Published by Wikileaks & Bivol.bg
 date: 8/9/2007 14:11 refid: 07SOFIA981 origin: Embassy Sofia classification: UNCLASSIFIED destination:  header: VZCZCXRO5998 RR RUEHTRO DE RUEHSF #0981 2211411 ZNR UUUUU ZZH R 091411Z AUG 07 FM AMEMBASSY SOFIA TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4127 INFO RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0265  UNCLAS SOFIA 000981    SIPDIS    SIPDIS    E.O. 12958: N/A  TAGS: PGOV, PREL, LY, BU  SUBJECT: BULGARIA RECOVERS FROM NURSES' RETURN    Ref: Sofia 924    1. On August 2, the GOB approved forgiving USD 56.635 million of  communist-era debt owed by Libya.  This debt forgiveness was  Bulgaria's contribution to the deal brokered by the EU for Libya to  release five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor.  Whatever  else may be murky in the deal, Bulgaria's debt forgiveness is both  public and completed.    2. Since the nurses' July 24 return home, Bulgarian government and  society have been working to reintegrate them into a country that  has substantially changed over eight years.  The Palestinian doctor,  who announced he wishes to remain in Bulgaria, has also been warmly  welcomed.  After their return the nurses spent two weeks at the  government's VIP residential compound outside Sofia.  The GOB  promised to find all the medics jobs, and a number of hospitals have  offered positions.  The GOB gave each medic 10,000 leva (USD 7,000),  is covering their medical bills (two of the nurses needed  unspecified surgery), and covered pension and medical insurance  payments for the past eight years.  Phone company MTEL is providing  each with an apartment and cell phone, a local newspaper owner gave  each another 10,000 leva, and a local construction company is  renovating one nurse's rural house.  Two nurses have been provided  with hotel rooms in Bulgaria's premier ski resort as they readjust  to life in Bulgaria.  Sofia's mayor offered to pay for language  classes and to help the Palestinian doctor settle in Sofia.    3. Although a few groups complained the nurses were getting more  than ordinary citizens facing economic problems, the aftermath of  the medics' return has seen surprisingly little rancor and  recrimination.  Bulgaria has, for the most part, moved on.  When one  nurse's son demanded 100,000 euros from the GOB as compensation for  its failure to free the medics, the medics themselves announced they  had no claim on the government.  Most Bulgarian press, always eager  to jump at a scandal, have stated the GOB did what it could.  The  only scandals have been minor blips in the press, caused by France's  Avocats sans Frontieres (ASF).  International press quoted ASF  lawyer Stephane Zerbib as claiming the medics were being held  prisoner in the presidential residence and would seek political  asylum in France.  Another ASF lawyer, Emmanuel Altit, reportedly  arrived in Sofia shortly after the medics and tried to persuade them  to sue the GOB.  The medics deny any intent to seek asylum abroad or  sue the GOB.  The Palestinian doctor is apparently seeking to take  Libya to court on torture charges, but this is unlikely to be a hot  button issue here.    4. All in all, jubilation at the nurses' return has segued to near  matter-of-fact normalcy.  If the nurses speak out about their  experience, that could change.  For now, the mood is one of relief  and recuperation.    KARAGIANNIS 

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