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Bulgaria Ready to Enter Schengen March 2011

Date: 19.01.2010

Bulgaria will be ready to enter the Schengen Area by March 2011, according to the Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov.

Tsvetanov explained in a wide-ranging interview broadcast by Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) on Sunday that, when he took up his appointment as Minister, Bulgaria had spent only EUR 33 M on Schengen preparations, whereas the figure had now increased to EUR 111 M, or 89 % of the allocated budget. "By the end of the period for contracts, Bulgaria will have totally absorbed the funds,” stated Tsvetanov.

When discussing the spate of kidnappings across Bulgaria, Tsvetanov said that about BGN 15 M had been handed over to the kidnappers in the past two and a half years. He said he assumed the possibility of this money being returned was minimal.

According to the Minister, the law should be applied to the limit against the kidnappers, that they should receive the maximum sentences allowed. "With the proposed changes to the Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code, we seek justice and punishment, relevant to the dimensions of the crimes,” he added.

In connection with the recent series of blows that the Interior Ministry had inflicted on the drug market, Tsvetanov said that, as a whole, the action was directed towards identifying, locating and arresting those involved in the narcotics business, and that this was the only way to fight the illegal trade.

Tsvetanov expressed his confidence that those already arrested would quickly be brought to trial.

"When we find BGN 15 000 pocket money, you understand that it cannot be a legal go-between business. If these persons return to the same environment, it would create the impression that the law does not apply to them, it would create a bad example,” said the Minister.

According to the Interior Minister the fact that Nikolay Marinov (aka The Little Marguin) was still in hiding, meant that there was a reason for it, instead of his appearing and defending his non-involvement in crime.

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