To keep you posted on latest developments in Bulgaria, here is up-to-date news reported by Sofia News Agency.

From Tomorrow Vitinya Tunnel to Sofia will be Closed for Repairs

Days after the one tunnel of the Vitinia tunnel on the Hemus highway had been opened after repair, the road agency shuts off the other tube - from Varna to Sofia.

The repair should continue until the end of November. Heavy trucks over 10 tonnes will continue to pass through the bypass route on the old Botevgrad - Sofia road.

Today the traffic in the "Vitinya" tunnel in the direction of Sofia will take place in two lanes. If necessary, in order to avoid traffic jams, from 35 km part of the traffic will be redirected on I-1 Botevgrad - Sofia to the road junction "Vitinska Reka". The refurbished pipe, in the direction of Varna, is open for traffic.

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New Road Repairs in Sofia

From tomorrow begins the repair of the Eastern tangent of Sofia. The section of Trakia Motorway will be repaired to the North Speed Tangent, API reported.

From September 26, Tuesday, will start a step-by-step repair of the I-1 (E-79) Sofia-Pernik section via Vladaya. The repair will start from the section between the Black Skies and the Vladaya Crossing Point. Work will be on both lanes in the direction of Sofia. The movement will be redirected to the lanes for Pernik. In order to facilitate traffic during the construction and safe travel, the Road Infrastructure Agency recommends that drivers use the Lyulin motorway and the third-class Goliamo Buchino-Malo Buchino-Suhodol.

Road maintenance companies will be required to work with full mobilization to complete the planned activities within the shortest possible time, assured by the RIA. Drivers will be notified in due time for each stage of the construction works and the temporary traffic organization.

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WizzAir Stops Most of its Flights from Bulgaria to the UK

Big portion of the flights of the low-cost airline WizzAir from Bulgaria to the UK will be suspended from the beginning of November, BNR reported.

The airline stops flying from Sofia to Birmingham, Bristol and Doncaster / Sheffield. This comes into force on 6 November.
WizzAir reported that the interest in these destinations did not meet their expectations and, as a result, it was decided to stop part of the flights from Bulgaria to the UK.

After November 6, WizzAir will continue to operate flights from Sofia to only one destination in the UK - Luton Airport in London, the BNR added.

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NIMH: Cold Weather with Temperatures of up to 18-23°, in Sofia Around 18°

There will be variable, often substantial clouds over the country today, with rains in some areas, mainly in Western and Central Bulgaria. This is the forecast of the National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology (NIMH), quoted by FOCUS News Agency.

There will be moderate, sometimes strong west-northwestern wind. Maximum temperatures will mostly vary between 18° and 23°, in Sofia around 18°.

The atmospheric pressure will remain lower than the average for September.

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The Bulgarian Railways Add Extra Seats to Services During Holiday Weekend

The Bulgarian Railway Company, "BDZ - Passenger Transport" EOOD, will provide additional seats over the bank holiday weekend which includes 22nd of September, the Independence Day, reported the Bulgarian National Television.

The company will add extra carriages to trains travelling along the main routes in the country to ensure the comfortable trip of the passengers during the holiday period.

From 21st to 25th of September including, the national railway carrier BDZ, will provide more than 5,600 additional seats to train services on main routes such as: Sofia – Varna - Sofia; Sofia - Bourgas – Sofia; Sofia – Stara Zagora – Sofia; Sofia – Svilengrad – Sofia; Sofia – Mezdra – Sofia; Sofia – Gorna Oryahovitsa – Sofia; Sofia - Rousse – Sofia; Sofia - Lom – Sofia; Sofia – Vidin – Sofia and Sofia – Petrich – Sofia.

BDZ remind passengers that when purchasing return tickets they can get 10% to 30% discount on the regular ticket price, depending on the various discount offers.

Detailed information on train schedules can be obtained from the National Railway Carrier on 0700 10 200.

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Sofia Municipality is Planting a New Forest

Over 1500 trees will be planted in Sofia. The landscaping will be both in the central part of the city and in the inter-building spaces and schools. Climate-resistant trees are planted, such as clear, silver linden, red oak. The species have been chosen by experts from the University of Forestry, assured the Municipality of Sofia, DARIK reported.

Following the central boulevards, the campaign will cover gradually smaller streets and will continue the schedule in inter-block spaces and parks.
The campaign will continue with landscaping in yards of schools and kindergartens under the slogan "My Green School". The Sofia Municipality team will turn to the school and kindergarten managements to create an internal organization and thus include students in planting.
Deputy Mayor of Ecology Ioana Hristova stated that she was working on a new forest between the Lyulin and Suhodol districts. The forest will have an area of 225 acres and is expected to be planted with 125,000 trees within three afforestation seasons.

The initiative will also attract volunteers - Sofia citizens to be involved in the planting process. The materials will be provided by the Sofia Municipality.

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Car-Free Day in Downtown Sofia on September 22

On September 22, 2017, Friday, Sofia joins the traditional European-Free Day initiative, Car-Free Day, within the framework of the European Mobility Week, reported bTV.

From 8:00 to 7:00 pm, the center of Sofia will be closed for entry of cars in the blue parking area - the limited area will be between "Vasil Levski" Blvd., "Patriarh Evtimii" Blvd., ''Hristo Botev'' Blvd., ''Alexander Stamboliiski Blvd.," ''Knyaz Alexander Dondukov'' Blvd., ''Georgi Sava Rakovski'' Str., ''Tsar Osvoboditel'' Blvd., with the exception of the border streets and boulevards. The ban excludes vehicles serving the event, as well as cars of mass public transport and wedding cars and cars of residents.

From 00:00 to 19:00 hours it is forbidden to stay and park the road vehicles as follows:

- ''Vitosha'' Blvd between "Alabin" Street and "Alexander Stamboliyski" Blvd .;
-  "Kn. Alexander I ";
- ''Lege'' Street;
- ''Saborna'' Str., between "St. Nedelya'' square and ''Lege'' Street.

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The Brussels Report on Bulgaria will be Released in November

The European Commission (EC) will present its monitoring report for Bulgaria earlier than expected - in November this year. The reason is the beginning of the Bulgarian presidency of the European Union (EU) on 1 January, Nova TV reported.

Traditionally, the reports for Bulgaria and Romania are published in mid-January, but the EC decided it would put Sofia in difficult position if they publish such a document as the country is holding the rotating EU presidency. In the last monitoring presented in January, the EC reported the 10-year period of Bulgaria's and Romania's membership of the EU and their progress on the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism. The European Commission has already announced that monitoring may go into partial surveillance or be discontinued. The condition is Sofia to implement 17 recommendations for reforms and the fight against high-level corruption and organized crime. Brussels expects from Bulgaria anti-corruption law, transparency in the election of the Supreme Judicial Council, accountability of the Prosecutor General and closed cases of high-level corruption.

So far, the Bulgarian authorities have done nothing on the recommendations of the mission of European prosecutors in Sofia, which ended at the end of last year. These recommendations are an integral part of the Brussels political report and the demands posed to our country. So far, the only response of the Bulgarian authorities is a road map developed by the Ministry of Justice. However, there is no plan to meet one of the most important requests. Including the recommendation, the head of the National Investigation Service (NIS) to be functionally independent of the Chief Prosecutor. European prosecutors insist that the investigating chairman be able to initiate a case against the Chief Prosecutor if there is evidence of a crime. This is necessary because under the current legislation the Chief Prosecutor is absolutely untouchable.

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NIMH: Cold Weather with Rain in Some Areas

Today there will be moderate to strong wind from West-Northwest, substantial clouds in many regions of the country and rains in some areas, mainly in Southern Bulgaria.

The weather will be cold with maximum temperatures of 19-24 degrees in most places, in Sofia around 18 degrees.

This is the forecast of the National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology (NIMH), quoted by  FOCUS News Agency.

The atmospheric pressure will increase during the day, getting close to the average level for September.

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Uzbekistan Opens Market for Bulgarian Foods

The possibilities for encouragement of the trade and bilateral investments between Bulgaria and Uzbekistan were discussed by the presidents of the two countries, Rumen Radev and Shavkat Mirziyoyev, during their meeting in New York City yesterday.

The news has been announced by the press office of the Bulgarian President.

They agreed that a government delegation of Uzbekistan should come to Sofia in the near future to pave the way for an official visit of President Mirziyoyev and the organization of a bilateral business forum, aimed at encouraging the trade and economic partnership between Bulgaria and Uzbekistan.

President Radev said Bulgaria should be part of the dynamic economic development of the Central Asia.

President Mirziyoyev on his part welcomed the return of Bulgarian goods and foods on the Uzbekistani market and emphasized its country's readiness to export raw materials and high added value products to the EU via Bulgaria.


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Compensations from Ryanair for over 300,000 Passengers Affected by Cancelled Flights

The Ryanair low-cost carrier promises to solve the problem of over 95% of the affected passengers from the cancelled 2100 flights of the airline until the end of the week, reports Mediapool. 

All 315,000 passengers affected by cancellations over the next 6 weeks were notified by e-mail on September 18th (Monday), the Irish company said in a statement. They were offers for alternative flights or refunds for paid tickets, according to European requirements. The number of passengers affected is less than the initially announced 390,000, because September's preliminary reservations were 90%, compared with 70% in October, the company said. Out of a total of 103,000 Ryanair flights in the next six weeks, only 2100 flights were cancelled. Among them are more than 20 flights to and from Sofia, mainly to London's Stansted Airport. 

In addition, more than a fifth of those affected - more than 63,000 - will be reimbursed the amounts paid by the end of the business day on Wednesday. The airline has hired additional customer service personnel to accelerate the handling of flight change requests and the reimbursement of the passengers concerned. "Ryanair" hopes to process the requests of over 95% of affected customers by the end of this week, the report said. "We sincerely apologize to every one of the 315,000 customers whose initial flights were cancelled for a period of 6 weeks in September and October," said Kenye Jacobs, marketing director of the airline.

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Decreased Air Pollution in Bulgaria, but Still far from the Standards of Cleanliness

Although air pollution in Bulgaria has declined since 2011, our country is still far from the eco-standards, especially in terms of fine particals matter, which is why it was condemned by the European Commission, reports Mediapool. 

In order to improve things, municipalities need to apply more active measures for the protection of the air, said Environment Minister Neno Dimov during a joint meeting of the parliamentary commissions for environment and water and health on Wednesday. Data from the air quality measurements in 2016 show that there are already municipalities with air quality requirements. These are Devnia, Dobrich, Pirdop and Sliven.

"This is a positive trend, provided that until recently Bulgaria did not report to the EC any municipality in accordance with the requirements, the problem should be clearly addressed by the local authorities to take measures to reduce pollution," Dimov said. Air quality will be a priority topic for the Bulgarian EU Presidency, as 15 more countries are faced with air quality penalties. "Dimov reminded that following the judicial decision against Bulgaria for exceeded levels of fine particals matter municipalities are working on identifying appropriate measures to reduce pollution.

World Bank representative in Sofia Tony Thompson said that for Bulgaria in WB reports, it is reported to be the country with the highest levels of airborne air pollution, as well as the highest level of premature death due to polluted air. According to the forecasts cited by him until 2030, if no adequate measures are taken, some of the most heavily polluted urban centers in Europe will be in Bulgaria. Thompson pointed out that the interest and commitment among the Bulgarian society should be raised.

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''Information Services'' Will Develop the Website of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU

''Information Services'' AD will develop the website of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU. The company was the only contractor candidate'', says the Minister for the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU Lilyana Pavlova, reported BGNES.

"Development, design and technical support of an Internet site and mobile application for the needs of the Ministry for the Bulgarian Presidency of the EU Council 2018; providing hosting and streaming "was extended by three days, the Ministry for the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU announced.

The site will allow people to watch directly or record open debates via live streaming. The portal will connect with the accreditation system through which journalists wishing to visit the events of the presidency calendar will register. Access to it will be free, as well as all published articles, documents, press releases, photos and videos. A mobile app will be developed to complement its role as the main source of information for the Presidency

Bulgaria wants its presidency to be the Balkan presidency. "For us this is, let’s call it, the priority of priorities. We want a clear road map for each Balkan state, with clear opportunities when certain steps are made. Thus we give a clear sign to the citizens of the Balkans that the European Union will have a fair and open plan for them," Pavlova said. There are two important priorities in this direction: stability on the Balkans and security, including energy, road, air, digital security, etc. Balkan citizens should feel the European connectivity. Minister Pavlova hopes for a clear plan for each Balkan state by May 2018, according to Focus News Agancy.

All important sessions during the presidency will be held in Bulgarian language to make it known, she added. Two days ago the minister signed a contract for an agreement with the Directorate General for Interpretation to secure the interpreting services.

Experts from the Sofia University will also provide assistance. Special funding will be allocated for the training of skilful Bulgarian translators.

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