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Archive for September, 2009

Bulgaria says former cabinet ministers to be indicted ‘in next few days’

Sofia Echo – Former government ministers will be indicted in the next few days, Bulgaria’s Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov said on September 3 2009.
 
Tsvetanov declined to give names, saying that it was up to prosecutors to complete the indictments.
 
Bulgarian news agency BTA reported Tsvetanov as telling journalists that anyone who had overstepped the law should be held accountable and the sense of impunity in the past 20 years had made Bulgarians mistrust institutions.
 
The announcement came a day after Bulgaria’s Parliament voted to set up a special 12-member multi-party committee to investigate spending, appointments and deals made in the final year in office of the cabinet headed by Bulgarian Socialist Party leader Sergei Stanishev.
 
Known as the “Stanishev Committee“, it is chaired by Stoyan Mavrodiev of Boiko Borissov’s ruling party GERB, which swept the Stanishev tripartite coalition cabinet from power at the July 5 2009 national parliamentary elections. The special committee will have a term of office of two months.
 
Meanwhile, Dnevnik reported on September 3 that 80  municipal water infrastructure projects agreed to by the former administration of Bulgaria’s environment ministry have undergone exorbitant upward cost revisions, according to a check into ongoing projects initiated by Enviromnet and Waters Minister Nona Karadjova.
 
The bulk of the dubious projects were scattered in strongholds of predominantly Turkish ethnic party Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) and public procurement procedures were riddled with violations.
 
The ministry has halted a separate 287 projects with a total price tag of 159 million leva. For some of them, pen has already been put to paper but construction work and payments are yet to begin.
 
The administration has referred the projects to the economic police force, which has already started an investigation.
 
The list includes the controversial construction of the water and sewerage system in Dulovo, northeastern Bulgaria, which won 37 million leva financing under the environment operational programme of the European Union.
 
The contract was awarded to a company whose commercial director, Sali Tabakov, is the brother of mayor Mithat Tabakov. Payments were already underway before the project was suspended by Bulgaria’s competition watchdog in June.
 
Another controversial project on the list is in the eastern Bulgarian municipality of Ruen, which plans to build a water and sewerage system and a waste water treatment facility in Lyulyakovo village with a population of 2500.
 
One of the 14 projects that caught Brussels’ attention with mind-boggling price tags, the project has obtained 40.5 million leva, far more than the 500 euro per capita economic efficiency standard set for the country.

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BULGARIA FOLLOWS DUTCH MODEL TO CUT TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS

Bulgaria Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, has proposed a change to the Law on Road Traffic, in which drivers will have to pay fines before being allowed to appeal against them.
Tsvetanov stated that the current system of allowing drivers to appeal against fines has a long backlog of cases. He said that the idea follows the Dutch model that has also been introduced in France, leading to a 50% reduction in traffic accidents.
Tsvetanov added that he will be coordinating with Education Minister Yordanka Fandakova to make sure the first day of the school year goes smoothly.
The new traffic law is an attempt to stop the war on the roads that has led to Bulgaria being one of the most dangerous places to drive in Europe. Statistics show that over 1000 people are killed every year on Bulgarian roads and well over 10 000 injured, of whom 30 per cent are maimed for life.

BULGARIA ETHNIC TURKISH PARTY DPS ALLEGEDLY FUNDED BY DRUG LORDS

Three well-known drug traffickers fund the organization of Bulgaria’s ethnic Turkish party DPS in the southern city of Plovdiv.
This is claimed by Ashim Asan, Chair of “Prav Pat” (“Right Way”), a foundation of Bulgarian citizens of Turkish origin, Darik Radio reported. Asan claims that the local police and prosecutors provide the cover for their activities.
“These are three very rich drug traffickers who sponsor DPS in Plovdiv. One of them is from Stolipinovo (the Roma-populated quarter in Plovdiv – editor’s note), and is named Angel Bubov. The other one is called Stefan Alexandrov. They are supported in that by the former city councilor, Inan Aliev. I am going to notify about that personally the Minister of Interior, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, Prime Minister Borisov, and the committees on corruption,” Asan is quoted as saying.
Asan also said that earlier on Wednesday he had been visited by a DPS city councilor named Yashar Asan, who urged him to stir Roma protests in order to create public disorder.
Roma leaders have already threatened to stage protests in Plovdiv on September 6, Bulgaria’s Unification Day, over their poor living conditions. According to Ashim Asan, the DPS party is behind those threats through the Roma barons connected to it. Stolipinovo is the largest Roma-populated quarter in Bulgaria with about 40 000 people. Ashim Asan is known as a sympathizer of PM Borisov’s GERB party.
“Mr. Asan’s claims are nonsense and I am not going to comment on them. Let him submit them in written, and if the police in Plovdiv don’t take measures, then he can speak about that. So far he has not alerted us about anything,” said Commissar Angel Rangelov, head of the regional police directorate in Plovdiv, as cited by Darik Radio.
Rangelov said that of the three mentioned persons he knew only Inan Aliev who used to be a policeman at the Fifth Department in Plovdiv.

NETHERLANDS PRESSES FOR DELAY IN BULGARIA, ROMANIA SCHENGEN ENTRY

September 3, 2009 1 comment

The Dutch government has dealt another blow to the new EU member states Bulgaria and Romania, saying they are still doing too little to tackle corruption and organized crime, and their management of EU funds is still below par.
The conclusions were announced on Wednesday in response to the progress report that the European Commission presented on 22 July under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) for the two countries.
The letter that European affairs minister Frans Timmermans, foreign minister Maxime Verhagen and justice minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin sent to the House of Representatives identifies many shortcomings, including ‘the lack of political will to implement irreversible reforms’.
The letter said the Dutch government will continue to press for improvements in both countries at European level. If this does not happen, it will have consequences for the transfer of EU funds to the two countries and their accession to the Schengen area.
“Accession to the Schengen area would mean the disappearance of controls at the countries’ internal borders. The government believes that this should not happen until sufficient trust exists among the Schengen partners,” the letter reads.
The letter comes a month after a report of the European Commission suggested that an entry into the Schengen zone is not a likely prospect in the near future of Bulgaria even though there was no direct mention of its ambition to do so.
Currently, Bulgarian citizens are allowed visa-free entry into the Schengen system and there is eased access to Bulgaria for Schengen visa holders, but the country is not a full member of the system.
Bulgaria submitted its formal declaration of readiness in September 2007 and sent European authorities follow-up reports, penning in March 2011 as the target date for accession to the Schengen zone.
The estimates turned meaningless due to a delay in the award of a tender to produce biometric passports and lack of progress on the second generation of the EU’s Schengen Information System, more commonly known as SISII.