Doc. 8680

22 March 2000

Honouring of obligations and commitments by Bulgaria

Recommendation 1442 (2000)

Reply from the Committee of Ministers

adopted at the 702nd meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies (15 March 2000)

The Committee of Ministers replies as follows to Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1442 (2000) on the honouring of obligations and commitments by Bulgaria:

In paragraph 2 of Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1442 (2000) on the honouring of obligations and commitments by Bulgaria, the Assembly “recommends to the Committee of Ministers to step up its assistance to Bulgarian authorities in the framework of its Programme of activities for the consolidation of democratic stability (ADACS), in particular in the following fields:

i.       The budget for the 2000 programme makes provision for training seminars for Bulgarian judges, particularly with regard to various aspects of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Activities aimed at police officers are scheduled for 2000 in the framework of the ADACS programmes for legal co-operation and under the “Police and human rights 1997-2000” programme. Particular mention should also be made of an expert opinion on the introduction of a curriculum for human rights training for Bulgarian police officers.

Two training seminars are scheduled for prison staff.

In all these fields, additional activities (including for the training of magistrates) have been proposed for projects in the context of the Stability Pact. To date, no financing has been secured for implementation of these projects.

ii.       Bulgaria is contributing to the activities of the Partial Agreement of the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO). As part of the ADACS programmes, a seminar on the legal aspects of the fight against corruption is scheduled for the year 2000. The Council of Europe’s Information Office in Bulgaria is participating in the “Coalition 2000” project, bringing together some 20 national and international NGOs actively engaged in the fight against corruption.

iii.        Several multilateral activities are planned under the joint European Commission/Council of Europe programme for national minorities. The Bulgarian National Office for Minorities will also be taking part in these.

For its part, the Council of Europe’s Information Office will continue to publish information on Council of Europe standards in the field of the protection of minorities.

The Council of Europe’s Specialist Group on Roma/Gypsies is monitoring very closely (through hearings and meetings with Roma NGOs and the Bulgarian authorities) the implementation of the Bulgarian government’s outline project for the integration of the Roma population in Bulgarian society. The Group has also set up a work assistance programme together with employment agencies in Bulgaria to help Roma gain access to the Bulgarian labour market. This programme is scheduled to continue as part of the Stability Pact; consequently, there is some question mark over its financing. A multilateral programme (including Bulgaria) on Roma and access to justice is currently being prepared. It could begin during the year 2000.

As part of confidence-building measures several activities concerning Roma and Karakachans have been proposed.

iv.       As regards the implementation of the European Social Charter, there is provision for assistance with the drafting of the first report on the Charter as part of the joint programme with the European Commission for the promotion of the European Social Charter. The ADACS 2000 programme also includes a project to assist the Bulgarian authorities with the implementation of the recommendations of the group of experts on the compatibility of Bulgarian legislation with the standards of the European Code of Social Security.

With regard to the European Charter of Local Self-Government, no particular activity has been explicitly provided for under the Council of Europe’s co-operation programmes for the year 2000. Nevertheless, Bulgaria could benefit from the Action Plan adopted at the Forum on “Decentralisation, Democracy and Stability in south-east Europe” (Bucharest, 23-24 February 2000). Assistance with the implementation of the Charter could be given if there were specific requests for this. In general, in the field of local authorities, the activities scheduled are geared towards encouraging the creation of regions.