Bulgaria Declares Notorious Forrest Swaps Criminal Act
Bulgaria's Agriculture Minister, Miroslav Naydenov, announced Monday that the country's official position regarding the forest swaps is ready.
According to Naydenov, Bulgaria will support the opinion that the swaps cannot be deemed irregular State help, but a crime violating the country's internal laws.
In February, the European Commission announced Bulgaria can become subject to sanctions if it fails to prove that 15 swap deals have not been State help and asked for clarification within 20 days. The deadline was later extended to March 24 on Bulgaria's request.
“EC sees this case purely as a legal one, but here it also has moral connotations because one of Bulgaria's last rich resources – the forests have been pillaged. If EC deems those swaps State help we will have to pay a hefty fine, which we are trying to avoid” Naydenov says, adding the annulment of the deals would be a long and complicated process with unclear outcome.
The Minister further informed that the former director of the municipal agriculture office in the Sofia suburb of Pancharevo, his deputy and 3 experts will be subject to a probe of the Prosecutor's Office over violations in land swaps.
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