Books on Bulgaria
Update No: 130 - (26/03/08)
The renewed Bulgaria
In June 2005, Bulgarian voters renewed the National Assembly. The Coalition for
Bulgaria (KzB)-which included the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP)-secured 82
seats, followed by the National Movement Simeon II (NDSV) with 53 lawmakers. In
August, the two main parties, along with the Turkish Movement for Rights and
Freedoms (DPS), agreed to set-up a coalition administration with Socialist
leader Sergei Stanishev as prime minister.
In October 2007, the Bulgarian government survived a no-confidence motion tabled
by the opposition in the legislature on the basis that it had failed to properly
fund the education system. The 160-61 vote came after a long teacher's strike,
and was the third no-confidence motion that the Stanishev administration has
faced since taking office.
The popularity of Premier Stanishev has slightly increased this year, according
to a poll by Alpha Research. 46 per cent of respondents have a positive opinion
of Stanishev's performance, up three points since December.
Problems with Brussels
Last year, along with Romania, Bulgaria officially joined the European Union (EU).
There are those that think this was a premature development, because the EU lost
a lot of leverage over the transition process in both states, marred by crime
However, Brussels still has some leverage in dispensing funds, whether as aid or
credit. On March 7, the European Commission suspended funds worth about US $77
million destined for programmes in Bulgaria following a series of reports
warning of corruption and mismanagement of EU funds.
Bulgarian deputy finance minister Dimitar Ivanovski announced the decision.
Stanishev discussed the issue, saying, "These are not corruption
accusations but specific cases, flaws or difficulties."
Key coalition meeting
A meeting of the Political Council of Bulgaria's governing three-party coalition
took place in the southern town of Hisarya in early March. Stanishev, as leader
of the National Movement Simeon II (NMS II); Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, and Ahmed
Dogan, the leader of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms /MRF/, are the natural
mouthpieces of the coalition. Stanishev held a press conference. The three
parties talked about the government's updated programme and priorities by the
end of its term in office, and cabinet reshuffle.
The coalition again bid for re-election - Ahmed Dogan hinted that the coalition
had strength not only to finish its term in office, but also to win a second
one. The three-party coalition discussed the government's objectives up to 2013
when the EU budget and the government's possible second term in office finish.
Uniting the energy sector
"The Bulgarian government declared itself to be for the establishment of a
Bulgarian Energy Holding that will unite the energy sector," Prime Minister
Sergey Stanishev said at the press conference.
"The Holding will be comprised of 5 companies, including Maritsa East
mines, Bulgargaz Holding, Maritsa East 2 TPP, Kozloduy NPP, and NEK. After the
consolidation the assets of the holding will be EUR 4 billion, while the
expected annual revenue will be EUR 1,8 billion," Stanishev added.
"The coalition has political will to lift the license regimes. A total of
26 license regimes will be lifted," he noted.
Healthcare and education are also among the government's priorities. "We
have implemented many concrete reforms in the field of education, which
encourages us to press ahead," said Stanishev. "Special attention will
be paid to vocational education. The equipment in vocational schools should be
updated, which means more funding will be allotted," he noted. As for
health care, Stanishev stipulated measures the government will undertake in the
area: restructuring hospital assistance, privatization, "We have
implemented many concrete reforms in the field of education, which encourages us
to press ahead," said Stanishev.
"Special attention will be paid to vocational education. The equipment in
vocational schools should be updated, which means more funding will be
allotted," he noted.
" I witnessed the most serious discussion about healthcare in
Bulgaria," Stanishev said, adding the measures the government will
undertake in the area: restructuring hospital assistance, privatization,
concessions, public and private partnership, introduction of management
contracts, increase in financing through de-monopolization, establishment of
guarantee and solidarity fund, a code of ethics of health insurance funds,
introduction of electronic healthcare cards, and others.
The PM said all proposals would be widely discussed with doctors, NGOs and
patients. "I am an optimist; the government's updated programme is
ambitious, but achievable," PM Stanishev indicated.
"We aim not only to put a happy end to the coalition's term in office, as
Mr. Dogan has said, but also to do work in all essential areas," the PM
commented. He described the programme they had discussed as modern, because it
has to give basic and clear objectives to improve Bulgarians' quality of life.
"On the basis of the government's programme we will work out concrete plans
in every sector," Stanishev added. "The internal unity the two-day
discussion resulted in will give us political energy to achieve our tasks,"