Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

Ivaylo Kalfin: the supervision of the European Commission over Bulgaria should continue

Adelina Marini, July 1, 2009

There is no deadline for the mechanism for verification and control, imposed over Bulgaria and Romania as a precondition for their accession on the 1st of January. Only the safeguard clause has a deadline which expires at the end of the year, explained the deputy prime minister and foreign minister Ivaylo Kalfin who reported the achievements of the last 4 years during his term. He defined the mechanism as very good: "This mechanism has been developed in cooperation with our country. This mechanism is not imposed by the EU so as to wave sticks in Bulgaria. This mechanism has been developed with the participation of Bulgaria and the EU in a way that, in fact, we will have maximum information and maximum cooperation in the field of justice and internal affairs".

According to Ivaylo Kalfin the mechanism has its meaning and it is political because even if the safeguard clause threat is removed, the pressure over the government will stay. At least, he added, after each report of the Commission there is a non-confidence vote. Unless there is confidence between the EU and Bulgaria, the mechanism should remain, underlined Mr. Kalfin after euinside asked him why he praises this mechanism since the prime minister Sergey Stanishev himself promised that the its removal would be one of his main priorities by the end of the term. "It is not a pleasant thing for some, especially for the ruling parties, but it is objective enough", concluded Ivaylo Kalfin.

He also reported the achievements of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the field of foreign policy for the last 4 years. The way Mr. Kalfin arranged the achievements, it seems that the biggest one is the EU membership. Mr. Kalfin explained this with the fact that in 2006 (the government of Sergey Stanishev was formed in 2005) there was only 1 ratification of Bulgaria's accession treaty. Secondly, Ivaylo Kalfin noted the release of the Bulgarian medics from Libya which was accomplished, mainly, with the cooperation of the EU and the French president Nicolas Sarkozy and his former wife Cecilia. But it is a fact that the other achievements which Kalfin mentioned deserve praise.

One of them is the active regional policy. In this regard he mentioned the hardest decision his team had to take - Bulgaria to recognize the independence of Kosovo. Ivaylo Kalfin noted that from Bulgaria's Eu membership perspective, the relations with our neighbours are much clearer and devoid of previous understatements.

Another achievement of Bulgarian diplomacy is the creation of the Black Sea Synergy - the policy of the EU directed to the Black Sea countries, developed with the active participation of Bulgaria. Then this policy evolved into the Eastern Partnership initiative, developed by Poland and Sweden and approved by EU leaders this spring.

As a very important success the MFA reported the approval of the Diplomatic service law, which had been many times postponed by many ministers before. The law limited the political appointments abroad to 10% and introduced strict requirements for the diplomatic profession.

As positive euinside sees the fact that the MFA team showed ability to learn from previous failures like the Bulgarian medics in Libya and other kidnappings and created a special crisis management centre which will start operation in September. The centre is created after an American model and now there is a problem with the financing because of the decision of the government to cut expenses because of the crisis. But Kalfin assured that the centre will be fully operable in the Autumn and the idea is that in case of need it would no longer be necessary the minister or his deputies to take all the decision but this to be automatized.

One of the things that deserve good words but unfortunately has not been approved by the Parliament because of the lack of time, is the strategy for the Bulgarians abroad. Ivaylo Kalfin reported this as his greatest failures. The problem with the strategy not being approved by Parliament is that it requires changes in too many laws because it foresees solving of the problem with creation of Bulgarian schools abroad, their maintenance, the green cards for citizens of other countries but with Bulgarian roots, etc.

The part of the report regarding the USA and Russia was very interesting. Bulgaria is a strategic ally of the US, that has proved to be prudent and that can be trusted. There is a serious increase of the American investments in Bulgaria. Some of the biggest, said Mr. Kalfin.

And regarding Russia, he said that there are difficulties in the political dialogue but the specific dimensions of the cooperation with Moscow were found - that is the energy and transport infrastructure.

In conclusion, euinside will indulge to praise the team of Ivaylo Kalfin who is, probably, the only one that worked quite openly with media. During the 4 years of his term no one of his team has ever refused to answer the questions of media, except if the questions were related to uncovering sensible information. We hope that the next team of the MFA will continue this tradition because, generally, Ivaylo Kalfin happens to be the first politician to realise that media have their own agenda. Because we remember the remark of the ex-foreign minister Nadezhda Mihaylova "Feed the journalists!" and her successor Solomon Pasi alway came to press conferences with at least 30 min. delay.