Geshev assumes Prosecutor’s Office
Tsatstarov is the new head of Anti-Corruption CommissionMonitor News Agency , Sofia
At an official ceremony on 18 December Ivan Geshev assumed office as Bulgaria’s new Prosecutor General. The torch has been passed to him by Sotir Tsatsarov, the hitherto No.1 Prosecutor and already elected head of the Anti-Corruption Commission for Illegal Assets Forfeiture (ACCIAF) who is to take office on 20 December.
The ceremony was attended by President of the National Assembly Tsveta Karayncheva, representative of the Supreme Judicial Council Boyan Magdalinchev and the greater part of the judicial system’s human resources officers. Among the guests were former chief prosecutors Vassil Mrachkov and Nikola Filchev, constitutional judges, ministers of justice and interior Danail Kirilov and Mladen Marinov, legal counselor to President Rumen Ravev Prof. Emilia Drumeva, two former caretaker prime ministers Georgi Bliznashki and Ognyan Gerdzhikov and tens of other presidents of the court and prosecutors’ offices in Bulgaria.
The ex-chief prosecutor and newly elected head of ACCIAF Sotir Tsatsarov was the first to take the floor and officially make way for his successor.
“On 17 December, my term of office as prosecutor general has expired. For me it was a great privilege and personal challenge to work with the prosecutors and investigating officers in the Republic of Bulgaria. I thank them all for their efforts, energy and the won battles,” Sotir Tsatsarov said in his speech. He extended gratitude to all those who shared efforts with him - the leadership and officers of the Ministry of Interior, National Revenue Agency, Customs Agency and all other state law enforcement institutions.
“Maybe I have to also thank all those who for seven years have been using their political careers for the everyday verbal institutional attacks against the prosecutor’s office and the chief prosecutor whoever the incumbent person was. Actually they have not understood that the wars that they and their mentors launched have made us all much stronger. There is no such thing as a mandate requiring little effort and yours won’t be easy-going either. Within the judicial system only people who simply don’t do anything and find excuses for their inactiveness can implement their mandate with ease. I dare say I do not belong to them. I know you well enough to say that you do not belong to them either,” Tsatsarov addressed his successor and specified the challenges that Geshev will face on his new post.
“The first challenge before you and the greater part of our colleagues who are present in this hall are the ongoing debates on the so-called constitutional model of the Bulgarian prosecution. I really hope that their aim is not a cheap and useless political PR and raising noise but the wellbeing of the institution and all Bulgarian citizens. I am absolutely sure that no matter what discussions are held on this issue the prosecution will remain within the system of judicial power. And not because this is a goal in itself but because this is the only way for the prosecution to work efficiently without being subordinate to the political factors,” Tsatsarov said further and added, “It is not my habit to give advice and I don’t have enough self-confidence for it. However, Mr Geshev, if I can tell you anything at all it will be to take care of the institution of prosecution and the people because without them the system means nothing. Do respect the judges, not those few who sacrificed their professional principles in the name of political interests and grants, do respect those Bulgarian judges without whom there will be no justice and law-governed society. The new chief prosecutor Ivan Geshev also made a short address to the guests.
“I am sure that we will cope with what is in store for us. Making changes, drawing on the traditions we step on a sound base which enables us to deliver on the expectations of the Bulgarian citizens for more justice. We must guard the institution of prosecution against the political and all other attacks aimed at its destabilisation or downright destruction. I know that it is going to be hard to all during this mandate but, in my opinion, the price is worth paying because this price means a better state where supremacy of law reigns. We all have to remember the words of the Apostle of the Bulgarian freedom Vasil Levski: “We need action, not words,” Geshev said addressing the full hall. Later on he commented his future actions as the prosecutor general before journalists he met after the end of the official ceremony on the occasion of his taking office.
“I already know who will be the members of my team, I have talks with different colleagues and when I am ready I will inform the media and the Bulgarian citizens. I mean the people who are exceptionally competent and will be able to cope with their tasks, these people are united by a common cause and can work in a team. The number of my deputies will remain the same,” Geshev explained and took a punt at outlining his future tasks.
“I am in for a mandate harder than all of my previous ones, because such is the situation. There are two aspects to it – in the first place we have reached the limit after which not only the prosecution but the state too must deliver on the expectations of the Bulgarian citizens for more justice and, secondly, being in good condition, the prosecution as an institution has changed into higher gear and worked more seriously in recent years. This is the reason why we have been a target of vehement attacks aimed not on only at the destabilisation of the prosecution but to a certain extent even on its downright destruction. These attacks are launched by different people who feel affected or threatened by the law,” the new prosecutor general was adamant.
There is only one way in and out of chief prosecutor’s office – through the door
The way in and out of the chief prosecutor’s office is through the door. I’m leaving with a sense of accomplishment, I’ve done a lot and it was a great privilege to me to work with my colleagues, I’m proud of them,” the now former chief prosecutor and incumbent head of the Anti-Corruption Commission for Illegal Assets Forfeiture (ACCIAF) Sotir Tsatsarov told the journalists. He also commented on the debates initiated by President Rumen Radev concerning the place of the prosecution as an institution.
“If the consultations and debates with the President are meant for the best of the Bulgarian prosecution and citizens all this should be welcome. But if the aim is to set up a discussion board that will serve the upcoming political projects or elections, this is a useless exercise,” Tsatsarov was adamant.
The newly elected chief prosecutor Ivan Geshev also made a statement on the issue.
“I don’t see a discussion on constitutional reforms. Currently what I see are the political intentions in general outline. No one said what he wants to amend in the Constitution. I am not an expert in constitutional law but I dare adding a few words. When you initiate a debate it would be logical to do so because you have a theme to propose. The theme has to be concrete, e.g. there is a problem point in the Constitution, in this particular text, but instead the debate is initiated in most general terms just to find out what the debated issue is,” Geshev told the journalists and added, “This debate has to be started when it is clear that there is a problem and to discuss how it can be resolved pointing out clearly what the problem is. I don’t see what the topic of the debate is but I will share my personal opinion about it. I am sure that the prosecutor’s office will also offer its opinion. Geshev further said that after the New Year he is planning to convene an advisory board comprising legal experts from the team of the chief prosecutor and they will be asked to state their position on the issue.
“Only when it is clear what the debate is about (because to me it is not clear as yet) the prosecutor’s office will come out with a statement. However it must be clear-cut – currently it is a political issue, there are no legal points in it and, if this is an issue at all, it lies within the competence of the parliament, the politicians but not the prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor’s office may respond and come out with a statement when, and if, it is asked for it,” he added.