December 6, 2010

Dear Prime Minister Borisov:

Dear Chair of Parliament Tscheva:

We are an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers and scholars devoted to the protection and advancement of human rights and scientific freedom for colleagues all over the world. We write now in concern about the Bulgarian Academy of Science.

The Bulgarian Academy is an independent, 141 year old institution

With about 17% of the researchers in the country, the Academy contributes almost 60% of its scientific output, while another 30% comes from Sofia University. Researchers at the two institutions work successfully in international collaborations and the level of their PhD students has been widely appreciated by the international scientific community.

The Bulgarian Parliament is set to review legislation on December 8, 2010 that would envision the dismantling of the Academy into separate institutes under the direction of the Minister of Education and the Council of Ministers. The Minister of Finance of Bulgaria has mentioned publicly the advantages of selling the assets of the Academy, according to news reports. In response, a substantial number of European scientific organizations and scientists have protested the proposal because of the damage this would inflict to Bulgaria’s scientific and research capabilities, to its many international scientific projects, and, consequently, to the intellectual and economic development of the country.

While we can understand the need for budget cuts in many situations, we believe that the dismantling of an established scientific institution with the international reputation of the Bulgarian Academy of Science would deprive Bulgaria of a substantial intellectual asset. It would also be contrary to Article 15 2.b of the International Convention on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights of 1976, to which Bulgaria is a signatory. Article 15 recognizes “the right of everyone … to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications” and “the obligation of governments to recognize the benefits of international contacts and co-operation in science.”

Sincerely yours,

 Joel L. Lebowitz          Paul H. Plotz        Walter Reich

   Co-chair                  Co-chair             Co-chair
Committee of Concerned Scientists