Bulgaria: Stalemate over resumption of talks on a government continues

GERB-UDF and We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria are communicating with each about conditions for the resumption of talks on a government – but this is hardly a sign of hope amid their standoff, as on March 21 communication was largely via the media and posts on Facebook.

This follows the bitter breakdown between the two coalitions after GERB-UDF Prime Minister-designate Maria Gabriel presented a proposed Cabinet that had not been agreed with WCC-DB, and WCC-DB’s emotional news conference in which insulting language was used towards GERB-UDF and Gabriel.

On March 21, GERB-UDF leader Boiko Borissov, speaking to reporters in the corridors of Parliament, said that he was giving WCC-DD “one more day” to think about the line-up of a government in which Gabriel would be Prime Minister.

On Nova Televizia, GERB-UDF negotiator Denitsa Sacheva said that the coalition would not enter into negotiations on a Cabinet on the basis of a second mandate to seek to form a government (a mandate that would be held by WCC-DB, as Parliament’s second largest group).

The only option that GERB-UDF would support is a government with Prime Minister Maria Gabriel and without Assen Vassilev, Sacheva said.

WCC co-leader and Finance Minister Assen Vassilev, long an Aunt Sally for GERB-UDF, deeply irked GERB-UDF with his reference this week to Gabriel as “perhaps the newest and most beautiful face of the mafia”.

After Borissov’s statement, WCC-DB responded on Facebook, saying that responsibility for the resumption of negotiations lay solely with GERB-UDF.

“Dear colleagues from GERB-UDF, it is your responsibility to say how we can proceed,” WCC-DB said.

“You acted unilaterally in complete contradiction to all agreements and contrary to the vote of confidence for the realization of a national common mandate. Take responsibility for your actions and propose a concrete plan adequate to the crisis you created. The ball’s in your court.”

To this, GERB-UDF responded on Facebook, saying: “GERB stands firmly behind Mariaa Gabriel and we are not backing down from her nomination for Prime Minister! Talks are possible only after an immediate public political apology and after the withdrawal of Assen Vassilev from the negotiations and from his participation in a possible future Cabinet!”

“Dear colleagues from WCC-DB, the responsibility to say how we can proceed is mutual,” GERB-UDF said.

“You acted emotionally and not rationally, in complete contradiction to all agreements and in violation of the vote of confidence for the implementation of a national common mandate. Take responsibility for Assen Vasilev’s actions, distance yourself from him, and let’s work together a plan adequate to the crisis you are deliberately creating at the moment.”

Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov, in Brussels for a two-day meeting of the European Council, told reporters: “We need to return to the negotiating table in order to finish [the negotiations] and for Bulgaria to have a government”.

Asked whether WCC-DB should apologise to Gabriel, Denkov said: “Let me remind you that I was insulted many times by various politicians – Delyan Peevski, Delyan Dobrev, recently Boiko Borisov got involved. You have never heard me ask for an apology. There is no place for such games in politics, we are not in kindergarten”.

Denkov said that the mandate was with GERB-UDF and it was they who had interrupted the negotiations, and therefore WCC-DB were waiting for an invitation for negotiations to continue.

WCC-DB were adamant that Vassilev should remain the next Cabinet.

“He is the best finance minister, I want to work with him,” Denkov said.

“When we talk about negotiations, we have to go to the media when the negotiations are over and we have a result. A big part of the problem today is that instead of being at the negotiating table, we talk through the media,” Denkov told reporters.

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