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Corruption on the Agenda

Deputy Prime Minister, Meglana Plugchieva, said that "Bulgaria must prove it deserves its European membership", during the official opening this week of the conference which focuses on the misuse of European funds.

Interior Minister Mihail Mikov, the Justice Minister, Miglena Tacheva and Miklos Marshall, Director of Transparency International (for Europe and Central Asia) are all speaking at the conference which is being held in the capital city of Sofia.

The Interior Minister said that the presence of corruption elements was typical everywhere where the misuse of European funds was involved. According to Mikov, this was the main problem when attempting to prove crimes through the legal process. The Minister further stated that he expected the involvement of organisations for protection of the law and of other countries members of the European Union (EU) in revealing such crimes.

The Justice Minister pointed out that we must not forget the word "prevention" as corruption often happens at any given moment. Tacheva strongly criticised the inactivity of controlling and monitoring institutions comparing it with "accessory to the crime".

It is true that corruption is evident in Bulgaria and one can only hope that all pressure is brought to bear on the country to eradicate this evil as far as possible.

In separate information provided today, Wolfgang Hetzer, representative of the European bureau against frauds (OLAF) said that if Bulgaria does not deal with the European funds abuses, the foundations of the European project will be undermined. If there are not enough convictions for illegal acquisition of European funds, the EU trust will be shattered.

"Europe is not only about money, Europe is freedom, humane and peaceful progress. It is obvious that Bulgaria must remain a member of European family", he said.

"My job is not to eradicate evil, but to protect the financial interests of the EU. The EU money comes from the pockets of European taxpayers, it does not fall from the heavens. The way they are spent guarantees Europe's trust", Hetzer emphasized.

OLAF is nobody's enemy, it is an institution, which must conform with certain limitations. "We are not a control body of the Bulgarian justice system or courts, we are not a European prosecutor - there is no such thing. We are an administrative body, which threatens nobody, doesn't judge, we just assist and give information on specific cases."