Year in Review 2017: Bulgaria in May

Written by on December 15, 2017 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Year in Review 2017: Bulgaria in May

Over the long May 1 weekend, Boiko Borissov’s GERB party, winner of the most votes in the March 26 parliamentary elections, and the nationalist United Patriots continued to hold negotiations on the sharing out of posts in their forthcoming coalition government. The latter will have four deputy prime ministers and 17 cabinet ministers, they announce.

From left: “Patriot” Simeonov, Borissov, with the “Patriots” Karakachanov and Siderov.

Then, things happen quickly. On May 3, Borissov announces the portfolios and names in the GERB-United Patriots coalition cabinet. The next day, he presents it to President Radev and gets voted into office by the National Assembly. The “Borissov 3” government is in office.

On its first full day in office, the government puts up its European flag, in spite of the participation of radical nationalists. The new Foreign Minister, Ekaterina Zaharieva, defends the European Union sanctions against Russia, adding that while Bulgaria suffered economic losses as a result, these were “far from being what is said”.

Foreign Minister Zaharieva immediately demonstrates a European approach.

On May 6, the Bulgarian Army Day is being celebrated. A new Bulgarian president, who used to be a soldier, is part of it. After three of Bulgaria’s old MiG fighter jets perform a fly-by, the entire city stinks of kerosene. But the rest of the day is impressive.

On May 10, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov informs European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker that his cabinet is nominating Maria Gabriel, a member of the European Parliament, to be the country’s European Commissioner.

Maria Gabriel is nominated by Borissov on May 10.

While hate speech against refugees flourishes in Bulgaria, the number of asylum seekers in the country decreases. It turns out that thousands of refugees who arrived in Bulgaria in 2016 were unaccompanied minors. Other news in May: Among Bulgarians, life expectancy increases to 74.7 years, but is still the lowest in the European Union.

Kristian Kostov makes the second place at Eurovision 2017.

In the meantime, Kristian Kostov is the guy who almost takes Bulgaria to victory at Eurovision in Kyiv. It is the country’s best performance ever, at that event. Another impressive performance is the Bulgarian government’s cleaning up at the beach in Slanchev Briag, the Black Sea resort also known as Sunny Beach. Illegal shops are being pulled down just before the beginning of the tourist season.

A new scandal erupts in May. The Socialist Party expresses outrage that deputy minister of public works Pavel Tenev, a nominee of the nationalist United Patriots, remains in office in spite of a photograph emerging apparently showing him making a Nazi salute while visiting a French waxworks museum. On May 17, Tenev resigns after two days in office.

Vasil Kourtev returns from a sailing trip around the world.

After Eurovision master Kristian, Bulgaria has another hero in May. Vasil Kourtev, an 80-year-old “sea wolf” returns from a sailing trip around the world, during which he covered 26,000 sea miles on his small yacht “Odessos”.

This month also offers more ugliness: In the second controversy to hit the Bulgarian government over a photo involving a Hitler salute, Prime Minister Borissov orders the dismissal of the head of the Defence Ministry’s social activities department, Ivo Antonov, over a picture of him making the salute next to a World War 2 German tank at the Military History Museum in Sofia. Antonov is linked to the “Patriots” as well. Borissov’s dismissal order is never implemented.

Bulgaria sets a sad record, as the country with most traffic deaths.

According to the Union of Bulgarian Motorists, Bulgaria ranked first in Europe regarding traffic deaths in 2016. In 2016, 99.7 people per 1 million inhabitants lost their lives in accidents on Bulgarian roads.

Finally, the appointment of Deputy Prime Minister and nationalist United Patriots co-leader Valeri Simeonov to head Bulgaria’s National Council on Co-operation on Ethnic and Integration Issues prompts protests.

 

Year in Review 2017: Bulgaria in April

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