Bulgaria bars ex-spies from diplomatic jobs

AP News
Posted: Jul 14, 2011 10:22 AM
Bulgaria bars ex-spies from diplomatic jobs

Bulgaria's parliament has barred people who once worked for the communist-era secret service from holding top diplomatic jobs.

The ruling center-right GERB party and the right-wing Blue Coalition joined together to pass the measure Thursday. The opposition Socialist Party, which voted against the new law, said it will challenge it in the Constitutional Court.

Foreign Minister Nikolai Mladenov was relieved that the links between his agency and the ex-secret service have finally been dissolved.

"The percentage of people affiliated with the former special services, who represented our country, has increased instead of decreasing over the last 20 years," Mladenov said.

The government proposed law after a panel investigating communist-era police files last year published the names of 192 leading diplomats who once worked for the former secret service. Parliament then voted to ask President Georgi Parvanov to remove 33 former spies who were now serving as ambassadors.

Parvanov, who in 2006 was shown to have collaborated with the communist secret service, opposed the move, saying every case should be considered separately.

Under the new law, the ex-agents can be removed from their current jobs. They won't be able to take any senior diplomatic roles but could get lower positions.