EU Expert Wants Bulgaria's Interior Head on Platter

Politics » BULGARIA IN EU | May 8, 2006, Monday // 00:00
EU Expert Wants Bulgaria's Interior Head on Platter Interior Minister Rumen Petkov did not hide his indignation with the highly critical report of top German justice official Klaus Jansen. Photo by Yuliana Nikolova ( Sofia News Agency)

A EU investigator has asked Bulgaria's interior minister to publicly apologize after falling out with him over a damning report on Sofia's crime fighting efforts.

Klaus Jansen, a top German justice official, was sent on a Brussels mission to Bulgaria to report on the fight against organised crime and corruption ahead of Sofia's EU entry next year.

The highly critical report, which slammed Bulgaria's efforts to cope with organised crime as chaotic, triggered the indignation of Interior Minister Rumen Petkov. Talking to EU ambassadors and European justice commissioner Franco Frattini Petkov blamed Jansen of bias and exaggerations.

At the end of April Klaus Jansen told the Financial Times he feared sensitive European police information shared with Sofia by authorities could "end up in the hands of organised crime".

His attempts to uncover the truth about the crime crackdown were often frustrated.

"They believed they would get into the EU anyway, and I encountered a 'kiss my ass' attitude," he said. "Whenever I tried to go into details they said disclosure was against the national interest."

According to him the European Union made a serious mistake in December 2004 when it guaranteed that Bulgaria could join the club in 2007, or 2008 at the latest if it failed to meet reform targets.

"There is no positive pressure that you can put on them," he said. "There was negligence by the European Commission and heads of government in taking that decision."

The row between Jansen and Petkov comes at a critical moment for Bulgaria's EU aspirations, days before the EU submits a key report on Bulgaria's efforts to implement reforms.

The report on May 16 is expected to be crucial factor in whether or not Sofia will accede on January 1 2007 as scheduled or a year later.

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