THE FRENCH AMBASSADOR IN SOFIA CALLED BACK TO PARIS
The French ambassador to Bulgaria was called back to Paris after an investigation in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs concluded that there were cases of trade with visas in some French Embassies abroad, the French press announced, cited by BBC.
The decision for the withdrawal of Ambassador Dominique Chassard was taken after the investigation confirmed that members of the French diplomatic service in Sofia were involved in issuing invalid visas to Bulgarian citizens.
French newspapers, La Tribune among them, remind that last March the Bulgarian press announced that fake visas have been issued by the French embassy in Sofia for the average price of DM 200 and a diplomatic officer was called back to France. The scandal, however, did not burst out because the visa limitations for the Bulgarians on a short visit to EU were cancelled in April.
According to some estimations 55,000 visas were issued in 2000 by the French embassy in Sofia , twice as much as in 1999.
Informations about similar visa malpractice appeared in other European capitals as well. An article in the Belgian newspaper La Derniere Heure on the matter published several months ago stired a huge scandal in Brussels.