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EUROPEAN PROGRAM
 

In 2000, the European context of Bulgaria's transition to democracy and market economy was expanded with the effective start of the work of the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe. From Bulgaria's perspective, the Pact is expected to overcome one of the main impediments to Bulgaria's successful European integration - regional instability.

Thus, for CSD's European Program 2000 was a year of added efforts to provide an important analytical and networking link between the priorities of regional development and EU accession.

I. Facilitating Dialogue

On Febuary 24, 2000 the Center for the Study of Democracy hosted a meeting with Ambassador Michael Sahlin, Coordinator for Enlargement Issues and Bilateral Integration Support, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sweden, who delivered a lecture on Sweden's Support for the EU Enlargement, attended by rep­resentatives of Enterprise Development Fund, UN in Sofia, Privatization Agency, Sofia Municipality, Ministry of Foreign Affairs,  Bulgarian  Stock Exchange, Open Society Foundation, the Bulgarian Telecommunications Company, World Bank Mission in Sofia, Ministry of Finance,  and other Bulgarian and foreign institutions.

Ambassador Sahlin stated Sweden's support for Bulgaria in its ambitious and commendable undertaking to join the European Union. He further out­lined the priority issues of the process of EU enlargement: how the process of enlargement could be combined in the future with its deepening; the involve­ment of the Balkans and other East European regions; finding a proper security and stability solution while having in mind the considerable eco­nomic differentiation and factors of increasing heterogeneity by adding 28 member-countries more; the need of a comprehensive institutional reform which is to be reviewed at the Inter-Governmental Conference; the risk of allowing different membership pattern by categorizing the candidates in several groups; finding proper solution of future problems including the public opinion originating of the enlargement; the Security Pact issue, etc. Finally, he sum­marized Sweden's position and future active role towards the enormous task of Europe's response to globalization.

Participants expressed support to the ideas outlined above and Ambassador Sahlin answered their questions regard­ing the eventual shaping up of a new policy in EU in respect of the differenti­ation; the priorities and forms for sup­porting Bulgaria; the balance between the political will for extending negotia­tions with other countries and the ful­fillment of the Copenhagen criteria; ren­dering support to the Ombudsman Institution in this country, etc.

On May 31, CSD hosted a meeting on the Social Profile of Ethnic Groups, which was initiated by the No. 2 Diplomatic Club -an initiative of deputy chiefs of diplo­matic missions in Sofia. Dr. Teodora Noncheva introduced a study Social Profile of the Ethnic Groups in Bulgaria, analyzing the incidence and peculiarities of poverty among ethnic groups, focus­ing on Romas and Turks. She outlined the major social and economic character­istics of these groups, the poverty pro­files, the manpower characteristics and access to labor market.

Dr. Antonina Zhelyazkova, Director of the International Center on Minority Issues underlined the lack of scientific approach of Bulgarian governments so far in solving these problems and its negative impact on Bulgarian minorities for the years to come. She further out­lined the prospects, programs and prac­tices launched by the Minority Issues Center and aimed at the ethnic groups' integration and re-socialization in society.


During his recent visit to Bulgaria Lord Dahrendorf, Member of the House of Lords of the United Kingdom, and former Director of the London School of Economics and former Warden of St. Anthony's College at Oxford University, paid a visit to the Center for the Study of Democracy. Mr. Boyko Todorov,  Program  Director  and Dr. Maria Yordanova, Head of CSD Law Program, informed Lord Dahrendorf of the latest areas of activity of CSD. Issues discussed included the judicial system in Bulgaria and its relation to the execu­tive authorities and the promotion of democratic reforms and legal environ­ment beneficial to the countries in tran­sition. The regional aspects of legal reform were particularly highlighted. In 1992, CSD translated and published in Bulgarian  Reflections on  the Revolution  in   Europe  by   Lord Dahrendorf, and the following year published The Modern Social Conflict: An Essay on the Politics of Liberty in Bulgarian.


Lord Dahrendorf emphasized the importance of building an independent judiciary and its role to strengthen the potentials of the newly established democracy in Bulgaria and the region of Southeast Europe. Discussion focused, among other things, on the Southeast European Legal Development Initiative (SELDI) (see below) launched in 1999 with the overall aim to contribute to the building of the rule of law and demo­cratic institutions in the SEE countries. Lord Dahrendorf was invited to become member of the International Steering Board of SELDI.

II. Policy Studies

In 2000, CSD started an initiative to develop a number of policy reports on the implications for Bulgaria of the Stability Pact for Southeast Europe. The objective of the project is to develop the expert analytical response to the political and institutional opportunities that arose due to the institutional arrangements and mechanisms of implementing the Stability Pact "on the ground".

The commitment of the European Union and other international organizations outlined in the Pact provides a crucial opportunity for accelerated economic and political/social reforms in a stable regional environment and in the context of the accession process. The Pact provides the political and institutional framework of transforming the region into an integral part of the Euro-Atlantic structures. The Pact is a unique Euro-Atlantic platform brining together international organizations and countries from Western Europe and the United States with the states in the region of Southeast Europe.

The project intends to provide an analytical response to the challenges facing Bulgaria in the context of the Stability Pact as a new platform for Euro-Atlantic cooperation with the countries in Southeast Europe.

A process of consultation was initiated by the CSD with a number of leading Bulgarian think tanks and with foreign partners. After careful consideration a pool of experts from governmental institutions, non-governmental organizations, the business community and other public and private bodies were identified. They were approached and invited to participate in the development of the reports. As a result of the initial consultations, three task forces were set up to produce the three background documents detailing the practical implications for Bulgaria of the three Working Tables of the Stability Pact. An outline structure of the reports which was agreed includes:

Working Table I
(Human rights and democratization)

  • Human Rights and Minorities
  • Media, including regulation of broad
  • Gender equality -political and legal aspects of the issue in the context of the Stability Pact
  • Parliamentary cooperation

Working Table II
(Economic aspects)

  • The regional approach for economic development of SEE
  • Potentials to strengthen the market economy in SEE
  • Regional cooperation as a factor for the integration of the SEE countries to the European structures

Working Table III
(Security)

  • nternal state development of the SEE countries
  • Potential security risks for the region
  • Possible initiatives for Bulgaria in the field of security and defense

 

In view of better tailoring the recom­mendations contained in the policy reports to the logic of the respective working tables, project experts under­took a number of consultations with US and European institutions, including the Stability Pact office. The project experts took part in a number of meet­ings of the relevant Working Tables in order to carry out consultations on the latest development. The reports will be published in the course of 2001 in both English and Bulgarian.

III. Southeast European Legal Development Iniatiative (SELDI)

Started in 1999 by the Center for the Study   of  Democracy   and  the International   Development   Law Institute (IDLI) (www.idli.org), the Southeast European Legal Development Initiative  (SELDI)  (www.seldi.net) received its first practical implementa­tion in the course of 2000. Two of its main components - anticorruption and judicial reform - received support as part of the priorities of the Stability Pact for Southeast Europe. Other priority areas for SELDI are the establishment of legal centers in the SELDI countries on trade issues and the establishment of a Distance Learning Center.

1. First SELDI Conference

On April 7, 2000, the first conference of the   Southeast   European   Legal Development Initiative (SELDI) with donors and international organizations was held in Rome hosted by IDLI. The conference was intended to acquaint the international community and donor organizations with the overall objectives and specific projects of SELDI. It was attended by representatives of various international organizations, foreign embassies, multilateral and bilateral donor agencies, representatives of the Italian government and others.

Opening presentations by Michael Hager, Director of IDLI, Minister Giuseppe Cipolloni, Vice Coordinator of the Stability Pact at the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and John Tennant, Deputy Assistant Admi­nistrator, Bureau for Europe and Eurasia, US Agency for International Development emphasized the impor­tance of building the rule of law in the Southeast of Europe, in particular in the context of the Stability Pact. Speakers highlighted the key role to be played by non-governmental organizations in this process, specifically in the Southeast European Legal Development Initiative (SELDI). Minister Cipolloni reiterated the commitment of the Italian govern­ment to the stability and development of Southeast Europe, and expressed its support to SELDI. This support is the continuation of years of collaboration between IDLI and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The relevance of SELDI's focus on corruption is evident in the role of corruption in making possible cross-border organized crime and thus regional insecurity.

Speakers stated the important contribu­tion SELDI with its focus on anticor­ruption, judicial reform and the legal aspects of international trade will make to the development of the region. Speakers recognized the need for going beyond country-specific efforts towards region-wide cooperation networks, par­ticularly as regards issues of democratic governance, and the proactive role to be played by NGOs in such networks.

2. Coalition Building and Monitoring for Anticorruption In Southeast Europe

In September, practical work was started on the anticorruption component of SELDI. The first phase of the project Coalition Building and Monitoring/or Anti-corruption In Southeast Europe was launched in the countries of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania and Yugoslavia. The first phase was intended to carry out diagnostics and assessment of corruption in SEE, including the development of a background document analyzing the regional corruption issues as a basis for a Regional Anticorruption Action Agenda.

A pilot round of corruption monitoring and training, including on monitoring and coalition building, of partner organi­zations from the region took place on December 8-9 at the CSD. The workshop Coalition Building and Monitoring for Anticorruption in Southeast Europe was as introductory event for the project part­ners. Implementing a corruption watch­dog is one of the main areas where NGOs could have a crucial role in promoting the rule of law and ensuring good gover­nance. The training was intended to introduce non-governmental organiza­tions in the region to the use of monitor­ing instruments for the purpose of imple­menting a corruption watchdog system. The skills transferred to the participating NGOs focused on the ability to structure the process of a watchdog system. NGO representatives were trained on three main components of this system: signi­ficance for the role of NGOs in the reform efforts, design and management of the process, and utilization of results.

Allow me to take this opportunity to congratulate the Center for the Study of democracy and the International Development Law Institute for an ini­tiative that appears to be both poten­tially effective and timely in contribut­ing to achieving stability in Southeast europe.

Piter Stek
Executive Director
World Bank

 

In both policy analysis and dissemina-tion of results, and facilitating the policy dialogue CSD's European Program has been providing an indispensable public service in the field of European integra­tion. In this, the Program meets an apparent need in Bulgaria and thus its efforts would be even more relevant now that the country enters a crucial period of accession negotiations.

 
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