Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all, on behalf of the Bulgarian delegation, I take this opportunity to congratulate You and the other members of the Presidency on assuming the particularly important task of presiding over this important Millennium Session of the General Assembly and to wish You every success in guiding it to a successful conclusion.

Let me start by saying that Republic of Bulgaria, as an associated country, aligns itself with the statement delivered on behalf of the European Union.

Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

This past year has been marked by a series of events, culminating into the Millennium Summit. From this General Assembly session we expect consensus decisions aimed at strengthened and more efficient UN, capable of bringing us closer to a common vision for a better future, ridden from the scourge of conflict and war, poverty and disease, backwardness and underdevelopment and based on peace and security, sustainable development and prosperity in the context of a dominating tendency towards a more globalized and interdependent world. This truly is a formidable task. It cannot be achieved by or for a separate country or region. It, requires "a broad and sustained effort to create a shared future, based upon our common humanity in all its diversity", as rightly pointed out in the Millennium Declaration.

Mr. President,

At the verge of the New Millennium, it would not be overexegerated to say that humanity has achieved a lot. Nowadays we have at our disposal far better and efficient means to produce more goods and services, to fight diseases and live longer and better life, to reap the benefits of the new information technologies in all spheres of life. But at the same time we cannot but recognize that at the same time humanity is still confronted by tremendous challenges. Poverty and misery are still dominant over large parts of the world. People in so many places are still exposed to conflict and violence. The world is still threatened by weapons of mass destruction. New threats as terrorism, international crime, illicit traffic in narcotics and small arms are coming to the fore. And also of particular concern are becoming the changes in the world climate and environment, which are bringing disasters, capable of destroying the homes and livelihoods of millions.

To cope with these challenges we must act together. And this is the reason why we need a strengthened and effective United Nations, which could be achieved through the shared responsibility and the good political will of all its member-states. The Millennium Assembly is giving us the opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to the purposes and the founding principles of the United Nations, to go ahead with the reforms and strengthen its role and effectiveness so as to make it serve us all better in meeting the challenges we are confronted with at the beginning of the New Millennium.

Mr. President,

Bulgaria joins the other Member-States in supporting the proposals, contained in the Millennium Report of the Secretary-General Kofi Annan and aimed at the system-wide streamlining and strengthening of the Organization and at making it more efficient and responsive to the new realities. Of particular importance in this regard is the strengthening and revitalization of the principal organs of the UN, in particular the General Assembly, the Security Council and ECOSOC.

Regarding the reform and enlargement of the Security Council we share the view that this process should result in a more representative, effective and legitimate Security Council, taking into consideration both the increased number of the UN membership and the enhanced role, political and economic potential of certain States (like Germany and Japan), which could assume the responsibilities of permanent members. In our view, a reformed Council should be more transparent, open and accessible to the interested non-member States. A fair and balanced representation, including the Group of Eastern European States whose membership has doubled in the last decade should definitely be secured. A decision on the enlargement of the Council and on its working methods should be supported by the broadest possible consensus, including all the permanent members of the Security Council.

Mr. President,

During the past year international community continued to be engaged closely with the situation in South East Europe. As a country, suffering most directly the impact of the developments in the region, Bulgaria is particularly concerned with the situation in Kosovo. We note that a progress in implementing Resolution 1244 of the Security Council has been achieved particularly with regard to restoring the peace and stability in the province. At the same time it must be recognized that in terms of multiethnic co-existence the situation is still far from satisfying. The continuing ethnic violence is causing a serious concern. Particularly worrying are the attacks against members of the international peacekeeping contingents and UN personnel. The situation requires resolute steps on behalf of all community leaders in Kosovo, to reject violence and to promote tolerance and co-operation in compliance with the adopted declarations. We see such an approach as a key prerequisite for building up an atmosphere of confidence and ethnic tolerance.

The successful preparation and holding of municipal elections with the participation of all ethnic minorities, including refugees and displaced persons, is particularly important for speeding up the political process in Kosovo and for securing of lasting peace and stability.

Since the very beginning of the Kosovo crisis, Bulgaria has been actively engaged in the overall efforts of the international community, to settle the conflict and ensure lasting peace and stability in the region. As well-known, Bulgaria participates in the international peace keeping forces in Kosovo (KFOR) and renders logistical support of the peace-keeping mission in the province. Furthermore, my country has been mobilizing significant resources, in accordance with our potential, to substantiate its contribution to the international peace activities.

In response to the appeal for increasing the size of the UN civilian police force in Kosovo Bulgaria has increased its contingent to 60 police officers and is now considering the possibility for increasing this number to 100.

Bulgaria has send engineering platoon to join the international presence in the field.

Bulgarian companies are being engaged with the construction and assembling of removable houses to shelter displaced persons and returnees to Kosovo.

Last but not least, Bulgaria has been supplying low-price electricity to Kosovo, and the overall cost of these endeavors has so far reached 6 milion USD.

We deem as particularly important the involvement of all the countries from the region in the process of seeking settlement of the outstanding issues through the process of multilateral and bilateral negotiations. In this context informal meetings at the level of Prime Ministers, as well as the meetings of the foreign ministers and the ministers of defence of the countries neighbouring FRY, devoted to different aspects of co-operation are useful, in our view.

Of particular importance for the post conflict reconstruction of conflict stricken areas is the elaboration and the implementation of a long-term strategy for the economic reconstruction and development of the countries from the region through their integration into the European and Euro-Atlantic structures. The speedy implementation of the different projects within the framework of the Stability Pact for South East Europe could contribute significantly to the economic development and stability of the region. We deem as particularly important in this regard the infrastructure projects, which will contribute to the enhancement of the transport and communication links of the region with the rest of Europe. Attracting investments, developing interregional trade and participation of companies from the region in the reconstruction process are important as well.

We highly appreciate the progress achieved in strengthening the co-operation between the countries from the region in such fields as fighting organized crime and corruption, illicit traffic of narcotics, curbing the uncontrolled possession of small arms etc. An important achievement of the co-operation is the creation of a multinational peace force in SouthEastern Europe with joint headquarters in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. We are confident that the establishment of the Force will strengthen the spirit of confidence and cooperation in the region.

It is against this background that a common understanding has been expressed that any measures aimed at settling the problems of the region, including economic sanctions, should take into account the political and economic stability of South Eastern Europe and should not infringe upon the interests of its countries. Therefore sanctions, if imposed, should be rather of a political than of economic character.

An issue of special relevance for Bulgaria, and I believe also for other countries from the region, is the negative impact on the national economy of the strict implementation of the economic sanctions, imposed until recently by the Security Council on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. As it is well known, Bulgaria strictly abided by the decisions of the United Nations Security Council, suffering as a result economic losses, which are commensurate with the country's foreign debt and still affect our economic development. Given the continued relevance and importance of this issue under the present international setting, Bulgaria supports the view that since the provisions of the Charter have equal importance, the issue of assisting third States affected by sanctions has to be taken into consideration together with the imposition of sanctions. The elaboration of a concrete UN mechanism for the purpose is therefore incumbent upon the United Nations to find ways and means of alleviating their negative effect, in particular on third States. The international community as a whole should share the burden in such cases.

It is our view that a closer and more direct participation in the whole process of all third States, which potentially could be adversely affected by the imposition of sanctions, is necessary. We are confident that the discussions at the present session on this issue, based on the decisions already adopted and on the report of the Secretary-General under resolutin 54/107 will result in more concrete decision to this end.

Bulgaria supports international efforts to overcome not only the crisis in South East Europe. We fully support also the efforts aimed at resolving conflicts situations in Cyprus, Middle East, Caucuses, Africa and elsewhere in the world. Bulgaria notes with satisfaction the positive process in the relations between South and North Korea.

Mr. President,

In the context of the new challenges in the field of international peace and security the United Nations peacekeeping operations continue to be a crucial element in the UN activities. My country supports the efforts of the international community aimed at ensuring the necessary tools and resources required to promote conflict prevention, the peaceful resolution of disputes, post-conflict peace building and reconstruction. We are convinced that the new generation of peace-keeping operations should include in their mandates a proportionate combination of political, military, humanitarian, reconstruction and other relevant activities In this regard we believe that there are still unused opportunities to strengthen and make the co-operation of the United Nations with the regional organizations in the field of preventive diplomacy, crisis management and peace-keeping more effective, based on their competitive advantages.

We share the concern of other member states about ensuring United Nations ability to deliver on its mounting array of peacekeeping commitments and are committed to work together to strengthen the UN capacity in this vital area.

We fully support the need for UN Peacekeeping scale of assessment reform and as a clear demonstration to this fact I want to point out that the Government of Bulgaria has decided to assume an additional financial commitment by increasing its contribution for peace keeping operations.

An issue closely linked to the maintenance of international peace and security is the fight against terrorism and international crime. Bulgaria attaches paramount importance to the concerted efforts of the world community in the fight against the scourge of terrorism. We condemn all terrorist acts and lament the loss of life and destruction inflicted by them. We share the view that the threat of terrorism is assuming a magnitude that requires a decisive and joined response by the whole international community. Bulgaria supports the activities of the United Nations aimed at setting norms and standards for the fight against terrorism and international crime through negotiating various legal instruments and creating the appropriate institutions for this purpose.

We consider that the institution of the International Criminal Court is a significant achievement in this regard. I would like to reiterate my country's strong commitment to the fight against the most serious international crimes in all their forms, which is a consistent part of Bulgarian policy. We are confident that the establishment of the International Criminal Court will be an efficient step undertaken by the international community towards deterring the possible perpetrators from committing such acts.

Mr. President,

Together with peace making and the building of a more secure world the broadening of the human aspect of development through democracy and participation has been widely accepted and has become one of the priorities in the United Nations activities.

The principle of indivisibility of the universally recognized civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights continues to be a key element of today's system of promotion and protection of human rights and freedoms. Bulgaria is confident that the activities of international fora in the field of human rights should be aimed at ensuring the effective and universal enjoyment of those rights on a global scale. In this respect monitoring and effective control on the implementation of human rights and fundamental freedoms remain of crucial importance. Guided by this understanding, Bulgaria is now party to all universal human rights instruments that have established specific monitoring bodies and has recognized their competence to consider communications from individuals.

In our view, the related experience of some regional organizations with competence in the human rights field also could be taken into consideration. We share the opinion that a more effective co- ordination, exchange of information and even joint efforts are needed between the United Nations and the regional organizations, such as the Council of Europe and the OSCE.

Better implementation of international standards could be achieved by improving the existing mechanisms as well as by constructive and open dialogue on most sensitive issues, including those related to human rights in individual States. Accordingly the Bulgarian Government attaches high importance to the enjoyment of all human rights by Bulgarians living abroad and considers the respect for their rights as an essential element for the enhancement of relations.

The enhancement of the role and the weight of socio-economic development is another important factor for securing stability and peace in the world. The achievements in this field should be recognized and encouraged. The review process, based on the relevant ideas contained in the Millennium Report of the Secretary General, must result in the strengthening of the co-ordination role of ECOSOC as well as in the rationalization of its subsidiary machinery. Of particular relevance in this regard are the steps aimed at the practical realization of the follow up measures to the major international conferences.

Bulgaria attaches major importance to the role of the United Nations in the field of sustainable development and follows closely the UN dialogue and the activities of the respective UN bodies and agencies on the issues of demography, social development, women, fight against deseases, drugs etc.

Bulgaria co-operates actively with the UN system of specialized agencies and programs. Our interest is to develop further this co-operation. We are looking forward to more active and streamlined activities especially by using the potential of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for capacity building and assistance in the development and implementation of joint projects. In this regard the system of resident co-coordinators and the efforts to make it more operational will undoubtedly play an important role.

Bulgaria shares the concern of the international community regarding the spread of deseases, in particular HIV/AIDS. We support the activities of the United Nations in this field, as well as joining the efforts of Governments, NGOs, and academic and research institutions in the fight against this dangerous desease.

Development and economic growth are impossible without full participation in the world economic and financial exchange. In our opinion, the United Nations and its institutions could play a more active role with regard to the specific problems of economic transition and reforms.

Disarmament issues continue to play an important role in the overall efforts to secure a better world for the future generations. The Bulgarian Government attaches high priority to the international efforts to strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation regime. We call for an early entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) as an important step in that direction and support the decision of the Conference on Disarmament to establish an Ad Hoc Committee to Conduct Negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut Off Treaty.

We favour the strengthening of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention and believe that further acceleration of the negotiations and early conclusion of the protocol to the Convention is required.

As a State Party to the Chemical Weapons Convention (Chic) Bulgaria would like to contribute to the enlargement of the number of accessions to the Convention in order to achieve recognition of the prohibition of chemical weapons as an universal norm of international law. As a concrete effort to this end we are hosting a regional seminar of Organisation of Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in Sofia on 28 - 30 September of this year.

With regard to conventional arms, the anti-personnel land mines are widely recognized as a pernicious weapon, which indiscriminately kills and maims hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. Convinced of the need for a total prohibition of the APM, on 29 July 1999 the Bulgarian Parliament ratified the Ottawa Convention thus contributing to its early entry into force.

We are also ready to contribute to the efforts of the international community to reduce conventional weapons, including small arms, especially their excessive and destabilizing accumulation in areas of conflict. We regard universal participation in the UN Register of Conventional Weapons as an important step towards effective transparency, both on a regional and a global scale.

Mr. President,

For Bulgaria this past year has been a period of continued intensive efforts by the Government aimed at building on the achieved economic stabilization and moving forward with the structural reform, modernizing the state administration, enforcing the rule of law in civil society and creating favourable conditions for sustainable economic growth. Energetic steps and initiatives have been undertaken, in compliance with the Government programme "Bulgaria 2001 directed at moving ahead with the integration of Bulgaria in the European and Transatlantic political, economic and defence structures and creation of climate of confidence, stability and co-operation in South-Eastem Europe.

Being an integral part of Europe, Bulgaria regards the accelerated accession to the European Union and fall membership in NATO as an expression of our sovereign political choice based on broad public support. Since Bulgaria endeavours to promote and enhance the values of democracy, we are sincerely interested to see that these values become widely accepted South Eastern Europe Republic of Bulgaria welcomes the fact of its inclusion in the process of enlargement of the European Union, together with other associated countries from Central and Eastern Europe and Cyprus. The Bulgarian Government is fully aware that our accession endeavours are contingent on the success of the domestic economic and legislative reforms.

The Bulgarian government has developed a clear-cut national strategy to meet the criteria for NATO membership, based on a comprehensive national programme of preparation, which is being constantly updated and optimised. Bulgaria has the political will and is undertaking concrete steps to translate and fulfil in regional terms the objectives of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and the enhanced Partnership for Peace. Our positive attitude is reflected in the ongoing regional political dialogue and the practical follow-up measures to enhance regional security and defence co-operation in South- Eastem Europe.

In conclusion, Mr. President, I would like once again to declare my country's readiness to cooperate actively with all member-states for the successful implementation of the lofty goals, which we have before us at the present session of the General Assembly. We are confident that the discussions on the important agenda items will be translated into practical measures.

I thank you, Mr. President.