The Dossier Commission – the statutory body that names people in public life who worked for Bulgaria’s communist-era secret services – will not be closed, the parliamentary leader of Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s centre-right GERB party said on April 3.
Tsvetan Tsvetanov called for more public support for the Dossier Commission
“Only when the story is read and understood will we be able to fulfil our political and public commitments,” Tsvetanov told a round table on the future of the Commission, held in Parliament with the support of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.
Tsvetanov was responding by a call by Krassimir Yankov, an MP for the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party for the Commisssion to be shut down and replaced by a “politically independent” body that would “protect the honour of the affected persons and their heirs”.
The BSP, along with far-right, pro-Moscow minority parties in Bulgaria, have over the years repeatedly called for the shutting down of the Dossier Commission, which since it began work in early 2007 has disclosed the names of more than 12 000 Bulgarians in various areas of public life who were agents and collaborators of State Security. Attempts at legislation to close the Commission repeatedly have been defeated.
Participants in the forum included Thorsten Geissler, head of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation office in Bulgaria, lawyer and university lecturer Vesselin Vuchkov, Dossier Commission head Evtim Kostadinov and Commission member Ekaterina Boncheva, American University in Bulgaria Professor Evelina Kelbecheva and Marginalia editor Yuliana Metodieva.
Tsvetanov said that since the creation of the Commission, about a million items from the Interior Ministry archives had been handed over to it.
He said that 29 years had passed since the advent of democracy in Bulgaria, “and we are still talking about dossiers”.
A debate on the future of the Commission was owed to society, Tsvetanov said.
He called for a debate on whether the scope of the Commission should be expanded.
Tsvetanov said that topics such as the bankruptcy of Bulgaria’s banking sector in 1996-1997 had become taboo. “We should ask ourselves whether the people responsible for that crisis had something to do with State Security,” he said.
Geissler noted that many people did not want the files to open because they were “explosive”.
“They can show that some of our closest people have an agency past. But is the risk, however, never to know who the people have been lying to us for years? No. That’s why the decision to disclose the files is correct,” Geissler said.
Kostadinov, who read a report on the activities of the Commission from 2007 to 2017, recommended that more time and calm be given to people who were engaged in analysing the data to do a good job.
“Public thinking can only be changed through knowledge. We are still victims of a very well organised ignorance of communism, of a myth. It can be very easily and effectively shattered with concrete knowledge,” Professor Kelbecheva said.
She quoted data from a survey according to which 30 per cent of Bulgarians aged between 18 and 35 want to live in communism, for 30 per cent the Soviet army was a liberator, 87 per cent do not know anything about the Goryani rebellion, 64 per cent know nothing about the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, and 51 per cent had not heard of Georgi Markov.
Meanwhile, in an interview with public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television on April 2, Dossier Commission head Kostadinov insisted that philosopher and author Julia Kristeva had been an agent for State Security.
The Commission’s recent announcement of this conclusion has caused considerable controversy and led to adamant denials by Kristeva.
He said that the documents that had been made available were not the only ones.
Kostadinov said that after Georgi Purvanov’s affiliation to State Security had been revealed, there had been pressure on the Commission. Purvanov, code name Gotse, was leader of the BSP before having two terms as Bulgaria’s head of state.
Kostadinov contrasted the staff resources of the Bulgarian Dossier Commission with its equivalents elsewhere. In Poland, about 3000 people worked for the equivalent body, in Germany the figure was about 2300, while the Bulgarian commission had 93 people, he said.
(Photo: Christa Richert/ sxc.hu)