Eleven High Schools in the Midwest Participated in Euro Challenge 2014

Eleven high schools from Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin participated in the 2014 Euro Challenge.

GlobalFest 2014

GlobalFest is an annual event that celebrates world languages and cultures, and encourages middle and high school students to make connections with the global society.

U-46 Teacher Travels the Globe to Enhance Her Lessons

Elgin Area School District teacher Chris LaRue spent two weeks in Turkey in 2013, a trip that was almost entirely funded by the Turkish Cultural Foundation.

EU Centers of Excellence Education Trip to Belgium

Read two teachers' experiences during the 2013 EU Centers of Excellence Education Trip to Belgium.

TED Helps European and American Educators Connect

The Transatlantic Educators Dialogue (TED), held from February through May, gives American and European educators an opportunity to meet virtually to discuss educational issues.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Transatlantic Educator's Dialogue (TED) Series-Week Eight

From January to May, the European Union Center invites educators from throughout the world to come together in an online setting and discuss important topics in modern educational practice and politics. As part of this discussion, students from the University of Illinois are invited to follow the discussion and write short posts about related topics on a country of interest. Lindsay Ozburn, a student in the EU Center’s Masters of Arts in European Union Studies program, will be contributing to this series through a multi-week study of Bulgarian politics and government. Her research will provide a thoughtful and helpful case study that will give TED participants a chance to see how their discussion topics are expressed in real life.

Week Eight Prompt: Please discuss how your country has approached recent developments in technology, especially information technology. Do many people use the internet? How fast is wifi and mobile networks? Does your country conduct frequent initiatives to further technological development, or is it left primarily to the private sector? Is there a vibrant local technology market, or are high-technologies exported in from other countries? Which technological sectors is your country primarily known for? Are the people of your country consume much technology, or do they tend to spend their money on other items? How heavily engaged are the people of your country on facebook or other social media sites? Does your country have strong measures in place to address new areas of cybercrime like identity theft, online bullying, hacking, etc?

Bulgaria’s Tech Industry
Lindsay Ozburn, MAEUS

While an admittedly small country in Europe, it has been growing as a tech giant since the early 2000s. According to Forbes, Bulgaria is ranked 5th in world for high-quality broadband and 1st in Europe. Despite having some of the fastest internet in the world, as of 2013 only 53.1% of Bulgarians use the internet, according to the World Bank. Regardless, the country is becoming known as Europe’s Silicon Valley, steadily growing the technology and IT industry since – with the exception of 2008-2010 during the peak of the European financial crisis (Marko Benda, edukwest.eu, 2015). According to Benda, while Bulgaria’s market is considered one of the least developed in Europe, steady growth is expected to push Bulgaria amongst giants.

Bulgaria has a wealth of high-skilled programmers, working for hundreds of smaller software companies. These smaller companies hold contracts with some the world’s biggest customers, including BMW, Boeing, CISCO, HP, vmware, and Nortel, according to the “Information Technology in Bulgaria” report published with support from the European Fund for Regional Development. As these skilled laborers are relatively low-cost compared to other parts of the world, they are often the recipients of outsourcing from large businesses in major countries such as the US. Additionally, their strategic geographic location allows them access to European, Russian, and some Asian markets. Bulgaria’s IT industry appears to be a good mix of private and public companies, and some NGOs, as well.
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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

TRANSATLANTIC EDUCATOR'S DIALOGUE (TED) SERIES – Week Seven

From January to May, the European Union Center invites educators from throughout the world to come together in an online setting and discuss important topics in modern educational practice and politics. As part of this discussion, students from the University of Illinois are invited to follow the discussion and write short posts about related topics on a country of interest. Lindsay Ozburn, a student in the EU Center’s Masters of Arts in European Union Studies program, will be contributing to this series through a multi-week study of Bulgarian politics and government. Her research will provide a thoughtful and helpful case study that will give TED participants a chance to see how their discussion topics are expressed in real life. 

Week Seven Prompt: How does your country handle issues of bullying and youth violence. Who makes the decisions regarding what is or is not acceptable? Are they done at the school level, school district level, state/provincial or national level? Has there been national attention or top-level efforts to stop bullying and youth violence? Have they been successful? In the last ten years, has there been a stand-out case or cases that brought media attention to this topic? Is bullying more common in a particular level of education (elementary, secondary, post-secondary) or is it widespread?

“I am not scared” – Combating Violence and Bullying in Bulgarian Schools
Lindsay Ozburn, MAEUS Student

As technological advancements have crept into many corners of the world, so, too, has cyberbullying amongst young children and teenagers. The European Commission and several member states have recognized this increase in bullying amongst its youth over the past decade. In response, several countries, including Bulgaria, have participated in the “I am not scared” project, supported by the European Commission under the Lifelong Learning Program. Bulgaria has participated in this program since 2010, aiming to “identify the best European strategies to prevent bullying”, with a bottom-up approach (Staneva, 2011:79, 87). In Bulgaria, it is supported specifically by Zinev Art Technologies.

Figure 1: uclacommons.com
According to a poll conducted in 2006, almost 70% of Bulgarian students admitted there were cases of aggression in their school, with three-quarters of parental responders citing poor family environment and lack of discipline at school as the main proponents of this aggression (Dimitriova, 2006). Polling performed by UNICEF in 2007 showed the 25% of children believed they were bullied once a week or more (Staneva, 2011:83). In regards to cyberbullying, again, 25% of teenagers 10-14 believed they were bullied at least once a week, through a variety of electronic mediums. Adding to this issue is the unlikelihood of a child reporting the bullying, according to Staneva.

While Bulgaria does participate in the “I am not scared” program, it does not currently have state policy to reduce or prevent violence and bullying in schools. There are resources, however, for children in situations of domestic abuse or bullying outside of the family. One in particular, the National Programme for Child Protection, offers support “for the better coordination and implementation of sectoral policies to achieve more effective protection of fundamental rights of children in Bulgaria” (Staneva, 2011:86).

For more information and statistics on violence and bullying in Bulgaria, including the “I am not scared” project, see Zornitsa Staneva’s article.
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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

TRANSATLANTIC EDUCATOR'S DIALOGUE (TED) SERIES-Week Six

From January to May, the European Union Center invites educators from throughout the world to come together in an online setting and discuss important topics in modern educational practice and politics. As part of this discussion, students from the University of Illinois are invited to follow the discussion and write short posts about related topics on a country of interest. Lindsay Ozburn, a student in the EU Center’s Masters of Arts in European Union Studies program, will be contributing to this series through a multi-week study of Bulgarian politics and government. Her research will provide a thoughtful and helpful case study that will give TED participants a chance to see how their discussion topics are expressed in real life.

Week Six Prompt:How does your country approach higher education? What is the student debt situation like? How many colleges and universities does the country have? Are any of them world-renown / famous? How is the transition between their high-school analogue and university handled? Do students frequently get scholarships, or do they tend to pay for themselves? Do good students get automatic acceptance into public universities?

Bulgaria in Higher Education

Like many EU member states, Bulgaria has been steadily making progress in higher education reform in the 1990s, driven by Bulgaria’s necessity to revitalize their economy and labor force. 
According to the Fulbright Office of Bulgaria, the country has 51 accredited higher education institutions – 37 public, and 14 private. There are four different types of higher education institutions: Higher Education College, University, Specialized Higher Education Institution, and Academy. Admission to these higher schools, in general, requires entrance exams and a diploma from a completed secondary education. Admission requirements do vary, though, depending on the nature of the higher education institute (i.e., technical schools have different requirements than university).

Cost of living and attending higher education institutes in Bulgaria is very low, compared to the United States, making attending a university more feasible for individuals in the middle class. Tuition rates in the mid 2000s were between 2,500 and 5,000 euros, depending on the school (tended to be more expensive at trade schools). No recent (within the past few years) data is available on student loan debt ratios, from what I can dig up in English; but, in the early 2000s, scholars began suggesting Bulgaria implement a stronger student loan program to accommodate students from poorer socioeconomic backgrounds. Since Bulgaria participates in an EU-wide education initiative that provides funding to schools for a variety of educational needs, it is likely that they provide more financial support than universities in the U.S. It is unclear to me, at this point, though, whether or not Bulgaria offers free tuition in any form to its citizens, like most other European nations.

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Saturday, March 12, 2016

Transatlantic Educator's Dialogue (TED) Series-Week Five

From January to May, the European Union Center invites educators from throughout the world to come together in an online setting and discuss important topics in modern educational practice and politics. As part of this discussion, students from the University of Illinois are invited to follow the discussion and write short posts about related topics on a country of interest. Lindsay Ozburn, a student in the EU Center’s Masters of Arts in European Union Studies program, will be contributing to this series through a multi-week study of Bulgarian politics and government. Her research will provide a thoughtful and helpful case study that will give TED participants a chance to see how their discussion topics are expressed in real life.

Week Five Prompt: Please write about your country's immigration policy, esp. now during the current refugee crisis. How many refugees have they let in, and how many more do they plan to admit? What sort of migrants (if any)? Is it their decision, or is your country being compelled by the European Union? Is there support for this additional immigration in the country you are studying? Has there been a far right party backlash?

Bulgaria and the refugee crisis

Up until the recent immigration crisis, Bulgaria applied the EU’s visa policy to its national law since January of 2007. Bulgaria, however, is not part of the Schengen Zone – the EU’s transnational free travel zone that is now, due to the refugee crisis, at risk. Since Bulgaria does not participate in the Schengen Zone, only national visas are issued, and these do not necessarily allow travel into the EU. According to the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, foreign visitors entering Bulgaria must be in possession of regular foreign travel documents, as well as a visa if planning any length of stay (Visa C or D) or for airport transit (Visa A). Visas must be submitted at least 3 months ahead of time. According to the site, persons applying for long stay visas under asylum or in relation to refugee status are not required to provide extensive document when applying for the visa.

Having signed and ratified the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and cooperating with EU law implementation, Bulgaria produced a national law called the ‘Law on Asylum and Refugees’ (LAR) to cope with forced migration. Under the LAR, there are four types of protection for immigrants seeking asylum: asylum, refugee statues, humanitarian status, and temporary protection. For the purposes of the current refugee crisis: asylum is granted to those persecuted for reasons of their convictions or expression of rights and freedoms; refugee status is granted to those who have a well-founded fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, social circles, or political opinion and does not have protection in their home country; humanitarian status is granted due to forced migration under threat of serious harm; and temporary protection is granted “in the event of mass influx of foreign nationals who are forced to leave the country of origin as a result of an armed conflict, civil war, foreign aggression, large-scale violations of human rights, or violence in the territory” (Migrant Citizenship Education, Bulgaria).

With all of this information, how does Bulgaria actually handle the Syrian refuges? According to many reports, Syrian refugees avoid settling in Bulgaria because there is little to no monetary of physical aid available to them; nor are the welcomed or wanted in the country (Ayres, 2015). But, Bulgaria has accepted their refugee quota imposed by the EU, processing 10,600 asylum requests by August of 2015. Riddled with corruption, a weak economy, and anti-refugee sentiment at the moment, the country is not a viable place to start a new life. If there is funding support from the EU, it is not being disseminated to the refugees, who are being housed in former Communist party buildings and given meager living stipends. Additionally, while these refugees have the option and right to attend school, immigrant integration programs are few and far between.

To stem some of the illegal migration, Bulgaria erected a barbed-wire fence along the Turkish border and increased patrols. As of January 2016, the UNHCR has been extremely concerned over the safety of refugees attempting to cross the Bulgarian borders due to several reported deaths. They also remained concerned due to multiple reports of abuse and extortion against refugees seeking asylum in Bulgaria (UNHCR). Like many other conservative EU member states, it is possible Bulgaria does not welcome these refugees due to differences in religion. Unfortunately for those with anti-refugee sentiments, the crisis is not predicted to stop anytime soon. As one of the gatekeeper countries to the EU, Bulgaria is in very serious need of physical and monetary assistance to help both usher those refugees seeking passage to northern Europe and provide humane assistance to those wishing to settle in the country.
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Saturday, March 5, 2016

Transatlantic Educator's Dialogue (TED) Series-Week Four

From January to May, the European Union Center invites educators from throughout the world to come together in an online setting and discuss important topics in modern educational practice and politics. As part of this discussion, students from the University of Illinois are invited to follow the discussion and write short posts about related topics on a country of interest. Lindsay Ozburn, a student in the EU Center’s Masters of Arts in European Union Studies program, will be contributing to this series through a multi-week study of Bulgarian politics and government. Her research will provide a thoughtful and helpful case study that will give TED participants a chance to see how their discussion topics are expressed in real life.

Week Four Prompt: Please write about your country's youth employment situation, remedies, and the availability of youth programs in general.

Bulgaria’s Youth

Youth unemployment, defined as ages 15-29 by the National Youth Strategy (2020), has been very high in Bulgaria. Statistics from 2015 report the highest percentage at 22.5% unemployed in March 2015, and its lowest at 20.4% unemployment in September (tradingeconomics.com). According to the Employment, Social Affairs, & Inclusion report, Unemployment appears to be slightly decreasing since 2014. However, with the Eurozone in flux, these numbers likely change with every quarter.

In response to this high unemployment rate, the Bulgarian government partakes in and EU-wide program to support young people not in employment or educational training, in regions with unemployment rates above 25%. This program, The Youth Employment Initiative (2012), is support by the European Commission to implement the Youth Guarantee schemes. Under Youth Guarantee, member states are encouraged to put measures in place to ensure good quality employment offers, continued education, or an apprenticeship/traineeship within four months of leaving school or being unemployed (EU Commission).

For the year 2014-2015, Bulgaria, with support from the European Commission and several other countries, requested an advance of one billion euros to the YEI, for use by all member states. This was meant to speed up the implementation time for the Youth Guarantee scheme created by the EU institutions. The funding can directly support high-quality traineeships and apprenticeships (the meaning of ‘support’ is unclear), placement for first job post-college, start-up support for young entrepreneurs, and educational training. According to the Country Sheet on Youth Policy in Bulgaria, (2012), the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Science is responsible for youth initiatives and programs, including their implementation. The Ministry’s goal is to make Bulgaria attractive to all young people by establishing economic and educational opportunities.
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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Transatlantic Educator's Dialogue (TED) Series - Week Three

From January to May, the European Union Center invites educators from throughout the world to come together in an online setting and discuss important topics in modern educational practice and politics. As part of this discussion, students from the University of Illinois are invited to follow the discussion and write short posts about related topics on a country of interest. Lindsay Ozburn, a student in the EU Center’s Masters of Arts in European Union Studies program, will be contributing to this series through a multi-week study of Bulgarian politics and government. Her research will provide a thoughtful and helpful case study that will give TED participants a chance to see how their discussion topics are expressed in real life. 

Week Three: Prompt – Please write about your country's educational systems and relationship to EU. Focus in particular on its structure, both within the government and within the actual system (ie: how do they organize their school levels?)  

Bulgaria’s education sector

Across the EU, member states are supported by the Directorate General for Education and Culture, who is responsible for policy and the management of initiatives – most notably, the Erasmus+ program. They are to support member states in developing coherent policies for: schools, vocational education and training, higher education, and adult education (EU Commission). According to the Fulbright Bulgarian American Commission for Education Exchange, the education system in Bulgaria is supported and governed through the Ministry of Education and Science on the member state level. They and the DG for Education and Culture create and implement education policy, working together to achieve EU-wide goals of improving educational standards and completion rates.

School systems in Bulgaria consist of public and private sectors, similar to the US. Public secondary
http://www.fulbright.bg/en/educational-services/educational-services-for-visiting-us-schools/educational-system-of-bulgaria/#prettyPhoto
Table 1 Fulbright Bulgarian American Commission for Education Exchange
schools include: general education, vocational, language schools and foreign schools. Additionally, there are fifty-one higher education institutions in Bulgaria for undergraduate and graduate (Master’s and PhD) degrees. This chart shows a comparison of age-to-grade levels, as well compulsory and basic education levels.

Education in Bulgaria is compulsory – or, required by law – from the ages of 7-16. Basic education (grades 1-8) are divided in two parts: primary school (grades 1-4) and pre-secondary school (grades 5-8). The upper secondary level following the receipt of a Basic Education Completion Certificate is broken down into three types of schools: comprehensive (general) secondary schools, profile-oriented schools (literature, mathematics, humanities, etc.), and vocational-technical schools. Secondary education is a stepping stone a job within a particular trade or to university. In higher education, there are four types of institutions: Higher Education College, University, Specialized Higher Education Institutions (technical schools), and Academy. Higher Ed offers degrees for: “Specialist in…”, First or Bachelor’s, Second or Master’s, and Third or PhD. (See Fulbright site for more info). Schools are accredited by the Ministry of education and Science of the Republic of Bulgaria and various other accreditation agencies.

Primary and pre-secondary (basic education level) is free in public schools. Curriculum is unified for all schools, include private. There are no honors or advanced placement courses in the school system; but, students are required to taken advanced courses in the last two years of secondary school. Like education in the U.S., the school year is divided into two terms, starting in the Fall and Spring, ending in Winter and Summer. Students are given grades at the end of each semester, based on a 6.0 scale (equivalent to 4.0 to the American system):

6 (A)= Excellent (91.5-100%)
5 (B) = Very Good (80.5-91.4%)
4 (C)= Good (70.5-80.4%)
3 (D)= Sufficient (59.5-70.4%)
2 (F)= Poor (0-59.4%)

 However, as a matter of policy, schools do not rank or rate their students as a whole like the American system does.

School completion rates, particularly among the Roma, have been low compared to other areas in the EU. In the European Commission’s 2015 Education and Training Monitor on Bulgaria, it is noted that Bulgaria has not yet adopted its School Education Act, meant to address these issues. This act would assist with their higher (in comparison to the EU as a whole) under achievement rates, low job placement post-university, and would “provide a framework for implementing the comprehensive reforms needed in the school system, including modernizing curricula and improving teach training” (European Commission, 2015: 3). While this may be the case, according to statistics in the report, Bulgaria has been improving their numbers more rapidly than the EU as a whole, across the board. As the Europe 2020 goal grows closer, I will be eagerly watching Bulgaria’s progress within the education sector.
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Saturday, February 13, 2016

Transatlantic Educator’s Dialogue (TED) Series-One: Week One and Two

By Lindsay Ozburn

From January to May, the European Union Center invites educators from throughout the world to come together in an online setting and discuss important topics in modern educational practice and politics. As part of this discussion, students from the University of Illinois are invited to follow the discussion and write short posts about related topics on a country of interest. Lindsay Ozburn, a student in the EU Center’s Masters of Arts in European Union Studies program, will be contributing to this series through a multi-week study of Bulgarian politics and government. Her research will provide a thoughtful and helpful case study that will give TED participants a chance to see how their discussion topics are expressed in real life.

Week One: Prompt – “Identify three current major news stories within your chosen country. What are they about and why are they so important? Is there one more important than the other two? Why do you think so (or not)?”

Bulgaria, where have you gone? 
As a student in European Union studies and aficionado of Greek culture, my focus has recently been on Greece and their relationship with the EU. Hoping to become an area studies specialist, I decided to branch out from my heavy focus on Greece and turn my view to its neighbor, Bulgaria. In my initial purview on the various news networks outside of Bulgaria itself (whose validity and bias I could not ascertain; thus, I chose to stay away from their reports), I noticed a common trend: Bulgaria was mostly absent from news reports, especially in the last few months. This was very surprising to me, for two reasons: one, they are on the frontlines on the immigration crisis in the EU and are some of the ‘gatekeepers’ of the EU’s borders; two, often associated as an Eastern European country, they were very recently concerned about the threat of Russia. I’ve chosen three very different articles to share. While it appears I have chosen one important article per month for December through February, the fact of the matter is, there was only one important article published each month relating to Bulgaria (other than news about Bulgarian Olympians being excluded from the upcoming games due to steroid use; which, could be another interesting indication in itself on the state of outsider media coverage of Bulgaria).

This first article (20 January, 2016) addresses why Bulgaria has had such a difficult experience as a market economy, and offers its evidence in a unique format: a survey of major historical events and the current political powers. The article softly argues that Bulgaria’s past communist rule is the main culprit – a regime whose policies are still doing damage to this day. Bulgaria was one of the later countries to join the EU (2007), and still isn’t eligible to join the Eurozone. While the piece doesn’t address whether their absence from the Eurozone is a good or bad thing, it is possible that Bulgaria may not have survived the deflation of the Euro. Overall, the importance of this historical piece lies in its ability to share, in one location, a concise history of Bulgaria, giving readers information on the progression of post-communist effect on their market economy.

This second article (4 December, 2015) discusses British Prime Minister David Cameron’s December visit to Bulgaria, where he ruffled some feathers when he praised Bulgaria’s barbed wire fence and attack dogs on its border with Turkey – aimed at halting refugees crossing the border. His sentiments in this instance reflect Britain’s anti-refugee position, being further played out in Cameron’s purposeful recognition of Britain’s absence within the Schengen Zone treaty. Bulgaria is known for their severe mistreatment of refugees, ranging from extortion to physical abuse, robbery, and police brutality, according to a report from the Belgrade Center for Human Rights. What is especially unique about this article is Britain’s attempt to discriminate against East-European minority vis-à-vis their membership negotiations with the EU, only one and a half months after Cameron was quite chummy with the Bulgarian PM Boyko Borissov.

This third article (3 February, 2016) offers a view on a large issue affecting Eastern Europe’s relationship with Western European countries. Britain is currently in negotiations with EU-level bodies to bridge the gap between some of their most contested issues (member state sovereignty, immigration, and the market economy, to name a few), in order to prevent the UK from bowing out of the European Union. One of their newest negotiation treaties contained a clause which decreases welfare, to the detriment of minority groups in the UK; of which Eastern Europeans make up a significant percentage. Eastern European countries are now grappling with the choice of either rejecting the UK’s proposal, risking a “Brexit” and thereby losing protection against Russia; or, allowing their ethnic minority groups to be discriminated against. I believe this article is the most important for three reasons: first, it reiterates the fact that Bulgaria receives very little news coverage (which I discovered while doing this exercise); and, when it does, it tends to be lumped with Eastern European countries and EU-wide issues; second, it discusses the very prevalent issue of ethnic discrimination within the UK and talk of a “Brexit”, both of which are being teased out through their membership alteration negotiations; and third, it highlights the prevailing issue of ‘old’ versus ‘new’ EU member states. Collectively, these three ongoing problems could be enough to advance the already troubled atmosphere within the EU to one of noncompliance, resulting in a ripple effect across all areas of EU competence and member state cooperation.

Week Two: Prompt - Please write about your country's citizenship, naturalization, and immigrant integration policies.

Citizenship, Naturalization, and Integration in Bulgaria: Will the EU’s Gatekeeper Ever Be (Ready for) More?
There has been much focus on Greece, Germany, and the Balkans as a whole, throughout this immigration crisis in the EU, and rightfully so. But, what about the individual Balkan countries? Specifically, what about Bulgaria? My initial research into Bulgaria revealed that they aren’t covered in international news on a frequent basis; and, when they have been (in the past few months), it was in the form of bad publicity for their treatment of and measures taken against refugees. Most specifically, news of barbed wire fence along their borders, and multiple reports of violent acts of racism and xenophobia. As one of the ‘gatekeepers’ to the EU, Bulgaria is prime real estate for human trafficking. They set an important precedence for all manner of immigration into the EU; for instance, how refugees will be treated and cared for on their trek through Balkans, how other land immigrants can be naturalized and become part of the EU community, etc.

After wading through pages of Bulgarian citizenship law documents and EU factsheets on Bulgaria, it appears that Bulgarian citizenship, naturalization, and immigrant integration laws are predisposed toward those who are highly educated, are already of Bulgarian descent, or those willing to devote their time to obtaining an all-encompassing knowledge of the Bulgarian language, customs, and obtain the usual residency and job status. While they have produced a very extensive, comprehensive document outlining plans for attracting third country nationals (TCN) to boost economic production, their actions in recent years do not mimic their words – specifically as it relates to TCN of a different religion or socioeconomic status.

According to Chapter 2, Section I of “Law for the Bulgarian Citizenship”, one can acquire citizenship by origin, place of birth, or by naturalization. Under citizenship by origin, you are a Bulgarian citizen if at least one of your parents is a Bulgarian citizen; or, if you are fathered by a Bulgarian citizen; or, if your origin from a Bulgarian citizen is established by a court. Under the origin clause, citizenship by parent appears to extend to adoptive and biological parents, alike, so long as they are a Bulgarian citizen. To acquire citizenship by birth, you must be born on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria or if you are found on this territory and your parents are unknown. This may potentially extend to embassies on foreign soil.

However, if a person is does not qualify for or is unable to obtain the stipulations stated above, you must file for naturalization – a process which seems complicated and difficult for those who are fleeing to Bulgaria. The most basic route to naturalization is to: ‘become of age’ (not clarified; presumably 18), file for a permit for permanent stay in the Republic of Bulgaria, not be a criminal, have an occupation and a place of residence in the country, do not have (or will be released soon from) any other citizenship, and, most interestingly, have control of the Bulgarian language “which shall be ascertained according to an Ordinance by the Minister of Education, Youth and Science”. The requirement of ‘control of the language’ is also listed under Article 13a, which addresses those obtaining a refugee or protection status.

Overall, most documents discussing citizenship, naturalization, and integration all agree that, for the sake of Bulgaria’s economy, TCN must be attracted to the country and be successfully socially integrated. While this appears to be at the expense of any individual of a lower socioeconomic status, Bulgaria’s goals indicate a desire to be a proactive ‘gatekeeper’ and sustainable member of the EU by combating trafficking, increasing economic output, and increase implementation of European legal norms by increasing their operational capacities.

Sources:

EU Commission. 2009. “The Organisation of Asylum and Migration Polices. Factsheet: Bulgaria.” Updated September, 2012.

Krasteva, Anna et. al., eds. 2010. “Trends in Cross-border Workforce Migration and the Free Movement of People – Effects for Bulgaria.” Open Society Institute – Sofia: 7-176.

Law for the Bulgarian Citizenship. 1998. Amended SG. 33/30, April 2010: 1-11.

National Strategy on Migration, Asylum, and Integration (2011-2020). 2011.
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