Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 December 2017, 12:58 GMT

Bulgaria: Whether a Bulgarian-born ethnic Turk who left Bulgaria for Turkey in 1989, and whose identity documents were not returned by the Bulgarian authorities prior to departure, has the right to reacquire Bulgarian citizenship; whether the reacquisition of citizenship for such a person is influenced by whether the person was forcibly expelled, deported voluntarily, or was minor when his/her family left Bulgaria in 1989 and, if so, in what manner; the procedures to be followed if such a person has the right to reacquire Bulgarian citizenship; whether the reacquisition of Bulgarian citizenship is solely dependent on whether the requirements have been fulfilled, or is also subject to the discretion of the authorities (January 1989 - July 1999)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 July 1999
Citation / Document Symbol BGR32094.E
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Bulgaria: Whether a Bulgarian-born ethnic Turk who left Bulgaria for Turkey in 1989, and whose identity documents were not returned by the Bulgarian authorities prior to departure, has the right to reacquire Bulgarian citizenship; whether the reacquisition of citizenship for such a person is influenced by whether the person was forcibly expelled, deported voluntarily, or was minor when his/her family left Bulgaria in 1989 and, if so, in what manner; the procedures to be followed if such a person has the right to reacquire Bulgarian citizenship; whether the reacquisition of Bulgarian citizenship is solely dependent on whether the requirements have been fulfilled, or is also subject to the discretion of the authorities (January 1989 - July 1999), 1 July 1999, BGR32094.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6abe748.html [accessed 12 December 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

 

A 21 July 1999 letter sent to the Research Directorate by the National Legal Network Coordinator of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee in Sofia states:

According to the Bulgarian legislation - Art. 25, Paragraph 2 of the Bulgarian Constitution (enforced on 13.07.1991) and Chapter III, Section 1-3 of the Law of the Bulgarian Citizenship (enforced on 19.02.1999)  a Bulgarian-born citizen cannot be deprived of the Bulgarian citizenship in any manner whatsoever.

According to the previous Law of the Bulgarian citizenship (in force in 1989) it was possible a person to be deprived of the Bulgarian citizenship on the grounds of an application (citizenship cancel) or in a forcible manner by the authorities (deprivation) for the reasons of a violent crime commitment against Bulgaria with which its security or interest have been harmed. It could be constituted against a person who is outside Bulgaria. The deprivation could be done only by an act of the State Council - a permanent constitutional body.

There is no data of such steps of deprivation taken towards the ethnic Turks who fled the country in 1989.

The new Bulgarian Constitution was adopted in 1991 after the democratic changes of the Bulgarian society which started November 1989.  Art. 25 of it states that: "(1) A Bulgarian citizen shall be anyone born of at least one parent holding a Bulgarian citizenship, or born on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria, should he not be entitled to any other citizenship by virtue of origin. Bulgarian citizenship shall further be acquirable through naturalisation. (2) A person of Bulgarian origin shall acquire Bulgarian citizenship through a facilitated procedure. (3)  No one shall be deprived of Bulgarian citizenship acquired by birth."

As far as the Constitution supersedes all other legal acts a person could even then in 1991 to submit an application and reacquire his/her Bulgarian citizenship through a facilitated procedure if he/she has been cancelled or  has been deprived of Bulgarian citizenship. There were series of legal acts adopted then which have been establishing facilitated procedures during the period of 1990-1993 concerning the reacquisition of ethnic names of the ethnic Turks, the property restitution and identity documents issuance.

According the new Law of the Bulgarian Citizenship (enforced 1999) a cancelled citizenship could be reacquired if the person had not been condemned for committing a violent crime in or outside Bulgaria and does not constitute a threat to the public order, moral, health or the national security.

Art. 26, Paragraph 2 of it is a special provision concerning the person with non-Bulgarian ethnic origin. It states that such a person, who has been cancelled or deprived of the Bulgarian citizenship according to a bilateral exile agreement concluded by Bulgaria, can reacquire his/her  Bulgarian citizenship meeting the provisions of Paragraph 1 of Art. 26 and who has a permanent residence permission  three years prior to his/her application for reacquisition.

The application should be addressed to the Minister of the Justice and Legal Eurointegration who proposes a decision to the President of the Republic who finally grants/denies citizenship. The minister's decision is made on the recommendation of a specially established according to the law Commission on the Citizenship.

The reacquisition as well as granting the citizenship is a subject of discretion of the Bulgarian authorities. Meeting the provision of the law does not necessarily mean that the citizenship should be granted/reacquired.

There is no any information about a discriminatory approach existing towards the citizenship reacquisition of the ethnic Turks in general. To the contrary - there are several agreements between Bulgaria and Turkey concerning the matter as well as the doubled citizenship, rights of retirement and pensions, family reunification and visa regime of the exiled in 1989 Bulgarian-born ethnic Turks, living in both countries.

Short description of the organisation:

Bulgarian Helsinki Committee is a human rights umbrella organisation including many different human rights projects one of which is Refugees' Legal Protection Project. The project is an official partner of the UNHCR-BO Sofia and co-operates with the Bulgarian government in the field of the refugee protection. It has a permanent working office in the capital Sofia and a network of associated independent lawyers for asylum in the country. The organisation provides free of charge legal aid to the asylum seekers, refugees and stranded migrants in Bulgaria. The organisation is a member of European Council for Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), European Legal Network for Asylum (ELENA) and the Helsinki Federation.

The resource person professional data:  Lawyer  National Legal network co-ordinator

The information given above represents a position of the organisation.

Additional or corroborating information on the reacquisition of Bulgarian citizenship, beyond that contained in BGR5571 of 15 May 1990 and BGR21884.F of 26 September 1995, could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. The text of the citizenship law and terms of implementation legislation can be found in the Legal database section of REFWORLD.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

Reference

Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, Sofia. 21 July 1999. Correspondence from the National Legal Network Coordinator.

Additional Sources Consulted

Electronic sources: IRB databases, Internet, NEXIS/LEXIS, REFWORLD, WNC.

Unsuccessful attempts to contact other oral sources.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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