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305. First real snowfall of the season hits Sofia alone

Sofia Echo: 2008-11-22

While the National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences describes the current condition of Sofia as 3 degrees Celsius and light, short-duration rain, the forecast from the window points to an even falling of large-flake snow, and temperatures cold enough to allow it to stick to the ground.

Other weather stations confirm that Sofia is currently the coldest location in the country, with cities elsewhere, like Plovdiv, Rousse and Varna, enjoying morning temperatures of 7 to 16 degrees Celsius and sun. It appears that the warm wind that whipped Sofia on November 21 2008 has moved along to the rest of the country, a forerunner of the wintry atmospheric front.

The snow, the 2008/09 winter season's first in city conditions, is expected to stop by November 23.

304. Thracian chariot discovered in a mound in Bulgaria

News BG: 2008-11-21

The archaeological summer in the Bulgarian region of Sliven continues even in November.

Archaeologists from Nova Zagora discovered a well-preserved chariot for funeral of a Thracian aristocrat.

The discovery was made at the so called East mound near the village of Karanovo. The chariots has four wheels and a basket, informs sliveninfo.

The specialists believe it dates back to 1-3 century AD. The archaeologists claim they have stumbled on a secondary funeral in the Thracian mound.

The archaeologists are working in very unfavorable climate conditions and at an unusual time because of the treasure hunters raids.

A month ago the minister of culture announced it will finance a 24-security of the Mound in Karanovo exactly because of the robbers, who are destroying the historical heritage.

Additional funds were given for urgent investigations because of which the archaeologist continued to dig in November as well.

It is believed that five years ago the treasure hunters have stolen another chariot.

303. One of Vitosha's best known symbols, the stone runs, being destroyed

News BG: 2008-11-20

The Danube-Carpathean Office of the Global Conservation Organization warns about the serious ecological dangers Sofia mountain Vitosha faces due to financial interests.

The information on WWF site reads:

"At the beginning of October 2008, in the oldest national park in the Balkans, with two million Sofia citizens as witnesses, Vitosha mountain's most famous symbols "the stone runs" were destroyed.

The destroyer is named "Vitosha Ski AF", owner of the ski lifts and installations, but not the ski paths, which are part of the state forest fund. All the violations have been done against four Bulgarian laws and the European environmentalist legislation.

But no one has been punished.

The fellowship has illegally built a ski path through a stone run, using detonations, which is absolutely forbidden. The stones, which have been marked for removing by Sofia Regional Inspectorate of Environment and Waters, remained untouched.

From the "Vitosha Tulip" ski path without any permission whatsoever rocks have been dug out with the use of heavy machinery and have been heaped on the two sides of the path, which is extremely dangerous for the skiers and can lead to erosion.

18 dka of stone runs and flora have been destroyed.

Because of the ski paths in the planned ski zone at least 200 dka of Spruce forests will be felled and 300 dka of high mountain pastures will be urbanizes.

In order to sustain the artificial snow, chemicals will be used in the mountain, which is the main water supplier for ? of Sofia.

The environmentalists from "Coalition for the Bulgarian Nature" prepare a complaint to the European Comission because of the tolerated destroying of habitats from the European Ecological Network NATURA 2000 and the lack of any reaction from the state institurion in charge"

302. House prices in Rousse down by 10% report

Wise Property: 2008-11-18

House prices in Bulgarias Danubian city of Rousse have fallen by 10 per cent, and will continue to fall, Bulgarian National Television (BNT) quoted the head of the citys construction chamber, Georgi Stoev, as saying on November 16 2008.

The extent to which prices will fall will depend on the investment intentions of entrepreneurs and the lending policy of banks, Stoev said.

He said that in recent years, growth in construction had been about 15 per cent, much higher than in other sectors.

The economic situation meant that developers were paying less for land. However, luxury properties would maintain current prices levels, Stoev said.

BNT said that experts had predicted job losses in Bulgarias construction industry in the next few months.

This was because of stagnation in the construction industries in Germany, Spain and Greece, where many Bulgarians work.

Stoev said that Bulgarians currently working in construction in other European Union countries would return, and because they were well-trained and skilled they would displace people working locally who were less well-qualified.

BNT said that specialists held that a decrease in the volume of construction in Bulgaria would affect other sectors such as mining, production, transport and trade.

301. Russian parliamentary delegation is in Bulgaria

News BG: 2008-11-17

A delegation led by the chairman of the Group for cooperation with the Bulgarian national assembly in the Upper chamber of the parliament of the Russian federation Victor Gluhih will be on a working visit to Bulgaria from 17 to 19 November 2008.

On 17 November the delegation will meet the minister of transport Peter Mutafchiev, the minister of regional development and public works Assen Gagauzov and the mayor of Sofia Boiko Borissov.

300. Gusenbauer: Bulgaria's economic development is very good

News BG: 2008-11-15

Bulgaria's economic development is very good and this is a result of the consistent fiscal policy, led by the government.

This was announced by the visiting federal chancellor of Austria Alfred Gusenbauer after a meeting with Premier Sergey Stanishev. At the meeting the two have discussed the economic cooperation of the two countries, Bulgaria's membership in the European Union, as well as the effects of the world financial crisis.

The Bulgarian premier emphasized that Austria is the biggest investor in the country and added that this tradition will be kept in the future.

Austrian firms have invested over 3,5 billion Euro in Bulgaria. Stanishev pointed out that for now our country's economy is very stable, but it is not isolated from the other European countries, which have already been affected by the financial crisis. This will probably affect the economic growth of the country.

Austria's federal chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer emphasized that our country is going the right direction. According to him, the EU membership was not premature and a proof of this is the good economic development of the country. Gusenbauer added that the policy of budget surplus is a good move by the Bulgarian government. According to him, this is one of the major reasons for the stability of the country amid the world financial crisis.

The Austrian premier was categorical that Bulgaria is going in the right direction and this will be appreciated in the next report of the EC.

299. Super Borovets to apply for eco certificate

Wise Property: 2008-11-14

The main investor in the new Super Borovets mega ski resort is to apply for an EMAS (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme) eco certificate which guarantees that all work, products and services will be done in accordance with the highest European eco standards. So far, Super Borovets is still only on the drawing board, as construction is yet to be given the go-ahead.

The Eco-Management and Audit Scheme is the EU voluntary instrument which acknowledges organisations that improve their environmental performance on a continuous basis. The system has been active since 2001.

EMAS-registered organisations are legally compliant, run an environmental management system and report on their environmental performance through the publication of an independently verified environmental statement. They are recognised by the EMAS logo, which guarantees the reliability of the information provided.

Until now, no Bulgarian company has been issued such a certificate. The planned construction, for instance, includes construction "revolutionary" for Bulgaria, such as "passive buildings" or buildings that are heated and cooled by themselves. They will be powered by "green infrastructure" or the production of electricity will come from recycled resources, advanced system for waste management and a "thorough conceptualisation for integrated tourism" director of Ecoest Georgi Krumov said, as quoted by Dnevnik daily. Super Borovets will cost about 750 million euro.

According to the investors, the decision for the new development for the ski resort will make it a very popular destination and it will increase its value drastically. Additionally, every existing hotel is going to be upgraded so that it receives "Eco marking". This label is in accordance to strict criteria mainly in regard to heat and water management, among other factors.

"We hope to create a positive image for Super Borovets so that all eco activists will be assured that we will develop the tourist facilities and services in such ways that the environment will not be harmed," said Julia Arabadzhieva, the director of the project.

There were many protests against the planned mega construction in the Rila Mountain and the subsequent clearance of a large section of the ancient forest where the hotels will stand. Because of Super Borovets, the zone Rila-Buffer has been left out of the Natura 2000 eco-network. The activists, however, say that they will continue their protests against the planned "disembowelment" of the mountain. They claim that regardless of what "labels" the construction firms acquire from Europe - be it Eco marking or EMAS - eventually the rules will be broken gradually and that pollution and destruction of the environment is all but inevitable.

298. 30M euro open-air mall planned for Bourgas

Wise Property: 2008-11-13

Developer ZBS plans to begin construction on the first open-air mall in Bulgaria in March 2009, website investor.bg reported on November 10. The investment in the new shopping centre is estimated at 30 million euro.

The Strand mall would be built on a six ha plot near the highway to Sofia, next to a Baumax hypermarket, currently under construction. The open-areas will be built like pedestrian streets and will be covered in bad weather.

Initially planned to open in the summer of 2009, according to ZBS' website, the mall is now scheduled to begin operations in 2010, investor.bg reported.

Designed by British architecture and interior design firm GMW, The Strand's retail areas will total 30 000 sq m, with another 8000 sq m of pedestrian walkways and 26 000 sq m of parking space.

ZBS expects to attract at least 50 international retail chains and has said that it has already drawn interest from companies in leasing retail space. King Sturge was hired to handle all leasing operations.

Open-air malls have returned to fashion after decades of neglect in the 1990s. With lower construction and maintenance costs, it made sense to build such a structure for business reasons, but also because Bulgaria's climate was mild, ZBS investment director Mariella Ostend said, as quoted by investor.bg.

ZBS plans to build open-air malls in Haskovo and Pazardjik as well.

297. A British Council English language-resource for parents

Sofia Echo: 2008-11-12

The British Council introduced in early November 2008 a new resource for parents to help their child learn English. Through the online portal LearnEnglish Parents, parents of children who are learning English as a foreign or second language can ask questions, browse topics, learn techniques and download help materials.

The British Council has been present in Bulgaria since the 1980s, opening its first official office in the country in 1991.

Services offered include practising English online, help one's child learn English and finding a course for one's child. There is also a section called Parents Talk, where adults pose questions like Is it ok to teach English to two year olds? and How do I teach grammar to my children?. Other parents can then respond, sharing their personal experiences and advice.

Downloads like Pron Pal, a pronunciation aid; Song, where children's songs take centre stage; and Flashcards offer various ways to bringing English into daily life.

And so parents have an idea of what they're undertaking, there are also numerous articles on topics like what affects children's learning, how young children learn English as another language, using books in English with younger and older children, and computers and the internet safely.

296. Bulgarian citizens to get informed on their EU rights

News BG: 2008-11-11

The Representation of the European commission in Bulgaria will present an information campaign of the European union entitled European citizenship...not only words but specific rights!

A traveling counter will tour 20 towns in Bulgaria, said the organizers. The campaign will continue from 12 to 22 November. The counter in Sofia will be on St. Nedelya square.

The traveling campaign aims at giving information to the Bulgarians about their rights as citizens of the European union, defined in the EU Charter of the main rights.

This year the campaign has already been organized in Romania and Germany. There were similar initiatives in Ireland, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.

The aims of the campaign will be presented by the leader of the EC representation Zinaida Zlatanova, Karl-Henrich Hamrin chair of the Communication department at DG Justice, freedom and security of EC in Brussels and Toon Streple director of the Information office of the European parliament in Sofia.

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