Bulgaria’s centre-right coalition cabinet is continuing the process of personnel changes in top posts, this time appointing a new head of the Archives State Agency.
The government that took office in November 2014 under Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, who is reprising his head of government role from 2009-13, has been steadily changing a number of appointments made by the 2013/14 ruling axis that held power on the basis of a mandate handed to the Bulgarian Socialist Party.
That now-departed administration made changes at a large number of state and government bodies and agencies, claiming at the time that it was replacing “political” or less-qualified appointees with so-called “experts”.
Since Borissov came back to power in 2014, a number of those changes have been reversed either to restore former incumbents or to make new appointments, including at – for example – the State Energy and Water Regulatory Commission, the Customs Agency, the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad and the InvestBulgaria Agency.
At a cabinet meeting on February 27, it was the turn of the Archives State Agency.
The cabinet dismissed Ivan Komitski as head of the agency, appointing in his stead Sofia University Associate Professor Mihail Gruev, a historian and author of books, monographs and numerous articles.
The change made at the agency by the Bulgarian Socialist Party-Movement for Rights and Freedoms ruling axis in September 2013 was among those that sparked controversy.
That cabinet, in which Plamen Oresharski occupied the prime minister’s chair, dismissed Martin Ivanov, who had headed the Archives State Agency since 2011, replacing him with Komitski, a long-serving employee of the Interior Ministry and of the State Agency for National Security.
The dismissal of Ivanov sparked a protest by more than 60 of Bulgaria’s notable historians and researchers.
Ivanov was appointed President Rossen Plevneliev’s secretary for culture and education on October 2013 and went on to an appointment as caretaker culture minister in the August to November 2014 Georgi Blizhnaski interim government that had stewardship of the country after the “Oresharski” cabinet resigned following prolonged public protests and a swingeing defeat for the BSP at Bulgaria’s May 2014 European Parliament elections.
A cabinet statement on February 27 said that Vanya Stefanova’s resignation as deputy head of the State Agency for National Security had been accepted.
Stefanova had held that post since August 2013, two months after the “Oresharski” cabinet took office.
Bulgaria’s Parliament recently amended the Interior Ministry Act in a way that would make it possible for the current government to get rid of the head of SANS, Vladimir Pisanchev, and of the chief secretary of the Interior Ministry, Svetozar Lazarov.
Lazarov has held the Interior Ministry post since June 6 2013, having been appointed a weeks after the government of the time took office and after the former chief secretary resigned.
Pisanchev became head of SANS after the short-lived appointment to that post of Delyan Peevski, an episode that sparked the widely-supported public protests demanding the resignation of the BSP-MRF government that was held in place with the support of far-right ultra-nationalists Ataka.
However, Prime Minister Borissov said, after the Interior Ministry Act amendments were approved, that Lazarov and Pisanchev were “working hard” and he was prepared to blame Oresharski for their performances under the now-departed administration.
In contrast, Interior Minister Vesselin Vuchkov has repeated that he intends proposing to the cabinet a replacement for Lazarov, adding that he would not publicly announce the candidate in advance.
Asked by reporters about Vuchkov’s statements about nominating a new chief secretary at the ministry, Borissov has denied that a change will take place. This has led to prominent media reports about a clash between Borissov and Vuchkov over the issue.