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Bulgaria: rapporteur sees progress, urges ongoing reform

At the end of his fact-finding visit to Sofia, Frano Matušic (Croatia, EPP/CD), PACE’s rapporteur on post-monitoring dialogue with Bulgaria welcomed the improved political climate after the October 2014 general elections that was evident during his visit. He acknowledged the strong political will to carry out reforms and recognised the progress made in recent months. At the same time, he emphasised the need to continue with the reforms that have been initiated and with their implementation so as to confirm their sustainability.

“I welcome the adoption of the Strategy for the continuation of reforms in the judicial system by broad consensus between political forces. I am confident that this positive step will translate into concrete changes and help reinforce the citizens’ trust in their judicial system. It is of utmost importance not to lose the momentum and find common agreement on concrete measures for its implementation,” the rapporteur said. He recommended making use of the Venice Commission’s expertise in this regard.

The rapporteur welcomed the adoption of the anti-corruption strategy and the ongoing developments related to legislative and institutional changes. He encouraged the further continuation of the reform so as to fully comply with Council of Europe recommendations.

The rapporteur took note of the organisation next July of a round table, together with the Council of Europe, on follow-up to the CPT public statement concerning Bulgaria. He had exchanges on the preparation of the forthcoming October local elections and on the President of the Republic’s proposal to hold a referendum on voting rules. Discussions also focused on measures to further improve transparency of media ownership and media funding and to counter hate speech and discrimination.

During his visit, Mr Matušic met with the President of the Republic, Speaker, Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign and Justice Ministers, as well as representatives of different parliamentary groups. He also had discussions with members of the Central Election Commission, the head of the Supreme Court of Cassation, Bulgaria’s Ombudsman, representatives of civil society organisations as well as representatives of the international community.