Bulgaria”s Foreign Ministry unveiled on January 16 2013 a draft bill on consular services for Bulgarians travelling and living in foreign countries.
“Foreign policy rarely enters directly into the everyday lives of people, but what directly affects them is consular services. In recent years, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has undertaken several initiatives to meet the need for a new type of treatment of Bulgarian citizens abroad,” Foreign Minister Nikolai Mladenov told a news conference on a draft law on consular services and consular assistance for Bulgarian citizens abroad, presented for public discussion.
“The purpose of the Bill is to provide the basis for a clear mechanism for relations between the state and citizens when they are abroad. We must put people – Bulgarian citizens – at the centre of the activities of the Republic of Bulgaria’s diplomatic and consular missions and provide them better information regarding their journeys. This is a long process, that requires not only changes to laws and to regulations, but also to practices,” Mladenov said.
The bill also envisages the founding of a fund to assist Bulgarians abroad, the introduction of travel insurance, and a voluntary register of Bulgarians abroad. The concept covers the basic actions and responsibilities of the Bulgarian state in various difficulties that Bulgarian citizens may face – detention or imprisonment, injury or death, human trafficking, crises such as natural disasters, wars, acts of terrorism, among others.
The draft law on consular services and consular assistance has been posted on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Comments and suggestions on the draft may be sent in the coming weeks to the e-mail address [email protected]. The next step will be the posting of the bill for public consultations at the Council of Ministers site www.strategy.bg.
(Photo: European People’s Party group in European Parliament)