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Bulgarian report
by Euro Reporter
2015-02-20 11:27:41
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Our efforts were directed towards establishing Bulgaria as a constructive and dependent partner of EU and NATO

The work of the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was directed towards fulfilling our priorities in the sphere of foreign policy. Our efforts were directed towards establishing Bulgaria as a constructive and dependent partner of EU and NATO in the context of the changing situation in the world. This is what Daniel Mitov, Bulgarian Minister of Foreign Affairs, said during a press conference presenting the work of his ministry in the first 100 days since the start of the work of the new government, FOCUS News Agency reported. Mr Mitov added that as a result of Bulgaria’s active foreign policy, three visits of top officials happened only within the span of a month – the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, and UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Philip Hammond.
“We must also mention the visits of Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov in Germany, as well as my visit in Germany, where I had a meeting with my German counterpart and with many other politicians and representatives of NGOs, who are interested in Bulgaria’s foreign policy priorities. The Austrian Foreign Minister and the Ukrainian Foreign Minister also paid visits to Bulgaria. John Kerry’s visit was connected with the capacity and the modernisation of the Bulgarian Army, which must continue its modernisation and all our allies are committed to this process,” Mr Mitov added further.


The trust in European institution has been declining over the past few years

There has been a decline in the Bulgarians’ trust in European institutions over the past few years. This is what Daniel Smilov, Bulgarian political scientist, said in an interview for Radio FOCUS’s morning broadcast Good Morning, Bulgaria. Mr Smilov added that the biggest difference between Bulgaria and the rest of the EU was the standard of living.

According to him, Bulgarians see the EU as an instrument, which could lead to improving the living standard and conditions of their families and in Bulgaria, in general. Mr Smilov added further that there were two main reasons behind the lower trust towards European institutions, one of them being that Bulgaria has been going through a very tough period lately both economically and politically.

“The other main reason is the emergence of political parties, which are being irresponsible and are igniting negative moods towards the EU, which are groundless as far as Bulgaria is concerned,” he pointed out. Nonetheless, compared to other EU member states, Bulgaria is among the countries with highest trust in the EU and in European institutions.
“We used to be the country with highest trust in the EU and European institutions for a long time. Over the past couple of years, however, Bulgaria is not on top of this chart any longer, but is still in the top 5 EU member states in this regard,” Mr Smilov said further. He gave an example with Romania, where the level of trust in EU had been growing for a while, as it reached 60% in the latest study, which was a clear sign that Romania was benefiting from its EU membership.


Beatings, deplorable living conditions at Bulgaria’s Boytchinovtsi juvenile prison

Agence France-Presse (AFP) has devoted a publication to the appalling living conditions and the complaints of repeated beatings at the Boytchinovtsi Correctional Home for juvenile prisoners. The article, which is accompanied by a video, has reached German and Romanian media outlets. The publication presents the situation at the correctional facility against the backdrop of harsh criticism on an EU level over Bulgaria’s poor performance in the sphere of providing decent living conditions for prisoners.

A correspondent of the news agency talks to inmates and the director of the correctional facility and representatives of human rights NGO the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC). The probe was carried out after two alarming reports by human rights organizations, the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) and the European Committee against Torture (CPT), on the deplorable living conditions and the complaints of beatings at the Boytchinovtsi Correctional Home. The report of the CPT was released on January 29, 2015 and Bulgaria was asked to respond within 3 months. Prior to that, in December 2014, the BHC drew attention to the systematic use of physical violence against adolescent prisoners.

The Council of Europe also criticized the decrepit state of the building, the unsanitary living conditions at the site, and the disciplinary use of solitary confinement by the staff. During the visit of AFP journalists, only one prisoner complained of violence, taking into account that the inmates were interviewed in the presence of guards. Mimi Tsochevova, director of the correctional facility, argued that she had never received complaints of ill-treatment. BHC expert Zhenya Ivanova, however, claimed that the prisoners had been threatened into keeping silent about the beatings by the staff of the facility. Bulgaria’s Justice Ministry has launched an investigation into the matter.


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