Bulgarian President Defends Diplomats with 'State Security' Records

Domestic | December 15, 2010, Wednesday // 17:15|  views

Bulgarian President Parvanov has defended the diplomats with communist secret police past; on Wednesday, he took part in a public discussion of his ABV movement. Photo by BGNES

The Bulgarian diplomats who are revealed to have served at the so called State Security service of the former communist regime have worked for democracy in the country in the past 20 years, according to President Parvanov.

Parvanov commented on the news that about half of the Bulgarian diplomats after 1989 have worked for the "State Security" - the intelligence and secret police service of communist Bulgaria.

On Tuesday, a special Bulgarian panel, investigating the communist-era police files, known as the Files' Commission, revealed that 192 Bulgarian Foreign Ministry employees have had ties with the former communist State Security.

Among those 192, 33 are diplomats currently working abroad Nikolay Mladenov pointed out, these include Ambassadors, Consuls and Deputy Directors of diplomatic missions in Great Britain, Germany, Italy, the UN (New York and Geneva), Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, Turkey, Russia, China, Sweden, Romania, Norway, Japan, Qatar, Kuwait, Syria, Egypt, Bosnia, Greece, the Vatican,Slovakia, Albania, Georgia, Armenia and Venezuela are among those exposed as former Bulgarian State Security's collaborators.

Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov, who himself was revealed in 2006 to have been a collaborator of State Security under the name "Gotse", defended the diplomats who worked for the communist intelligence. He reacted strongly to the suggestion of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov to fire those who are on active duty.

"If Todor Zhivkov (i.e. Bulgaria's communist dictator, r. 1956-1989 – editor's note) was the good state leader, how come the ambassadors and diplomats connected with the former regime are bad?," Parvanov asked effectively slamming for double standards Borisov, who in mid November said Zhivkov was a great leader who did a lot for Bulgaria.

"These diplomats are people who in the past 20 years worked for democracy. It is them, not the current government, who have worked for Bulgaria's accession to NATO and the EU without grievances," the President declared opposing the ideas for a "lustration" (i.e. limiting the participation of former communists, and especially informants of the communist secret police, in the civil service).

"I am ready to pull out all files so that we can see who did what. If there is really something hidden for somebody, that person will have to go. But if, as a I suspect is the case, in the overwhelming majority of these cases these people have been doing well their state jobs – because it is one and the same state no matter who rules it – this approach for liquidation of statehood in all of its structures, including diplomacy, must end," stated Parvanov.

He has left without answer a journalistic question about where he would sign government decrees for recalling ambassadors because of their communist secret police past; earlier on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Mladenov suggested they will be recalled but to do that the center-right government of the GERB party will have to get the signature of President Parvanov, a former chair of the Bulgarian Socialist Party.

On Wednesday, Parvanov took part in a discussion organized by the ABV movement – a civil organization that he put together in November 2010, which is expected to turn into a political party dominated by him after his second presidential term expires in 2011.

As the Bulgarian Communist Party and especially the so called State Security service (consisting of six departments - from secret political police to foreign intelligence and counter-intelligence) overwhelming dominated the decision-making and life in Bulgaria before 1989, ever since the fall of the communist regime the country's public attention has been occupied by the lustration issue.

The former anti-communists and new rightists have demanded outright removal from the civil service and elected offices of all people with communist secret service records, while those from the opposing camps have argued that any such moves hard Bulgaria's statehood since those individuals served their state, even if in the old regime.

The debate has been largely inconclusive – with Bulgaria lagging far behind other post-communist states – such as the Central European nations – in coming to conclusive terms with its communist past.

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Tags: Georgi Parvanov, Bulgarian President, DS, State Security, collaborators, Boyko Borisov, Prime Minister, Nikolay Mladenov, Ambassadors, diplomats, secret police, communist regime, Communist Bulgaria, Gotse, Todor Zhivkov


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