The October 8 meeting of Bulgaria’s Consultative Council on National Security called by President Roumen Radev to discuss steps against high-level corruption ended inconclusively when, after more than three hours of talks, it lost its quorum.
Prime Minister Boiko Borissov arrived an hour and a half late for the meeting. Instead of coming to the Presidency at the appointed hour of 10am, he went to talk to protesting workers from the Emco plant, who have been staging a series of demonstrations against the consequences of the plant having lost its licence.
The government in which Borissov’s GERB party is the majority partner has tabled legislation on restructuring of the bodies intended to fight corruption, while the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party has tabled rival legislation that if approved would create a new anti-corruption agency, headed by an appointee of the President. GERB wants the anti-corruption top body headed by an appointee of the Cabinet.
In brief remarks more than an hour after the meeting ended, a clearly frustrated Radev said that he would convene another meeting of the consultative council, to discuss the same issue, on October 17 at 1pm.
BSP leader Kornelia Ninova, speaking to journalists outside the Presidency, said that Deputy Prime Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva, who is in charge of reform, was not at the meeting. (Zaharieva was on an official visit to Warsaw on October 8). According to Ninova, the meeting was ended when it lost its quorum following the departure of Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov and GERB parliamentary group leader Tsvetan Tsvetanov.
The Consultative Council on National Security is, by law, convened by the President as head of state. The body’s membership includes the Prime Minister, a number of key Cabinet ministers, representatives of parliamentary groups, as well as defence, security and intelligence chiefs.
The abortive October 8 meeting was the second one called by Radev after he took office in January, following his 2016 presidential election victory on a ticket that was backed by the opposition BSP.