The decision in response to 50 Members of the 38th National Assembly ruled that the provisions of Arts. 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 of the Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities that was signed on October 9, 1997 and the Convention as a whole comply with the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria.

On the compliance of the Convention term “national minorities” with the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria and on the effect of the Convention.

The Constitutional Court found that Bulgarian and international law does not have a definition of the term “national minorities” that is a legally binding definition on the Republic of Bulgaria. The Convention itself gives no definition of this term.

The Constitutional Court assumes that it is the will of signatory states at this stage of the international law regulations to leave the definition of this term at the discretion of each signatory state.

The Constitutional Court upholds the view that the Convention does not create collective rights and does not provide for the protection of such rights. The rights that are exercised collectively are the rights of individuals. It is impossible for a contradiction to arise between the Convention and the Constitution in this respect.

On Art. 7 of the Convention.

The freedom of association that is provided for in Art. 7 of the Convention is not different in content from the Constitution-sanctioned freedom that Art. 44 para 1 of the Constitution provides for. Freedom of association is universal. It is an individual human right and covers all persons regardless of the possible ethnic, religious and language differences between them. Freedom of association can be restricted only and when the Constitution or the international instruments provide otherwise.

On Art. 8 of the Convention.

The Constitution and the international treaties to which Bulgaria is a party explicitly proclaim freedom of religion.

Freedom of religion may be restricted for the sake of explicitly listed Constitution values like national security, law and order, public health and decorum, the rights and freedoms of other citizens and the dignity of each individual. To resort to religious communities and institutions or to religious beliefs in order to preach religious fundamentalism or extremism is always a gross violation of the fundamental principles that are expressed in a number of Constitution provisions.

On Arts. 9, 10 and 11 of the Convention.

The three articles of the Convention treat the right of persons who belong to national minorities to express themselves in the minority language, to obtain and disseminate information in that language and to use that language in private and in public.

The Constitutional Court thinks that the possible discrepancy between the concepts “minority language” in the sense of the Convention and “mother tongue” in the sense of the Constitution can affect solely the range of persons covered. The possible discrepancy does not affect the right of using a “minority language”, respectively a “mother tongue” and in that sense it cannot be treated as a discrepancy between the Convention and the Constitution.

The Constitutional Court underscored that the analysis of the Convention provisions does not reveal non-compliance with the Constitution in legal terms. The Explanatory Report to the Convention explicitly indicates that “The obligations of the Parties vis a vis the use of minority languages shall in no way affect the status of the official language or languages of the country in question.”

On the compliance of the whole Convention with the Constitution.

The rights and freedoms listed in the Convention are duly provided for and correspondingly protected in the Constitution. They are recognized to every individual regardless of his or her national identity.

The content of the rights and freedoms that are treated both in the Convention and the Constitution is determined by the modern standards of fundamental human rights.

The Constitutional Court recalled that respect for territorial integrity is a fundamental principle in international law and is also a fundamental principle enshrined in Art. 2 para 2 of the Constitution. The exercise of rights and freedoms under the Convention is possible and admissible only when this principle is strictly abided by both under the Convention and the Constitution.

The Constitutional Court concluded that the Convention provisions do not affect the principle of national unity that the Constitution proclaims. National unity does not exclude religious, language or ethnic differences among the citizens of the Republic of Bulgaria.