Bulgaria's Experiment With Democracy

The opinion-page article "Bulgaria Unchained," Aug. 19, does not contain anything new or interesting. The author writes a lot about a "network of apparatchiks and spies" of the ousted regime as if it "still permeates the government." The central point of the article seems to be based on the "retired Bulgarian Army colonel, who is an ardent supporter of the Socialist Party." I seriously doubt the credibility of this "source."The present government of Bulgaria is a coalition one, created by the Grand National Assembly elected during the first democratic elections held in June 1990. The Assembly last July 12 passed the new constitution, and thus Bulgaria became the first Eastern European country to adopt a basic law of Western type. The present head of state of Bulgaria is Dr. Zhelyu Zhelev, who for two decades fought the totalitarian state and was the first leader of the opposition Union of the Democratic Forces. The State Security was dismantled in early 1990 and 17 generals and 1,000 colonels from the Ministry of the Interior were dismissed. The whole upper layer of generals, colonels, and commanders of the Ministry of Defense and the armed forces was replaced. More than 20 percent of the staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the embassies was dismissed. Regarding the "suspected Bulgarian complicity in the papal assassination plot": On the initiative of President Zhelev, an independent international commission was established to help uncover the truth. The Bulgarian government has already supplied about 40,000 pages of documents from previously secret files. I have no intention to try to convince anybody that Bulgaria's transition to democracy is a perfect one or that everybody inside or outside Bulgaria is happy with all the events accompanying this process. But as Prof. Charles Moser, a US expert on Bulgaria, put it in a recent report: "I believe that in the long run of history this relatively successful transition will be viewed much more positively than most Bulgarians see it now." Krassimir Kostov, Washington, Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria

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