“No one [in Bulgaria] is prosecuting political corruption, there are no ex-government officials in jail,” says Ognian Shentov, chairman of the Centre for the Study of Democracy in Sofia. “We have reached a stage of state corruption which we describe as state capture.
A report by his organisation paints a devastating picture of corruption from the top to bottom of society. More than one in five adults, 1.3 million, are thought to have taken part in a corrupt transaction, such as paying or receiving a bribe, but only 72 court cases were completed in 2015.”
Cloud of Corruption Hangs over Bulgaria as it Takes Up EU Presidency, The Guardian, 28 December 2017
“The Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD), which has a long record of doing research on corruption in Bulgaria, has developed a comprehensive model for monitoring anti-corruption government policies.”
Corruption in the European Union, European Parliamentary Research Service, September 2017
According to the Center for the Study of Democracy, there was “rule of corruption” in the country. In a July report, the center estimated that more than 22 percent of the population was affected by corruption, but that charges were brought in only 0.01 percent of all cases. The center concluded that corruption had become systematic, functioning as an additional tax on public services, and that state institutions have practically been privatized by their employees.
US Department of State, Bulgaria 2016 Human Rights Report, 4 March 2017.
“Pubic support is the key of success, especially in holding politicians accountable in times of elections. The people should share the responsibility, report cases of corruption, and not only rely on institutions to solve the corruption problem. Legislation should be effectively enforced. To make a difference, we need the right people in the right places.”
Monica Macovei, Member of the European Parliament at the SELDI round table: The Anti-Corruption Agenda for Southeast Europe after the 2016 Enlargement Package: How to Break the State Capture Deadlock and Make Enlargement Deliver Again?, 30 November 2016, European Parliament, Brussels
“We are seeing behaviours and activities that surprise us and unsettle us but it is important to step back and see the whole. The report tries to do that and I think that is a great service to all of us as policy-makers and as members of the Western Alliance. This is a welcomed addition to how Russia is implementing its foreign policy, a policy that seems to increasingly reject the post Cold War order in Europe.”
Kathleen A. Kavalec, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European Affairs at the U.S. Department of State during the presentation of the the Kremlin Playbook: Understanding Russian Influence in Central and Eastern Europe, 13 October 2016, Washington D.C.
“The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. I think this concept is especially true when it comes to fighting corruption. We cannot let corruption operate with impunity and we cannot let corruption become substitute of the rule of law, as it will eventually destroy the foundation on which democracy rests."
Mr. Alexander A. Arvizu, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) during the SELDI policy forum: Countering Corruption and State Capture in Southeast Europe, 29-30 September 2016, Skopje
"The Corruption Assessment Report of the Center for the Study of Democracy focuses on the strongest form of corruption in Bulgaria – state capture. For several years in a row it ascertains that the unacceptable has occurred - administrative corruption has given way to a system of corrupt relations that allows long-term privileged access to public resources for the same figures."
Mr. Rosen Plevneliev, President of the Republic of Bulgaria during the Twelfth Anti-Corruption Policy Forum: State Capture Unplugged: Countering Administrative and Political Corruption in Bulgaria, 4 July 2016
"The new approach of opening chapters 23 and 24 earlier in accession negotiations can push the implementation of necessary long-term reforms beyond the term of a single government. The countries need to have real anti-corruption mechanisms that stand the test and are systematically used to expose illegal wealth. Lately however the countries embrace the soft preventive tools, and effective enforcement is missing."
Ms Sabine Zwaenepoel, Chapter Coordinator, Accession Negotiations to the EU, Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, European Commission during policy workshop: Strengthening Resilience to Corruption and State Capture in Southeast Europe, 14 June 2016, Brussels
"Women can have a special role in both prevention and deradicalisation and interventions should be designed accordingly. At the same time we should not underestimate the role of women in radicalization. While studies are conducted to understand this phenomenon official policies seem to not address that aspect of radicalisation."
Ms Ines von Behr, Senior Analyst in RAND Europe at the roundtable discussion Radicalisation in Southeast and Central Europe: Monitoring and Responding to Key Trends and Risks, 8 December 2015
“Anti-corruption policies should simultaneously reduce opportunities for corruption (lack of transparency, concentration of power, bureaucracy), and strengthen control factors (independent judiciary and media, active civil society, etc.).”
Professor Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, Director, European Research Centre for Anticorruption and State-Building, Hertie School of Governance, Berlin during the round table Making Bulgaria’s Anticorruption Policy Work: Sharing Experiences from European Success Stories, 28 July 2015
"It is clear that the work of non-governmental organisations and research institutions active in the area of the fight against organised crime and corruption is essential for the pursuit of informed and evidence-based policies. And the development of methods of evaluating policy effectiveness like MACPI are extremely important in this respect".
Ms. Anabela Gago, Head of Organised Crime Unit, Directorate-General "Migration and Home Affairs", European Commission at the Policy Forum: Monitoring Anti-Corruption Enforcement, 12 June 2015
"Rule of law is the key underlying factor towards EU accession. The Union acknowledges that it is not a corruption-free area and has started to address the challenge accordingly, integrating the fight against corruption across the majority of EU policy areas. Corruption is neither solely political nor simply a moral issue but a practical problem generating significant financial losses and enabling organized crime. Thus the European Commission is continuously working to adopt innovative tools and approaches in pursue of strengthening the good governance in the region."
Mr. Morten Jung, Head of Unit, Western Balkans Regional Cooperation and Programming, DG Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, European Commission at the SELDI Policy Forum: Good Governance Agenda for Southeast Europe: the Role of Civil Society and the European Institutions, 24 and 25 February 2015
"Ethisphere Institute, a global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices, recognized CIPE leaders and partners for their contributions to advancing business ethics. Ethisphere recognized Dr. Ognian Shentov, Chairman of the Center for Study of Democracy in Bulgaria, and Dr. Jesus Estanislao, Chairman of the Philippine Institute of Corporate Directors and the Institute for Solidarity in Asia. The Center for the Study of Democracy, a long-time CIPE partner, is a champion of anti-corruption efforts in Bulgaria and has played an integral role in the efforts to combat corruption, promote transparency and accountability."
CIPE Executive Director and Partners Honored in Ethisphere Business Ethics Ranking, CIPE website, 31 December, 2014
“The Ukraine crisis has also reminded us that energy security can be an issue of national security, not just for Ukraine, but for many other allies as well. Russia will remain the major supplier to Europe, there is no doubt about it, but once alternatives are in place, Russia will become more flexible when negotiating on price and contract terms.”
Mr. Michael Ruehle, Head, Energy Security Section, Emerging Security Challenges Division, NATO Headquarters at the International conference: Energy Security and State Capture Risks, 27 October 2014, Sofia
“I think that one of the most important steps required to tackle the informal economy is to speed up the efforts in changing the informal institutions of the society (norms, beliefs, values) in such a way as to coincide with the needs of the formal institutions (regulations, laws). We need to get the people to start buying what the government is selling. Regrettably, my experience has shown that this cannot happen by using only fines and imposing restrictions. Genuine efforts should be made to foster a culture of commitment in order to align the two. And this requires formal institutions to change if citizens are to change their approach to paying taxes. The good news is that this has already started to be done in the Nordic countries and there is a long tradition which not simply shows the positives of such efforts, but also allows us to measure them in financial terms.”
Professor Colin Williams, Sheffield University during the international Marie Curie conference States and States of Informality in Europe: Current and Future Perspectives, 4 September 2014, Sofia
“The report of the Center for the Study of Democracy on Energy Sector Governance and Energy (In)Security in Bulgaria offers an in-depth analytical perspective on the Bulgarian energy sector and highlights some of the main challenges that the country faces if it is to diversify its energy sources. The report also provides a useful tool for working towards a common EU energy policy based on competitiveness, security of energy supply, and sustainability. We are delighted to have had the privilege of hosting one of the two public discussions in Washington, DC, featuring this newly released and groundbreaking report earlier this month under the aegis of the Wilson Center’s Global Europe Program.”
Mr. Christian F. Ostermann, Wilson Center during the public discussion Energy Security in the Black Sea Region, Washington, DC, 19 June 2014
"I would like to congratulate the organisers of this event for their laborious effort that allowed them to gather here leading figures of the European legal practice to speak and discuss on such an important and modern-day issue as the risks and impacts that fraud and corruption create on public procurement all over our continent. … It is widely acknowledged that corruption has the natural power to continuously change its characteristics. Over the last few decades, its presence has increased in public administration becoming a source of serious and systematic loss to public budgets. And it is also true that few activities create greater temptations or offer more opportunities for bribery and extortion than public sector procurement."
Mr. Nikolas Kanellopoulos, Secretary General of the Ministry of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights in Greece at the International Seminar: EU Financial Interests under Threat: New Approaches in Assessing the Risks from Public Procurement and EU Funds Fraud, 31 October – 1 November 2013
„Bulgarian households have reached the limit of their possibilities in terms of covering their energy expenses, which is a threat at the energy security of Bulgaria.“ Stefanov explained that the energy poverty was hampering the bulgarian citizens and the business from diversifying their energy sources.
Energy poverty of households in Bulgaria endangers our energy security: expеrt, Radio Focus, 8 October 2013
"Instead of changing policies we change people, Ruslan Stefanov, Program Director at the Center for the Study of Democracy and co-author of the study "Energy and Good Governance in Bulgaria. Trends and Policy Options." Which means that fraudulent and corrupt practices will continue. If the proposed solution to the problems in the energy sector is management change, it is probably better to announce international competitions for managers."
The small slam of the Bulgarian Socialist Party: The left wing distributes positions in energy between known lobbies, Capital Daily, 5 July 2013.
I am glad that the workshop was a success and that the officers from Romania and Bulgaria found it useful in developing their skills to fight corruption and organised crime. Work such as this in an international arena continues to grow in importance and we consider it vital for successful operations, particularly in the area of corruption.
Trevor Pearce, Director General, Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), UK, commenting on the international workshop “The experience of European police anti-corruption units: Austria, Belgium and the UK”, organised by CSD (letter of 2 April 2013)
The crisis has put focus on the instability of the public sector. It is estimated that 120 billion euro are lost each year to corruption in the EU member states. If we talk about public procurement that indicator is 20-25% of the contracts signed. Cross-border cooperation is needed to fight crimes at EU and national level. The EU Anti Corruption package is a step forward.
Ms. Maria Åsenius, Head of Cabinet Commissioner Malmström, DG Home Affairs at the Regional Workshop: EU Anti Corruption Report, Sofia, 10-11 December 2012.
The Policy cycle for serious international and organised crime includes 4 steps:
1.Policy development based upon EU-SOCTA (European Union Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment);
2.Policy setting and decision making by the Council. Each priority is included in a Multi-Annual Strategic Plan;
3.Implementation and monitoring of Operational Action Plans;
4.Evaluation and input into the next intelligence cycle.
Michel Quillé, Deputy Director of Europol at the discussion of Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment report at the National Assembly, 3 April, 2012.
Тhe 21st century threats from non-traditional sources need to be recognized, including cyber terrorism, links between organized crime and international terrorism, and energy security. These are threats that should be addressed proactively, as opposed to the largely reactive security policies of the 20th century and through greater engagement between developed and developing countries based on three components: security, economic opportunity, and increased rule of law and democratic governance.
General James Jones, former National Security Advisor to President Obama and Supreme Allied Commander Europe during public discussion: National and International Security in the 21st Century, 28 July 2011.
The fight against this type of fraud (cigarette smuggling) is a shared responsibility. It requires urgent and streamlined action at all levels, i.e. from the Commission, the Member States and the neighbouring countries. I would therefore like to thank the Bulgarian Customs Agency and the Center for the Study of Democracy for having taken the initiative to organise this conference. It is very timely and I am convinced that it will contribute to strengthening our cooperation and building strong relationships to jointly tackle the problem of cigarette smuggling.
Mr. Kristian Vangrieken, Head of Unit, European Commission, Taxation and Customs Union Directorate General, International coordination - Enlargement & neighbouring countries during the international conference Countering Cigarette Smuggling in the Balkans, 2 and 3 June 2011.
The report of the Center for the Study of Democracy (Energy and Good Governance in Bulgaria) provides an excellent outline of the main challenges that your country is facing. It is obvious to us that the Bulgarian Government and its partners are already prepared and able to make choices and lead by example in regards to the transparency in the region’s energy sector. We, from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, believe that transparency is necessary to fight corruption. The transparency also ensures lower prices.
Jonas Moberg, Head of the International Secretariat, Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative during the Policy Forum Energy and Good Governance in Bulgaria: Trends and Policy Options, January 18, 2011.
Every year Europol prepares an Organised Crime Threat Assessment (OCTA) report with contribution from EU Member States and third countries. The report tries to identify the priorities in countering the organized crime. The criminal groups have strategy so we need to have а counter-strategy. It is more important to make sure that we identify the criminal groups globally. Particularly important for achieving these goals is the cooperation of the law enforcement authorities with the academic community.
Mr. Jean-Dominique Nollet, Head of Analysis and Information Department, Europol at the Organised Crime Threat Assessment round table, 18 June 2010
Achieving greater energy security is very difficult. It is a time consuming endeavor, one that requires a strategically focused vision, intelligent partnerships, active planning, dedication to execution, and tangible results. As I have said many times, the choices made in the energy sector by the current government will have many ramifications for not only generations of Bulgarians, but for generations in the region.
Mr. James Warlick, Ambassador of the US in Bulgaria at the round table Energy Policy and Energy Diversification, 18 May 2010.
The opposite of diversification is monopoly... that is the situation most of our countries find ourselves in when you get into non-diverse situation. It creates problems in assuring yourself of an adequate supply of energy under any circumstances. You are subject to having your energy supply cut off, sometimes for reasons that have nothing to do with you. It also very much limits your pricing power. A monopolist charges you whatever the monopolist wants to charge. And if you have no other alternatives, and if this is a critical element of your national economy and your national security, where do you turn? What are the things that you need to do in order to ensure that you have a maximum amount of diversity available to you under the circumstances?
Ambassador John M. Ordway, Chargé d’Affaires at the US Embassy in Bulgaria at the round table Energy Diversification and Energy Security, 5 October 2009.
At this moment of global economic crisis, no one of us can afford the staggering costs of crime and corruption. And at this moment, after two decades of sacrifice and painful transition, no one can tolerate the misappropriation of even the smallest amount of EU assistance monies. And after all the good and positive things that have been achieved here in this country, none of us will deny that it is time for the negative images that have appeared in headlines and satirical artwork to be replaced with clear evidence of problems solved and of a better future being built.
Ambassador Nancy McEldowney at the Tenth Annual Anticorruption Policy Forum, 28 January 2009
The state loses or has revenues, not subjected to taxation, amounting to BGN 3,7 billions. If we calculate the loss to this amount in “Obligatory social securities”, we will see that it is 1,25 billion, which equals the planned expenditures for за pensions for three months in 2009.
Ms Maria Murgina, Director of the National Revenue Agency at the round table “The informal economy in Bulgaria: Policy responses in an economic crisis”,
Sofia, December 3, 2008
We cannot sit back and pat ourselves on the back. The work to consolidate and preserve democratic gains must continue, in Bulgaria and indeed in all democracies. Maintaining the institutions of the rule of law and justice constitutes a foundation of democracy. We have to avoid the monopolization of government by a handful of powerful elites who capture access to the political institutions and public administration. This can be achieved only by ensuring competitiveness and civic engagement.
Ambassador John Beyrle at the opening of the joint CSD-USAID international conference "Democracy that delivers", Sofia May 21, 2008
The book presented by the Center for the Study of Democracy – with financial support of the European Union – proves just that, namely that Bulgaria has not made its homework as far as the fight against organized crime and high level corruption is concerned. This has been said by a number of official political visitors both inside the country and abroad. The question of the study is “What can be done against the increasingly brazen symbiosis of policy makers and civil servants with grey business”.
Ambassador Michael Geier, German Embassy in Bulgaria at the round table Organized Crime in Bulgaria: Markets and Trends, 12 December 2007.
The British Government has been pleased to be a partner with CSD. The project had as its objective to improve the effectiveness of criminal justice in the border regions. This project is important for the European Union as a whole. Following accession, Bulgaria now manages over 1,100 kilometers of the EU's external border, with three non-EU countries (Serbia, Macedonia and Turkey) as well as the Black Sea. And for the UK, this project is another example of the excellent bilateral co-operation we enjoy with Bulgaria, working together now as partners within the EU in tackling shared challenges.
British Ambassador Steve Williams at the Round Table Reinforcing Criminal Justice in Border Districts, November 13, 2007.
The Center for the Study of Democracy was one of the early participants in the democratic change in Bulgaria that the US government has supported. You all are aware of the broad and diverse portfolio that the Center manages. We are proud that the US government’s most successful partnership with the Center is in fighting corruption.
US Ambassador John Beyrle at the celebration of ten years of anti-corruption coalitions, July 23, 2007
Bulgaria needs badly to match public investment with private funds to improve infrastructure and public services for the citizens and businesses. A major obstacle to achieving this is the lack of effective mechanisms for involving private business in the delivery of public services in an effective and transparent manner. Developing the legal framework for public-private partnerships, which CSD and the Center for International Private Enterprise pioneer, will not only help Bulgaria resolve public service challenges but will also enhance transparency, accountability and democratic governance.
Dr. John Sullivan, Executive Director, Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) at the round table Building Public-Private Partnerships: The Experience of Bulgaria, June 13, 2007
The Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) has performed invaluable service in monitoring anti-corruption reforms in Bulgaria. The rollout of this CSD methodology on corruption continues that fine tradition. The methodology is a comprehensive system of indicators. I can say with pride that it is based on a system supported by the United States, and specifically by USAID, for the past eight years. As an effective tool for measuring both the degree of corruption and the average citizen’s attitude towards it, CSD’s methodology helps government, NGO’s, media and the public combat the corrosive impact of corruption on civic life and commercial enterprise. We all commend CSD for this work.
Mr. Alexander Karagiannis, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of the United States at the Round Table: Monitoring of Anti-Corruption Reforms in Bulgaria, 30 January 2007
"Clearly, NATO cannot do everything and clearly NATO cannot be everywhere but in a strategic way we can pick out times and we can pick our spots and we can make a difference. So does transformation that is ongoing needs to be well financed, needs to be adhere too, agreements need to be lived up to and we can in fact transform this alliance in such a way that in the 21st century it can make a great difference in our collective security. It can make a great difference by being more proactive, reactive and agile across the spectrum of operations."
Gen. James Jones, SACEUR, at the Third CSD Annual Security Conference, 19-20 November, 2005, Sofia
"The legal framework for privatization has been made more transparent in recent years but concerns remain about the openness of the process particularly in respect to large-scale privatizations. Coalition 2000 observes (“Anti-corruption Reforms in Bulgaria”, Sofia, 2005) that implementation of the Privatization and Post-Privatization Control Act has been “controversial and full of changes and delays. The results of the involvement of the administrative prosecution and the courts in the privatization of the Bulgarian telecom operator and Bulgartabac Holding generated reasonable doubts as to the independence of the judiciary and the existence of strong political corruption pressure on the system.”
Bulgaria: Report on the Observance of Standards and Codes (ROSC) — Fiscal Transparency Module, published by IMF, August 2005
"I would like to recall that Bulgaria is at a turning point on its way towards accession and that significant and visible progress has to be delivered without delay. Bulgaria needs to demonstrate that it is sharing the values of the EU. In order to achieve in particular the reforms in the judicial system, Bulgaria needs cross party unity and a clear and long-term vision of how one of the corner stone of the democracy should function. Reforming the pre-trial phase in line with EU requirements will require hard work in a short period of time. It will be crucial in this respect that corporatist interests be overcome.
But I am confident that you will succeed as it is indeed our shared ambition to ensure Bulgaria’s accession to the EU as a full-fledged Member State in January 2007."
Jonathan Faull, Director General of DG Justice, Freedom and Security at the International Conference Bulgarian Judiciary in the EU Accession Process: Reforming the Investigation and the Prosecution, April 8-9,2005 Sofia
"I am keen for us to learn from the advanced thinking of the Centre for the Study of Democracy, with whom our Embassy has a number of projects in the JHA field. The Centre has already recognised that, in some key respects, organised criminals act like any other business. This approach is shown in many of your projects, such as the Informal Economy Index, which identifies the most vulnerable areas of the economy; and the Corruption Monitoring System, which tracks the dynamics of corrupt behaviour.
In the UK this kind of innovative thinking has already informed our own strategy and we have much to gain from sharing our knowledge and expertise in these areas."
Caroline Flint, Under-Secretary of State for Drugs Co-ordination, Organised Crime and European issues at the UK Home Office at the public discussion Combating Organised Crime in the 21st Century, March 2, 2005, Sofia
"Security and stability in South East Europe is challenged by organised crime, corruption, illegal migration, human trafficking and the unlawful trade in small arms. These activities have the potential to weaken governments. They are a ball and chain around the ankle of progress. And they tarnish the image of some parts of South East Europe. I acknowledge that a number of measures are being taken to address these challenges. But even more needs to be done. It is essential that the rule of law be strengthened. The police forces must be made more accountable and the judiciary must be seen to be both robust and independent. And border security must be improved."
Ambassador Alessandro Minuto Rizzo, NATO Deputy Secretary General at the Second Annual Security Conference, 29-30 Oct., 2004
"While arms export controls are relatively strict and Bulgaria's share in illicit trade is insignificant, no mechanisms exist to oversee internal flows of arms, a report by the Bulgarian Center for the Study of Democracy and the U.K. Saferworld group said. The two NGOs are calling for tighter control of small arms and more transparency in arms trade in Bulgaria. "With the intensification of the terror threat we need to make sure that our weapons would go to our friends and that our soldiers would not get shot at with Bulgarian-made rifles," said Philip Gunev, one of the authors of the report."
The Wall Street Journal, April 6, 2004
"CSD is a NGO with a very high reputation in Bulgaria which is known for its dedication to the fostering of building and promoting the reform process, has a good record in policy research as well as monitoring, building partnerships and providing assistance in drafting legislation and training. Affiliating with the GDLNetwork is very timely because the objectives of GDLN to share knowledge and providing modern technologies based learning tools match very well with the objectives of CSD itself. With the potential that CSD has and the prospects of integrating with the EU we believe that CSD is well equipped to become provider of knowledge and of learning to the overall network."
Shigeo Katsu, Vice President for Europe and Central Asia Region, The World Bank
"Coalition 2000 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. The Corruption Assessment Report 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."
Jose Lopez-Jorrin, Ambassador of Spain to Bulgaria, at the Sixth Anti-Corruption Policy Forum of Coalition 2000
"The main problem with anti-corruption efforts in a transition environment is the lack of sustainability of political commitment. Sensible policies and relevant institutions often fail because of volatile government will. The United Nations Convention could be particularly helpful in providing a mechanism for technical assistance in areas where reformist governments need external support."
Dr. Ognian Shentov, UNODC Update, December 2003
"Southeast Europe is coming back into the European mainstream. The region is shedding its long-standing image as Europe's 'powder keg'. A return to the dark days of conflict is ever more implausible"..."(The) progress must continue...the countries must continue to build democracy, to root out crime and corruption, and to establish the rule of law".
Lord George Robertson at the international conference "Shaping a Common Security Agenda for SEE", 5-6 Sept. Sofia