|On February 19, 2003, an information day devoted to the establishment of the ombudsman institution on local level in Bulgaria was held in the city of Pleven. The event was organized jointly by the Center for the Study of Democracy and the Initiative for Sustainable Development Local Agenda 21 – Veliko Turnovo.|
Members of the Municipal Council, representatives of the local authorities, non-governmental organizations, journalists, and many citizens took part in the seminar.
Following the opening remarks by Ms. Zlatka Macheva, Chair of Open Gate Center – Pleven, Ms. Teodora Kaleynska, Director of the European Information Center – Veliko Turnovo, underlined that the establishment of an ombudsman on local level in Veliko Turnovo and its effectiveness are the result of the public-private partnership between the local self-government and the local administration on the one hand and the non-governmental organizations on the other.
Mr. Hristo Ormandzhiev, Veliko Turnovo Municipality Anti-Corruption Ombudsman, presented a comparative review on the different models of the ombudsman institution. He commented on the three Draft Laws on the Ombudsman introduced to the 39th National Assembly and passed on first reading in June 2002. Mr. Ormandzhiev focused on the necessity of creating legal framework as a guarantee for the independence of the ombudsman and outlined the characteristics of the ombudsman type institutions on local level in Bulgaria. He made a review of the experience of the Veliko Turnovo Municipality in carrying out training sessions for disabled persons, giving consultations on their problems and providing them with job opportunities.
Ms. Albena Dimitrova from the Veliko Turnovo Municipality Legal Department briefed the participants on the rules on the activities of the Veliko Turnovo Municipality Anti-Corruption Ombudsman, the carrying out of the election, the funding of the institution, and the mechanisms for approaching the ombudsman. She mentioned that 176 complaints were submitted to the ombudsman's office within the last six months of its operation, 14 of which resulted in favorable outcome for the citizens. Ms. Dimitrova underlined that the ombudsman have undertaken many measures to curb corruption and as a result the one-stop shop principle in the operation of the administration was implemented, and a register for citizen's complaints was developed.
Ms. Sofia Vulchinkova, Secretary of Pleven Municipality, emphasized on the need for a legal regulation of the ombudsman type institutions on local level, which should determine transparent mechanisms for their financing.
During the discussion many questions referring to the legal framework of the ombudsman in Bulgaria as a guarantee for stability and independence of the institution were raised.
Agenda of the information day