site.btaWeekly Roundup of Political Events July 30 - August 5

Weekly Roundup of Political Events July 30 - August 5
Weekly Roundup of Political Events July 30 - August 5
Bulgarian National Bank, Council of Ministers, Parliament, President's Administration (BTA Photo)

Mt Buzludzha, North Central Bulgaria, July 30

Addressing a large gathering of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), leader Korneliya Ninova says the legacy of the Kiril Petkov cabinet is a financially stable, economically developed and socially committed country. She is reacting to a statement of President Rumen Radev that the country is left in chaos.

Sofia, July 30

Supreme Bar Council Chairman Ivailo Dermendjiev is the only Bulgarian nominated to represent the European Commission as arbitrator in disputes relating to trade agreements between the EU and third countries, including Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, Canada and Britain. Dermendjiev holds an LLD in international law.

Sofia, July 31

GERB party leader and former prime minister Boyko Borissov presents six priorities after the October early elections. GERB is ready to cooperate with any party which supports those priorities, regardless of whether GERB will emerge as the first or second largest political force after the snap poll. The six priorities are: passage of a law on 100% diversification from Gazprom and a long-term contract for LNG supplies; cap ping the price of motor fuel at 2.70 leva per litre; signing an agreement with the US on delivery of eight more F-16 aircraft; 100% diversification from Russian nuclear fuel and nuclear power-generating facilities and construction of new nuclear power plants; putting an end to electricity price surges; and a genuine legal reform.

Sofia, July 31

President Rumen Radev bestows the Honorary Medal of the President on American Jewish Committee  CEO David Harris for "his exceptional contribution to the advancement of the transatlantic partnership, the strengthening of the relations between Bulgaria and the United States, and in recognition of his role in the fight against antisemitism and all forms of discrimination". Radev notes Harris's personal contribution to the popularization of "the unprecedented historical act of rescuing of nearly 50,000 Bulgarian Jews during World War Two".

Sofia, August 1

President Rumen Radev decrees the dissolution of the 47th National Assembly, effective August 2, and the holding of early parliamentary elections on October 2. By the same decree Radev appoints a caretaker cabinet headed by Galab Donev, a former caretaker labour and social policy minister.

This is Bulgaria's 100th cabinet, the eighth caretaker cabinet under the Constitution adopted in 1990, and the fourth appointed by President Rumen Radev.

Here are the members of the caretaker cabinet:

Prime Minister: Galab Donev

Deputy Prime Minister for Social Policies and Minister of Labour and Social Policy: Lazar Lazarov

Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Policies and Minister of Transport: Hristo Aleksiev

Deputy Prime Minister for Public Order and Security and Minister of Interior: Ivan Demerdzhiev

Deputy Prime Minister for European Funds: Atanas Pekanov

Minister of Finance: Rositza Velkova-Zheleva

Minister of Defence: Dimitar Stoyanov

Minister of Health: Assen Medjidiev

Minister of Regional Development and Public Works: Ivan Shishkov

Minister of Education and Science: Sasho Penov

Minister of Foreign Affairs: Nikolay Milkov

Minister of Justice: Krum Zarkov

Minister of Culture: Velislav Minekov

Minister of Environment and Water: Rositsa Karamfilova-Blagova

Minister of Agriculture: Yavor Gechev

Minister of Economy and Industry: Nikola Stoyanov

Minister of Energy: Rossen Hristov

Minister of Innovation and Growth: Alexander Pulev

Minister of Tourism: Ilin Dimitrov

Minister of Youth and Sports: Vesela Lecheva

Minister of e-Government: Georgi Todorov.

Sofia, August 1

Bulgaria signs an operational arrangements agreement with the European Commission. This is the last necessary agreement in relation to the Recovery and Resilience Plan before this country submits a formal request to receive funds under the mechanism. Bulgaria is the Member State with the fastest negotiated and signed operational arrangements in the whole EU. Although the Bulgarian plan was the 24th adopted, Bulgaria is the 15th country with operational arrangements with the EC. The government managed to finalize the process in less than 3 months after the EU Council approved the Bulgarian plan.

Sofia, August 1

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan receives Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) leader Mustafa Karadayi in the Presidential Complex in Ankara. The meeting is attended by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and MRF Deputy Chair Ahmed Ahmedov. The sides discuss how Turkey can help Bulgaria in the coming difficult winter. They also look at Sofia's relations with Ankara in the context of energy and natural gas supplies. Karadayi and Ahmedov meet with a large group of ethnic Turks from Bulgaria to discuss the October 2 parliamentary elections in Bulgaria.

Sofia, August 2

At the handover of power, President Rumen Radev presents the members of the caretaker cabinet headed by Galab Donev, its tasks and priorities. Radev says the main task of every caretaker cabinet is to organize elections. He identifies security as the key challenge and says the caretaker government must prevent Bulgaria's involvement in the conflict, ward off any national security risks, speed up the modernization of the armed forces and boost their interoperability with the Allies. Other problems that must be tackled are the security and price of energy supplies; food security and prices; corruption-riddled construction projects; road traffic safety; the legislation needed for the Recovery and Resilience Plan; and the last step towards Bulgaria's entry in Schengen.

Caretaker Prime Minister Galab Donev says he expects the government to organize the conduct of fair elections, restore the trust among the institutions, solve all inherited crises, defuse the political tension and continue work under the National Recovery and Resilience Plan.

Sofia, August 2

In a video address to the nation before he hands over power to the caretaker cabinet, outgoing Prime Minister Kiril Petkov says that in its seven months in office, his government has kept its promises to people. The outgoing government leaves behind a budget surplus of BGN 1.5 billion and access to BGN 13 billion from the Recovery and Resilience Plan. Petkov lists the steps taken to improve the situation of pensioners, young families, children, medical workers, patients, teachers and vulnerable groups. He catalogues the measures taken in the energy sector to mitigate the shock for individuals and businesses: a heating relief package; compensations for businesses' electricity bills; making sure the caretaker government has a chance to secure cheaper natural gas; and fuel relief for all. Petkov warns of the risk of buying into the promises of euro-skeptic, anti-NATO and nationalist parties.

Sofia, August 2

President Rumen Radev talks on the telephone with North Macedonia's President Stevo Pendarovski on the occasion of the country's national day, Republic Day. The Bulgarian President says: "Our common history should become a real factor for greater closeness between Bulgaria and the Republic of North Macedonia, and the two countries' statespersons ought to contribute to that. The stated ambition for a common future in united Europe should translate into real actions to build and promote good-neighbourly relations in the best interests of the citizens."

Sofia, August 2

Bulgaria allocates BGN 450,000 for the development and preservation of the Bulgarian language and culture in Moldova in the 2022/2023 school year under the Bulgarian Language and Culture Abroad National Programme. The Education Ministry in Sofia has approved 44 projects involving 4,000 children.

Sofia, August 3

Vice President Iliana Iotova says Galab Donev's caretaker government has two main tasks: to reinstate stability and ensure the Bulgarians' security for the autumn and winter, from energy supplies to the coronavirus situation. She says that preparing the new national budget and "dealing with any other crisis left by the previous cabinet" are among the tasks of the cabinet President Rumen Radev appointed on August 2.

Sofia, August 3

Interviewed on Nova TV, Bulgargaz Board of Directors Chairman Ivan Topchiysky says that Bulgaria is still in communication with Russian gas supplier Gazprom on the existing contract. He says it is likely that supplies could be resumed, but Bulgargaz will need guarantees that there will not be any risks for it if the Russian company changes its terms. Gazprom cut off gas supplies to Bulgaria in April after this country refused to comply with Russia's demands for payments in roubles.

Sofia, August 3

The European Commission approves Operational Programme Human Resources Development 2021-2027 with a budget of BGN 3.8 billion. More than 740,000 people are expected to be supported under the first programme in Bulgaria green-lighted by Brussels.

Sofia, August 3

The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) slams the caretaker government for replacing Gergana Alexova as deputy director of the National Railway Infrastructure Company (NRIC) on the cabinet's first day in office. BSP Organizing Secretary Borislav Gutsanov calls the replacement "a very bad sign" and "revenge-seeking". Later that day, NRIC Director General Zlatin Krumov says Alexova was relieved of her duties because she underperformed despite the strong support she received from the coalition government. He says Alexova left the company without fuel for a certain time and the staff without accident-at-work insurance.

Sofia, August 3

Caretaker Prime Minister Galab Donev sets up an interdepartmental task force headed by Deputy Prime Minister and Transport and Communications Minister Hristo Aleksiev to tackle the energy crisis. The task force is expected to come up with options to secure gas supply and ensure predictability of gas prices, as well as to create mechanisms for controlling and lowering fuel and electricity prices. Energy Minister Rossen Hristov describes the gas supply situation as "serious" on the grounds that the volumes contracted for delivery until the end of 2022 will fall short of demand. The delivery of seven tanker loads of LNG is at the offer level, with three shiploads to be delivered this year and an option to deliver the rest in 2023. Hristov says no slots have been secured for unloading the tankers.

Sofia, August 3

Continue the Change, the senior partner in Bulgaria's previous coalition government headed by Kiril Petkov, challenge the position of the caretaker cabinet about the need to resume negotiations with Gazprom. Continue the Change argue that the caretaker cabinet should prioritize ensuring reliable supplies, keeping in mind that the worst problem with Russian gas is that it can be halted at any time. The Petkov cabinet made it possible for the interim government to confirm or reject an offer for new quantities of LNG at prices some USD 30 below the European ones. The option is open until August 19. A regasification slot has been contracted for October, and two options are available for November, Continue the Change says.

Sofia, August 3-4

Prime Minister Galab Donev appoints 25 deputy ministers in 15 ministries and orders the dismissal of the 25 deputy ministers on Wednesday. Seven more deputy ministers are appointed in three ministries on Thursday.

Sofia, August 4

Prime Minister Galab Donev says the Energy Ministry will announce a tender next week for short-term supply of LNG, so that Bulgaria's energy needs can be met during the heating season. The Ministries of Energy and Finance will draft a plan for financial stabilization of Bulgargaz to ensure that it can pay for the contracted quantities of natural gas.

Sofia, August 4

Former energy minister Alexander Nikolov says that US LNG producer Cheniere Energy has come up with a binding offer for seven LNG cargoes for Bulgargaz. The binding offer applies to all three tankers that can arrive until the year's end, and a mechanism has been set for the rest, scheduled for 2023. A slot is secure for the first cargo, which is due for delivery in October. The second and third cargo have been left to the discretion of the caretaker cabinet because the Petkov government did not want to commit their successors to costs and a specific solution amid the volatile market and steep spot prices, Nikolov says.

Sofia, August 4

The Bulgarian Foreign Ministry has invited international observers to the October 2 general elections. Verbal notes have been sent to the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe; to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe; and to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation.

Sofia, August 4

Former Kintex EAD executive director Alexander Mihailov tells a BTA-hosted news conference that in just four months after the start of the war in Ukraine, more than 4,200 tonnes of Bulgarian weapons in 60 planeloads were flown to Rzeszow, Poland, with the approval of then deputy prime minister and economy and industry minister Korneliya Ninova. Citing Foreign Ministry information, Mihailov says that not a single weapons planeload had flown to Rzeszow for 14 months before the war, whereas 60 aircraft transported Bulgarian weapons to that Polish airport in the first four months after that. Mihailov also accuses Ninova of delaying by two months the consideration of arms export deals worth EUR 1 billion in aggregate, thus laying a snare for President Radev. Ninova fired Mihailov as CEO of the state-owned military equipment supplier in April, citing irregularities and a manifest conflict of interest.

Sofia, August 4

The caretaker Cabinet replaces 25 of the 28 regional governors in Bulgaria. Twenty-one of the new appointees have held the position of regional governor before, most of them between May 2021 and January or February 2022, or have served as deputy regional governors.

Sofia, August 4

The caretaker Cabinet approves a budget of BGN 70.5 million for the preparation and organization of the October 2 parliamentary elections.

Sofia, August 5

Bulgaria's Foreign Ministry says Russia is expelling four Bulgarian diplomats and ten staff members of the Bulgarian diplomatic services in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg, and the Bulgarian Industry Centre in Moscow. They have been declared persona non grata and given 120 hours to leave. Bulgarian Ambassador Atanas Krastin is invited to the Russian Foreign Ministry to be notified of Moscow's decision, which comes in retaliation for the expulsion of 70 Russian diplomat and embassy staff by Bulgaria in June.

Sofia, August 5

The Sofia City Court hears a case for the registration of Continue the Change as a party. The court has until August 19 to rule on the case. If the court has not ruled by the August 17 deadline for registration for the October 2 snap elections, the party will run with partners as it did in November 2021.

Sofia, August 5

The caretaker government dismisses National Revenue Agency (NRA) Executive Director Rumen Spetsov for non-performance of obligations under the National Revenue Agency Act. Boris Mihaylov is replacing him.

Sofia, August 5

Finance Minister Rositza Velkova-Zheleva relieves Pavel Tonev of his duties as Customs Agency Director and appoints Pavel Gerensky as acting Director.

Sofia, August 5

The Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) will run on its own in the October 2 snap general elections. The campaign headquarters will be headed by MRF leader Mustafa Karadayi and will include members of the party leadership and the leadership of the youth chapter.

Sofia, August 5

Up to 750 Italian service persons with 50 units of military equipment and supplies will be moving in six motor-vehicle convoys, escorted by Military Police, from Greece along the national road network to the Novo Selo Training Area near Sliven (Southeastern Bulgaria) until the middle of August, the Bulgarian Defence Ministry says. The troops and hardware are part of a NATO multinational battlegroup that is being established in Bulgarian territory with Italy as framework nation.

Sofia, August 5

The National Council of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) meets to approve the top-of-the-list candidates, the non-party candidates' quota and the coalition partners for the October 2 early parliamentary elections. The Council adopts a position distancing the party from the three BSP members who became ministers in the caretaker cabinet (Krum Zarkov, Vesela Lecheva and Yavor Gechev) and disclaims political responsibility for their actions from now because they were appointed to the cabinet in violation of the BSP Statute. Still, the question of their expulsion from the party has never been raised, BSP leader Korneliya Ninova says.

Sofia, August 5

Democratic Bulgaria, a ruling coalition partner in the former government, stages a protest in front of the President's administration under the motto "Bulgaria - independent from Gazprom!" in response to actions of the caretaker government appointed by President Rumen Radev. The party says they will call on the citizens to come out on the streets at any attempt of the government to encroach on Bulgaria's sovereignty and interests.

Sofia, August 5

The Energy Ministry denies having done anything that might delay the commissioning of the Bulgaria-Greece gas interconnector. This statement comes shortly after former prime minister Kiril Petkov lashes out at the caretaker government for some of its decisions, including a protocol signed by the new Energy Minister that revokes a decision by the Petkov cabinet about the appointment of the Supervisory Board of the interconnector project company, ICGB. The Energy Ministry says the Registry Agency has refused to register the ICGB Supervisory Board due to inconsistent spelling of the name of the Greek representative and missing documents. The Ministry vows that energy diversification remains a priority for the President and the caretaker Prime Minister.

Sofia, August 5

Caretaker Defence Minister Dimitar Stoyanov and the Polish Embassy's Deputy Ambassador Iwona Jakuszko-Dudka agree that the Defence Ministry will send an official letter to the Polish Ministry of Defence requesting assistance for the replacement and repair of six MiG-29 aircraft engines. Deputy defence ministers Teodora Genchovska and Katerina Gramatikova attend the meeting. The Polish diplomat says she is committed to assisting with the earliest possible resolution of this matter.

/DD/

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By 18:41 on 11.08.2022 Today`s news

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