The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) executive bureau decided on June 29 to suspend talks with the Kiril Petkov-Assen Vassilev We Continue the Change (WCC) on forming a government, a decision taken because of Prime Minister Petkov’s announcement of the expulsion of 70 Russian diplomats.
BSP leader Kornelia Ninova, who called the emergency meeting of the party’s executive bureau and parliamentary group, said that the BSP would return to the negotiating table only if WCC nominated a candidate other than Petkov to be Prime Minister.
Petkov’s coalition government, which includes WCC, the BSP and Democratic Bulgaria, was defeated in a parliamentary vote of no confidence on June 21.
As Parliament’s largest group, WCC is entitled to the first of three mandates to seek to form a government. Petkov has been seeking the support of the BSP, Democratic Bulgaria and former ITN MPs to get enough votes to get a government elected.
WCC’s chances of getting sufficient support had been questionable, and without BSP support, will evaporate, putting Bulgaria on the path to two further stages in the mandate-handing process. In the event of this process failing, the country will head to early parliamentary elections in the autumn.
Ninova told reporters that the decision to expel the 70 Russian diplomats was unprecedented in Bulgarian diplomatic history, and was close to severing diplomatic relations with Russia.
She said that the decision had not been discussed by the Cabinet and had been made “absolutely solely” by Petkov.
The BSP would insist on a sitting of Parliament behind closed doors for a hearing of the head of the State Agency for National Security (SANS), Ninova said.
“For many years, the BSP has been fighting for the rule of law, the strength of institutions and the rule of law. We insist that the issue go where it belongs,” Ninova said.
“We demand a closed meeting and hearing of the head of SANS on the report he has prepared and submitted so far, perhaps only to the Prime Minister,” she said.
She called on President Roumen Radev to convene a meeting of the Consultative Council on National Security on the decision to expel the Russian diplomats.
Once again, Prime Minister Kiril Petkov was making individual decisions on an issue that seriously affects national policy, Ninova said.
“So far, we have shown tolerance and understanding in the name of the common goal we had set for ourselves to change Bulgaria,” she said.
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