US Ambassador: Elections in Bulgaria Were Not Administered Well

Diplomacy | January 11, 2012, Wednesday // 11:47|  views

US Ambassador in Sofia, James Warlick. Photo by BGNES

Elections in Bulgaria were not administered well, mainly because the local and presidential votes were held in one day, according to US Ambassador in Sofia, James Warlick.

Speaking Tuesday, in an interview for the largest private TV channel bTV, the diplomat advised to review the Election Code, along with the Act for the use of Special Surveillance Devices (SRS) so that the latter can be applied effectively and at the same time – without violations of citizens' rights.

When asked by the host if the State Department inquired with him how it was possible for a Prime Minister to be eavesdropped, the Ambassador replied: "there was a recent scandal related to the use of Special Surveillance Devices, SRS; revise your law. Both the cabinet and the Members of the Parliament should take a fresh look at the laws regarding these special surveillance means. There must be an effective investigation method, but citizens' rights must be guaranteed."

Regarding US foreign policies, the Ambassador stated "Europe, including Bulgaria, are America's most reliable partner, stressing that his country and Bulgaria could be proud of partnership in defense and partnership in law enforcement to counter illegal drugs trade.

On local politics, Warlick informed he holds regular meetings with Ahmed Dogan, leader of the ethnic Turkish party, Movement for Rights and Freedoms, DPS, and the dialogue was "quite" good."

"I have protocol meetings, but sometimes I also invite in my residence representatives of the opposition, because it is extremely important for me to hear different viewpoints; to hear plans of DPS and of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP," the diplomat explained.

He further stated that he knows well all members of the cabinet, and some are even his friends as are people from the opposition.

According to the Ambassador, the US business has good experiences in Bulgaria and for this reason, in 2010 US businesses were the largest investors in Bulgaria and for 2011, he thinks, but is not sure, American companies will be the largest investors as well. He pointed bureaucracy is a serious problem for investors, but added this is a problem for the local business as well. Warlick stressed the country must do everything possible to attract more foreign investors.

The diplomat reiterated criticism for the judicial system.

"The judicial system does need to work better. The cabinet is responsible for implementing some changes. We are ready to help in any area to make the judicial system healthier," he said.

Regarding controversial plans to build a second Nuclear Power Plant, NPP, in the Danube town of Belene, Warlick commented that "Bulgaria must do what is best for Bulgaria, not what is best for Russia, or what is best for the United States."

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Tags: judicial system, US, investors, business, defense, BSP, DPS, Ahmed Dogan, citizens' rights, special surveillance devices, Election Code, presidential, local, elections, James Warlick, US Ambassador, NPP, Belene


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