Opposition Launches New Attack on Bulgaria's Diplomatic Lustration Law

Domestic | September 9, 2011, Friday // 15:09|  views

Left-wing MP, Prof. Lyuben Kornezov, has spearheaded a protest of opposition MPs against allegedly anti-constitutional amendments to the Diplomatic Service Act. Photo by Sofia Photo Agency

56 MPs from the left-wing Coalition for Bulgaria and the ethnic Turkish party Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) have tabled a request seeking the recognition that the amendments to the Diplomatic Service Act contradict both the Constitution and norms of international law.

The changes initiated by Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov were designed to rectify the huge scandal that shook the Bulgarian government in the fall of 2010 with regards to the diplomats' lustration (i.e. limiting the participation of former communists, and especially informants of the communist secret police in the civil service).

The Foreign Minister was outraged when at the end of 2010 the so-called Files Commission, the special panel examining the Communist era documentation, revealed that almost half of Bulgaria's ambassadors abroad, in a number of key countries – from the UK to Russia and China, had been collaborators of the former State Security Service.

The oppositional announcement was made by left-wing MP Lyuben Kornezov in Parliament on Friday, one day after the controversial piece of legislation act was promulgated in an extraordinary edition of the State Gazette.

The MPs find fault with a total of 15 articles of the law for two main reasons.

Firstly, according to Kornezov, it gives excessive and anti-constitutional powers to the Foreign Minister because the person cannot single-handedly implement the country's foreign policy and maintain its international relations.

Under Bulgaria's Constitution, the President represents the country in international affairs.

Secondly, the law stipulates that diplomats with proven ties to the communist regime's secret service – State Security, DS, cannot represent Bulgaria abroad.

In Kornezov's words, the restricted access to posts within the Foreign Ministry, together with the disproportionate powers of the Foreign Minister, directly contradict seven provisions of the Constitution and five international treaties.

"I would advise Minister Mladenov to listen to me speaking from this tribune and to not rush to staff purges before the Constitutional Court comes up with a pronouncement. Otherwise we shall have to meet in court", Kornezov declared.

DPS MP Yunal Lyutvi expressed his firm belief that the court would show continuity in its decisions and confirm that Bulgarian citizens cannot be deprived of the right to hold office, including an executive office, within the Foreign Ministry.

To prove his point, Lyutvi cited a number of documents of the Council of Europe saying that liability is individual not collective, and groups of persons cannot be held to account.

Leftist Coalition for Bulgaria and DPS call for declaring the Bill Amending and Supplementing the Diplomatic Service Act anti-constitutional in its entirety.

The highly contested piece of legislation was passed on July 14, after which President Georgi Parvanov returned it for further discussion in Parliament.

 On September 01, Bulgaria's Parliament overturned the presidential veto, with a total of 129 "against" votes of MPs from the ruling Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria, GERB, party, the far-right, nationalist Ataka and the right-wing Blue Coalition.

The opposition, the left-wing Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP, and the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms, DPS, supported the presidential veto.

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Tags: Lyuben Kornezov, Bulgarian Socialist Party, Coalition for Bulgaria, Movement for Rights and Freedoms, Yunal Lyutvi, Diplomatic Service Act, Foreign Minister, Foreign Ministry, constitution, Constitutional Court, Nikolay Mladenov


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