Bulgarian Govt, Universities React Harshly to Turkey's Diploma Non-RecognitionEducation | July 30, 2012, Monday // 18:23| views
Bulgarian Education Minister Sergey Ignatov has lashed out against the media over the non-recognition of Bulgarian college diplomas by Turkey. Photo by Sofia Photo Agency
After last week Turkey suspended its recognition of Bulgarian university diplomas, Bulgaria's Education Minister Sergey Ignatov reacted Monday by announcing that the problematic diplomas were forged by Turkish citizens.
Turkey suspended the recognition of Bulgarian-issued college diplomas for an indefinite period of time.
On grounds that forgery of exam marks and college diplomas has reached the dimensions of organized crime in Bulgaria, the southern neighbor advised all of its aspiring university students to refrain from applying for Bulgarian schools.
The decision was made by the Turkish University Education Council, the institution accrediting foreign diplomas.
Its official site notes that documents of students from Bulgaria will no longer be legalized. It further warns transfers from Bulgarian colleges to Turkish ones are not being accepted, while the documents of those who have applied for accreditation will be put on hold.
According to Bulgarian Education Minister Ignatov's Monday's statement, however, there have been Turkish citizens forging Bulgarian university and college diplomas after those had already been legalized in Turkey.
Ignatov further said that the Bulgarian state has no way of bearing responsibility about forgeries committed by private persons, and accused the Bulgarian media of provoking an international scandal by writing about the bad quality of Bulgarian education.
Ignatov's position was reiterated by representatives of the Bulgarian universities who met in an emergency sitting of the Bulgarian University Presidents' Council.
The Bulgarian university and college presidents went further by asking Bulgaria's Foreign Ministry to send a protest note to Turkey, and to refer the issue to the EU institutions since, in their words, the suspended recognition of Bulgarian diplomas by Turkey is a "violation of the European educational space".
The Bulgarian Education Ministry also intends to send a delegation of experts to Turkey in order to convince the Turkish authorities that it has a mechanism for verifying the authenticity of Bulgarian university diplomas, and that Turkey does not need to suspend their recognition.
Ignatov has claimed that the Bulgarian authorities have very little official information about the Turkish decision.
"The official information is for one forged university diploma and a forged annex. We have suspicions for more forgeries but we have no official paperwork," Ignatov said Monday, adding that the Turkish decision was made after Turkish students in Bulgaria complained to the Turkish ambassador.
The Bulgarian Education Minister also said he has sent an envoy to the Turkish Education Minister but refused to reveal their identity, saying only that they are "a very high-ranking person in Bulgaria."
Ignatov did not rule out Bulgarians' involvement in the forgery of university diplomas, and said those responsible for the crime will be punished.
"The more you write that the Bulgarian education is of low quality, the greater advantage the competition takes of that. Nihilism can only expand the scandal if there is any scandal in this case," the Bulgarian Education Minister said, criticizing the media.
In his words, the Turkish authorities have made the decision to suspend the recognition of Bulgarian diplomas for economic reasons, since in a time of crisis the neighboring states would like to keep their students at home, instead of having them pay tuition and housing fees in another country.
"The problem here is not with the Bulgarian educational system. Bulgarian education is better than [one would suppose judging from] the amount of money given for its funding," Ignatov argued.
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