Bulgaria’s recordings row: GERB freezes talks with WCC-DB on a government

Boiko Borissov’s GERB party has decided to “freeze” negotiations with We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria on a proposed government, it was announced on May 27, a day after recordings were made public of WCC-DB leaders making disparaging remarks about GERB figures and its candidate Prime Minister, Maria Gabriel.

Gabriel, speaking at a news conference after a meeting of GERB’s executive council, said that she had informed WCC-DB candidate Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov of the decision and after that had informed her colleagues.

“We are freezing the negotiations. Everything has its limits. I cannot accept that democracy is built on the bases of lie, shaking the foundations of statehood and non-compliance with the fundamental principles of the republic,” Gabriel said.

She said that it was unacceptable to say one thing during negotiations and another outside.

In an apparent reference to parts of the recording showing WCC-DB leaders referring to holding talks with foreign embassies about changes at the heads of security and intelligence services, Gabriel said: “We have European and Atlantic partners and we value them, because we know that when you stand your ground from the beginning, they respect that. But decisions are made only in Bulgaria”.

Gabriel said that there was still an opportunity for an expert government, but with clear guarantees of compliance with principles and laws.

“I see that at this stage an expert government continues to have support, but I need more clarity. Until there are answers and guarantees for compliance with these principles, we are freezing the negotiations. I am waiting for answers before guarantees are reached.”

“The freezing of the negotiations means that they can be unfrozen before they are finally terminated. We expect an apology to the Bulgarian citizens, teachers, officers,” Gabriel said.

Borissov told the news conference: “People meet me and ask me why I humiliate the party. I explain that this is good for the country, let’s adopt a Budget. We talked about a constitutional majority. The question is not about an apology or what they are talking about there (at the WCC national council meeting).”

“The question is in the way they think, that the state is governed. We have no people in the services for two years. We are not pushing ourselves to become ministers. That is why we are talking about an expert government. You heard what they are saying about the local elections, to be held with their interior minister,” Borissov said.

“Now the subject of the Budget must be opened immediately, because now there is no majority and we could not agree, except for the legal affairs committee, to decide whether there will be an extending Budget, whether it will be a new one, but we cannot leave the state in this state, it will be irresponsible,” he said.

Ahead of the GERB executive council meeting, numerous prominent figures from Borissov’s party posted on Facebook comments about their indignation about what was said in the four hour and 37 minute recording of the WCC national council meeting, the contents of which were made public on May 26 by Radostin Vassilev after he announced he was quitting the WCC-DB group and would vote against a government proposed on the basis of the second mandate, to be held by WCC-DB.

On Saturday morning, WCC co-leader Kiril Petkov, heard on the recording making disparaging comments about Gabriel, attempted damage control, saying on Facebook that he saw her as “an example of how courageous and able female politicians can be”. He said that the May 21 meeting held to decide on a deal with GERB-UDF on a government had been highly emotional and he had made inaccurate statements about Gabriel.

On May 26, WCC and DB leaders, along with Borissov, had described the release of the recordings – a brief extract at the Vassilev news conference and later the much lengthier one sent to Bulgarian media – as part of attempts to prevent a government being elected in Bulgaria. Petkov has described the episode as a bid by the pro-Russian camp to sabotage the WCC-DB + GERB-UDF deal on a proposed government.

The recordings episode came at the close of the week in which, on May 22, Denkov and Gabriel announced that WCC-DB and GERB-UDF had a deal on WCC-DB proposing a government which would see the post of Prime Minister rotated between the two of them, with a horizon for this government to remain in office for at least 18 months. Against the background of this deal, GERB-UDF, holder of the first mandate to seek to form a government, gave up its bid to do so.

(Photo: EC Audiovisual Service)

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