MINELRES: Once again on Bulgarian Confessions Act

MINELRES moderator minelres@lists.delfi.lv
Tue Jan 21 07:18:01 2003

Original sender: Asen Genov <vinoda@techno-link.com>

Dear Moderator,
I am brand new member of the mailing list of MINELRES. Still I would
like to contribute to the discussion regarding the new Bulgarian
Confessions Act.
Mr. Cohen writes:
In Bulgaria 18 religious and HR groups have adopted protest against a
lot of provisions of that law. They have asked the President of the
republic not to sign that law. Unfortunately he had signed it and by
that way it has became an acting law. It is expected in the closest
future that the new law would be appealed before the Constitutional
Court of Bulgaria because of its contradictions with the Constitution. 
Here I would like to post the text of the letter to the President,
together with the list of the organizations and persons, signed it:
To the President of the Republic of Bulgaria

Dear Mr. President,
We, the representatives of different religious communities and human
rights organizations, are seriously disturbed by the adoption of the new
Confessions act. We have repeatedly expressed our critical positions in
regard to the particular text of the law and our opinion that the law
has a discriminatory character and may result in violations of our
rights. We hold that the law contradicts the Constitution of the
Republic of Bulgaria and international legal documents, ratified by
Bulgaria. We object the way the draft-law was rashly introduced to the
parliament, without vast public discussion, including the vast
representation of concerned religious communities. We object that we
have been deprived of the right to express our positions and to be
heard. We hold that the adoption of such a law will have negative
consequences on the process of democratization of our country.

We hold that the adoption of such a law will endanger the process of
Euro-integration of Bulgaria.

Dear M-r President, 
We insist to have an urgent meeting with you, so that we could express
our critics, fears and recommendations.

Dear M-r President,
We insist that you have to execute you right to veto the law. We hold
that the law must be sent to the Council of Europe for an expert
evaluation, prior to its adoption, as it was repeatedly officially and
unofficially taken into obligation by the Bulgarian politicians.

Sofia, 14th of December 2003.

Signed by representatives of:
The Holly Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, headed by Inokentii,
the Metropolitan of Sofia
The Chief Mufti of the Muslims in Bulgaria (with reservations and
attached declaration)
The Catholic Church in Bulgaria
United Evangelist Churches in Bulgaria
The Union of the Evangelist Cathedral Churches in Bulgaria
The Union of the Evangelist Pentecostal Churches
Evangelist Methodist Bishop Church
The Union of the Evangelist Baptist Churches
Bulgarian Church of God
The union of the Churches of the Adventists of the seventh day including
109 branches
Church of Jesus Christ and the saints of the last days
Society for Krishna Consciousness in Bulgaria (ISKCON)
European Law Center
Association for defense of the religious freedom
Bulgarian Helsinki Committee
"Tolerance Foundation
Bulgarian Christian Coalition 
Association "Friends of the Bible"


It is also worthy to mention that shortly after the law being ratified
by the President, and its publishing in State's Gazette, it became known
to the public that the President of Bulgaria is going to receive an
award from the Russian Patriarch Aleksiy II. Here is a translation of
part of a publication in one of the most popular newspapers in Bulgaria,
explaining the event:

Sofia/Bulgaria, "TRUD" newspaper, Monday, 13th of January 2003
By Mila Kudrina, correspondent in Moscow 

The president Georgi Parvanov will receive $50 000 award from the
patriarch of Russia Aleksiy II. The bonus "for outstanding work on
strengthening the unity of the Orthodox nations" for year 2002, will be
given to him at the official ceremony on 21st of January in Moscow
temple "Christ the savior".

The annual prize serves charitable purposes and is awarded by the
international fund "Unity of the Orthodox nations". Aleksiy II is the
chair of the supervising council of the fund.

The other prizewinners for year 2002, besides Parvanov, are Genadiy
Seleznyov; the vice-president of the Association of the massive
contractors in Estonia Aadu Lukas; the patriarch of Antiohia Ignatiy IV;
the Orthodox Academy of the island of Crete. In year 2001 the awards
were given to the Russian president Putin, the Serbian patriarch Pavle,
the vice-premier of Lebanon - Isam Fares…


Another important point is the fact that the draftlaw was rapidly
introduced to the parliament by the religious commission short before
Christmas and after a long period of work on consolidation of the
previous 3 religious draftlaws, introduced to the Parliament by
different MP's. All more that 40 articles were considered and voted by
the Parliamentary commission on Human Rights and Religions just in two
days. The independent experts and some representatives of different
religious groups, invited to partake the work of the commission, left
its work after a provoked scandal. The draft was voted on second reading
by the parliament on Dec. 20, shortly before the parliament's Christmas
vacation, which ends on 10th of January 2003 and it was ratified by the
President and printed in SG during one of the only 3 working days (28,
29 and 30th of Dec) before the new year. It was published in SG in the
last, special edition of the State's Gazette on 29th of Dec. 2002. The
simple fact remains that the leaders of the religious organizations, as
well as all the other concerned parties were not given chance to read,
study and comment the combined draft and It was not sent to the CoE for
an expert evaluation. Thus the chance to counteract the process of
adoption of the law was seriously minimized and ultimately gave no

Asen Genov
Society for Krishna-consciousness in  Bulgaria