Anti Turk and Macedonian ‘Bozhidar Dimitrov’ up to old tricks again. July 10, 2010Posted by Yilan in Bulgaria.
Tags: Bozhidar Dimitrov, Bulgaria
There are 10,000 new Bulgarian citizens since the turn of 2010 till now.
In interview, Bozhidar Dimitrov, Minister without portfolio in charge of the Bulgarian Residents Abroad, comments on the process of how old pending applications are processed and the new Bulgarian citizens.
FOCUS: Mr. Dimitrov, the Council on Bulgarian Citizenship has passed the 10,000th application for Bulgarian citizenship. How did you reach this number by the middle of the year?
Bozhidar Dimitrov: Before the ruling Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (CEDB) assumed the power, Bulgaria used to issue around 5,000 to 6,000 citizenships a year. It was a problem, which I was assigned to cope with when I was appointed on this post. I had to coordinate the work of the different institutions in charge of this issue – the Agency of Bulgarians Abroad, the Ministry of Justice, the State Agency for National Security (SANS), the Interior Ministry, the Migration Service, and of course the Vice President of Bulgaria, who signs the documents.
There have been some huge delays.
When I assumed the post, I found around 60,000 pending applications, as the oldest of them dated back to 2004. Today, there are only 35,000 pending applications left.
In 10 months, around 15,000 people have obtained Bulgarian citizenship.
The Council has accepted 10,302 Bulgarians.
Of course, not all protocols have been singed by the vice president but these people will get a citizenship as they have undergone all required check-ups by the State Agency for National Security (SANS) and the Interior Ministry.
By the end of July, when the government of the Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (CEDB) will turn 1 year, the new Bulgarian citizens will be around 12,000.
By the end of the year, we will manage to examine around 20,000 applications.
We process around 500-600 applications a week.
FOCUS: Which countries do the applicants for Bulgarian citizenship come from?
Bozhidar Dimitrov: The greatest number of new Bulgarian citizenships goes for Macedonians. Out of the around 10,302citizenship applications, passed by the Bulgarian Citizenship Council, around 7,500 have been given to Macedonians.
Macedonians gained huge lead against Moldovans, which is due to the fact that the control and check-ups on Moldovan applicants is stricter – authorities are carefully examining their birth certificates as many have been proved fake. Unfortunately, many Bulgarians have not registered themselves as Bulgarians in the birth certificates but like Russians or Ukrainians. We do not require birth certificates from Macedonian Bulgarians as we know that they cannot have them. Under the Act on Macedonian dignity, rejected not before 1992, to be a Bulgarian in Macedonia means to get a 3.5 years in jail. When it comes to Macedonians we assure that every person of Slavic origin is Bulgarian, as well as people, whose surnames end in ‘ov’, ‘ev’, or ‘ski’. We assume that the ‘ski’ ending is for Bulgarian name, otherwise we risk insulting people like Vasil Levski, Sofianski, we will insult all Bulgarians whose surnames end in ‘ski’.
FOCUS: Are there any other difficulties apart from the pending applications?
Bozhidar Dimitrov: Yes, there are. I am highly grateful to the Ministry of Justice, SANS and the Interior Ministry, which mobilized their lineups and kept CEDB’s political will.
Up to now, the political will has been missing. When I assumed the post, there were citizenship applications dating back to 2004.
Now, the problems are seen mainly in the fact that people are not ready, they have no historical knowledge about what a Bulgarian community is. Sometimes there are some funny, sometimes tragicomic situations.
For instance, some officers at lower levels say that there are no Bulgarians in Albania and ask what are these Bulgarians living there. This is a real case. Ttwo weeks ago I heard that the Gagaouzthes were not Bulgarians. This is insulting for these people, as the Gagaouzthes believe themselves to be the oldest Bulgarians. “If someone tells me I am not Bulgarian, I will kill them right this moment,” the Gagaouzthes say.
FOCUS: What is the effect of the new Bulgarian Citizenship Act?
Bozhidar Dimitrov: The new act eliminated some of the conditions that use to allow some unacceptable phenomenon such as corruption. Corruption used to be encouraged by the fact that there were no deadlines set under the law and the clerks had the chance to add 5 to 6 years until the candidate manages to collect certain sum of money – of around EUR 10,000 – 15,000. We eliminated this problem by introducing a one-year deadline and rejected the mediators, who used to take the applications from people’s home and then deliver the documents for certain fee.
However, the new act has not started working yet and no one has obtained citizenship under the new act so far, as the one-year deadline has not expired. We hope that within this one year, we will manage to process these 35,000 pending applications and start anew.
In addition, under the new act, the major burden falls upon the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad, which is under my supervision, and we have already established the needed organization to check the authenticity of the Bulgarian origin of these people, which is the most important document for obtaining a Bulgarian citizenship. Without this document, we cannot secure that the procedure will be finalized as fast as possible.
Up to now, we have been issuing the documents for 3 months, even for 1 month. Now, the documents will be issued even in 2 weeks or won’t be issued at all. This is due to the fact that there are countries, which have not recognized the Bulgarian minority – Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo and even Greece. For these people we will not require a document proving their Bulgarian origin, birth certificates, old passports and ID cards.
FOCUS: Is there any potential in issuing a Bulgarian citizenship for special merits?
Bozhidar Dimitrov: Yes, there is. There are already several people in a process of obtaining Bulgarian citizenship for their merits. And I don’t mean athletes, as when it comes to athletes, the procedure comes naturally.
There are many businessmen, who wish to settle in Bulgaria and work here. Today I had 20 businessmen at a time – an entire company based in London, which is willing to transfer its business to Bulgaria and promises 250 million investment in residential building construction.
It is a good thing but now it’s up to SANS and the Interior Ministry, as these British businessmen have non-British names.