Bulgaria's Ombudsman: Dual Citizenship Is Not CrimeDomestic | May 29, 2011, Sunday // 13:21| views
Konstantin Penchev, Ombudsman of Republic of Bulgaria. Photo by BGNES
The Ombudsman of Republic of Bulgaria, Konstantin Penchev, has sent an answer, stating his position on dual citizenship and voting and election rights of Bulgarians with such citizenship.
Penchev reacted quickly to the open letter mailed to him on May 25 by well-known French journalist and Bulgarian native, Roumiana Ougartchinska, initiator of the campaign of Bulgarians with more than one passport to seek constitutional amendments that would warrant their rights to participate in the election process in their homeland.
Ougartchinska's letter focuses on the mass exodus from the country and discrimination of those, who have chosen to live abroad. The expats insist that Bulgarians with dual citizenship are allowed not only to vote in all elections, but to run for Members of the Parliament, President, and other high-ranking political and management positions in State institutions and agencies.
In his response, Penchev voices full support to the emigrants' plea for constitutional amendments, calling texts in the current Constitution, which restrict the passive election rights of Bulgarians with dual citizenship, "a rather obsolete prejudice than a necessary requirement."
The letter concludes with the Ombudsman's promise to initiate a debate to discuss the issues connected with the participation of Bulgarians with dual citizenship in the rule of the country.
Below is the full text of Penchev's response:
POSITION of THE OMBUDSMAN OF REPUBLIC OF BULGARIA
Regarding: participation of Bulgarian citizens with dual citizenship in the rule of the country
The Ombudsman of Republic of Bulgaria has been approached on numerous occasions by Bulgarian citizens, who also have another citizenship, regarding them finding it impossible to take active part in the political live of the country over the restriction written in the Constitution, banning people with dual citizenship to be elected as Members of the Parliament, President, Members of the Cabinet and a number of other positions as result from references to the conditions to elect MPs included in the normative texts.
The main law of our country has been passed two decades ago. We are lucky to live in dynamic times and 20 years are not such a short period of time – changes are evident – many boundaries, not just physical ones, but boundaries in the way we think, fell. The World turned into a global living place and the restriction of the passive election rights of Bulgarians with dual citizenship appears a rather obsolete prejudice than a necessary requirement, guaranteeing the election of good rulers of our country. Everyone has the right to freely choose their place of residence; to move freely around the country; to leave its territory and to return – this is a constitutional right of every Bulgarian. More so, this is the right of every human being, guaranteed by international pacts, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 13) and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (Protocol # 4). Many Bulgarian citizens have benefited and continue to benefit from this right and seek realization abroad. Some create more permanent ties with the respective country by acquiring its citizenship. To be a citizen of more than one country is not a crime; it is not morally reproachable. This fact is not an indicator that one does not love their native country thus he or she cannot participate in its rule.
Bulgarian citizens, regardless of where they reside, have all rights and obligations under the Constitution (Article 26, Paragraph 1). However, according to Article 65, Paragraph 1 of the main law, only a Bulgarian citizen, who does not have another citizenship, can be elected as a Member of the Parliament. I am convinced it is high time to start a debate if it is reasonable and fair to keep enforcing this restriction (partially creating an internal contradiction in the Constitution itself) and in reality to punish the desire to enlarge one's horizons, to earn experience and knowledge from more and more diversified sources by a ban to apply and share an individual's skills in Bulgaria.
I realize that this is an extremely serious subject, raising many questions, related not only to dual citizenship and passive election rights of Bulgarian citizens, and I am prepared, taking into account the expectations of the society, and under the condition there is presence of desire of all interested parties, to organize a debate to discuss the issues connected with the participation of Bulgarians with dual citizenship in the rule of our country.
OF REPUBLIC OF BULGARIA
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