Bulgaria’s Parliament held a minute of silence on November 18 for the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris, at the first sitting of the National Assembly since the mass murders in the French capital five days earlier.
Seven out of eight political parties in the National Assembly made statements on the Paris terrorist attacks and the downing of a Russian aircraft in the Sinai peninsula, the exception being Volen Siderov’s Ataka party, one of the two smallest groups in Parliament.
At the opening of the November 18 sitting, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Tsetska Tsacheva, condemned the terrorist attacks.
“There is no justification for such actions against innocent lives. Therefore, we strongly and decisively condemn not only this terrorist act, but also any form of terrorism as a crude and unacceptable attack on democracy and civilisation,” Tsacheva said.
Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s centre-right GERB party, the largest party in Parliament, urged that an entire religion, refugees and terrorist acts should not be equated.
GERB said that it would fight against stoking anti-immigrant sentiment.
GERB parliamentary group leader Tsvetan Tsvetanov said that the party MPs’ convey their heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and those injured in the Paris terrorist attack and in the attack on the Russian aircraft in Egypt. A day earlier, Moscow said that the aircraft had been brought down by a bomb.
“The terror attack in the French Republic committed against peaceful citizens at places associated only with the secular nature of European civilisation showed modern barbarianism is targeted exactly at free secular states. The terrorists killed innocent people on Friday evening without presenting any demands. The aim was obviously taking away as many lives as possible. A more significant aim was fuelling fear and terror in the free societies worldwide – no one feels secure anywhere,” Tsvetanov said.
He said that the terrorist attack on the Russian aircraft showed that security and democracy around the world were under threat.
The opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party, which has 37 MPs in the 240-seat Parliament, called for the Foreign Minister and Defence Minister to be heard by the relevant parliamentary committees on what was ahead and what Bulgaria could and could not do in this process.
The Movement for Rights and Freedoms, the third-largest party in the National Assembly and one that has a substantial Bulgarian Muslim electorate, said that Islamism was the biggest enemy of Islam and the modern world should make a distinction between the two.
The centre-right Reformist Bloc, minority partner in the coalition cabinet, said that it did not make sense for the parliamentary groups to make individual statements, saying that there rather should be a joint declaration by Bulgaria’s Parliament on the Paris terror attacks.
Reformist Bloc MP Boris Stanimirov said that the example of the French parliament, when all government and opposition members stood and joined in the singing of the French national anthem, should make Bulgaria’s Parliament believe that it should make a joint declaration.
A declaration supported by all parliamentary groups would show they have a common opinion and are united as regards their nation and European nations in the face of such a huge challenge. “There is no point in separate declarations saying one and the same thing,” Stanimirov said.
The nationalist Patriotic Front (PF), a supporter in Parliament of the coalition government, called for Bulgaria to accelerate the construction of the fence on the Turkish border and for the military to be included in security. The PF urged Bulgaria to return more people who could not prove that they were eligible for refugee status, to open new centres for refugees and to expel from Bulgaria and to expel from the Mufti’s office and the country any representatives of non-traditional Islam.
The Bulgarian Democratic Centre parliamentary group expressed confidence that Bulgarian institutions had the strength to deal with the threats, while socialist breakaway ABC, a participant in the governing coalition, called for a review and the lifting of sanctions against Russia for what they called its role in the security system.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)