On 1 July 2009 the Center for the Study of Democracy organized a working meeting dedicated to the best research and monitoring practices of organized crime in the EU.
Dr. Ognian Shentov, Chairman of the Center for the Study of Democracy, made the opening remarks by highlighting the importance of collaboration between Bulgaria and Germany in the fight against organized crime. He also welcomed the guests - Mr. Reinhard Kreuzer, Chief Inspector in the German Federal Criminal Police Office, Mr. Wolfang Wendel, Counsellor, German Embassy in Sofia, Ms. Ursula Toettel, Detective Chief Inspector in the German Federal Criminal Police Office, Mr. Armin Herford, Liaison, German Embassy and Ms. Elaine Bridge, Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA), UK.
Ms. Ursula Toettel, Detective Chief Inspector in the German Federal Criminal Police Office, emphasized the role of the Office in analyzing and drafting legislation for fighting organized crime. She stated that the main aim of the Federal Criminal Police Office is to implement innovative research methods in the process of limiting organized crime. Ms Toettel presented one of the current research projects of the German Federal Criminal Police Office, which is to create joint projects and exchange information with countries from Southeast Europe. At the end of her presentation, Ms Toettel described the support for victims of human trafficking, offered by the German Police.
Mr. Nikolay Tagarov, Senior Analyst at the Center for the Study of Democracy presented a current CSD study analyzing the links between corruption and organized crime in EU-27. Mr. Tagarov overviewed CSD’s past experience in studying organized crime. For example SELDI – the South-eastern European Legal Development Initiative, which gathered leading not-for-profit organizations, representatives of government institutions and experts from the countries of Southeast Europe in order to build a public-private coalition for countering corruption in those countries.
Dr. Emil Tzenkov, Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of Democracy presented a project on the topic of Antiques Trade. He emphasized the sensitivity of this topic in terms of politics. The market of antiques is strictly structured and comprises internal markets and international illegal trade channels. At the moment in Bulgaria the number of antiques from Roman, Greek and Thracian times is the highest in Europe. This makes the problem of high significance for the country. However, due to personal interests or indifference on the topic, this matter is not discussed by the politicians and there are no clear laws which try to curb the smuggling of antiques.
Mr. Tihomir Bezlov, Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of Democracy talked about the genesis and the structure of organized crime in Bulgaria. He compared and contrasted organized crime in Bulgaria and in Russia. He grouped the Bulgarian criminals in three groups – underground entrepreneurs, oligarchs and violent entrepreneurs. In order to highlight the significance of this issue in Bulgaria, Mr. Bezlov pointed out that the level of organized crime in Bulgaria, as measured by Bulgarian prostitutes in Germany is the same as those in Russia, Ukraine and Nigeria - countries with much bigger population.
The moderator of the event, Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Coordinator of the Economic Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy summarized the main conclusions form the discussion and stressed on the importance of the international cooperation between the NGOs and the state institutions in the fight against crime.