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International conference: European Standards and Ombudsman Institutions in Southeast Europe
 
On June 6-8, 2002 the Center for the Study of Democracy jointly with Friedrich Ebert Foundation held an International Conference European Standards and Ombudsman Institutions in Southeast Europe. The event was aimed at assessing the failures and successes of ombudsman institutions in Southeast Europe, strengthening European standards in their performance and establishing a network among them in order to exchange information and experience.

Among the distinguished speakers at the conference were the Parliamentary Ombudsman of Sweden, the Ombudsman of Greece, the Federal Ombudsmen of Belgium, as well as Ombudsmen or their representatives from SEE countries (Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Bulgaria). Bulgarian and foreign experts, representatives of all relevant institutions and organisations, contributing to the development of the Bulgarian legal framework and its implementation, also attended the conference and took part in the discussions.

The conference was opened by Dr. Ognian Shentov, CSD Chairman, and Mr. Arnold Wehmhoerner, Regional Representative, Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Regional Office Sofia. In his opening address the Minister of Justice of Bulgaria Mr. Anton Stankov underlined the necessity of establishing ombudsman institution in Bulgaria and the significant role the conference could play for facilitating the process.

The first plenary session started with a presentation by Ms. Kerstin Andre, Parliamentary Ombudsman of Sweden and Regional Vice President - Europe of the International Ombudsman Institute. Besides the Swedish experience she outlined the European standards of ombudsman institutions. An overview of the ombudsman related activities carried out by the Council of Europe was presented by Mr. Fernando Mora, Representative of the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights.

The first plenary session continued with presentation of the first part of the SEE country reports by Mr. Branko Naumovski, Ombudsman of Macedonia, Ms. Mimosa Skenderaj, International Relations Officer, Office of the Ombudsman of Albania, Ms. Branka Raguz, Ombudsman of Federation Bosnia and Herzegovina (Sarajevo), and Mr. Zlatko Kulenovic, Ombudsman of Republika Srpska within Bosnia and Herzegovina (Banja Luka).

The second plenary session started with the second part of the SEE country reports featuring presentations by Mr. Jernej Rovsek, Deputy Ombudsman of Slovenia, Mr. Ante Klaric, Ombudsman of Croatia, Mr. Sevdalin Bozhikov, Deputy Minister of Justice of Bulgaria, Mr. Meho Omerovic, Member of Parliament of Serbia, Mr. Slaven Lekic, Director, Council for Encouragement of Citizens' Participation in Local Self-Government, Montenegro, and Mr. Hilmi Jashari, Director of Investigations, Kosovo.

The conference continued with the panel Independence, Efficiency and Instruments for Influence: Annual and Special Reports, Recommendations, etc. featuring presentations by the Greek Ombudsman Professor Nikiforos Diamandouros and the Federal Ombudsman of Belgium Mr. Pierre-Yves Monette. Following the second plenary session the participants took part in two parallel working group discussions. The first working group focused on the Types of Ombudsman Institution (National, Local and Specialized) and Forms of Control (Parliamentary, Judicial and Administrative) while the second one discussed the Obstacles in Establishing and Start of Operation of the Institution.

The concluding plenary session started with the raporteurs of the two working groups presenting the results of the working group sessions and continued with a presentation by the Federal Ombudsman of Belgium and Regional Vice President - Europe of the International Ombudsman Institute Dr. Herman Wuyts. The concluding discussion of the conference focused on the most significant issues outlined by the participants and especially on international cooperation (both European and regional), which could play a significant role for the successful operation of ombudsman institutions. The conference was closed by Mr. Arnold Wehmhoerner, who thanked the participants for their active participation and expressed his belief that the conference had contributed to the future establishment of ombudsman institution in Bulgaria.

The conference was a part of an EU supported project on establishing Ombudsman Institution in Bulgaria and was also supported by the German Government within its contribution to the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe.

Agenda of the conference (PDF, 115 kb)

Recommendations on the Draft Laws on the Ombudsman submitted to the National Assembly and adopted on first reading on June 5, 2002, provided by:
Professor Nikiforos Diamandouros, Ombudsman of Greece
Ms. Kerstin Andre, Parliamentary Ombudsman of Sweden
Dr. Herman Wuyts and Mr. Pierre-Yves Monette, Federal Ombudsmen of Belgium

Available in Bulgarian
Full records of the discussion in PDF (901 kb)
 
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