Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov has expressed fury at the timing of Vesselin Vuchkov’s resignation as Interior Minister, the same day that the director of the FBI and the president of Azerbaijan were in Sofia.
Vuchkov resigned during a cabinet meeting on March 4 after disagreeing with cabinet office legal opinion connected with his wish to use recently-amended law to dismiss the Interior Ministry chief secretary, the head of the State Agency for National Security and the head of the State Agency for Technical Operations.
Vuchkov previously had spoken publicly about his intention to propose replacements for these posts, which Borissov had equally publicly opposed.
An official transcript of the cabinet meeting released by the government media service showed Borissov reacting tersely and sharply to Vuchkov’s resignation, which Borissov accepted immediately. At a later news conference, Borissov continued in similar vein.
He hit out at Vuchkov’s resignation as a “cop trick”, asking, “do I really deserve to be faced with such tricks on this day?”.
Borissov said that it was unacceptable that Vuchkov had raised the issue – which was not on the cabinet agenda – while there was a “strategically important” three-day visit to Bulgaria by the Azerbaijan president.
He said that Azeri head of state Ilham Aliyev was visiting Bulgaria with all his ministers, “and when we are discussing whether Bulgaria will manage to join a big company there through Bulgartransgas, to be bothered with such small issues, and to force me to have to give such explanations.”
Borissov asked why he was faced with the resignation today, “is this political support or is it blackmail?”.
After the news broke that Vuchkov had quit the cabinet, there was speculation in the Bulgarian-language media that he might withdraw it if the officials he had targeted stepped down. However, arriving at Parliament after the cabinet meeting, Vuchkov denied that he would seek to go back on his resignation.
The departure of Vuchkov, a member of the cabinet since the centre-right governing coalition took office in November 2014, caused widespread domestic political reaction.
Borissov, in what was seen as a sideswipe at his GERB’s parties partners in the governing coalition arrangement, said, “they bother with me with tiny problems, to make me give explanations,” while – he said – he was doing his best to stabilise the country and “spend it out of the crisis”.