Book Reviews
Yuliy Georgiev (2000). The Bulgarian Special Services Looking Towards A Unified Europe br/>(Volume 1, Number 2, Summer 2000.)
19 srp 2000 01:59:00

Sofia: Priva Consult LTD, pp. 158.
Paper bound. Price: Lv. 7.
ISBN 954-90586-1-1

In his book The Bulgarian Special Services Looking Towards A Unified Europe Colonel (Ret.) Yuliy Georgiev, ex-Director of the National Security Service, addresses issues which, in his opinion, have an impact on the work of the Bulgarian counterintelligence and the other special services within the Ministry of the Interior. The author's analysis covers the period following the democratic changes in Bulgaria. In a dozen thematically oriented sections, the author treats many of the problems of the special services in Bulgaria during the period of the "Iron Curtain". In the author's opinion, these questions have inflamed society for years and were periodically exploited and manipulated by the ruling circles.

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Already in the foreword, Mr. Georgiev calls upon Bulgarian statesmen to show "patience, more tolerance and mutual understanding". From his position as former head of one of the country's main special services, Mr. Georgiev appeals to society to search for a means to unify the nation. In his opinion, Bulgarian society is in need of such unification, especially while active negotiations for a full membership to the European Union are in progress. The author makes an attempt to explain why the ghost of the former State Security "still disturbs the sleep" of Bulgarian politicians. Mr. Georgiev answers this question already in the first chapter of the book. History, he says, shows "that any underdeveloped and non-democratic rule, particularly when losing confidence and feeling weak", immediately attempts to create opponents of their own. The more aggressively the "men of straw" promote this image, the more convincing will be their explanations for the failures of the current state government. After 1989, the former State Security involuntarily assumed the role of opponent of the Bulgarian governments. All those who came into power in Bulgaria after the fall of the communist regime declared that this service was a criminal organization. The ruling circles' thesis was that former repressive structures continued to obstruct the democratic development of the state and to control the processes of change, due to its total penetration into political and economic life.

One of the most serious accusations that have been made by the present Bulgarian politicians against the former special services' officers is that the latter are at the root of the country's organized crime structures. In the author's opinion, this is a convenient allegation intended to justify the current political situation. Mr. Georgiev emphasizes that the senior staff and the well-trained professionals in those services are still being periodically fired or retired simply for having served under the previous governments. This is but the tip of the iceberg. According to the author, they are put under surveillance by every succeeding government, subjected to various forms of control, and public opinion is inflamed against them and their actions, regardless of the content of such actions.

As for the attitude shown by the special services' officers towards the changes that were underway at the end of the 1980s, Mr. Georgiev's position is categorical. In his opinion, the services "were aware of the need for those changes but did not accept the irresponsible manner in which they were made."

Another topic addressed by the author is the management of the special services in the new situation. He defines this task as highly difficult. As a citizen, Mr. Georgiev has observed the beginning of the depolitization of those services, and feels that it has been extremely important to find a balance between permanent national interests and activities of the reformed services. Problems have been speedily resolved in spite of the lack of experience. New regulations have imposed changes in some operational methods, discontinuation of concepts, restriction of repressive and brutal functions of the counterintelligence institution. The resolution of many issues was made possible only by virtue of the professionalism of the officers. Former Counterintelligence Director, Mr. Georgiev argues that, as soon as the changes were underway, the Bulgarian counterintelligence freed itself from the influence of geopolitics and various alliances, and acted in accordance with the immediate realities and threats to the state. As proof of the maturity of the counterintelligence institution, the author points out its attitude toward the Bulgarian Turks' party, which was formed as an independent political subject already at the end of 1989. Mr. Georgiev calls the reader's attention to the fact that, already in 1992, the then NSS Director Chavdar Petkov promoted the gradual recruitment and appropriate training of youth of Turkish origin for future employment at the NSS.

The author also examines briefly the "logic of destruction" of the state system and national identity. In his opinion, it will be years before political passions are calmed and events can be analyzed in an objective manner. Today the rulers seek justification in the fact that there is no comparative model and analogy for such a development in world history. State leaders, the author says, are depending upon the passage of time to excuse them from responsibility for their missteps, for having initiated the destruction of functioning business and state structures without providing a clear concept for their model of replacement, and for failing to obtain the required national consensus on their realization. The author argues forcefully that, during the entire ten-year transition period, Bulgarian politicians have failed to overcome their complexes concerning "the services". In his opinion, they still cannot transcend their narrow party orientation when speaking about the development and activity of these services. The most severe upheavals have been suffered by the special services, which are targets of numerous attacks and accusations. Such actions, of course, have much wider repercussions, since the problem "goes beyond the circle of narrow political interests". This explains also the fact that Bulgarians do not feel safe in their own state.

Another basic issue that attracts Mr. Georgiev's attention as a professional is the restructuring of the special services and, in particular, of the counterintelligence institution. The author's firm view is that this process had been influenced by the chaotic course of events and subjected to the illogical hesitations of the politicians with respect to the governing of the state. At the beginning of its creation, for instance, the NSS had been envisaged as a counterpart to its German analog, but at the same time its design provided for the implementation of certain elements of the actual English model; this naturally resulted in confusion. Again, a highly negative impact on the final outcome of the services' restructuring was the fear of the politicians of the former State Security, and the strong distrust existing between these politicians. According to Mr. Georgiev, the manner in which the former State Security has been divided, into National Intelligence Service - NIS, National Security Service - NSS, National Guard Service - NGS, and Military Counterintelligence - MCI, preordained the failures in the future activities of the newborn structures. The author has doubts about the vitality of the model followed in the structuring of the present Bulgarian special services, but is certain in one aspect: that contacts with partners from the former hostile countries exert a positive influence, and that the principle of reciprocity introduced in regard to exchange of information on issues of international security and organized crime is indispensable for ensuring national security.

Last but not least, the author addresses questions related to control over the special services, which is a topic that is periodically exploited by powerholders and the opposition, particularly when there is a need to find a scapegoat for mistakes committed by politicians. In spite of the continual interest shown both by the executive and the legislature, Mr. Georgiev emphasizes that this issue has yet to be resolved. Discussions about civilian control over the special services in our country began immediately after the changes in the country in 1989, but in practice nothing substantial has yet occurred. The author places the blame on narrow party interests, backdoor political intrigues, lack of understanding of the importance of this problem, and simple indifference. The government has declared its intention to achieve stronger civilian control over the services, but this task cannot be realized through the demilitarization of the services, or the appointments of political figures as MI's Secretaries and Vice-Ministers of the Ministry of Defense.

The reader can also find in this book a brief comparative analysis of the existing forms of control over the special services in states with stable democracies. The author leaves the issue open for discussion, but indicates that such a control is possible, even indispensable for society.
The issue of coordinating the work of the services is open for discussion in Bulgaria as well, and Mr. Georgiev does not overlook this question in his book. He critically analyzes the structure and the work of the acting control and coordination bodies, such as the National Security Council at the government and the Consultative Council for National Security of the President of the Republic. Through this analysis, the author concludes that if one of these bodies is acting efficiently, it would mean that there would be a duplication of efforts.

Loyal to his professional ethics, Mr. Georgiev offers his own concept about the shape, tasks, and activities of a unified central body whose aim is to synchronize the work of the special services. The reader acquainted with this professional matter might find his ideas controversial and reject them, but the author's intent has been to address this crucial issue and initiate discussion.

The book ends with a brief political and economic analysis of the situation in Bulgaria and in the Balkan region. Mr. Georgiev comments on the actions of NATO, the EU, and Russia in the resolution of the Kosovo problem by military means. His short-term forecast on the further development of events is pessimistic, and the author enumerates his reasons for such an appraisal.

The large number of topics introduced creates a certain overload in the reader's mind regarding the activities and management of the special services of Bulgaria in the transition years. However, the author has not intended to provide a comprehensive analysis of all the problems which have arisen in the intelligence services. The principal merit of Yuliy Georgiev's book is that he describes the existing problems in the management, the synchronization of the activities and the forms of control over the special services in Bulgaria. By means of a logical sequence of assumptions, utilizing the arguments and the authority of a former intelligence chief, he succeeds in persuading the reader of the importance of the issues examined.

Yuliy Georgiev's The Bulgarian Special Services Looking Towards A Unified Europe complements and enriches the series of similar literature on the Bulgarian book market.

Yordan Natchev, Sofia, Bulgaria

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