Bulgaria removed from EU visa blacklist
Bulgaria will be unconditionally removed from the European Union visa blacklist and short-term visas for Bulgarians will be scrapped under a decision by the EU Justice/Home Affairs Council, taken unanimously at its meeting on Friday.
The decision is part of the new visa rules of the EU. However, because certain changes were made to the initial proposal the decision will only be finalised once it has been reconsidered by the European Parliament. After the Members of the European Parliament vote again the proposal will be returned to the Justice/Home Affairs Council, probably in March next year, for final approval. It will be published in the EU's Official Journal within 20 days and only then will it become effective. Experts say the whole procedure may last until May next year.
Commenting on the decision, President Peter Stoyanov said that for Bulgarians the Berlin Wall has fallen. "Bulgaria today was put back where it was forcibly expelled from after World War II," Stoyanov said in an address to Parliament. Prime Minister Ivan Kostov said that the EU has shown that Bulgaria is an important part of Europe. Foreign Minister Nadehzda Mihailova admitted that a dream of hers has become reality with this decision.
Hope for Bulgarian medics in Tripoli
Osman Bizanti, the lawyer of the six Bulgarian medics facing trial in Tripoli, has established personal contacts with world-renowned scientists Professor Luc Montagnier, who discovered the virus of AIDS, and Geneva virusologist Luc Perrin. According to the Bulgarian news agency, BTA, quoting the Head of the National AIDS Laboratory, Doctor Danail Beshkov, the two scientists have assured Bizanti that they are ready to assist him with the case. Doctor Beshkov has been in Tripoli for several months now. He works in close cooperation with Bizanti on the medical matters involved in the case.
The two professors, Montagnier and Perrin, have factual information and are prepared to cooperate in establishing the truth about the infection of nearly 400 Libyan children with HIV.
Six Bulgarian medics—Zdravko Georgiev, MD, and the medical nurses Nassya Nenova, Valentina Suropoulo, Valya Chervenyashka, Snezhana Dimitrova and Kristiyana Vulcheva, are awaiting trial on charges of wilfully infecting 393 Libyan children with AIDS. They are also charged with involvement in actions that run counter to Libya's norms and traditions. If found guilty, they face the death penalty.
Full disclosure of former State Security files?
On Thursday a bill amending the Access to Former State Security Records Act was signed by 107 MPs. The bill is seconded by mostly by MPs of the ruling Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) and the Popular Union. The Alliance for National Salvation and the Socialist Party do not support the bill.
The amendments are intended to create a constitutional mechanism for the disclosure of the historical truth contained in the documents of the former State Security and the intelligence department of the Ministry of People's Defence.
The bill envisages setting up an independent 12-member committee, with the legislature, the executive, the judiciary and the presidency each represented by three members.
The committee would not probe into professional groups or communities. It would make public the names of full and part-time informers documented in the archives of the former State Security and military intelligence service. As to card-filed persons, all documents will be duly checked to find out conclusively if they belonged to the former State Security and/or the military intelligence service.
The committee will inform the public of its activity through a regularly updated report on the Internet.
The bill does not envisage taking action against people who are discovered to have compelling proof against them that they worked as full or part-time informers for the former State Security and/or the military intelligence service.
According to the parliamentary group of the Alliance for National Salvation (ANS, chaired by the Movement for Rights and Freedoms leader, Ahmed Dogan) the last in a series of scandals on the unlawful use of special surveillance device by the executive's internal affairs arm is a "serious indication that the government is in a process of setting up a new political police."
In turn, the ruling Union of Democratic Forces (UDF), accused the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) of attempting to torpedo the favourable decision by the EU to remove visa restrictions for Bulgarians. The opposition Socialists said that it is unfair to wed the eavesdropping issue to the visa problem on which all parliamentary groups are unanimous. (See last week's news review in CER)
President Peter Stoyanov believes, however, that prosecutor Nikola Chiripov, whose allegations about illegal eavesdropping on politicians, magistrates and journalists triggered the scandal, has no solid evidence to substabtiate his claims. He was invited to present evidence, but has not done so yet.
The ANS supports the efforts of the prosecutor's office to reveal the truth about cases in which the Interior Ministry unlawfully employed special surveillance devices. A declaration by the ANS reads that the entire responsibility for unlawful actions of the Interior Ministry should be taken by the Government.
"I cannot accept that there is a resurgence of political police in Bulgaria on the basis of the vague claims of a prosecutor who has produced no evidence," Assen Agov of the UDF said. He added that the prosecutor general's office denied prosecutor Nikolai Chiripov's claims.
NATO enlargement not debated yet, Balanzino says in Sofia
The future enlargement of NATO has not yet been debated, General Sergio Balanzino, Deputy Secretary General of the Alliance, said after his meeting with Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova on Thursday. Balanzino was on a brief visit to Bulgaria which is part of his regional tour.
Mihailova and Balanzino discussed the situation in Southern Serbia. Replying to a question, NATO's high-ranking official said that KFOR were working together with the Serbian authorities to control the administrative border between Kosovo and Serbia. The purpose is to stop the violence in that area, Balanzino said. NATO appreciates Bulgarian support for the operation the Alliance launched during the Kosovo crisis, Balanzino said. In his words, the implementation of Bulgaria's national programme for preparation and accession to NATO is also highly appreciated.
Balanzino was received by President Peter Stoyanov who reiterated the stance that Bulgaria's bid for NATO is a priority of the country's foreign policy.
Bulgarian prostitutes in Kosovo
Bulgarian women constitute 12 percent of the prostitutes in Kosovo, Radio Deutche Welle said, quoting data by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Every fourth Bulgarian woman between 12 and 35 years of age would attempt to find herself work with the help of dubious companies and organizations, the IOM said. Most often, young girls who have no experience of prostitution, land in Kosovo's hovels. Ten thousand girls are exported every year from Bulgaria, the organization said. Bulgarian girls are usually sold for about 1000 to 2000 DEM each, according to the IOM. The price at which they are bought from Bulgaria is unknown.
Matilda Nahabedian, 1 December 2000
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