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Ekaterina Zaharieva and Venice Commission Chairman discuss North Africa transition to democracy

14 April 2019 News

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ekaterina Zaharieva discussed the prospects for a peaceful political process for the countries of North Africa, some of which experienced the so-called ‘Arab Spring’, with the Chairman of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe Gianni Buquicchio, who is on a visit to Sofia.

‘The Arab Spring has turned into an Arab Winter for most of these countries,’ said Ekaterina Zaharieva.

Speaking about the escalation of the civil conflict in Libya, she and Gianni Buquicchio unanimously concluded that a peaceful way out of the situation must be found. ‘Libya is very important for us, as it is located close to Europe,’ underscored Ekaterina Zaharieva.

The European Union and the member states, including Bulgaria, called upon all the parties to the conflict in Libya to immediately halt all hostilities and resume their political dialog, because the escalation of the situation around the capital Tripoli endangers civilians, including migrants and refugees, an frustrates the UN-led peace process.

Gianni Buquicchio said that he had been to Tripoli several times in an attempt by the Venice Commission to assist Libya in the writing of its new Constitution as well as, in cooperation with the EC and UN, in the writing of a new election law. ‘We are ready to provide assistance if there is any opportunity for cooperation,’ said Buquicchio.

Ekaterina Zaharieva expressed hope also for a stabilization of the situation in Algeria, where the Venice Commission is planning to organize in the autumn a congress of the constitutional courts.

She emphatically insisted that the European Union must be more proactive in the fields of foreign policy, because it pays a high political price for what is going on in the Middle East and North Africa. ‘Europe must be more proactive, because we are an economic giant, but a political infant, because it’s very difficult for us to make a unanimous decision,’ said the Foreign Minister.

About the current status of the judicial reform in Bulgaria, Ekaterina Zaharieva underscored the efforts and the progress made by our country in this area. ‘We continue working on the implementation of some of the recommendations contained in the independent analysis of the structural and functional model of the Prosecution Office,’ said the Deputy Prime Minister.

Gianni Buquicchio appreciated the progress of Bulgaria in its judicial reform and thanked Ekaterina Zaharieva personally for her contribution as Minister of Justice (2015-2017). It was during her term of office, in April 2016, that Sofia hosted a meeting of the Council of Justice Ministers of the members states of the Council of Europe.

Also participating in the meeting were Filip Dimitrov, a Constitutional Court Justice and the representative of Bulgaria to the Venice Commission, as well as Valentin Georgiev, the Secretary General of the Constitutional Court.

The Venice Commission, also known as the European Commission for Democracy through Law, is an advisory body established within the Council of Europe. The main spheres of its work are in the sphere of democratic institutions and the fundamental rights, constitutional law, elections, referendums, and political parties.

Gianni Buquicchio was elected Chairman of the Venice Commission with its establishment back in 2009, and has since been reelected to the top position four times. He is on a visit to Bulgaria at the invitation of the Constitutional Court. Tomorrow he will be a guest of honor at the solemn open session of the Constitutional Court in Veliko Tarnovo, marking the 140th anniversary of the Tarnovo Constitution.


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