Bulgaria’s outgoing PM: Money was behind ITN’s walkout

Bulgaria’s outgoing Prime Minister and We Continue the Change (WCC) party co-leader Kiril Petkov has made it clear that he sees money, and not the stated pretext, as the real reason for Slavi Trifonov’s ITN to pull out of negotiations on forming a new government.

On July 22, Trifonov said that ITN was withdrawing from the talks. The cable television presenter cited a leaked recording of a meeting of the Democratic Bulgaria parliamentary group and portrayed himself as offended by it.

Petkov, speaking to Nova Televizia on July 24, said: “I didn’t see anything scary of dramatic in that recording.”

“This was another ‘Macedonia’,” Petkov said, referring to the pretext that Trifonov had used in June in withdrawing ITN from the December 2021 quadripartite coalition.

“Some people are playing a puppet show – they invent some kind of thesis to justify themselves, but in reality you have to draw a conclusion about what is happening with their money,” Petkov said.

He said that the fact that “last week we blocked an order for a billion and a half for the Rousse – Veliko Turnovo and put a requirement for Rashkov to investigate the corruption” had caused ITN to “pull the handbrake”.

Petkov was referring to Boiko Rashkov, currently Interior Minister and the person that the remaining three groups in the ruling coalition want to head a reformed anti-corruption commission.

Petkov said that if it came to early elections, he believed that WCC would win the largest share of votes.

He indicated that he did not favour an electoral pact with Democratic Bulgaria.

“A partnership will most likely happen after an election, not before it. I believe that we, Democratic Bulgaria and the Bulgarian Socialist Party will reach the cherished 121 votes.

Petkov said that if it came to WCC nominating a Prime Minister in a proposed new government, it would be Assen Vassilev.

“With our mandate, weeks ago we announced Assen Vasilev as a candidate Prime Minister. We don’t believe we have to have a new one every week.”

Petkov said that there was no option for ITN to a partner of WCC in government again.

Bulgarian Socialist Party leader Kornelia Ninova, speaking to bTV, said: “We will no longer conduct negotiations with ITN”.

“We gave up everything we could, we made every possible effort, we convinced WCC, which were so firm (about not talking to ITN),” Ninova said.

“We mediated, on Friday we gathered them at one table,” she said, saying that something else lay behind ITN’s withdrawal.

Ninova said that it was regrettable that before posting his announcement on Facebook, Trifonov had not called her. She had not heard from him even after that, she said.

“There is nothing more to say, we behaved correctly, when I received the mandate I called him, we had a normal conversation. I asked him if we wanted to form a government – yes. I did everything I had to, correctly,” Ninova said.

She said that the reason that ITN had pulled was “the status quo, the old, that model of commitments, dependencies and public procurement in-house of close companies – of all these things, GERB, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, and recently Vuzrazhdane joined them, they got scared that things were moving, that there could be a Cabinet, that there could be an anti-corruption law, that Boiko Rashkov could be in charge, and they pulled back again”.

Petkov, Vassilev, Ninova and Democratic Bulgaria co-leaders were due to meet on the evening of July 24 to discuss the way forward. Ninova said earlier in July 24 that at the beginning of the week, the BSP leadership would meet to discuss what to do about the mandate that it holds to seek to form a government – whether to continue, or to return the mandate unfulfilled.

(Screenshot: Petkov in his July 24 interview with Nova TV)

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