Bulgarian arms trade controls meet highest standards BBC - 2003/5/15
Bulgarian legislation in the field of arms trade control meets the highest international standards, according to Deputy Foreign Minister Lyubomir Ivanov.

On Wednesday [14 May] he addressed a roundtable discussion on "Bulgaria: Achievements and challenges in arms exports control and the fight against arms proliferation". The discussion was organized by the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria and Saferworld, a UK-based organization which describes itself as an "independent foreign affairs think tank working to identify, develop and publicize more effective approaches to preventing armed conflict".

Acknowledging Bulgaria's specific geographic location, the authorities pay particular attention to the prevention of illegal trade in arms, Ivanov said. In 2002 they made a step forward in improving relevant legislation. A 1995 law on arms trade control and the rules for its application were amended, he recalled.

Important changes include the strengthening of control over intermediation activities and the introduction of more severe punishments for offences. It is important to effectively implement the measures initiated by the government, Ivanov said.

Illegal practices which Bulgaria has to curb include deception of inspectors and circumvention of export restrictions, the deputy foreign minister said. His namesake Professor Lyubomir Ivanov, president of the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria, said that the US authorities have made recommendations concerning Bulgarian exports of small arms, light weapons and potential dual-use goods.

On the basis of the recommendations contained in a February 2003 report of the US Department of State, the Bulgarian government has mapped out 16 measures. These measures include an expansion of the list of potential dual-use goods subject to trade restrictions, creating a register of all foreign trade transactions in arms and potential dual-use goods, and reducing the number of customs points used in this trade from 100 to about a dozen.

Attending the discussion were Saferworld Director Paul Eavis, Velizar Shalamanov of the Centre for National Security and Defence Studies with the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Boyko Todorov, Programme Director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy, and Foreign Ministry experts.

Effective control over trade in small arms and light weapons requires investment in the structural adjustment of defence sector enterprises in areas where such enterprises provide most of the jobs; larger administrative and financial resources; destruction of redundant weapons; and merging some supervisory institutions, participants said.




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