Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov has joined the choir of voices criticising Greece’s stance in the ongoing bailout negotiations with its creditors, saying that the protracted saga was diverting attention from other issues facing the European Union.
“Besides words that [they] need money and will carry out reforms some day, we have not heard anything else. All of us, as member states, have issues, but there is never time because Greece is always on the agenda,” Borissov said, as quoted in a Cabinet statement on June 25.
Bulgaria is not a member of the euro zone and has no say in the technical talks carried out at Eurogroup level. Officials in Sofia have remained mostly silent on the topic of Greece, with the only exception being to give reassurances that there was no threat of contagion to Bulgaria’s banking system from local subsidiaries of Greek banks.
“We too want to give more money on salaries and pensions, but we are maintaining this financial discipline. I am categorically against delays and compromises,” Borissov said, in comments before the two-day Council of the EU summit, scheduled for June 25-26.
“We all want to help Greece, because the more stable our neighbours, the more stable our region is. They are our neighbours, but with all due respect, we also have problems that we would like to be heard in Europe,” he said.
Borissov’s stance was echoed by Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov, who told reporters in Parliament that the Greek crisis was of Athens’ own doing.
“We must learn that populism and poor governance leads to crisis and long-lasting consequences. The populist government in Greece is showing no solution for the problems. Fortunately, populism in Bulgaria has not reached such peaks,” he was quoted as saying by daily Sega.
Goranov once again re-iterated the Government’s position that the Greek crisis would have no immediate repercussions on Bulgaria and said that he was hopeful that there would be no “restructuring of the euro zone as a result of the Greek situation”.
Like all member states that have joined the bloc in the recent expansions of the EU, Bulgaria is required to join the euro area, although there are no firm deadlines for the process. The country largely meets the Maastricht criteria for joining the common European currency, but is not part of the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM2) – this would pose no obstacle for Sofia, given that the Bulgarian lev is already pegged to the euro, but joining the ERM2 would require a political decision by the euro zone countries, which is seen as unlikely in the near future.
(Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov arrives at the EU summit on June 25 2014. Photo: Council of the EU)