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Sixth Anti-Corruption Policy Forum of Coalition 2000

MR. JOSE LOPEZ-HORRIN, Ambassador of Spain to Bulgaria

It is for me a great honour to be invited today to this presentation of the "Corruption Assessment Report 2003" in Bulgaria, an honour which I appreciate and value. So let me share with you a few thoughts in this context.

And in the first place, let me immediately congratulate Coalition 2000 for this excellent initiative -launched in 1997. This initiative is certainly contributing to raise the awareness and to restrict corruption in the Bulgarian society through a very widespread partnership between state institutions, non governmental organizations and individuals.

In this same context, I would like to express my sincere and deep appreciation to the Centre for the Study of Democracy with whom the Embassy of Spain has been working very intensively. Through this close cooperation we have come to know each other much better, to realise to which extent we share the same visions and goals, and therefore to lay down indeed excellent foundations for future and ever deeper co-operation.

Thirdly, I deem it most appropriate to stress the importance of publishing this report on a regular basis. This effort reflects and matches the increasing concern and awareness of the Bulgarian society in facing corruption through an approach based on a balanced and realistic view on the situation. As Spain knows by its own experience, constructive self-criticism paves the way to improvement and progress.

That is why, on this occasion, I have to highlight the "Corruption Report 2003", which I consider it to be a serious assessment and a very professional study. The four different chapters of the Report are complete and comprehensive and very well focused on the main issues characterizing or related to the corruption practices in Bulgaria.

Let me assure to you all, once again, that Spain is a close partner and friend of the Bulgarian authorities and civil society in their struggle against corruption. We have been consistently showing our determination in accompanying Bulgaria in its accession to EU and NATO and our will to share common experiences. Our Spanish model of transition from an authoritarian state to democracy has been a matter of a number of exchanges between our two countries. Spain has developed a very active co-operation with the Bulgarian Administration and with the Bulgarian Supreme Judicial Council, fostering a very high number of visits by Spanish Magistrates and Government Officials. As a result, the Bulgarian institutions have come to a better understanding of the nature and the necessity of the political consensus that has been underpinning the Spanish transition and which was manifested in a State Pact on the Judicial Reform. Its four main elements -independence and efficiency of the judiciary, legislative amendments, organizational reforms, and reform in the administration and infrastructure of the judiciary- are particularly relevant to the current status of reforms in Bulgaria.

Spain will continue to live up to its commitment to support Bulgarian authorities, non governmental organizations and civil society on this field. We cannot forget that the EU accession process has been one of the most important influences on the development of anti-corruption policy, and anti-corruption is clearly recognised by the Government as a condition for both EU and NATO accession. From this perspective, we have witnessed how Bulgaria has made important progress in approximating national anti-corruption legislation to the requirements of international anti-corruption instruments.

Legislative measures need to continue: I would like to underline the importance of the "Law for Restriction of the Administrative Jurisdiction Powers and Administrative Control over the Economic Activity". But it is just as essential to concentrate also on law enforcement in order to improve the level of satisfaction of civil society with the way the rule of law is actually working and to create more opportunities to start and develop business in Bulgaria.

Finally, I would like to state that fight against corruption must be kept as a major goal. But I am convinced that by standing side by side with determination and teamwork, then government leaders, public institutions, "think tanks" and ordinary citizens will all be able to overcome the scourge of corruption. There is no alternative to that, because corruption is the denial of the very essence of democracy and liberty and, as it has unfortunately happened in other countries, it leads eventually and fatally to the destruction of democracy.

Thank you very much.
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