site.btaMedia Review: July 7
POLITICS - POSSIBLE FUTURE CABINET - GOVOERNANCE PROGRAMME
Dnevnik: After close to five days of talks, Continue the Change (CC), the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), Democratic Bulgaria (DB) and the independent MPs who left TISP reached consensus on the legislative and governance programme of a government headed by prime minister designate Assen Vassilev. The last details of the two texts, proposed by CC, were cleared out during a late night meeting on Wednesday between the partners. The governance programme was described as "very good" by DB and BSP, but the two political forces nevertheless demanded that it be supplemented. After the meeting, BSP leader Korneliya Ninova, who wished for more social measures, said she is content with the programme's final draft. The published texts show that after the last consultation with CC, texts have been added to the programme about extending the assistance allocated to businesses due to the high electricity prices, free medications for children under 14, as well as making diplomatic efforts to normalize dialogue between Bulgaria and Russia in accordance with Bulgaria's national interest and withing the common European policy - topics on which the Socialists said they will have demands.
DB co-leader Atanas Atanassov described the programme as "ambitious, but realistic". He expressed hope that in the next six months, people will start feeling the programme's effects on their purchasing power. Atanassov said he is content by the fact that the programme includes specific measures concerning energy and security, without giving further details. The final text includes the development of a concept for remote voting in elections and referendums - a topic DB has been especially active about in recent years.
After the meeting between the coalition partners, Vassilev, who is also currently serving as the outgoing Finance Minister, said that the Cabinet's composition has not been discussed yet. He confirmed, however, that outgoing Interior Minister Boyko Rashkov will not be part of the possible future cabinet, because he will be nominated to head the anti-corruption commission. Vassilev once again reiterated that a future cabinet's composition will only be discussed after 121 MPs are secured that will support the proposed governance programme.
CC has only one day left to try to secure the six MPs it needs to get a majority in Parliament, as the exploratory government-forming mandate expires at 5:00 pm on Friday.
Trud also quotes Vassilev as saying that the composition cabinet formed on CC's mandate has not been discussed yet and that Rashkov will be nominated to head the anti-corruption commission. His words were confirmed by outgoing Prime Minister Kiril Petkov.
Duma quotes Socialist leader Ninova as saying that inflation, prices and incomes are her parties' priorities in the programme.
Capital: GERB, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) and the There Is Such a People (TISP) party are blocking the adoption of anti-corruption measures. The new majority between GERB, MRF, TISP and Vazrazhdane, formed after the no-confidence motion against Kiril Petkov's Cabinet was approved, sabotaging the initial discussions of important legislative amendments by the relevant parliamentary committees. It cannot be ruled out that most of them [proposed amendments] are of a strong anti-corruption nature.
Mediapool: The state-owned natural gas supplier, Bulgargaz, has submitted to the energy regulator a proposal to increase the price of natural gas by 32% in July, which adds up to slightly over 186 lv/MWh, taxes and fees excluded, the company's executive director, Lyudmil Yotsov, told the ad-hoc parliamentary committee reviewing Bulgargaz's after the Russian natural gas supplies to Bulgaria were suspended in end-April.
Yotsov said that the full quantity of natural gas has been contracted for July, while this is yet to be done for the month of August. "Except for the long-term contract for Azeri natural gas, we have nothing agreed on for the months of October, November and December," he said.
Yotsov outlined the growing debts to Bulgargaz as a problem, giving as an example Sofia's district heating, which already owes BGN 272 million. Earlier in the day, outgoing Energy Minister Alexander Nikolov told journalists that the Chiren natural gas storage facility is 35% full, which is less than the EU average of 55%. According to the new EU regulation, these storage facilities must be filled up to 80% of their storage capacity by the end of October. According to Nikolov, talks are underway to secure the necessary natural gas quantities, including from Azerbaijan.
Bulgarian National Radio reports on yet another exchange of sharp remarks between Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev and outgoing Justice Minister Nadezhda Yordanova prior to the Supreme Judicial Council's meeting, which is supposed to discuss the possibility for the early dismissal of the Prosecutor General. It was proposed by Yordanova and her predecessor caretaker Justice Minister Yanaki Stoilov. The procedure is nearing the end a year after Stoilov submitted his proposal and four months after Yordanova submitted hers. According to Geshev, the two ministers' demands are politically motivated and aim to take control over the prosecuting magistracy and remove him from the post in order to "install a convenient prosecutor general". Yordanova argues that this is about the exercising of constitutional powers, which oblige any justice minister, if they have information about actions or inactions by prosecutor general, which have damaged the judiciary's reputation, to demand their dismissal.
24 Chassa: Bulgaria should receive an offer from the United States for the purchase of eight more F-16 Block 70 fighter jets within days, Defence Minister Dragomir Zakov said on Wednesday.
The Minister expects the offer to be better priced and for better armed aircraft. The eight F-16 Block 70 fighter jets purchased in 2019 were priced at BGN 2.3 billion, with a significant portion of the originally requested armament and capabilities cut by the Defense Ministry in order to keep the costs reasonable.
"I think we'll have a pretty good cost-to-capability ratio compared to the first eight [F-16 fighter jets]," Zakov said.
The Government approved changes to the contracts for the purchase of the first eight US fighter jets. They are related to obtaining additional weapons for the aircraft expected in 2025 as compensation for their delayed delivery. The first eight F-16s were due to arrive at the end of 2023, but delays in Lockheed Martin's manufacturing chain have delayed the start of the aircraft's production. Before they come into force, the changes to the contracts for the first eight fighters must also be approved by the National Assembly.
The newspaper also writes that Cabinet allocated on Wednesday BGN 100 million for salary increases for the military. The money will be taken from other budget items. According to Zakov, the money will be enough to increase the salaries not only of the servicemen but also of the Defence Ministry's civilian employees. The Defence Minister hopes that the salary increase will stop the outflow of young people from the Army and make military service attractive.
SOCIETY - CAR ACCIDENT
The three national TV channels interview experts and examine various aspects of the horrible traffic accident in central Sofia from Tuesday night, where 35-year-old Georgi Semerdzhiev ran a red light at high speed, colliding with a taxi cab and killing two young females on a nearby sidewalk. The perpetrator fled from the scene of the accident, but was arrested the following day. He has over 50 past traffic violations, criminal registrations, suspended driver's license, etc., which prompted debates about how someone like this can still be driving. The online media outlets also report that charges have been pressed against Semerdzhiev, who is facing 5 to 20 years behind bars.