(DF) President Holds Talks on Possible Constitutional Changes with Bar Association, Says Bulgarians Can Decide on That

January 16 (BTA) – President Rumen Radev met here Thursday with representatives of the Supreme Bar Association to discuss with them the need for constitutional changes concerning the place of the judiciary. At the opening of the meeting, the President said it is important to say that he only discusses the matter with Bulgarian citizens through public and professional organizations, and the Bulgarian state institutions. “If somebody else is making other deals [on the matter], I want to point out that only Bulgarian deputies and the Bulgarian President can propose changes in the Constitution. We can study other countries’ experience and foreign models but the decision will be made by Bulgarian people. Anything else is voluntary surrender of sovereignty,” said Radev. The President’s remarks may have been prompted by comments in the news media that Bulgaria is being pressured into revising its Constitution. Those followed a Bulgarian National Radio interview earlier in January with US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale where he said that Bulgaria and the US recently agreed to hold a dialogue on constitutional reform. The President also said that the aim of his consultations on possible constitutional changes is to identify problems and possible solutions – not just in the judiciary but in a number of other important areas as well. The President of the Bar Association, Ralitsa Negentsova, said that constitutional revisions is a sensitive issue – even painful for people at times. “This is why these are questions that should be discussed at expert level, in detail and carefully, and never emotionally,” she said. The Bar Association proposed to the President a constitutional revision to allow them to request interpretation of the Constitution. They also suggest that the prosecution service should be removed from the judiciary and made a stand-alone service. They also propose that the supervision of all prosecutors be scrapped in the powers of the Prosecutor General. They are supportive of the introduction of an individual constitutional complaint but warn that it would require carefully considered and detailed constitutional regulation. The President started his consultations on possible changes in the Constitution in mid-December and has already discussed the matter with his legal team, the academic community, NGO’s and professional magistrates associations. The Thursday meeting was also attended by Vice President Iliana Iotova. LN/RY //