Sofia, May 22, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Clive Leviev-Sawyer of The Sofia Globe
Statements to the US congress by a top state department official that current and former government figures from Bulgaria and Romania had been refused visas because of corruption allegations led to inquiries from Sofia and Bucharest – and then the countries saying they had “no information” on the issue.
US assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs Hoyt Yee was reported to have told the house of representatives sub-committee on that portfolio that former and current government officials from Bulgaria and Romania had been banned from travelling to the US because of suspicions of corruption.
Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry said that it had, on its own initiative, had a conversation with the American side about Yee’s statements.
The US had said thsat in the process of applying for a US visa, each application is considered individually and under the legislation in force is strictly confidential.
“Because of this and other related legal basis of the US arguments, the US side is unable to provide the MFA information about Bulgarian citizens – including current or former members of the official Bulgarian institutions – who were denied visas or were refused access to the United States based on suspicion of involvement in corruption-related activities,” the Foreign Ministry said.
This meant that such a list containing the names of Bulgarian citizens would not be granted to the Bulgarian side, the ministry said.
The ministry said that it had no information on representatives of the official Bulgarian institutions being denied access to the US.
Romanian media reports quoted Prime Minister Victor Ponta as saying that he had no information on government officials being banned from US territory because of problems related to corruption.
The Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Bucharest-based Mediafax that it had no information related to a ban applied to Romanian citizens to enter the US. The embassy communicates the refusal to offer the US visa only to the people concerned, according to the ministry.