The Role of the International Community
Council of Europe
In a report released in June 1998, based on an investigation completed in September of 1997, the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance criticized Bulgarias lack [of] structures and policies to deal with racism and intolerance, expressing particular concern about the treatment of Roma.
Bulgaria remained subject to the Parliamentary Assemblys monitoring procedure, and a report about Bulgarias compliance with Council of Europe commitments was debated in the Assemblys September session, although no vote was taken. The Assembly stated that Bulgaria has made progress, but still must take action in the areas of preventing police brutality and freeing the media from government control in order to comply with the commitments Bulgaria made when it joined the Council of Europe.
The European Union concluded in 1998 that Bulgaria would not be ready for the first wave of European Union expansion and accession. The E.U. pointed to rampant corruption, the lack of adequate reform of the judicial system, ongoing abuses by the police and secret services, and pervasive discrimination and marginalization of the Roma minority. Bulgaria continued to receive substantial E.U. assistance to improve its longer term accession prospects.
Bulgaria submitted a report to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women in early 1998. The report acknowledged that, although Bulgaria recognized de jure equality between men and women, women suffered de facto disadvantages in employment. The committee recommended that Bulgaria establish a strong and effective national machinery with adequate financial and human resources for advancing the position of women in Bulgaria.
First Lady Hilary Rodham Clinton visited Bulgaria in mid-October and announced a new six million dollar phase of the Democracy Network, a USAID-sponsored program that will award grants to projects that support civil society over the next four years.