President Plevneliev: Situation in Bulgaria ‘extraordinary’

President Plevneliev: Situation in Bulgaria ‘extraordinary’


By Clive Leviev-Sawyer of The Sofia Globe

Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev, in his first interview with foreign media after more than a month of the anti-government protests that he repeatedly has praised, told Deutsche Welle that the situation in Bulgaria was “extraordinary”.

He said that unfortunately, there was no dialogue, while Parliament and the government had the lowest levels of confidence among the public since the beginning of democracy in Bulgaria.

Politicians could regain the trust of citizens by taking steps towards more transparency, said Plevneliev, in office as head of state since January 2012 after being elected on the ticket of the former centre-right ruling party.

Plevneliev, who after the massive controversy that erupted with the Bulgarian Socialist Party and Movement for Rights and Freedoms abortively appointing Delyan Peevski as head of the State Agency for National Security, withdrew his confidence in the government, noted that the party that had won the largest share of votes in the May elections was boycotting Parliament.

At the same time, the other two parties, collectively with half the seats in Parliament, had formed a government and had made a deliberate decision to rely on an ultra-nationalist and anti-European party, Plevneliev said, referring to Volen Siderov’s Ataka party.

Meanwhile, Ataka leader Siderov is continuing his campaign against Plevneliev. Siderov’s earlier attempts to have Plevneliev impeached for his public statements about the anti-government protests were stillborn for lack of support and numbers in Parliament.

However, the socialists and the MRF, the latter the party backed mainly by Bulgarians of Turkish ethnicity, have handed ultra-nationalist Siderov the chairmanship of Parliament’s anti-corruption committee (a step that Plevneliev also has described as a scandal as big as that involving Peevski).

On July 18, Siderov told a committee meeting that he had received 21 “signals” of alleged corruption. He said that of these, the “more interesting” ones were against President Plevneliev, Sofia city chief architect Petar Dikov, GERB party leader and former prime minister Boiko Borissov, the director-general of public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television Vyara Ankova and the head of a rival ultra-nationalist party, Valeri Simeonov.

Siderov said that discussions about the details of these allegations could not be made public and he told reporters to leave the committee room.

Notably, no names from the BSP, MRF or Ataka were among those read out by Siderov, only political rivals, people seen as close to GERB, or – in the case of Ankova – the head of a public broadcaster whose coverage has been attacked by the ruling coalition for allegedly “stoking tension” around the protests, but has praised by the wider public for professional objectivity. A new term of office for the director-general of BNT is about to begin and an appointee, with Ankova among candidates, must be named – and with this episode being effectively the second attack against Ankova, it is clear that the parties in power are determined to take as many scalps as possible, even if that of Plevneliev remains out of their reach.