Government Adopts Draft Bill on Ratification of Istanbul Convention
Sofia, January 3 (BTA) - Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva told journalists at the Council of Ministers Wednesday that the government has adopted a draft Bill to Ratify the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention).
The ratification will not lead to a change of the Constitution or to an obligation for Bulgaria to introduce same sex marriages, or to one obliging this country to acknowledge a "third gender", the minister said in response to publications in the media and the concerns of some political forces.
The convention was signed last year, Zaharieva recalled, and a working group at the Ministry of Justice with the participation of other authorities and NGOs has worked on the texts of the convention and the ratification bill for a year. The convention was passed unanimously at a meeting of the Judicial Reform Council.
Concerns of the Patriotic Front related to the ratification were discussed today, the Foreign Minister noted, adding that together with the Minister of Justice they have explained that the ratification will not lead to revisions of the Constitution or to an obligation for Bulgaria to introduce same sex marriages. The aim of the Istanbul Convention is to overcome the stereotypes that in some parts of the world it is normal for women to be subject to violence, as well as to ensure education in tolerance and respect for gender equality, which is also a fundamental principle in the Bulgarian Constitution, the Foreign Minister added. The convention has already been ratified by 17 EU states.
Taking a question, Zaharieva said the ratification does not introduce a "third gender". Nor does it introduce anything not already featured in Bulgarian legislation or the Constitution.
Although the document was adopted, the National Assembly is expected to pass both the convention and an accompanying declaration that it does not lead to revisions of the Constitution, Zaharieva pointed out.
At Wednesday's meeting of the Council of Ministers eight members voted against the adoption of the Istanbul Convention, Deputy Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov told journalists.
Asked whether Turkey has been ignored in the Bulgarian programme for the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, as a Turkish newspaper claimed a week ago, the Foreign Minister pointed out she refrains from commenting on publications but underscored that constant contact with the Turkish colleagues and with those in the EC is maintained, and that the Turkish Minister of European Union Affairs visited Bulgaria two weeks ago.