“Here in Sofia today, my sympathy is with the Bulgarian citizens who are protesting against corruption,” European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding said in a tweet from the Bulgarian capital city on July 23, the 40th consecutive day of anti-government protests.
Reding, who previously has indicated support for the protests which ensued after the Bulgarian Socialist Party minority government, with the support of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, abortively appointed Delyan Peevski as head of the State Agency for National Security, was in Sofia for a public event to launch a project to encourage dialogue between EU citizens and institutions.
The anti-government protests, which daily draw tens of thousands of Bulgarians to the streets to demand the resignation of the government and thorough political reforms, are being met by unyielding refusal by the government to step down.
Reding told the event, held at the Central Military Club in Sofia, “we can’t replace your government, but we have a responsibility to see that things are going well”.
The European Commission as a European government can, through its President, ask a minister or a commissioner to hand in a resignation, but it cannot ask a whole government to resign. This is what Bulgarians should understand, Reding said.
I wish you success in building a government that you trust, she said.
I am moved by Bulgarian citizens’ strong wish to make a change and fight for democracy and against corruption, Reding told a news conference after the event.
I clearly told the two big political parties in Bulgaria to forget the past, talk about the future and sit at the table to take the country forward. Stop the political bickering, Reding said at the news conference.
Corruption destroys democracy from within and oligarchy and democracy are mortal enemies that can not coexist, she said.
Reding said that democracy was in need of strong institutions and this required a strong system of justice. She said that every government should work with a transparent system to appoint its staff.
President Rossen Plevneliev, who participated in the EU Civil Dialogue event along with Reding, said that there was nothing wrong in citizens protesting in the streets, as they were setting the direction for the political class to follow.