Банкеръ Weekly

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SILENCE ABOUT THE AGREEMENT WITH EU IS ALARMING

THE FATE OF THE NATION IS TO BE DECIDED, BUT WE ARE SLEEPINGATANAS SEMOV, DIRECTOR OF THE INSTITUTE OF EUROPEAN LAWMr. Semov, there is slightly more than a month until the agreement for Bulgaria's integration into the European Union (EU) is signed. Isn't it disturbing that the concrete clauses of the future agreement are rarely discussed in Bulgaria?- What you are talking about is not just disturbing, it's extremely alarming. On one hand, the weird hush about the texts of our agreement with the EU once again uncovers the rulers' total disregard of our people. Even the members of the Cabinet have been ignored - according to some ministers, they would see the contract a month before it is signed. On the other hand, what is happening now proves again the submission that cripples the Bulgarian soul. The agreement that Bulgaria is going to sign in Luxembourg on April 25 will determine our future as a country for decades ahead. It is of extreme importance for the agriculture, industry, ecology, and for the economy as a whole. The fate of the nation is to be decided, but we are sleeping.Aren't you too extreme?- No, I'm not. What kind of society are we if no one dares ask the politicians why did they negotiate with the European Commission in such secrecy and why are they hiding the text of the future agreement even today...? Moreover, no one dared ask them to explain any of the actions taken in the course of the talks with Brussels. Bulgarians are pathologically, inexcusably patient and resigned people. We are always displeased but we always wait for someone else to put our things in order. The European Union is only favourable for those who are active, irreconcilable, and fighting. It cannot just replace the former Soviet Union or take care of everything as that household appliances commercial once promised.The Institute of European Law published on the INTERNET a part of the draft agreement. Can we use that part to compare the approach the EU applies towards Bulgaria to the one it applied towards the countries that joined it in May 2004?- At least at first sight the approach seems to be the same. But we should look for difference not in the principles but in the details in the annexes. We published some of them in Bulgarian. But it takes time to make profound analysis of the agreements achieved. And the rulers did not give us that time, probably not by chance. It is strange that nobody is even asking what the agreement contains. The opposition keeps silence like a surfeited Gypsy boy. Businessmen don't say a word - each of them is busy doing his own business and sees no further than the small pocket of the tax officer or the larger one of the European programs official. Most of the usually noisy media keep silence, too... It seems that we are about to join the Order of Carmelites and not the world's biggest economic organisation. Little is known about the new European Constitution, too...- This is not a surprise. Things couldn't be different since the state-owned television and radio announced, for example, that last October Bulgaria's Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha signed the European Constitution along with the 25 member countries leaders. In fact, our Prime Minister only signed the Closing Act of the conference held at that time in Rome and not the Constitution. This is why Bulgaria is not a party in it and will not have to ratify it. The Constitution (as long as it becomes valid) will become an effective law in Bulgaria along with EU's whole jurisdiction.A survey by Eurobarometer published not long ago showed that 70% of the Bulgarian people know nothing about the European Union. Do these results hide any risks?- Of course, they do. The problem is that politicians, journalists and even government experts still make mistakes with the names of major European organisations and institutions. Not to mention the details about the European integration. The consequences will be felt quite soon. If our administration is not ready to work according to the EU rules, we'll have to give back some of the money we have the right to receive. If Bulgarian companies are not prepared for the European standards and competition, they will simply go bankrupt. If Bulgarian legal experts do not know the legislation of the community, they will serve as apprentices to their Greek colleagues. Once we join the EU, Greeks will be allowed to work here and because they have over 20-year experience they will take our jobs. And what about the transport, agriculture, commerce... It takes weeks to read all requirements referring to the packings of the goods, let alone to meet them.The latest amendments to the Bulgarian Constitution caused a number of political arguments regarding the liberalization of the land market. How was that issue settled in the EU new members?- Generally speaking, in the same way as in Bulgaria. Free movement of capitals is one of the most important conditions which the EU sets to the candidate countries. I think this problem was paid too much attention without being understood. The big question here is not about the lifting of the ban on the purchase of Bulgarian land by foreigners. Practically, that ban was evaded until now. Nevertheless, a significant part of Bulgarian land has become desolate. Who's to blame? Whom are we waiting for? We claim we love our land and look around how it looks like... Fragmented, deserted, and exhausted where tilted.The other controversial question is could Bulgaria turn out to be the second country (after Cyprus) in EU's fifth enlargement where no referendum on the EU membership has been held?- Yes, we can, and we'll become a laughingstock. Problems in Cyprus are quite different. Half of the island is an occupied area. If no referendum is held in Bulgaria, we'll be the only people unworthy to be asked their opinion. Why?I cannot but ask about the noise regarding the reform of the prejudicial phase of the criminal process. Which is the right place of the investigations service, according to you?- I have been thinking for a long time that this question is rather an artificial one. For years on end politicians and magistrates themselves cannot find a somewhat clear decision of the case regarding the investigation service. The problem is that until now there seemed to be no political necessity of a functioning judicial system. And today there is a deficit of good professionals. The numerous law faculties in the country bank out a real juristic disaster. How do you look on the idea to eliminate the Grand National Assembly as an institution by a constitutional amendment?- It seems to me that such a change is indispensable. There are also a number of issues regarding the functioning of governing authorities that could be given a thought. For instance, to expand the rights of the president and eliminate the vice president as an institution, to reduce the number of MPs, etc.

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