European Court Finds Bulgaria Breached Former Tsar’s Property Rights – The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday that Bulgaria breached the property rights of former Bulgarian royals Simeon Borisov von Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, previously known as Tsar Simeon II, and Maria-Luisa Borisova Chrobok, who was born Princess Maria Louise of Bulgaria.
The court found that Bulgaria breached their rights by imposing a ban on any commercial exploitation of forestland owned by the siblings. The court said it found that the Bulgarian authorities “failed to justify the broad measures it had instituted to protect the forestland”.
“The court found that the actions by the Bulgarian authorities had placed a disproportionate individual burden on the applicants. The measures had been extraordinary, given that legislation providing for the conservation of forests had already been in place, had lasted too long, and had not been amenable to judicial review, leading to a violation,” the ruling said.
But the court found that the siblings were not entitled to restitution of estates at Saragyol and Sitnyakovo, which they had claimed.
It also rejected claims that they were discriminated against on the basis of origin and social position.
The European judgment follows a ruling in July by Sofia’s Court of Appeal, which decided that the Royal Palace of Vrana in the outskirts of the capital is the private property of Simeon II.
This ended a decade-long legal battle with the Bulgarian state over the ownership of the palace, nationalised following the former royal family’s exile in 1946, after the start of the Communist regime. In 1947, all crown properties were transferred to the state.
In 2020, Simeon II also managed to get back the Tsarska Bistritsa palace near the winter resort of Borovets.
Simeon Borisov von Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was born in 1937 and after the death of his father in 1943, he became tsar as a six-year old child – the last tsar of Bulgaria. Royal authority was exerted via a regency.
After the monarchy was abolished in 1946, and his family lived in exile, predominantly in Madrid.
He returned live in Bulgaria in 2001 and launched a centre-right party called NDSV (National Movement Simeon II, later known as National Movement for Stability and Progress). After a quick campaign promoting fast changes, NDSV won the parliamentary elections and he became prime minister between 2001 and 2005.
From a figure symbolising Bulgaria’s connections to the West, Simeon II’s reputation got increasingly tarnished over the years, and voter support for the party waned by the end of the decade. He resigned in 2009, after the party took only 3.01 per cent of the vote.
In contrast with his current legal efforts, during his term as prermier, Simeon II stated several times that he will not seek compensation or restitution for his nationalised residencies.
Simeon II’s complicated political legacy recently became a point of discussion again as people connected to his party, like former Minister of Economy Nickolay Vassilev, tried to make a political comeback through last election-winning party, There is Such a Nation.
Vassilev was initially touted as the party’s projected prime minister, but the idea caused a backlash and his nomination was quickly revoked.