On 18th and 19th of June in City hotel Sofia the Bulgarian Platform for International Development(BPID) organized a workshop. It was focused on Bulgaria’s role as a donor country.
Representatives from the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Education, Youth and Science, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Environment and Water, and the President administration were present at the workshop, as well as representatives from NGO, members of the platform in the field of development cooperation, development education and humanitarian aid. These institutions have the responsibility to support the allocation and management of official development assistance of Bulgaria according to a Decree of the Council of Ministers from 1st of August, 2011 –http://dv.parliament.bg/DVWeb/showMaterialDV.jsp?idMat=55699).
During the first day of the workshop, the presenters made a short overview of the development cooperation and the development aid. Afterwards, they discussed the Platform’s position, and why they deem important that Bulgaria is more active as a donor on international level.
Mr Rumian Sechkov, the chairman of BPID announced that the aim of the platform to activate the Bulgarian foreign policy with regard to development cooperation and the requests addressed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which were made in 2009, are still quite relevant and current, because nothing has changed since then.
The adviser to the Minister of Foreign affairs on development issues, Mr. Daniel Stefanov reaffirmed the commitment of the Ministry to prepare a medium-term strategic framework for the next 3 years and an action plan, to ensure that aid can be granted to developing countries. Mr. Stefanov outlined the key priority sectors, towards which this aid will be aimed: democratic development, education, health care, development of local communities. He committed that the civil society organizations will be an active participant in the working group on the issues of international development cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Mr. Stefanov also pointed out as difficulty the lack of capacity at the institutional level to be applied in the development and implementation of the development cooperation programme. Mr. Vasil Petkov – director of the International Development Cooperation department, expressed a desire for the approval of at least two projects in line with the donor program of our country until the end of the year.
During the second half of the first day Mrs. Zuzana Sladkova from the civic platform for tracking the development aid for the EU countries named Aid Watch presented the methodology for evaluating such aid. She described the principles for categorizing which aid was counted for development purposes and which was not. Such examples are when it is in the form of external debt, student grants, aid bound to buying goods from the donor country. The newest Aid Watch report for 2012 is available at the following link: http://aidwatch.concordeurope.org/ . In addition, Mr.Ventsislav Kirkov from the Bulgarian Family Planning Association represents BPID in the Aid Watch group, which main responsibility is gathering information.
The second day was devoted to sharing experience. First, the advisers of the embassies of the Czech Republic, Republic of Poland and Slovak Republic presented the way their countries have passed in institution building, working with civil society organization and the difficulties encountered in providing development
assistance. Afterwards Bulgarian NGOs and members of BPID briefly summarized their completed projects to support developing communities. The School of Politics’ project to create a school of politics in Tunisia, through which the lectors can share the Bulgarian transition experience and can help with the formation and shaping of young leaders after the Arab Spring evoked great interest amongst the participants.
Iva Boneva from the Centre for Inclusive Education summarized that is it hard to give a prescription for the most successful model, but Bulgaria has the possibility to undertake the most suitable one and to use it in its politics for development cooperation.
The meeting was held within a project, funded by the EU platform of civil society organizations, working on the problems of development cooperation named CONCORD, which seeks to enhance the dialogue with the Bulgarian government and to activate in practice the Bulgarian donor policy in tune with the country’s commitments to the EU.