The Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a regular briefing for media representatives18 August 2022 News
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Kostadin Kodzhabashev presented an update on the work of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at a regular briefing for media representatives. Among the main topics were the organization of the elections for MPs on 2 October abroad, the progress on Bulgaria’s accession to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the bilateral dialogue between the Republic of Bulgaria and the Republic of North Macedonia, as well as the assistance provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in connection with the serious accident on the Trakia motorway with a bus of the Republic of Serbia.
The briefing was also attended by Kalin Anastasov, Deputy Chairperson of the working group “Elections”, Radka Balabanova-Ruleva, Director of the Foreign Economic Relations and Development Cooperation Directorate, Hristina Bidzheranova, Acting Director of the Situation Centre Directorate and Zhelyazko Radukov, State Expert at the Southeast Europe Directorate.
In his speech, the Deputy Chairperson of the working group “Elections” in the ministry Kalin Anastasov urged Bulgarian citizens outside the country to actively register through the electronic application form for voting in the upcoming early elections on October 2.
According to Kalin Anastasov, in case a sufficient number of applications are collected according to the Election Code, the geography of the polling stations would be expanded, as well as the number of polling stations in them. So far, over 2,500 applications have been submitted through the online voting application form. Anastasov also noted that the pre-registration allows for inclusion in the electoral rolls, which would lead to a faster electoral process and an opportunity for the maximum number of Bulgarian citizens to exercise their right to vote.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has taken action and has the organisational, technical and financial resources to prepare and hold elections in some 800 polling stations. A request has been made to the Council of Ministers and the Central Election Commission /CEC/ for the printing of 710 000 ballot papers,” the Deputy Chairperson of the working group “Elections” noted.
To date, out of the 61 countries where the CEC has designated voting locations, in the words of Kalin Anastasov Bulgaria has received permission from 42 countries. Permission is still awaited from countries with large Bulgarian communities such as Italy, Belgium, Greece, Denmark, Ireland, the UK, Canada and Norway.
At the briefing it was also pointed out that the German foreign ministry has informed the Bulgarian embassy in Berlin that these elections can be held in no more than 40 locations outside our diplomatic and consular missions. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expects that, as in the November 2021 vote, elections in Germany will be able to take place in around 85 polling stations, with each polling station address applied for to the German authorities subject to individual authorisation and approval.
Deputy Minister Kodzhabashev pointed out that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has started work on the initial memorandum related to Bulgaria’s preparations to join the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. In the document, our country should present its position on all 257 legal instruments currently in force.
Kostadin Kodzhabashev further specified that the aim of the caretaker cabinet is the first draft of the document to be finalized by the end of September, the final draft to be ready by the end of October and in early November – to be presented in the OECD Council at the Ministerial Level. “The first meeting of the Inter-Ministerial Coalition Mechanism after the decree of the Council of Ministers will be held on August 25, which will be chaired by Deputy Minister Velislava Petrova and will discuss the preparation of this initial memorandum,” the Deputy Minister added. In his words, besides the indisputable economic benefits of membership, Bulgaria’s accession to the OECD will be another consistent step, after the accession to NATO – 2004 and the EU – 2007, for our country’s belonging to the community of democratic countries.
On the topic of the latest developments in the bilateral dialogue between the Republic of Bulgaria and the Republic of North Macedonia, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reminded about the published earlier this week on the official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs the Minutes of the first meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission under Article 12 of 10 June 2019. Kostadin Kodzhabashev stressed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomes the previous activities of the joint commission on historical and educational issues between Bulgaria and the Republic of North Macedonia and encourages it to continue its efforts even more intensively in order to complete the work on all periods of our common history.
Regarding the serious accident on the Trakia motorway, the briefing highlighted the round-the-clock work of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to assist the victims and their relatives. “All the time the Bulgarian authorities are in constant contact with their Serbian counterparts. Our diplomats monitor the condition of the patients in our country on a daily basis,” stressed Hristina Bidzheranova. Immediately after the incident, Minister Nikolay Milkov informed his Serbian counterpart Nikola Selaković in a telephone conversation that he would take care of the injured and would assist in their transportation to Serbia. With the assistance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, two helicopters specially equipped for medical purposes landed in Bulgaria today to transport the children accommodated in Pirogov to Belgrade.
During the briefing, Deputy Minister Kodzhabashev also noted the draft Decree on the financing of the program for support of organizations and Bulgarian communities in the Republic of Albania, the Republic of Serbia, the Republic of Kosovo, Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, as well as citizens from the Republic of North Macedonia for the period 2020 – 2024, as well as the draft Memorandum of Strategic Partnership between the Government of the Republic of Bulgaria and the United Arab Emirates.