News: Bulgarian Socialist Party MP in call to neuter commission disclosing communist State Security agents

4 December 2013

Written by The Sofia Globe

The head of the Bulgarian Parliament’s internal affairs committee, Atanas Merdzhanov of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, has said that he wants to see the Dossier Commission – the body charged with disclosing former State Security agents in public life – closed down and turned into an Institute of National Remembrance that simply stores documents.

Merdzhanov’s statements to public broadcaster Bulgarian National Radio came a few days after reserve office associations that bring together people from the former communist-era State Security and military intelligence called for the closure of the Dossier Commission.

Since it was established by statute in 2006, the Dossier Commission has identified large numbers of State Security people in contemporary public life, including in positions of influence in various ministries, state agencies, the judiciary, banks, business associations, trade unions, municipality, public and private media, universities and religious organisations.

It also has identified politicians with State Security backgrounds, including then-president Georgi Purvanov, the current and former leaders of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms – Lyutvi Mestan and Ahmed Dogan, as well as current and former members of Parliament.

The previous Parliament extended its brief to enable the commission to identify credit millionaires with links to State Security, as well as State Security people in the post-Zhivkov intelligence services.

The lineal successor to the Bulgarian Communist Party, the BSP, has co-operated in resisting the activities of the commission, including in Constitutional Court challenges.

Bulgarian law makes no provision for lustration of people identified as having worked for the communist-era secret services. Attempts by the former centre-right government, notably at the Foreign Ministry of the time, to clean the top ranks of diplomacy of State Security people were met with resistance and, in some cases, court action. The current BSP government has been restoring State Security people to top offices.

Echoing the message of the reserve officers, Merdzhanov said that the Dossier Commission, instead of having a positive role, created dividing lines in Bulgarian society.

The importance of the law for Bulgarian society had long passed, and there was no real benefit from the commission, he said.

Merdzhanov said, however, that the issue was not now on the agenda of Parliament because – he said – the BSP had “strong commitments to tax and social laws”.

But in any case, there should be a discussion whether the commission should continue in its current form “and whether it would be more appropriate and useful for it to gradually become the Institute for National Remembrance, which would store the objective reality of the recent and distant past”.

In their objections to the current existence of the Dossier Commission, the reserve officers said that its time had past, demanded to know how it met European best practice to protect national security, said that it was used to “blackmail” people at election time and said that the opening of the dossiers was “genocide of the Bulgarian people”.

Retired colonel Goran Simeonov, head of the association of retired intelligence officers, claimed that the Dossier Commission’s activities harmed co-operation between Bulgarian special services and their peers and he complained that commission members got higher pay than heads of secret services in Bulgaria.

As the site pointed out, the pay of the Dossier Commission is decided by Parliament, including by the votes of the BSP and MRF, while these parties also have nominated members of the commission.

Earlier, media reports said that idea of closing the commission had been discussed by BSP leader Sergei Stanishev and Plamen Oresharski, occupant of the prime minister’s chair in the BSP government.

The Dossier Commission is among state-funded bodies currently facing a 10 per cent cut in its budget for 2014.

In 2012, the Constitutional Court ruled unanimously that the Dossier Commission conformed with the constitution and said that the statute that created the commission, as well as its activities, contributed to the public’s right to make informed choices. noted that at an international forum in Sofia in 2012, representatives of similar organisations from other European countries praised the high standard of the work of Bulgaria’s Dossier Commission.

Informed commentators noted that should an attempt be made to legislate the Dossier Commission out of existence, or out of its current form, such a move would likely be met with a veto by President Rossen Plevneliev.



News: Bulgaria Still at EU Bottom in TI 2013 Corruption Ranking AND Tools to Support Transparency in Local Governance

3 December 2013

Bulgaria has been ranked again at the EU bottom in Transparency International‘s newly published Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 2013. However, for the second year in a row, Bulgaria is not the most corrupt among the EU Member States, according to the Berlin-based body, which has ranked the country 77th out of a total of 177 with 41 points. Senegal and Tunisia are also 77th. Greece with 40 points is 80th and the most corrupt in the EU, but is has moved up from last year’s 36 points and 94th spot.

Bulgaria is the second most corrupt and Romania is ahead of Bulgaria with its 43 points and 69th spot (66th in 2012). Bulgaria is behind countries like Bhutan, Puerto Rico, Brunei, Cape Verde, Dominica, Costa Rica, Oman, Cuba, Ghana, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The report explicitly notes that any score below 50 points is problematic.

The Corruption Perceptions Index ranks countries and territories based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be. A country or territory’s score indicates the perceived level of public sector corruption on a scale of 0 – 100, where 0 means that a country is perceived as highly corrupt and 100 means it is perceived as very clean. A country’s rank indicates its position relative to the other countries and territories included in the index.

Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2013 offers a warning that the abuse of power, secret dealings and bribery continue to ravage societies around the world. “More than two thirds of the 177 countries in the 2013 index score below 50, on a scale from 0 (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 100 (perceived to be very clean). “The Corruption Perceptions Index 2013 demonstrates that all countries still face the threat of corruption at all levels of government, from the issuing of local permits to the enforcement of laws and regulations,” says Huguette Labelle, Chair of Transparency International. In the Corruption Perceptions Index 2013, Denmark and New Zealand tie for first place with scores of 91. Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia this year make up the worst performers, scoring just 8 points each.

One of the main conclusions of the report is that the poorer a country, the higher and most wide-spread corruption is. Syria, which is shaken by civil war, Libya and Mali, involved in strong military conflicts in recent years, are among the countries that have made the greatest setback from their previous position, showing that corruption is also and often accompanied by the breakup of a State.

The Corruption Perceptions Index is based on experts’ opinions of public sector corruption. Countries’ scores can be helped by strong access to information systems and rules governing the behavior of those in public positions, while a lack of accountability across the public sector coupled with ineffective public institutions hurts these perceptions.

“2013 results show that corruption within the public sector remains one of the world’s biggest challenges,” Transparency International said, “particularly in areas such as political parties, police, and justice systems. Public institutions need to be more open about their work and officials must be more transparent in their decision-making. Corruption remains notoriously difficult to investigate and prosecute.”

“Future efforts to respond to climate change, economic crisis and extreme poverty will face a massive roadblock in the shape of corruption,” Transparency International warns. Since 2012, TI uses an approach that provides greater clarity on how the index is constructed, making it easier to trace how the data from the sources are rescaled for inclusion in the Index. The updated method also means that a country’s Corruption Perceptions Index score will better capture changes in perceptions of corruption in the public sector of that country over time.

Link: Image of Corruption Perception Index 2013

Tools to support transparency in local governance

Report published 15 March 2004

Links: Download the tools | View the tools online 

This toolkit argues that the quality of urban governance can mean the difference between cities characterised by prosperity and inclusiveness and cities characterised by decline and social exclusion. It describes how increased transparency at the local level can help in combating urban poverty and enhancing civic engagement. Promoting transparency, through the application of a range of public education, public participation, e-governance, ethics and institutional reform instruments, can:

  • reduce citizen apathy
  • make service delivery contribute to poverty reduction
  • increase city revenues
  • raise ethical standards

The product of a partnership between Transparency International and UN-HABITAT (the United Nations Human Settlements Programme), Tools to Promote Transparency in Local Governance has been developed under the umbrella of the Global Campaign on Urban Governance. It builds on the first toolkit developed by the Campaign to promote good urban governance, Tools to Promote Participatory Urban Decision-Making (PUDM).

For an other view of Transparency International read Pinkindustry´s article and look at the net work schedules below.

Transparency International´s net work 1

Transparency International´s net work 1

Transparency International´s net work 2

Transparency International´s net work 2



A little about me and the blog…

I'm studying archival science (include records management). My studies bring me to Bulgaria for six months.

I have been to Bulgaria on vacation but I don't know the language, Cyrillic alphabet or anybody. So I´ll be encountering many new situations and hopefully gain some insights from them. Some of it may end up on my blog. But even blogging is new to me sooo we´ll see...

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