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Bulgaria: Journalists To Learn How EU Functions

Copenhagen, 11 December 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Twenty Bulgarian journalists this week are getting first-hand experience in how European Union (EU) institutions and media entities function. They have come to Copenhagen under a program organized by Denmark's School for Public Administration, and paid for by Denmark's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

With them, the number of top civil servants, parliamentarians, legal experts and representatives of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) from Bulgaria to visit Denmark, under the program, tops one hundred.

The journalists, most of them working on the foreign desks of both print and electronic Bulgarian media, are being shown how EU institutions work in relation to the press, what are the rights and responsibilities of each, and how Public Relations and 'networking' (maintaining wide and varied personal contacts) can enhance the credibility of civil institutions.

Apart from the purely theoretical part of the seminar, the Bulgarians are visiting the editorial offices of several major Danish papers, the Press Office of the Foreign Ministry and the International Press Center in Copenhagen.

According to Peter Warming, Director and chief lecturer of the program, the Bulgarians have a relatively good knowledge of the EU, but still need to obtain a better insight into what he called the 'EU's legal jungle.' With Bulgaria's declared desire to join the EU, journalists and the press need to be able to explain to the general public what it is they will be joining, Warming told RFE/RL's Copenhagen correspondent.

For about five years, the Danish School of Public Administration has run an extensive program aimed at Eastern European professionals. In November, 16 judges from Hungary came to Denmark for a week, and were given the chance to participate in the day-to-day business of the Supreme Court, the Commercial Court and other Danish legal institutions.

In coming months, top civil servants from Romania will be attending a program designed specifically for them.

The three Baltic states, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, have been top participants in similar programs in the past five years.

Our correspondent reports that, although the current seminar lasts just a week, the Bulgarians seem inspired and enthusiastic.

"In Denmark, there is a very clear relationship between public institutions and the press. This is very different in Bulgaria," said one journalist.

Another added, "Public Relations and Journalism are two different things. But in Bulgaria most PR (public relations)-people are just journalists with little if any education in PR." Our correspondent notes this comment was made by a journalist who currently works as a press attach� for Bulgaria's President.