Citizenship For Sale

Passport Agencies in Bulgaria are Selling Entry to the European Union for £100

Bulgaria has admitted thousands of non EU nationals have signed up for citizenship after it was revealed they could be bought from “passport agencies” for less than 100 pounds each.

The great passport giveaway has proved so popular that even the former Macedonian Prime Minister has admitted taking up the offer, together with at least eight fellow MPs and more than a dozen council leaders.

They are among the more than 20,000 Macedonians who have so far been handed the passports with little or no checks, and many freely admit their motivation is to gain access to the EU job market.

Ljubco Georgievski, who was the world’s youngest prime Minister when he held the job in Macedonia at the age of 28 between 1998 and 2002, initially denied he had been granted a Bulgarian passport, but later admitted it after his Bulgarian ID card and other details were leaked to local media.

He remains an MP and leader of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation, and an active Member of Parliament.

The passports will allow the tens of thousands of non-EU foreigners who have received them or are still on the waiting list to be able to travel to the UK for work after the country joins the Union next January.

But when contacted over the weekend when the scandal was revealed the EU was unable to say whether the Bulgarian action was illegal. More than 20,000 people in Macedonia alone have taken up Bulgarian citizenship so far and three times that number are on the waiting list, with hundreds more applications being made every day, according to Bulgarian MP Vladimir Karakachanov.

Bulgaria says those applying have to sign a statement saying they “feel themselves to be Bulgarian” but there are no checks to see if they have Bulgarian roots, speak the language or even know the most basic information about the country. Many of those applying openly admit they want the passports to get access to the EU job market and escape from countries where they are lucky if they earn more than 100 pounds a month.

Once Bulgaria joins the European Union next year, its citizens, including the new ones, will be able to travel to the UK looking for employment. The applications can take months to be processed but there are now dozens of passport agencies operating that offer to “fast-track” the process for cash payments.

The prices for the service range from 130 euros for Orthodox Christians to up to 10,000 euros for Muslims. In the case of Macedonia the policy is allegedly aimed at proving that the Macedonian nation is of Bulgarian origin.

Macedonia was formerly part of the federation of Yugoslavia and is currently a candidate for EU admission. No addition date has however been set and its citizens are subjected to a severely restrictive visa regime if they want to travel to the EU and the UK. As a result Macedonian citizens interested in travelling and working abroad have decided to take up Bulgarian citizenship in order to avoid stringent visa requirements.

Moldova, a former Soviet republic and currently regarded as Europe’s poorest nation, is ruled by one of the last remaining hard-line communist regimes. It does have a genuine Bulgarian minority constituting about 1.9 per cent of its four million-strong population, but in practice virtually anyone can attain Bulgarian citizenship. The MPs are all part of the Bulgarian minority but in many cases the motivation is economic and not based on any genuine Bulgarian heritage.

The majority of Moldovans are of Romanian origin, but Romania, which is also entering the EU next year, is not following the same path as Bulgaria and is imposing stringent conditions on those wanting to assume its citizenship.

Ghenadie Brega, 31, an ethnic Romanian from Moldova heads a local NGO called Hyde Park for the famous London tradition of practicing free speech, which is campaigning for easier access to Romanian citizenship.

He said: “Moldovan people have lived under communism and poverty for long enough. According to statistics, about a quarter of Moldova’s work force are abroad, most of them illegally, and people see Romania’s and Bulgaria’s EU accession as a chance to get away from all that. But only Bulgaria is giving away its citizenship freely.

“The many ads that appear so often in the local media indicate that even those with no provable Bulgarian origin can arrange to get a citizenship, while we Romanians cannot get Romanian citizenship at all.”


Courtesy of Central European NewsTel:+43 1 8121287 19 Mbl:+43 676 9357465 email:

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