On December 1, 2000 the Third Policy Forum of Coalition 2000 took place with the participation of politicians, representatives of state institutions, non-governmental organizations, media, the business, experts, foreign missionaries and organizations actively involved in the international fight against corruption.
More than 100 persons participated in Policy Forum 2000. In her opening remarks to participants Ms. Debra D. McFarland, USAID/Bulgaria Mission Director, pointed out that the public-private approach followed by Coalition 2000 is one of the most successful models in curbing the corruption. The Coalition contributes not only to the future economic well being of the country, but also to the development of civil society in Bulgaria, said Ms. McFarland.
During the discussions on the first topic Ms. Maria Yordanova, Head of CSD Law Program, presented the highlights of Corruption Assessment Report 2000, making special emphasis on the developments of the institutional and legal environment of the fight against corruption. The Report, designed by experts of Coalition 2000 and distributed to the participants, is an attempt to outline the general framework and the specific dimensions of corrupt practices in Bulgaria as well as the results of the civil anticorruption initiatives and the political decisions to counteract that phenomenon. It has been acknowledged that as a result of the common efforts of Coalition 2000 and representatives of state institutions, recently a draft-law on The Ombudsman Institution has been introduced to the National Assembly. The draft-law in itself is a guarantee for the protection of the civil rights and also it enhances the democratic mechanisms for public control of the administration and for the transparency in the work of institutions.
The Deputy Chair of the Council of European Affairs at the National Assembly Mr. Dimitar Abadzhiev, stated that having the "corruption" problem included in the agenda and attempting to find solutions to it are a part of the efforts of the ruling majority to support Bulgaria in adopting the European standards of transparency and integrity. Making an overview of the international engagements of Bulgaria and of the harmonization of the Bulgarian law the international judicial instruments to count the corruption. Mr. Abadzhiev underlined that Bulgaria is in line with the efforts of the international community towards the introduction of new standards. He also stated that Bulgaria had already accepted these standards in a certain part of its domestic legislation. Stressing on the regional partnerships in counteracting corruption and organized crime and the of the Stability Pact Anticorruption Initiative, Mr. Abadzhiev supported the improvement of the cooperation between the countries in the region and their closer involvement with the efforts in a larger international context.
Mr. Dimitar Bachvarov, Director of Economic Policy Directorate at the Council of Ministers, concentrated his statement on the anti-corruption measures undertaken in the process of the administrative reform, and on the positive results of the Government's intervention to overcome the administrative barriers for entrepreneurs, businesses and trade by decreasing and alleviating license and registration regimes.
Ms. Zhivka Damyanova, Coordinator of Coalition 2000, Mr. Angel Donchev, Deputy Director of Customs Agency and Mr. Pasquale Ferraro, Deputy Director General, International Development Law Institute, Rome, participated in the second part of the discussion.
All speakers agreed with the importance of maintaining relations and cooperation among representatives of state institutions, non-governmental organizations and independent experts in formulating an anti-corruption strategy and in working out concrete anti-corruption measures and mechanisms.
The interaction with Customs was presented as a good example and communicating with Parliament for preparing the Ombudsman Draft Law.
Other discussants included: Mr. Antonio Vigilante, Permanent Representative of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); Mr. Ivan Soungarski, Head of the Parliamentary Commission on Human Rights, Religions, Complaints and Petitions of the Citizens; Mr. Oleg Chulev, National Employment Services; Mr. Alexander Hadzhiiski, Chairman of the National Statistics Institute; Ms. Mila Georgieva, Black Sea Legal Community.
There was a presentation of particular issues that prove the lack of effective means for limiting corruptive practices. Several recommendations were introduced for administrative and legislative changes of decreasing corruption pressure, increasing civic activity, improving governance. Although, the point of view from state institutions and the one from civic experts do not always coincide, the necessary level of agreement was reached, and consensus about a number of aspects of corruption which could be addressed through joint efforts.
The Forum expressed support for the Corruption Assessment Report-2000 and recommended its wide distribution as comprehensive document and instrument for good governance.