Project partners and guests at the opening of the democracy course in Haskovo: Dejan Janev, Headmaster of the local “Prof. Dr. Assen Zlatarov” high school; Ulrike Schultz, speaker; Kremena Ehrmann, IRZ (1st row, left to right); and Maria Angelova, Director of the regional court of Haskovo, and Ivan Panajotov, representing the Ministry of Education (2nd row on the right)Project partners and guests at the opening of the democracy course in Haskovo: Dejan Janev, Headmaster of the local “Prof. Dr. Assen Zlatarov” high school; Ulrike Schultz, speaker; Kremena Ehrmann, IRZ (1st row, left to right); and Maria Angelova, Director of the regional court of Haskovo, and Ivan Panajotov, representing the Ministry of Education (2nd row on the right)

On 4 October 2016, the eighth event in the “Democracy and Law” series began at the “Prof. Dr. Assen Zlatarov” foreign languages high school in the Bulgarian city of Haskovo. After a traditional dance put on by a group of students to open the event, head teacher Dejan Janev welcomed the speaker, Ulrike Schultz, the IRZ and representatives from various institutions in the region. Kremena Ehrmann, the IRZ adviser for the cooperation with the Republic of Bulgaria, introduced the project, its history and the main focus of the course to guests and the press. Welcome speeches were also made by the regional representative of the Ministry of Education, the city's education officers and the Director of the district court of Haskovo.

In partnership with the Vice-President of the Republic of Bulgaria, Margarita Popova, the IRZ has been offering this course for sixth formers at German-language high schools since 2013. The school in Haskovo is the eighth high school to offer the course, after schools in Lovech, Blagoevgrad, Sofia, Pazardzhik, Razgrad, Kardzhali and Burgas. About 100 students in years 10, 11 and 12 are taught in three groups about the basic principles of democracy, state organisation and law. The objective of the four-day course is to raise awareness of law and democracy amongst young people, thereby supporting a highly motivated civil society of the future.

The programme is based on legal studies at the Ministry of Justice for the North Rhine-Westfalia region and was adapted especially to suit the circumstances in Bulgaria. The speaker, Ulrike Schultz, was until recently a senior professor at the department for German and European Constitutional and Administrative Law and International Law at the Open University of Hagen and plays a major role in the development of legal studies in the North Rhine-Westfalia region.

Bulgarian schools show a high level of interest in the course. The next course will take place immediately after this one, from 10 to 13 October in Smoljan.