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"Blue Room" keeps children


Sonya Machorska

   Two-day seminar for journalists on "Children and the media. Ethical Coverage of Children" took place in Monatà with speakers Maria Milkova, journalist and Ognyan Penev, operator. The event was organized with the support of Borislav Georgiev from the Association of European Journalists and Ivaylo Spasov from UN Children's Fund (Unicef). There were journalists from Northwestern Bulgaria and social workers from Montana.

   The main purpose of the training was focused on the ability and role of the media to change the world for the better, starting with children and creating skills to reflect the smallest members of our society responsibly and with respect for their dignity.

   In addition to reviewing and commenting on good and fair coverage of child abuse and children at risk, common and mutually supportive themes were shared between journalists and social workers that would benefit and protect children and victims of violence.

   It was extremely interesting and useful to visit the Zakrila Zone in Montana. Ilina Gechovska, head of the Zone, said that last year only 160 children and women benefited from this social service. Petko Petkov, a doctor of sociology, added that it is necessary to work more actively with the abusers, not just their victims, in order to improve the results. He selectively explains and demonstrates how to question children (in criminal cases) in a gentle way in the so-called "blue room" that is in the Zakrila area. On one side are the child, the victim of violence, with whom a psychologist speaks. Behind the glass and invisible to the child, there is a prosecutor, a lawyer, and sometimes the abuser. The interrogation is recorded with the appropriate technique and can be repeatedly used by the different services, without the injured child having to experience the nightmare again and again.

   An extremely useful seminar, who presented several years of work to both lecturers. Maria Milkova is the author of some of the strongest and most memorable social reports and documentaries on the air of Bulgarian television. Among its priority topics are those related to children and adolescents, education, family problems of children with disabilities, foster care and adoptions abroad, refugee children, children in institutions.

   In 2016, she is among the 10 journalists from the Balkans elected to participate in the scholarship of the international organization Balkan Investigative Journalism Network (BIRN). The theme is the deinstitutionalization of children with disabilities in Bulgaria and the Netherlands.

   Ognyan Penev has extensive experience in filming TV shows and documentary TV films on children's themes. From 2016, he worked for the Swiss National Television SRF and the German ZDF. He has screened a project of "Balkan Network for Investigative Journalism" on "Deinstitutionalisation of Children with Disabilities".

Video: Facebook – Sonya Kirilova Machorska

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International Career Forum - for the first time in Vidin


Sonya Machorska

   The Forum "Realize with the European Union", which took place today in Vidin, opened the head of the Representation of the European Commission in Bulgaria Ognyan Zlatev. The event is organized by the Foundation for Regional Development, University of Craiova, Romania, together with "Europe Direct - Vidin". The guests of the forum were the governor Albena Georgieva and the deputy mayor of humanitarian activities of the municipality Ventsi Paskov.

   Participation in the forum was held by the European Commission's official partners for Bulgaria - Enterprise Europe Network, Creative Europe and Citizens for Europe, Career Guidance Center - Vidin, Vidin Information Center, EU Information Center „Europe Direct-Vidin", youth team "Europe", EURES representative as well as representatives of business and non-governmental organizations from the region.

   In the framework of the event, direct meetings were organized between business and jobseekers, who were provided with information on job opportunities through European Employee Exchange Networks (EURES), as well as vacancies in the field the tailoring and food industry, trade, and so on.

   Interest was generated by the information on qualification and retraining in various European programs presented by the Vidin Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the possibility of training at the University of Craiova, Romania.

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They chose Laura Kovesi as European Chief Prosecutor


Sonya Machorska

   By secret ballot, MEPs from the Civil Liberties Committee elected Laura Codruta Kövesi for the post of European Chief Prosecutor, informed Bilyana Tzarnoretchka, PR at the Bulgarian EP office.

   The ranking of the three candidates was determined by a vote in the committee on Wednesday. Laura Kovesi of Romania was elected as the leading candidate with 26 votes, Jean-Francois Bonner of France received 22 votes and Andres Ritter from Germany received 1 vote.

   Yesterday, the candidates were heard by MEPs at a meeting organized by the Committee on Civil Liberties, which also includes the Committee on Budgetary Control.

   The European Chief Prosecutor, who will head the European Public Prosecutor's Office, will be appointed by common accord of the European Parliament and the Council.

   The result of the vote in the Committee on Civil Liberties, together with the recommendation of the Committee on Budgetary Control, which also supported Ms Kövesi during a vote on Tuesday, will be sent to the EP's Conference of Presidents. The members of the Conference of Presidents (EP President and political group leaders) will decide on the next steps on 7 March, before negotiations with the Council.

   The European Public Prosecutor's Office, which is expected to be operational by the end of 2020, will be an independent body responsible for investigating, prosecuting and bringing to justice crimes against the EU budget: fraud, corruption or cross-border fraud with a VAT of more than EUR 10 million. The list of crimes can be extended in the future to include, for example, terrorism.

   So far, 22 Member States have joined the European Public Prosecutor's Office. The five countries that are not currently participating - Sweden, Hungary, Poland, Ireland and Denmark - can join at any time.

   The European Public Prosecutor's Office will be located in Luxembourg, along with the Prosecutor General and the Prosecutor's College of all participating countries. They will be at the forefront of the day-to-day criminal investigations carried out by authorized prosecutors in all participating Member States.





The most surprising polling stations in Europe


    From a Pacific island to a prison - these are the most unusual places to vote for in the European elections in May.

What do submarines, high-security prisons and tropical islands have in common? They're all places where you might catch a European voting in May’s EU-wide parliamentary election.

Here are the most surprising places voters will be casting their ballots:

The far east

   The EU's easternmost point on the Continent might lie on a small island in the Finnish lake of Virmajärvi. But travel some 14,125 kilometers further east and you'll come to the island collectivity of Wallis and Futuna, a French territory in the South Pacific that is home to 12,000 citizens who can also vote in the European election.

   Starting in 2004, all inhabited French overseas departments and collectivities counted as one constituency, granting its 1.5 million registered voters the right to elect three deputies to the European Parliament. But since the French National Assembly abolished the Overseas Territories constituency last May, it is now up to France's political parties to decide whether or not to include candidates from overseas territories on their lists for the European election.

The Indian Ocean

   Réunion, a French island in the Indian Ocean with a population of about 800,000, is the EU's southernmost inhabited region. The electoral campaign ahead of the European vote is "in principle" no different from "what is done on the national level," says Younous Omarjee, an MEP from Réunion voted into the European Parliament in 2014. But the issues that strike a chord with voters are usually different, he concedes, citing sugar and fishing as dominating debate on the island.

   The last European Parliament election elicited little interest in France's overseas territories, with turnout dropping to a record low of 17 percent, according to Radio New Zealand. Still, the islands have a better track record than some EU countries: In Slovakia, only 13 percent cast a ballot in the 2014 election.

The high north

   In Finland's least densely populated region, people often have to travel "hundreds of kilometers" on election day to cast their ballots, says Mika Riipi, Lapland's regional governor.

   With a density of 17 inhabitants per square kilometer, Finland has the third-lowest population density in Europe, after non-EU countries Iceland and Norway. Lapland is home to some 180,000 people — and an equal number of reindeer — living on 99,000 km².

   Some chose to vote ahead of time by dropping off a ballot at a nearby pick-up point several weeks before the election. Around 30 to 40 percent of Finns chose to mail in their votes early in the last election, according to Riip, who adds the number of people doing so "is growing."

   A boy peeks out a polling booth during a French municipal election on the French island of Reunion | Richard Bouhet/AFP via Getty Images

War zones

   When it comes to voting while serving in the military, national authorities set the rules.

   Members of the German military, for example, can only vote via mail. “The armed forces will take care [of the paperwork], so everybody has the appropriate papers available at time of the vote,” says Christian Scherrer, a spokesperson of Germany's defense ministry.

   For anyone stationed on a submarine, this system makes voting a little more challenging. Voting has to be done far enough in advance that "it will be back in Germany on the appropriate time," says Scherrer, recalling having had to send ballots from a foreign port "four or five weeks" before the election date.

Border town

   How and when to vote is perhaps most confusing in the Dutch town of Baarle-Nasseau, also called Baarle-Hertog. This small town in the south of the Netherlands contains 22 small exclaves of Belgium, some of which also contain Dutch counter-enclaves.

   Practically speaking, this means that some streets are divided by a curved border made up of white crosses and markings that tell you whether you are currently standing in the Netherlands or in Belgium. In one case, a resident was told to pick a country — the border went straight through his front door.

   The zig-zagging boundary also means that the town's 8,000 residents will vote at different times and using different ballots. The Dutch will head to the polling station on May 23, followed three days later by their Belgian neighbors.

   Estonia, often touted as the continent's most digitally advanced country, is the only EU country where nationals can vote online.

   Turnout is also radically different depending on where you live in this small town. Because voting is compulsory in Belgium, turnout on the Belgian side is high — almost 90 percent. In the Dutch parts of town, meanwhile, only 37 percent showed up to vote in the last European election.


   Estonia, often touted as the Continent's most digitally advanced country, is the only EU country where nationals can vote online. According to the government, a third of Estonians use the so-called "i-Voting" system launched in 2005.

   It's a time-saver for those who don't want to spend time queuing at a local polling station, but also a useful tool for indecisive voters — citizens can change their vote as many times as they like until voting closes, with only their final choice taken into account.

In prison

   Among the half a million people incarcerated in prison systems across the bloc, a large proportion are eligible to determine the make-up of the next European Parliament.

   Their ability to vote depends on their location and the crime committed, after the European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2012 that every country has the right to legislate its own rules on voting rights for prisoners — providing they don't instate a blanket ban.

   A guard walks down a corridor in a French prison. In France, prisoners may vote if they meet certain critiera for eligibility | Jeff Pachoud/AFP via Getty Images

   In at least 18 European countries, including Denmark, Finland, Spain and Sweden, there are no constraints on prisoners who want to vote. In Germany and France, a prisoner's eligibility depends on the crime committed or the length of the sentence. People sentenced in Germany for crimes that target the integrity of the state, such as terrorists, are barred from voting, for example.

The United Kingdom

   Britain might be leaving the EU, but a large number of people across the Channel will still be voting in the next European election. Around 6 percent of the U.K. population — some 3.7 million people — are citizens of another EU country, according to data from the British office of national statistics.

   Just under 1 million are Polish nationals, making Poles the largest European community in Britain. They're followed by an estimated 433,000 Romanians and 337,000 Irish nationals.








Burned Community centre received 10,000 books


Sonya Machorska

   The Community centre “Hristo Botev” in the village of Skrebatno, Garmen municipality, Blagoevgrad district, burnt at the end of last year, today marks the 100th anniversary of its foundation, said Emilia Kubisheva, secretary of the institution. After a large-scale campaign for book collection and construction of the Community centre building again, more than 10 000 books have been donated today.

   The municipality will prepare the project for the new building, the State will help with funds. There is already a bigger donor from Plovdiv, whose roots are from the village, a collecting account is opened in one of the banks. "For the first of November there will be again a community center", assured Daniela Pideva, Mayor of Skrebatno, last night at the rally meeting.

   The village has about 300 inhabitants and they are all categorical that they will help as they can to restore their Community centre, built by their ancestors and preserving Bulgaria during this century of existence.

   The book collection campaign for the burnt-out community center was co-sponsored by the Kardzhali Radio, which provided more than 1,000 books, said el journalist Bozhidar Cholakov.










Monday, 25 March 2019
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