At a ceremony on August 2, Bulgarian President Roumen Radev swore into office the caretaker government that he has appointed as the country heads to early parliamentary elections in two months’ time.
This was the latest in a sequence of events following the Kiril Petkov government, elected in December 2021, being ousted in a parliamentary vote of no confidence in June, and the process of seeking to get a new government elected by the now-dissolved 47th National Assembly having proved fruitless.
Addressing the ceremony, Radev said that the caretaker government – headed by Gulub Donev – was taking power at a difficult time.
Radev dwelt on what he described as the problems left by the Petkov cabinet.
Radev singled out the issue of security as the main problem, both because of the war in Ukraine, but also because of the growing tension in the Balkans. Therefore, the main task of the government is to prevent the country from being drawn into conflicts, he said.
Soon before the swearing-in ceremony, the government information service released a video address by Petkov.
Petkov said that no one need expect an “apocalypse” in Bulgaria.
“Politicians, lobbyists and brokers take advantage of political instability to make you fear for the future. Don’t let them,” Petkov said.
“Their goal is to make you forget who turned Bulgaria into a looted, corruption-ridden country, the poorest in the European Union. To lower your expectations. To abandon your pursuit of a better life,” he said.
“They want you to forget that for 12 years they stole your money, they want you to forget about the wads of cash and (gold) bars with which they filled their drawers, they want to lie to you that they have a magic wand and can reduce the prices of petrol, gas, and stop world inflation , they want to lie to you that they can stop the war and its consequences, but in reality they want to come back and continue to steal from you,” Petkov said.
In his address, Petkov hit out at pro-Russian, anti-Nato minority party Vuzrazhdane as false messiahs, and said: “I don’t even want to talk about the Trojan horse in the government, Slavi Trifonov, because I believe that he is already part of history. While he was singing about Macedonia, his ministers wanted the next billions without control”.
Petkov said that in spite of the global crisis that had coincided with his government’s seven-month term in office, his administration left the country on a very solid foundation.
He listed numerous items, including heating support, counter-measures against the impact of electricity prices, getting Bulgaria out of the “energy trap” left by the previous administration, enabling the caretaker government to secure cheaper LPG gas until spring, and extending the measure to reduce prices at fuel stations.
Other items listed by Petkov included bringing pensioners above the poverty line, tax breaks for families and the elderly, increasing the salaries of doctors and teachers, and additional aid to vulnerable groups.
“We leave the caretaker government with a budget surplus of 1.5 billion leva. We secured 13 billion from the EU Recovery and Sustainability Plan, tied to the adoption of anti-corruption legislation and measures,” Petkov said.
“And speaking of corruption, I rely on the new ministers not to forget that our government was brought down so quickly because we hit schemes for billions siphoned from road building, from border control, from rail.”
On the eve of the swearing-in ceremony, Bulgarian Socialist Party MP Atanas Zafirov said in a television interview that the caretaker government would be “vindictive, anti-BSP and in this way the interests of GERB and the MRF (Movement for Rights and Freedoms) will be served.
Zafirov noted the “massive presence” of BSP members in the caretaker government, people who were strong critics of both the leadership and the last (Petkov) administration.
He was referring to three of the caretaker ministers, all well-known for their political animosity towards BSP leader Kornelia Ninova.
Radomir Cholakov of GERB spoke favourably of the caretaker government:
“Gulub Donev is known as a moderate person,” Cholakov told Bulgarian National Radio.
“In the caretaker government, for organising the elections, the Interior Minister is important. Ivan Demerdzhiev is a good lawyer, I hope that he will not to repeat the mistakes of his predecessor Boiko Rashkov,” Cholakov said.
Ivailo Mirchev of Democratic Bulgaria held back from assessing the caretaker government, telling Bulgarian National Radio: “We expect the new cabinet not to return to Gazprom – this is key in terms of the country’s energy dependence.”
(Screenshots via BNT)
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