Despite the democratic changes in Bulgaria, officially registering a non-governmental organization in 1996 wasn’t easy. The registration was carried out under the Law on Persons and the Family, in force since 1949, which regulated not only the issues of marriages in socialist times but also the issues of public organizations.
To financially secure its registration, the newly established Public Center for Environment and Sustainable Development won a $ 900 Operational Expenses project at the Regional Environmental Center. In addition to financial support for court registration, these funds had to provide fees and financial support for the work in the office.
Julia Valcheva from the Faculty of Law at the Technical University, who was a trainee lawyer at the time, helped prepare the documentation. The statute of the organization is the work of its chairman Ilian Iliev.
The registration process took almost a year. After submitting the documents, Iliev received several summonses to appear in court and several times thereafter notices of adjournment and reassignment of the case to another date.
The “X” day for case 2625 of the Varna District Court came on October 17, 1996. “At 3:30 p.m., Julia was waiting for me in court with the file folder. She said, “I’m here because I’m still an intern” and she handed me the file. She advised me, “Whatever they ask you, to agree or repeat the question, but in the form of an answer” Ilian Iliev recalled. “ You must answer questions like: Why did you create the organization? What is your goal? How will you finance yourself? Iliev remained with the feeling that the founders of NGOs in our country were enemies of the people. The interrogation ended with the judge’s standard expression: “Does anyone else have questions? The court will rule within the statutory time limit. ”
On October 22, 1996, the Association “Public Center for Environment and Sustainable Development” received a court registration.