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Towards NATO and EU Accession: Effective Export Control Legislation - Lessons Learned
A South Eastern Europe regional seminar on effective export control legislation took place on June 21-22, 2005 at Radisson SAS Grand Hotel in Sofia. The seminar was jointly organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, the Center for the Study of Democracy and the South Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SEESAC) . It aimed at contributing to the process of bringing the export control legislation in line with the EU and NATO requirements and strengthening the mechanisms for its implementation. Experts from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania and Moldova participated in the seminar. Lectures were delivered by representatives of the Bulgarian and Romanian state administration, non-governmental organizations and foreign diplomats.

Mr. Nikolay Milkov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, made the opening statement. Mr. Krassimir Benevski , Programme Analyst at UNDP related the effective export control legislation on small arms to the preservation of real freedom and security in the region.

A presentation of the different systems of export control throughout the member states of the European Union was given by Dr. Sibylle Bauer, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. She explained that it is the obligation of all EU member states to publish annual reports on arms export where the parliamentary and public scrutiny, as well as peer pressure, serve as enforcement mechanisms. In order to verify the information on arms exports and look for discrepancies, company data is being compared with customs data.

Mr. Leon Lowder, Second Secretary at the US Embassy in Bulgaria gave account of the American standards for export control. The “Blue Lantern” end-use checks are being conducted to identify and verify the legitimacy of the buying company. No weaponry is exported to regions where there is an arms race, a potential conflict, or danger of terrorism. Sanctions for non-compliance with the law amount to 1 mill. dollars and up to 10 years in prison. Mr. Lowder stressed the importance of getting industrial leaders involved in the dialogue about export control. In dealing with the illegal actions of off-shore arms brokers, the brokering law has been extended to all US citizens, living both inside and outside of the country.

The representatives of the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Lachezara Stoeva and Mr. Yassen Tomov, gave an overview of the treaties, regimes, and committees Bulgaria is a member of as well as the control lists, restrictions and embargoes, and transparency mechanists it abides by. Mr. Tomov outlined the process and criteria followed, and the authorities involved in issuing export licenses and permits. In line with the future EU membership of the country, the legislation on arms and dual-use goods will have to be separated. The role of the MFA includes providing an updated list of countries with embargoes according to international organizations, considering the limitations Bulgaria should abide by according to international treaties and agreements, keeping track of developments in the international regimes, and providing all that information to the competent authorities.

Ms. Ivelina Bahchevanova, representing the Ministry of Economy of Bulgaria, described in detail the whole procedure of arms export and the role of MoE in it. She explained that the Commission for classified information is currently being consulted so that a report on arms report could be provided to the public. Up to now such a report was being submitted each year to the Council of Ministers and then to the Parliament, Bahchevanova said. “We have to find a proper way of how to communicate with the industry” – she stressed.

Mr. Yordan Bojilov, Director of the International Cooperation Directorate at the Bulgarian Ministry of Defense, elaborated upon the role of the Ministry to give the military expertise of the exported arms and ammunitions. “Better inter-agencies cooperation and further strengthening of the export control capacity can be achieved by increasing the number of state experts and personnel working in the field of export control and also by their purposeful training”, Bojilov reckoned.

Mr. Dragomir Markov, Bulgarian Customs Agency, talked about the new modern Tracker System provided by the U.S. for communication and fast information distribution between the licensing authorities and customs officials as well as the Bulgarian Integrated Customs Information System (BICIS) for instant connection between the Customs Offices. Mr. Borislav Bojichkov, National Security Service, shortly pointed out the active participation of his Ministry in all stages of the export control.

A presentation of the role of the civil society in the arms export control was made by Mr. Philip Gounev, Research Fellow at CSD. The role of NGOs in the issue has been very limited up to now according to him. The NGOs are supposed to mainly assuring a public forum for discussion, doing away with media myths, providing macro level analysis, etc.

In the end, Mr. Diman Dimov, SEESAC Deputy Team Leader, made an evaluation of the seminar and summarized the goals remaining for the future, including study visits to involved organizations, greater transparency through information sharing between countries, a discussion in the field of administrative strengthening, amendments of legislation based on best practice, a better dialogue between state authorities and industry, a SEESAC publication on regional arms laws, and possibly resource mobilization initiative directed to the EU.

Agenda and presentations
Media coverage (in Bulgarian only)
Bulgarian Law on Control of Foreign Trade Activity in Arms and Dual-Use Items and Technologies (MS Word, 76 kb)
Regulation on Implementation of the Law on Control of Foreign Trade Activity in Arms and Dual-Use Items and Technologies (MS Word, 1,6 Mb)
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