Bulgarian President: Judicial Reform Is in Centre of Everything
Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev said in a statement to parliament on Friday that continuing and completing the judicial reform should be the country's utmost priority as it is in the centre of everything.
Plevneliev noted this in his traditional speech after the conclusion of the month of political consultations with the parliamentary represented parties.
The month of political consultations, which had been initiated by the president, was held for fifth consecutive year.
Plevneliev identified the consultations as a working platform for inter-institutional debate and thanked all parliamentary groups for the constructive dialogue and their responsible attitude to the talks.
The participants in the talks discussed the current political situation in the country, the reforms on the agenda and outlined the future priorities for the period up to 2030.
The president thanked them for reaching unanimous agreement on the national programme for development “Bulgaria 2020”, which according to him was an undisputed achievement of Bulgarian statehood.
The head of state called for beginning debate and preparations for the successor programme “Bulgaria 2030” by outlining clear, long-term and strategic goals for development.
He highlighted the need for strategic planning and national priorities in order to overcome political differences, ensure continuity and address the growing mistrust of citizens towards politicians and institutions.
Plevneliev called for identifying new national goals, such as creating a socially responsible economy, elimination of poverty and social exclusion, targeted support for backward regions, acceleration of the country's modernisation, full-fledged membership to the Schengen Area, accession to the eurozone, activation of the European Energy Union on the Balkans.
According to him, the difficult and insecure geopolitical situation requires stability, security and predictability in the country.
In his words, stability is an important prerequisite for implementing the necessary reforms, attracting investments and improving the economic environment and the lives of citizens.
However stability should not be the goal itself, but the means for achieving it, the goals being progress and development.
Plevneliev noted some of the achievements in 2015, such as the security sector, pension and education reforms.
According to him, progress has also been made on some of the priorities set out in the energy sector, namely energy efficiency, diversification and liberalisation of the electricity market.
A positive step has been made with the adoption of the updated strategy for continuing the reform of the judiciary. The adopted amendments to the constitution were identified as beneficial and in the right direction.
Although important progress has been made in this respect, it has not been enough, Plevneleiv noted.
During the consultations, all parliamentary represented parties unanimously agreed on the importance of the judicial reform and accompanying measures to fight corruption as well as the need for decisive actions in these areas.
Although the establishment of effective judicial system and measures to fight corruption have been identified as national priorities, there have been no visible results.
The president noted the low trust in the system with 90 % of Bulgarians having no confidence in the law enforcement bodies.
He identified Bulgaria's national goal as being the establishment of an effective and impartial judicial system serving in the interest of all citizens.
The head of state highlighted the importance of the forthcoming amendments to the Judiciary System Act and the adoption of strict anti-corruption legislation.
He added that there is need for greater accountability of the prosecution and measures ensuring the random allocation of cases.
In his words, the judicial reform is in the centre of everything, as it is compulsory for improving democracy and restoring the confidence of citizens.
Plevneliev noted the improving economic environment in the country. Last year, Bulgaria registered an economic growth of 3 %, exports increased by 12 % and there was 40 % growth of foreign investments. Furthermore, the budget revenues increased by BGN 2.8 B, the unemployment rate dropped to 9.2 % and the country achieved 96 % absorption rate of EU funds.
The president expressed hope that Bulgaria will be more ambitious and effective in the new programme period.
He identified the administrative reform and electronic governance as necessary for improving the business environment and accelerating the country's economic development.
During the consultations, the participants also discussed the proposed reform of the interior ministry, the health reform and the demographic crisis.
According to Plevneliev, the demographic crisis could be solved through successful education and health reforms and active policies to tap into the potential of Bulgarians abroad.
The president shared that he is planning to convene consultative councils for national security on the demographic crisis and cyber security.
As regards the migrant crisis, Plevneliev noted that in the past three years Bulgaria has demonstrated that it has the capacity to guard the external borders of the EU much better than many other countries from the Schengen Area.
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