Bulgarian President’s latest criticism of government again sparks controversy

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov has hit back after President Roumen Radev’s latest sharp criticisms of the government, levelled in a December 11 television interview.

On issues from Bulgaria’s credit rating, government debt, the judiciary and military modernisation – regarding all of which Borissov takes pride – Radev was scathing. The President, who was elected on a ticket backed by the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party, said that he saw the “sunset” of Borissov’s administration.

Commenting on Borissov having pointed to S&P Global Ratings having become at the beginning of December the latest to raise Bulgaria’s credit rating, Radev said that the most important rating of a government should not come from outside. The most important rating of a government was the prosperity and well-being of its citizens, he said.

“When the Prime Minister with eagerness and enthusiasm reads the letters of credit agencies, his subordinates must tell him that there is history on the websites of the Ministry of Finance and the National Statistical Institute,” Radev said

He said that Bulgaria had a higher credit rating from 2006 to 2008, and in 2019 it had barely managed to recover its credit rating from 2013.

Radev said that Borissov pointed to the great achievement of combating debt, and it was true that government debt was being reduced, but Borissov had tripled government debt between 2009 and 2016.

Radev went on to criticise the government’s ideas on judicial reform and the process by which the new Prosecutor-General had been appointed, as well as the government’s idea of creating the post of “supreme prosecutor” to oversee the Prosecutor-General.

He said that he would have been opposed to the handling of the fighter jet acquisition process irrespective of whether the government had chosen the F-16s or the Gripens.

Hitting back on December 12, Borissov described Radev as an opposition leader who had not said a good word about the state in the 40-minutes. “His hatred, his malice is already overflowing so much that I do not need to comment on an opposition leader,” Borissov said.

“To speak with such hatred for only one party and one person out of fear or envy is beyond the dignity of the presidential institution,” the Prime Minister said.

“I do not understand why Roumen Radev, without being provoked by anything, goes to television studios, quarrels with party leaders and talks about pros and cons. If we could add to the budget balance the billions we paid after the Oresharski government and the Corporate Commercial Bank bankruptcy, we would get a few benefits to our credit rating,” Borissov said.

He said that he had just watched the first minute of the interview before giving up and going off to play football, because Radev was not speaking in the name of the people.

“Radev is a two-faced man, one day people will understand what kind of person they have elected as President, Borissov said.

Georg Georgiev, Deputy Foreign Minister and leader of the youth wing of Borissov’s centre-right GERB party, said in a Facebook post that it was unfortunate and dangerous that in recent years the presidency had become a platform and the head of state a spokesman for extreme populism.

The constitution defined the presidency as non-partisan, but the presidential institution had been “crippled by a politically immature layman who also erased the last trace of objectivity and impartiality left to 2 Dondukov Boulevard (the presidency’s address) by previous administrations,” Georgiev said.

“It did not take long for the Nato general to reveal himself as a major critic of Euro-Atlanticism, and his actions and speeches in recent months have firmly confirmed this image,” he said.



The Sofia Globe staff

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