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16. 4.

98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 117/17

(98/C 117/21) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2398/97

by Carles-Alfred Gasòliba i Böhm (ELDR) to the Commission
(10 July 1997)

Subject: Environmental damage in the Oliva-Pego marsh

The Oliva-Pego marsh in the Valencia Region has suffered considerable damage in the last few weeks as a result
of fires, ploughing and the drying up of the wetland. All this constitutes a serious environmental problem which
is supposed to be solved by the execution of the project for a national park in the area.

Is the Commission aware of the current situation concerning the project for the national park in the Oliva-Pego
marsh? Can it supply information about the European aid requested by the Valencian authorities to finance the
purchase of land from farmers?

Answer given by Mrs Bjerregaard on behalf of the Commission

(12 September 1997)

The Commission is aware of what has been happening in the Pego-Oliva marshes, since conservation of this area
is one of the objectives of the Life-Nature project ‘Programa de acciones para la conservación de humedales
valencianos y creación de áreas de reserva para el samaruc (Valencia hispanica)', the contract for which
(B4-3200/92/15183 and B4-3200/95/525) was established in December 1992 between the Commission and the
Government of Valencia.

The Commission has asked the beneficiary to forward regular information on the action taken to ensure the
conservation of this wetland area in the face of activity by certain farmers. The following measures have been
− lodging of a complaint by the Director of the reserve against the Mayor of Pego (alleged violation against
natural resources and the environment, serious dereliction of duty, illegal possession);
− order from the Consejerı́a de medio ambiente freezing all forms of activity in the marshes;
− order from the competent judge prohibiting all activity in the marshes and asking the civil guard to monitor
potential infringements;
− action taken in defiance of this ban has been reported to the competent national court.

In 1996 the Valencian authorities purchased, or took steps towards purchasing, 569 ‘anegadas' (approximately
50 hectares) of the Pego-Oliva marshes for a total of PTA 111 million. Steps are being taken to purchase a similar
surface area in 1997.

(98/C 117/22) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2401/97

by Leen van der Waal (I-EDN) to the Commission
(10 July 1997)

Subject: Recognition of the Logos Bible Academy in Bulgaria

According to reports in the May 1997 issue of Face to Face (published by ‘Droits de l'Homme sans Frontières')
the Logos Bible Academy is still not officially recognized by the Bulgarian Government, in spite of repeated
attempts to obtain recognition. The Academy is supported by the main, officially recognized Protestant churches
in Bulgaria, was certainly recognized by the Sofia courts in 1990 and provides academic training considered
equivalent to that of the Faculty of Theology of St Kliment Ohridski University in Sofia. When religious
legislation was adopted in 1993 the Logos Bible Academy was refused recognition, as a result of which the
Academy has been facing all kinds of practical difficulties.

1. Can the Commission confirm these reports?

2. To what extent is the refusal of official recognition to the Logos Bible Academy in contravention of the
principle of freedom of religion as laid down in the Bulgarian constitution and international treaties?

3. Is the Commission prepared to request the Bulgarian authorities to grant official recognition to the Logos
Bible Academy as soon as possible?
C 117/18 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 16. 4. 98

Answer given by Mr Van den Broek on behalf of the Commission

(2 October 1997)

1. The Commission confirms the information concerning the non recognition by the Bulgarian government of
the ‘Logos Bible academy’.

2. It is a matter for the Bulgarian authorities whether or not to recognise a religious institution (group,
association or other type of non-profit organisation). Government decisions in this field are based on the
following legal texts:
− Article 37, paragraph 2 of the Bulgarian constitution: ‘The freedom of conscience and religion shall not be
practised to the detriment of national security, public order, public health and morals, or of the rights and
freedoms of others’,
− the law on persons and family (Article 133 a),
− the law on the legal system.

The law also provides the opportunity for the institution to appeal to the supreme court if recognition is not given.

3. In its opinion on Bulgaria’s application for membership of the Community (1), the Commission noted that
‘some gaps remain in respect for fundamental rights, though the new government elected in April has announced
a series of positive reforms’. In general the Commission declared that ‘freedom of association and demonstration
is guaranteed by the constitution and is exercised without difficulty’ and that ‘freedom of expression in Bulgaria
is evidenced by pluralism in the press and other media’. The Commission concluded that Bulgaria is on the way
to satisfying the political criteria set by the Copenhagen European Council.

In the light of these and other considerations, the Commission considers that negotiations for accession to the
Community should be opened with Bulgaria as soon as it has made sufficient progress in satisfying the
conditions of membership defined by the European Council in Copenhagen. The Commission will present a
report no later than the end of 1998 on the progress Bulgaria has achieved. On that occasion the Commission will
carefully look at the respect of fundamental rights and freedoms in Bulgaria. In the mean time the Commission
has advised Bulgaria to take the appropriate measures on the weaknesses identified in the opinion.

(1) Doc. COM(97) 2008 final.

(98/C 117/23) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2413/97

by Klaus Lukas (NI) to the Commission
(10 July 1997)

Subject: Reform of structural and regional assistance

Accord to reports in the media, the Commission is working on proposals for the comprehensive reform of
structural and regional assistance. It is also understood that Objective 5b regions are to be abandoned in this

On what grounds is structural and regional assistance to be reformed?

What objectives is the Commission pursuing in this connection?

When and how is the reform of structural and regional assistance to be accomplished?

Is it true that Objective 5b regions are to be abandoned?

What implications would the abandonment of Objective 5b regions have for Austria?

Has any thought been given to developing other measures to assist these ‘abandoned’ Objective 5b regions?

Answer given by Mr Fischler on behalf of the Commission

(15 October 1997)

European-wide solidarity and in this context the major objective of reducing disparities in development, as set
out explicitly in Article 130a of the EC Treaty, is an essential political basis of European unity. It is an essential