Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs – what have you been doing?
The Bulgarian authorities have repeatedly expressed their support for Ukraine and our desire to help the Ukrainian people, who are affected by the war. However, the case we are going to tell you about shows the exact opposite.
In fact, what happened is so shocking that the only logical explanation for us is that the actions of the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry are the result of some “bug” in the system. But if the system is “bugged”, we have to fix the “bugs” immediately.
We will, of course, report this incident to all state authorities, as well as to all media and non-governmental organizations that are not indifferent to the fate and equal treatment of the citizens of Ukraine. For us, all people are equal, regardless of their citizenship. However, what the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Consular Relations Directorate) did to a citizen of Ukraine, a family member of a Bulgarian citizen, mother of two children, is in our opinion – unacceptable.
For the citizen of Russia – permission, for the citizen of Ukraine – denial!
What actually happened is that:
The Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Directorate of Consular Relations) granted the request of a Russian citizen to apply for a visa type “D” at our consulate in Serbia, exceptionally, because of the war in Ukraine and Russia. A similar request of a Ukrainian citizen was refused!
We must emphasize that we welcome the decision of the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry to allow the Russian citizen to apply from Serbia due to humanitarian reasons. Moreover, the Russian citizen has been living in Ukraine until his arrival in Bulgaria. But the fact that, on the same grounds, the Foreign Ministry refused to accept the documents of a Ukrainian citizen who was praying at the door of the Bulgarian consulate in the city of Nis, Serbia – is scandalous! Laws? European values? Euro-Atlantic solidarity? Conscience at least?
Cynicism without limits
The refusal of the Foreign Ministry is cynical, to say the least. Especially if we take into account that a similar request of a Russian citizen has been granted! The refusal is especially cynical, because the Ukrainian citizen is from the city of Melitopol – currently under Russian military occupation. The Ministry refuses a citizen of Ukraine to apply for a visa D from the Bulgarian consulate in Serbia, after the woman is waiting at the door of the consulate in the city of Nis, accompanied by her husband – a Bulgarian citizen, and begs to submit her visa documents.
However, consular officials are adamant and even refuse to talk to our lawyers on the phone. And the refusal, which was sent by the Foreign Ministry a few hours after the Ukrainian citizen was not allowed to submit her documents, is explained as follows:
The provision of par. 6 of Art. 11 of the Visa Ordinance, according to which “in humanitarian and urgent cases, a visa application can be submitted in countries other than those provided for in par. 3-5” is inapplicable in your case, as there are no substantiated and proven circumstances to be considered as a humanitarian case within the meaning of the Law on Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria.
Please note that the consular services of the Republic of Bulgaria in Kyiv and Odessa work daily with citizens and function normally.the justification for the refusal of the Foreign Ministry, with which the citizen of Ukraine is refused to apply for visa D at the Bulgarian Consulate in Serbia
Humanitarian case as per the Bulgarian Foreigners Law
But let’s see what is the definition of a “humanitarian case” according to the Bulgarian Foreigners Law. Because the officials from the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs obviously think that the war in Ukraine is not a humanitarian case for the Ukrainian citizen. And for the citizen of Russia, there are valid humanitarian reasons due to the war between Ukraine and Russia. Is that really so?
In fact, leaving Bulgaria, where the Ukrainian citizen currently lives, to travel to Ukraine is neither dangerous for her health and life, nor for the integrity of her family, nor for the interest of her two children? Is this really the position of the Foreign Ministry?
“Humanitarian reasons” are present when the non-admission or departure of a foreigner from the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria will create a serious danger to his health or life due to the existence of objective circumstances, or to the integrity of his family, or the best interests of the family or the child require his admission or stay on the territory of the country.§ 1, p. 16 of the Additional Provisions of the Foreigners Law
The situation in Ukraine, according to the official information by the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry
And now let’s see what the official position of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is regarding the situation in Ukraine. More specifically, let’s see what information about Ukraine is published on the official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
The military-political situation in Ukraine after the beginning of the full-scale military aggression by the Russian Federation (February 24, 2022) continues to be unstable and extremely dynamic. Periodically, large Ukrainian cities are subjected to rocket fire and are attacked by unmanned aerial vehicles, which creates a serious risk to the life and health of the population. Martial law has been declared throughout the country, due to which the majority of civil rights are restricted. We recommend that Bulgarian citizens do not travel to Ukraine until the conflict in the country is permanently resolved, and in the event that it is impossible to postpone the trip, to take the following actions…from the Foreign Ministry’s website (as per 25.06.2023) – https://www.mfa.bg/bg/embassyinfo/ukraine
So, according to the official information from the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with which we fully agree, it follows that:
- the big Ukrainian cities are bombarded with Russian missiles and drones;
- there is a serious risk to the life and health of the population;
- martial law has been declared throughout Ukraine;
- civil rights in Ukraine are restricted;
- Bulgarian citizens should not travel to Ukraine.
There is no humanitarian situation in Ukraine! I beg your pardon???
At the same time however, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs officially refuses a Ukrainian citizen, wife of a Bulgarian, mother of two children, to submit her documents in Serbia? Because there were no humanitarian reasons in Ukraine? And the woman is waiting at the door of the Bulgarian consulate in Nis (Serbia), from where she was sent to travel to Ukraine, because everything is fine there? Are you serious, gentlemen? Which flight would you recommend she buy a ticket for? Sofia-Kyiv? Which airline would you recommend to the lady? Or maybe she better takes the Varna-Odessa boat? And should she take her children or leave them in Nis or Sofia?
But dear officials of the Foreign Ministry, even if everything is fine in Ukraine and there are no humanitarian reasons, then why did you allow the Russian citizen to submit his visa documents in the city of Nis, Sebia? So there are humanitarian reasons for him, but not for the citizen of Ukraine, right? Are you serious??
Temporary protection for Ukrainian citizens
We wonder whether the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, after refusing a Ukrainian citizen to submit documents for a visa in Serbia, due to lack of humanitarian reasons, whether they know that Ukrainian citizens have been granted temporary protection by the Council of Ministers. And according to the Bulgarian Asylum and Refugee Law:
Temporary protection is granted in the event of a mass influx of foreigners who are forced to leave their country of origin due to armed conflict, civil war, foreign aggression, violation of human rights or large-scale violence on the territory of the respective country or in a separate area from it and who cannot for these reasons return there.art. 1a, par. 3 of the Bulgarian Asylum and Refugee Law
And we ask ourselves again: does the Foreign Ministry really believe that for the Ukrainian citizen “there are no substantiated and proven circumstances to be considered as a humanitarian case within the meaning of the Law on Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria“? Or humanitarian reasons due to the war between Ukraine and Russia exist only for Russian citizens?
We have no answers yet. But as they say “even the deaf will hear about this incident”.
MORE DETAILS WILL FOLLOW…