A lesson in democracy and law in Burgas, Bulgaria

  • Nadezhda Radeva-Ivanova, headmistress of Goethe High School, and Kremena Ehrmann, IRZ adviser, open the event and introduce lecturer Ulrike Schultz (left to right)

    Nadezhda Radeva-Ivanova, headmistress of Goethe High School, and Kremena Ehrmann, IRZ adviser, open the event and introduce lecturer Ulrike Schultz (left to right)

  • Ulrike Schultz with students of the 11th grade

    Ulrike Schultz with students of the 11th grade

  • Ulrike Schultz during a class

    Ulrike Schultz during a class

From 7 to 10 June 2016, a course in democracy and law was held for the senior years at the German-language Goethe High School in Burgas on the Black Sea. 80 students were divided into two age groups to be acquainted with topics including the basic structures of the law, the significance of the law and courts for the state and individuals, and state organisation and opportunities for participation in democracy. The programme is based on a legal studies curriculum of the Ministry of Justice for the North Rhine-Westfalia region and was adapted especially to suit the circumstances in Bulgaria. The lecturer, Ulrike Schultz, was until recently a senior academic staff member (Oberrätin) at the Chair of German and European Constitutional and Administrative Law as well as International Law at the state-maintained distance learning University of Hagen. She plays a decisive role in the development of the legal studies curriculum in NRW.

The headmistress of the high school welcomed the speaker in the presence of the students and expressed her thanks for the long-term involvement of the IRZ in this project, which is carried out in partnership with the Vice-President of the Republic of Bulgaria, Margarita Popova. The IRZ advisor for the cooperation with Bulgaria, Kremena Ehrmann, explained how the series of events came about and talked about previous achievements. Goethe High School is the seventh German-language school in Bulgaria to be involved in the project. The students benefit a great deal by taking part, since they learn about the principles of the rule of law and democracy by looking at practical cases in small groups, thereby increasing their self-awareness as citizens of a democratic state and as Europeans. The course is one of a kind in Bulgaria and is very popular at German-language high schools.

Two seminars held in Sofia and Plovdiv as part of the EU victim support project

  • Daniela Mascheva, a public prosecutor at the Supreme Cassation Public Prosecutor

    Daniela Mascheva, a public prosecutor at the Supreme Cassation Public Prosecutor's Office for the Republic of Bulgaria, opening the seminar in Sofia

  • Participants in the seminar in Sofia

    Participants in the seminar in Sofia

  • Presentation of the general framework in Bulgaria and Romania: Michaela Romana Gradinariu, public prosecutor at the district prosecutor

    Presentation of the general framework in Bulgaria and Romania: Michaela Romana Gradinariu, public prosecutor at the district prosecutor's office in Cluj, Romania (left) and Daniela Mascheva (right)

  • Discussions during the seminar in Sofia

    Discussions during the seminar in Sofia

On 12 and 13 May in Sofia and on 16 and 17 May in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, the first two training seminars were held for the "Enhancing the efficiency of the public prosecutor's offices of Bulgaria and Romania in the field of dealing with victims of crime and promoting their cooperation with local and foreign victim support organisations" project. During these seminars, Bulgarian, Romanian and German public prosecutors were trained in how to deal with victims of crime in a respectful, non-discriminatory and professional way in accordance with Directive 2012/29/EU of the European Parliament and the European Council. Bulgarian investigators, police officers and representatives of victim support organisations in Sofia and Plovdiv also took part in the event.

The event opened with a presentation of the project, its objectives and the institutions and organisations involved. The subjects covered on the first day included how Germany implements the EU Directive and the other victim support standards that apply in Germany, as well as the legal framework and practical work in Romania and Bulgaria. The resulting problems encountered in practice and potential solutions were discussed and compared. On the afternoon of the second day, a learning session for trainers (train the trainer) was carried out. The objective of this session was to allow participants to pass on the knowledge gained during the seminar to their colleagues.

Four more seminars in Bulgaria and Romania, study trips and workshops are scheduled as part of this training programme. The next seminar will take place on 25 and 26 May in Bucharest. At the same time, there are also plans for other events to improve cooperation and networking as part of the project.

The IRZ is coordinating this project, which is co-financed by the EU Justice Programme and will run for two years. Its partners are the public prosecutor's offices for the Republics of Bulgaria and Romania and the "Weißer Ring" organisation.

Democracy course in Kardzhali

  • Margarita Popova, Vice-President of Bulgaria (wearing a red coat), and Ulrike Schultz (left), lecturer of the democracy course, are welcomed with bread and honey

    Margarita Popova, Vice-President of Bulgaria (wearing a red coat), and Ulrike Schultz (left), lecturer of the democracy course, are welcomed with bread and honey

  • The lecturer Ulrike Schultz (right) and Kremena Ehrmann, IRZ advisor for the cooperation with Bulgaria, are welcoming the students and guests and present the democracy course

    The lecturer Ulrike Schultz (right) and Kremena Ehrmann, IRZ advisor for the cooperation with Bulgaria, are welcoming the students and guests and present the democracy course

  • Ulrike Schultz teaching in grade 10

    Ulrike Schultz teaching in grade 10

  • Vice-President Margarita Popova (centre right) and the project partners with the teachers from Kardzhali

    Vice-President Margarita Popova (centre right) and the project partners with the teachers from Kardzhali

From 11 to 14 April 2016 the sixth event of the series of lessons in "democracy and law" took place in Kardzhali in the south of Bulgaria at the "Hristo Botev" local foreign-language high school. The democracy course was initiated in 2013 by Margarita Popova, Vice-President of the Republic of Bulgaria, and has been carried out since then by the IRZ in cooperation with the Presidential Administration in Sofia.

In her opening address, Margarita Popova thanked the IRZ for its long-standing and sustained commitment and pointed out the important role of the high school in supporting and educating young people to become free and responsible citizens. The students and teachers of the high school as well as the district administrator and the mayor of Kardzhali and many representatives of the press were among the guests. The opening event was rounded off by a short supporting programme in German.

52 students of the 10th and 11th grades of the German-speaking department participated in the four-day series of lessons. The teachers teaching law and ethics at the high school could also benefit from the lecturer's experience and the teaching materials.

The topics included human rights, the rights and obligations of the individual as a citizen, the separation of powers in the state and the decision-making process in a democracy. The students were also interested whether their peers in Germany were particularly active in politics and society and which rights young people had in Germany. The lecturer, Ms Ulrike Schultz, was a senior academic staff member (Oberrätin) at the Chair of German and European Constitutional and Administrative Law as well as International Law of the state-maintained distance teaching University of Hagen. She has played a decisive role in the development of the legal studies curriculum in North-Rhine Westphalia, which is the basis for the democracy course in Bulgaria, and has been working as a lecturer for students and teachers, amongst others, for many years.

The series of courses is well-known and very popular among the German-speaking high schools in Bulgaria. The next course will be held in Burgas in June.