Books on Bulgaria
Update No: 131 - (28/04/08)
The plight of the Bulgars
Bulgaria is in the EU since January, 2007 and its inhabitants can't quite
understand why. They are right to be puzzled. Croatia, which is not, has a far
better case for belonging to the community. But the Croats were deeply involved
in the Balkan wars of the 1990s, of which the EU countries sternly disapproved,
although they did nothing to stop them.
Bulgaria actually only got in on the coat-tails of the Romanians, who only got
in because of their ardent Francophila and fluent Francophonia. France wanted a
counterweight to the Anglophile and Anglophone additions to the EU of late, the
Baltic states, etc.
Bulgaria is mired in corruption and every other post-communist vice. It is a
contradiction in terms that it should be deemed EU-worthy, just yet. But there
Bulgaria reshuffles government amid corruption scandal
As if to prove the point, Bulgaria’s ruling coalition on April 22 agreed to a
reshuffle of key ministerial posts, the government said, following a corruption
scandal that prompted sharp criticism by the EU.
"The government coalition unilaterally approved structural and personal
changes in the government aiming to guarantee the successful completion of the
government's programme by the end of its term," it said in a statement.The
coalition nominated new ministers of the interior, defense, farming and
healthcare and proposed to appoint a new deputy prime minister without portfolio
to oversee the management of funds from the European Union, it said.
The reshuffle follows the resignation of Interior Minister Rumen Petkov in
mid-April in a corruption scandal that revealed links between top crime-busters
and criminals under investigation, and after two high-profile killings in Sofia
that prompted the European Union to call for "urgent action." Petkov
will be replaced by Socialist parliamentary group chairman Mihail Mikov, the
statement by the government information service said.
Bulgaria's ambassador to Germany, Meglena Plugchieva, will be appointed to the
new deputy prime minister post to oversee the use of funds from the EU, which
Bulgaria joined last year, it added.
Plugchieva's appointment comes after vehement criticism by Brussels of
Bulgaria’s poor management of EU money and the recent freezing of at least 450
million euros (717 million dollars) in pre-accession subsidy payments still due
to the EU newcomer.
Farming Minister Nihat Kabil, who came under fire for failing to prevent the
misuse of European money, will be replaced by expert Valeri Tsvetanov.
Defense Minister Veselin Bliznakov, blamed for a failure to push forward the
reform and modernization of the army, will be replaced by defense ministry
executive Nikolay Tsonev.
Lagging reforms in the healthcare sector also prompted the replacement of Health
Minister Radoslav Gaydarski whose ministerial seat will be taken by Evgeniy
Zhelev, currently head of the government Agency for Bulgarians Abroad, the
The changes were negotiated on April 22 by the leaders of the three coalition
parties – Stanishev’s Socialists, the centrist National Movement for
Stability and Progress (NMSP) and the Turkish minority Movement for Rights and
Freedoms party (MRF). They kept the current distribution of ministerial seats
among their parties: eight for the Socialists, five for the NMSP, and three for
the MRF. The changes were voted in on April 24 in the 240-seat parliament, where
the ruling coalition has a 150-strong majority.
It was the second reshuffle of Stanishev’s cabinet, just 14 months before the
end of its term in office. The corruption allegations sent the coaliton’s
public approval ratings plummeting.
A recent poll by the MBMD institute showed that 80 percent of Bulgarians were
convinced of links between top government officials and the underworld. Another
poll by the Gallup institute revealed a sharp fall in public support for the
Socialists, with 71 percent of people saying they no longer trusted the party.
Addressing his party on April 22, Socialist Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev
admitted that the scandal in the interior ministry "has shaken public
trust" in the government and coalition. "We have to guarantee security
for the people and combat organized crime and corruption. The cat’s task is to
catch mice," Stanishev said.
Bulgaria is still under pressure from Brussels to improve the functioning of its
judiciary, curb high-level corruption and organized crime, and put an end to a
score of mafia-style killings. Failure to do so could trigger a further freezing
of EU funding.
"Bulgaria has discredited itself in Europe with the recent series of
scandals... Restoring its reputation will take time," Bulgaria's European
Commissioner Meglena Kuneva recently told Trud daily newspaper.
Breakthrough in Brussels
Bulgaria is certainly going to make the best of it all the same, thereby perhaps
vindicating its inclusion, which in the long run is of course justified. Close
cooperation with Romania is the essential approach.
Bulgarian and Romanian agriculture ministers have agreed to work together closer
in the implementation of the common European agriculture policy in the two
European Union member states, Focus news agency reported on April 21. Bulgaria's
Agriculture and Food Supply Minister Nihat Kabil met with Romanian minister of
agriculture and rural development Dacian Ciolos in Sofia. Kabil said after the
meeting that the two countries should protect their interest in finding
solutions to local problems.
Both countries also share common visions on the European fisheries policy, with
the two ministers agreeing that the sprat fishing quotas for both countries in
common Black Sea waters should be abolished, as it cannot be reached. At the
same time, the flounder fishing quotas should be doubled, as it is currently
only 100 tons a year (50 tons for each country).
A group of representatives from Romania and Bulgaria will be working together to
sharpen priorities of the two countries in the field common EU agriculture
policy, the ministers agreed.
Ciolos said Romania also had problems in adopting the European agriculture funds
and some breaches of EU rules were discovered in 2004/2005, when Romania had to
give back tens millions euro to the EU.