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255 opinions matching your query "Highlander"

Highlander - 2 Jan 2011 // 18:09:39

Really? What a remarkable story and as usual not verified by EU/OLAF. Unless the letter is highly confidential/restricted, PM Borisov would be happy to have it published in full.
If AFCOS is "partner" of OLAF there should be no reason to mention the good cooperation the two bodies. In short: AFCOS is not part of OLAF,and has never been.
It is so much more remarkable as EU itself keep in place the monitoring mechanism and has clearly expressed that Bulgaria is short of serious issues in its "fight" against corruption and organized crime. Major members of the Schengen Treaty (Germany, France, Netherlands, Sweden etc) have given Romania and Bulgaria a clear message.
Novinite has to do better homework in journalism and use of sources as the Schengen project is not a EU spesific "institution",but also include non - EU members (f.ex. Norway), so the Commission or the EU Parliament cannot approve, only recommend on the technical issues, Bulgaria's Schengen entry. The technical issues are related to EU's outer border control and Bulgaria/Romania have failed in this area as well.
Bulgaria has been denied access to Eurozone because of home-cooked deficit figures, the Schengen entry is only available when Bulgaria is(and have achieved significant results in judicial reforms, corruption and organized crime),more EU funding is available
when Bulgaria has proper and reliable management of the funds(Ref letter from EU Commission) etc.etc.
Every monitoring report since 2007 have pointed out that Bulgaria is not doing any serious efforts to curb corruption and organized crime, and OLAF has registered nearly
100% conflict of interest in public tenders for infrastructure projecs with EU funding.

It is a bleak picture and Borisov's statement does not make sense at all. Why should OLAF assess Bulgaria in such a way when the EU officially has critisized Bulgaria for not doing enough and also registered in increase in corruption and organized crime ?

Bulgarian analysts have characterized the Interior Ministry as a coordination center for organized crime and corruption, and it is a fair description. Hard to imagine OLAF or EU
give support to a Ministry or Government that have failed so heavily.

Highlander - 30 Dec 2010 // 06:24:38

"The turmoil involving Bulgarian born actress and director Michelle Bonev, was initiated by Italian media,.........

Ms. Bonev's company Romantica Entertainment has never produced anything that has to do with culture or film production. The company deals with "personal" escort service for guests at some fashionable hotels f.ex. Sheraton Sofia.
No minister or official should need to resign over a questionable film award, but spending public money on hookers and call girls is in a different league and does not leave much room to escape.
If anyone anywhere in Bulgaria and Italy can bring evidence of anything related to fine arts or serious film production made by Bonev and her company-then please come forward. So far we have only seen dribbling and horny old politicians caught with their trousers down, trying to help an outdated escort lady bring about fame and glory out of nothing.
But one thing is for sure- she is Bulgarian and she has the full understanding of how to fake achievement and success. No wonder she is popular with geriatric politicians who's
only achievement for their countries is to be seen in hotels and nightclubs with paid escort girls.

Highlander - 29 Dec 2010 // 13:58:36

Minchev argued that the institutions do not have the capacity to crack down on organized crime, and that in the past 20 years the Interior has in fact served as a coordination center for organized crime.

Well,well- what do you know !! At last the skeletons are let out of the cupboard !
Corruption might not be a problem for Bulgarian officials, but it is for anybody else- not to mention EU officials and foreign investors.

Corruption is a culture in Bulgaria, not an isolated problem, and it goes hand in hand with organized crime. Very few have had the moral courage to speak out like these two analysts,but most people will agree and share their opinions.

At the center of most criminal offenses, corruption and organized crime we find policemen, prosecutors and interior officials and that is hardly by coincidence. The Bulgarian police force is completely rotten and corrupt, and certainly it serves as a coordination center for organized crime. Add the so-called security companies, which recruit their employees from former police men,and we have the full picture of an institut

Highlander - 29 Dec 2010 // 02:07:55

There is not much confusion in his statement and the worries are real. Germany and France only express worries shared by most northern and western EU members, and Schengen agreement is based on political trust more than anything else, more than the technical issues being minimum criteria.
In short- Bulgaria and Romania are not trusted partners in a Schengen agreement, and would never be left with the responsibility of controlling EU's outer border in the South East.
Most Bulgarians seem to have a short memory when it comes to Bulgaria's EU membership.
Bulgaria was never invited to join the Union, but officially applied in 1997 and had to wait 10 years. When the country joined in 2007 , Bulgaria had to accept being monitored closely as high level corruption, fraud, organized crime and lack of judicial reforms remained rampant. Then followed a period of blocking EU funds and excluding Bulgaria from financial support as well as access to EU's internal labor market, in an effort to speed up Bulgaria's declared fight against corruption and implement judicial reforms. In 2010 the problems have only increased and the present BG Government has failed and no serious efforts have been made to curb organized crime and corruption.

The main question is: Can Bulgaria be excluded from EU ? There are no rules or procedures for exclusion- and it is not necessary. It will be political decisions that will make it impossible for Bulgaria to remain in EU as a trusted member. Warnings have been given as threats to introduce safeguard measures, blocking more EU funds, excluding Bulgaria from Schengen, Eurozone, and important political positions inside EU.
The messages are clear enough- even PM Borisov understands how serious the situation is and prefer to keep a low profile. EU's patience is at the end of the line, and Bulgaria has some difficult choices to make. The country was not ready for EU in 2007 and the situation in 2010 has not improved.

So what is the purpose of joining a union if you are not welcome or cannot accept the rules?

Highlander - 28 Dec 2010 // 12:41:16

According to BSP, the cabinet suffered most criticism in the economic and social sphere and the delay of Bulgaria’s entry to the Schengen Area was an indication of failure in the fight against organized crime and corruption.

Corruption and organized crime are the main obstacles for an improved relationship with EU/other European countries, and certainly there is no chance for Bulgaria to join Schengen at this stage.
But the more important indicator is the critical note from EU Commission about Bulgaria's ability to get financial support/funding. Substantial funding for infrastructure, agriculture, regional development etc is available for all EU memberstates, but it is not a free ride as most people in Bulgaria seem to believe. Bulgaria is still dragging behind all other memberstates when it comes to administration of the funds (absorb the funds). It is in Bulgaria done by so-called state agencies, and as expected the agencies do not comply by EU regulations- draining, fraud, double/fake accounting and conflict of interest is daily agenda.
But EU's strict monitoring of the funds is quite efficient as the funds are time-limited and they will not be available unless all applications are fully documented. The agencies have tried old and new scams , but EU has learned all the necessary lessons from dealing with EU officials and the funds are not released. So it is a Catch 22 for Bulgaria- No funds available for undocumented projects. If there is no verified documentation then there is no project, so Bulgaria obviously does not need EU funds.
Next year Bulgaria will loose nearly 80% of EU funds because the country has not been able to absorb the funds for this year( due to corruption and fraud).

So it all has to do with corruption/fraud and organized crime and it has been made clear to Bulgaria.

Highlander - 22 Dec 2010 // 17:46:27

Sorry, Dino, but illegal immigration and border issues between Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey is not the reason why the major EU members say no to Bulgaria and Romania. Tsvetanov might be defiant and insist on his Government's determination and will to fight corruption and organized crime - as set as preconditions for Bulgaria's membership in 1997- but the staged police actions and unfounded arrests have not worked as intended but backfired.
The Judicial reforms have not been implemented and corruption and organized crime is today worse than under any previous governments since 1997. In short ,and despite patience and encouraging statements from EU, Germany, France and UK and the old EU members have no real confidence in Tsvetanov 's declared war against corruption and organized crime.

The message is clear and loud- EU does not want the Romanian/Bulgarian version of corruption, fraud and organized crime exported without control. It is a political message and it is justified and irreversible, regardless of technical details. It might be seen as unfair discrimination, but Schengen is not about basic human rights.
I am pretty certain EU will extend the monitoring period with at least another 3 years and again block substantial EU funds, and threaten to introduce safeguard measures.
Corruption, organized crime and fraud with EU funds might be entertainment in Bulgaria, but EU's taxpayers are not that laidback with other people's money and property. Germany and France have said no and it is the right decision.

Highlander - 21 Dec 2010 // 01:13:13

This is a great honor for Bulgaria," Borisov himself stated revealing that he and Mladenov will go to Brazil with a commercial flight. The two will set off for Brasilia on December 28, 2010.

Really ?
Well, Mr. Borisov was not on the official guest list 2 days ago, but nobody should be surprised if this is just another stunt from the PM.
Anyway - Has Novinite received official confirmation from Brazilian authorities ?

Highlander - 21 Dec 2010 // 00:38:16

Shortly after the arrests were made, the President of the Southwestern University, Prof. Ivan Mirchev, announced that Markov will be fired from the school, and thanked the Unit for Combating Organized Crime saying that his university has been fighting the corruption issue for years.

In due time, but this is not going to impress EU. Bulgaria has not even started to fight corruption and the honorable judge is never going to be convicted and spend time in jail.He will join ranks with hundreds of corrupt officials and civil servants in Bulgaria who have been arrested and charged with deliberate insufficient evidence over the last ten years.
There is nothing new or remarkable in this story, but an indication of common practice in Bulgaria. A comprehensive national review or revision of all Bulgarian University diplomas, driving licenses, profession certificates for the same period (1989-2011) would be better.
It was not better in the Communist period when fake diplomas, especially from the so-called Police Academy,were systematically awarded to loyal handymen and supporters to secure a "legal" job. A lot of street thugs advanced from racketeering and blackmail to "police bosses" and owners of security companies in 24 hours due to connections and favors.
Quite a few present "top" cops, even politicians, have no other police education than the advantage of political connections. It is strange that no investigating journalists have the will and courage to look closer into CVs and references of Ministers and members of Cabinet and Parliament. Ilieva was not the first or only official with fake documents.
Prof. Mirchev is telling lies as he is fully aware this is common practice at his university, as in most other Bulgarian universities. But he is part of a political agenda where the Prosecution and the Interior Ministry need public evidence of corruption in the Judiciary- and occasional sacrifices have to be made. Tsvetanov is desperate now as his media stunts and police actions have systematically backfired and EU is more impatient, suspicious and critical than ever before.
Markov can relax - he wont be convicted and will walk free. If he should be convicted then he acts as proof that corruption exists in Bulgaria- and the Government will never allow that to happen.

Highlander - 8 Dec 2010 // 23:13:25

Quite an understatement, Philippe !
In short- not surprising at all. Thank God The German authorities and prosecutors are sober and have their heads screwed on.

The Ex CEO is quite an impressive woman. She obviously applied for the job in a normal way and was the preferred candidate ahead of more than 800 applicants. Then passed all security checks (well, security is not worth a penny in Bulgaria, but anyhow)and did her job
to full satisfaction by EU. Not so by her Bulgarian employers as she reported ongoing fraud and scams ,and she was not supposed to cause problems for her Bulgarian bosses as they have been used to draining off EU taxpayers money for years.

OLAF and EU seem to be pleased and have made no complaints at all while the PM and the Agriculture Minister obviously are willing to sack her because she is "pregnant". Well, that is a blunt lie as she was asked to leave because she reported the Minister of Agriculture to OLAF after he ordered her to approve payments to suspicious projects where he was personally "involved".

We should have immense respect for a person who has been willing to take on Bulgarian corruption and fraud despite all pressure from murky ministers and officials.
Shame on Bulgarian media that has been to willing to spread smearing, slander and hatred on order from Bulgarian authorities and created nationwide hysteria to damage her reputation and ability to tell the truth and defend herself.

She has faked her diploma, but that is sadly quite common in Bulgaria. No big deal say EU and German prosecution. It certainly is in Bulgaria ! If everyone in Bulgaria should be prosecuted for false documents, diplomas and references then half of Bulgaria's population would end up in prison- not to mention Ministers and MP's!

I agree, Philippe, she should have the opportunity to tell her side of the story. But that can only happen when Bulgarian Media stops taking direct orders or advice from murky officials and ministers.

Highlander - 5 Dec 2010 // 22:18:03

The prosecutor's office in Germany is acting on unofficial information that Kalina Ilieva, who was fired in October as head of the State Agriculture Fund, may go into hiding abroad, 168 Hours weekly reported, citing high-ranking unnamed sources.

The Bulgarian "high-ranking unnamed sources" - read the Ministry for Agriculture and The Interior Ministry, have started a deliberate smear and hate campaign to draw attention away from Ilieva's revealed and documented cases of continuous fraud with EU funds.
The Bulgarian State is responsible for the siphoned EU funds and would have to pay back violated funds, and the corrupt officials and cabinet ministers are certainly not happy with that. No one, despite rock solid evidence and documentation, remain in prison in Bulgaria after stealing hundreds of millions euro from European taxpayers.

The rumors about the "probable" arrest order by German authorities are based on unnamed Bulgarian sources and unofficial information, and not confirmed in Germany.
She might be fined for faking her education documents and diploma in Germany, but she can not be prosecuted in Bulgaria if her employer, the Bulgarian State, was aware of her forged papers but put her in charge of administrating the funds. Do not forget
the Bulgarian State has admitted she passed all checks without remarks. It is standard routine in all EU countries to check references on high ranked officials, and who believes
in the absurd, nonsense excuses from her Bulgarian employers?

It makes sense, especially in Bulgaria, that she was hired for the job in return for favors as to give priority to certain projects and ongoing fraud with the funds. At some stage she disobeyed order and started to give OLAF substantial evidence of SAPARD violations. She knew perfectly well she would be held responsible for violations regardless her forged diploma. Ilieva has done what most people would do in a "impossible" hostage situation - fight back and try to escape no matter consequences.

She has obviously forged her diploma, but Bulgarian media should give her a chance to tell her side of the story. But the Interior and Agriculture Ministries will not allow her to reveal any details and we all see Minister Tsvetanov's footprint in the campaign. She is accused and found guilty long before any trial/charge and chance to defend herself.

It is a sad story, but it clarifies the (non existing) rule of law in Bulgaria and the increasing problem with corruption in Bulgaria. Michelle Bonev's mother made a statement the other day about Michelle's many rich friends and huge amount of money, followed by the typical Bulgarian denial of facts - she had no idea where the money was coming from!
We are going to hear a lot of lies, accusations and denials in this case as well in the future.

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