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Bulgaria freezes ACTA ratification

Bulgaria freezes ACTA ratification

PanARMENIAN.Net - Bulgaria will suspend the ratification of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement international treaty (ACTA), Economy Minister Traicho Traikov told a news conference in Sofia on February 14, The Sofia Echo reported.

Traikov said that Bulgaria's Cabinet will vote on a motion to suspend ACTA ratification at its next meeting on February 15. Asked whether Bulgaria would withdraw from ACTA altogether, Traikov said that a decision in that sense would be taken once the European Union reaches a consensus opinion on the matter.

The European Commission was among the parties that negotiated the treaty for the past five years. Reports have claimed that the US trade representative's office drafted the bulk of the provisions covering digital copyrights infringement and was also the party that insisted on all participants in the talks signing strict non-disclosure agreements.

European Parliament, which has to give its approval to any international agrement that the European Union signs, has been critical of the secretive nature of the negotiations on ACTA. Its rapporteur on the matter, French MEP Kader Arif, resigned his position on January 26, the same day that 22 EU member states, Bulgaria included, signed the treaty in Tokyo.

Arif said that he wanted to "denounce in the strongest manner the process that led to the signing of this agreement: no association of civil society [and] lack of transparency from the beginning".

"This agreement might have major consequences on citizens' lives, and still, everything is being done to prevent the European Parliament from having its say in this matter. That is why today, as I release this report for which I was in charge, I want to send a strong signal and alert the public opinion about this unacceptable situation. I will not take part in this masquerade," he said.

Arif's sentiment was strongly echoed throughout Europe, with rallies against ACTA organised in several countries, culminating in a mass protest on February 11, when tens of thousands of people marched in dozens of European cities. In Sofia, turnout estimates ranged between 4000 and 8000, with smaller marches held in other cities in the country.

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