections. This took place late on Thursday on a proposal by Yanaki Stoilov, says the daily, quoting knowledgeable sources. The national priorities for which the future Socialist MEPs must stand up include rejection of the UN migration pact and the Istanbul Convention. BSP deputy leader Deniza Slateva said all of the present Socialist MEPs could be included in the list, which will be announced mid-April, shortly before the start of the election campaign. Party of European Socialists (PES) President Sergei Stanishev said the convention and the pact were just small points of difference between the BSP and PES, noting that mobilization had always been the BSP's main problem in European elections.

"24 Chassa" has a story headlined "Tsvetanov: Radev Divides Nation, Inspires Hatred". GERB floor leader Tsvetan Tsvetanov commented in Plovdiv on Saturday that rather than being a unifier of the nation, President Rumen Radev showed he was pursuing his personal political goals.

"Standart News" quotes social anthropologist Haralan Alexandrov as saying on Sunday's talk show on Bulgarian National Radio that the aftermath of the beating of a serviceman by two Roma brothers in the village of Voivodinovo showed how a criminal offence can be ethnicized. He said the human mind tends to use ethnic origin as "an overexplanation". "This type of thinking is risky because we notice superficial differences and attribute a deeper meaning to them. We should be very careful using the first explanation that comes to mind," Alexandrov said. He was apparently referring to Deputy Prime Minister Krassimir Karakachanov's statement after the incident that "Gypsies have become extremely brazen".

ECONOMY

"Capital" reports that Bulgartabac Holding, linked to MP Delyan Peevski, is closing down its cigarette factory in Blagoevgrad (Southwestern Bulgaria). Bulgarian National Radio said the management gave employees two days to quit, for which they will get four or five gross wages and the right to unemployment benefits for four months. The work force is down to 200 people, compared to some 2,000 in the company peak years. This is the largest Bulgartabac factory and the second one to close down after the factory in Sofia. Under the privatization contract, the owner must continue cigarette manufacture until 2021.

SOCIETY

"24 Chassa" quotes Eurostat data showing that the share of recreation and culture in the Bulgarians' total household expenditure increased between 2007 and 2017 to nearly 8 per cent, compared to 8.5 per cent of total consumption expenditure in the EU. The National Statistical Institute reported household expenditure on recreation and culture of 582 leva in 2017, up from 282 leva in 2007. Also, nearly 3.8 Bulgarians went to the theatre, the cinema, to a concert, an opera or a ballet in 2017. Some 4 million Bulgarians read newspapers, of whom 42 per cent (1.7 million) said they did so nearly every day. Nearly 2 million read books: about one million of them read between one and five books, 30 per cent read 10 books, and about 20 per cent read more than 10 books in 12 months.

"24 Chassa" also publishes the findings of a study of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks and strokes, in the 51 countries that the World Health Organization has designated as European region. The Friedrich-Schiller University of Jena ranked Bulgaria 12th in terms of cardiovascular deaths in 2016 as a result of poor nutrition. Former Soviet republics and Russia are higher up in the ranking, while Spain, Israel and France have the best diet.

Again according to Eurostat, in 2016 Bulgaria had the second largest number of practising dentists in the EU, 112 per 100,000 population (after Greece with 123 dentists). This is the third year in a row that Bulgaria ranked second in the EU. For practising physiotherapists, Bulgaria is third from the bottom up with 23 specialists per 100,000 population, compared to 225 per 100,000 people in Germany, which ranked first in 2016.

"24 Chassa" leads with a story on the flu epidemic expected to hit Bulgaria in the coming days, saying that the regions of Silistra, Stara Zagora, Bourgas and Yambol are closest to it with more than 150 flu patients per 10,000 population. Sofia, Smolyan, Sliven and Plovdiv are also at risk of an imminent epidemic.

"Telegraf" leads with a story on Bulgaria's escape rooms, whose headline announces that their annual turnover is 10 million leva. There are 137 escape rooms, most of them in Sofia, which attract foreign fans ready to spend over 1,000 euro to play the game in eight of the best establishments. Following the tragic deaths of five teenage girls in the Polish city of Koszalin, the daily says there is no institution in Bulgaria to control the safety of the rooms.

A story in "Telegraf" says the insecurity surrounding Brexit has prompted Bulgarian students to opt for universities in the Netherlands. Consultant Radina Mihailova is quoted as saying that country has low tuition fees for the first year of studies. Bulgarians prefer mostly hi-tech subjects including computer science, web design and software engineering.

SPORTS

"24 Chassa" says six howitzers are used for avalanche control on ski runs in Mt Pirin. They are not intended to protect off-piste skiers and tourists.

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