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Bulgaria: New U.S. Ambassador Considers Corruption A Problem

Sofia, 12 November 1996 (RFE/RL) - "It's no secret that corruption is one of Bulgaria's problems," says Avis Bohlen, the new U.S. ambassador to Sofia.

In one of her first public comments since assuming her post in September, Bohlen yesterday said she is unsure how effective the Socialist government's efforts at curbing corruption have been, thus far. But, she said, "if corruption slows economic reforms, the IMF (International Monetary Fund) is right to insist that measures be taken against that evil."

Bohlen said the absence of favorable conditions for investments is the reason U.S. firms are reluctant to invest in Bulgaria. She said a number of U.S. companies have faced difficulties in Bulgaria, and that it still does not seem to be the right time to invest. But, she said Bulgaria's Parliament is about to consider a bill on investments, which she said she believes will create more favorable conditions.

Our Sofia correspondent reports that even state-owned media no longer question the extent and depth of corruption in Bulgaria.

In the recent presidential election campaign, the governing Bulgarian Socialist Party pledged to publish data on corruption.

Correspondents note that the data have not been released, and with the possibility of early Parliamentary elections, the release of such information is now increasingly unlikely.

The Bulgarian Socialist Party maintains an absolute majority in Parliament.