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Bulgarian report Bulgarian report
by Euro Reporter
2013-01-09 11:28:48
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Nuclear referendum is sloppily organized

Daniel Valchev, former Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister and co-founder of the Bulgaria for Citizens Movement, has urged Prime Minister Boyko Borisov to bear in mind that he owes his spending of poorly absorbed EU funds to former EU Commissioner Meglena Kuneva and her negotiating team. Meglena Kuneva is a former Minister of EU Affairs in the government of Simeon Saxe-Coburg and the NSMP party (2001-2005), three-way coalition government (2005-2007), Bulgaria's Chief Negotiator in the EU accession talks in 2001-2007, and Bulgaria's first EU Commissioner in 2007-2009, when she was in charge of consumer protection. Kuneva founded the Bulgaria for Citizens Movement in end-2011 and the movement was established as a political party in July 2012. In a Tuesday interview for Nova TV, Daniel Valchev said that Prime Minister Borisov felt insulted by the Bulgaria for Citizens Movement but no member of the party meant to offend him personally. "In politics it is not a matter of saying "you are this and you are that." If we keep thinking like that, nothing will improve in Bulgaria. When you have been in power for 4 years, you cannot forever keep steering the conversation back to the fact that Bulgaria was founded by Khan Asparuh," Valchev said, hinting at the habit of Borisov to lay the blame on previous governments.

"It is a fact that Bulgaria is the poorest EU country with the smallest education and science spending, we have the worst healthcare, we are the fastest disappearing nation in the world...It is only normal that we sit down and talk about these things and about what will change for Bulgarian citizens over the next 4 years," Valchev commented. He said that although Greece was always being cited as a cautionary tale, the salaries and pensions in the country were 3-4 times higher than those in Bulgaria, regardless of the technical bankruptcy. Commenting on the upcoming nuclear referendum in Bulgaria, he suggested that centre-right ruling party GERB had thrown its supporters into a state of confusion as to what was expected of them. He suggested that it was a crime that Bulgaria's first real referendum was held in such a sloppy way. Valchev reminded that the question at the referendum was unclear.

"I could be for nuclear energy but against the N-plant site in Belene," he pointed out. He argued that the nuclear referendum was dishonest and would have no legal impact whatsoever. "The worst about it is that the government can now continue construction works and nobody could stop them. If this N-plant really costs EUR 10 billion, let us see how these EUR 10 billion can be put to better use," Valchev reasoned. He went on to say that nothing was clear about the January 27 referendum, including the period for the construction of the nuclear power plant, the terms of the contract, the contractor, and the price. Valchev claimed that the referendum was being held not to ask people about their opinion on the matter but to allow the government to do whatever they wanted. The co-founder of the Bulgaria for Citizens Movement, which has been calling for a boycott of the referendum, predicted that an insufficient number of people would go to the polls on January 27. Reminding yet again that Bulgarians were in the dark about what they were actually being asked, he also suggested that the claim that nuclear energy was cheap was open to dispute. He explained that the Bulgaria for Citizens Movement was not urging people to abstain from exercising their democratic right to decide, but added that going to the polls on January 27 meant "taking part in a play with unknown scriptwriters." Valchev also drew attention to a U-turn in Prime Minister Borisov's stance on the referendum, stressing that he had urged a "yes" vote several weeks ago and shifted to calls for a "no" vote on Monday. On January 27, Bulgarian citizens will have to answer the question "Should nuclear energy be developed in Bulgaria through the construction of new nuclear power units?" The referendum was called to decide the fate of frozen Belene NPP project and was initiated by the Bulgarian Socialist Party.


Bulgarian rightists to organize smoking referendum

Minor Bulgarian rightist Union of Democratic Forces party has announced it will start a petition for a nationwide referendum on the recently imposed full smoking ban in the country. "People are concerned about this issue, the issue is of their competence and impacts their everyday lives," said UDF's Boris Markov, who has been appointed as the party's coordinator for the petition.

At the press event Tuesday, chair Emil Kabaivanov stressed that with the move the Union is not backing neither the lifting nor the retaining of the ban, and rather just intends to get people heard. According to Bulgarian legislation, a petition needs to gather 0.5 M signatures to start a referendum procedure. UDF representatives said that they hope that the petition will get more than that number, and a referendum can be scheduled after general elections in the summer.

"Before elections, public space will be flooded by politicized messages, and we want this issue to be solved outside of all partisanship," stated Kabaivanov. The rightist leader further dismissed the upcoming January 27 referendum on nuclear energy as failing to tackle the issue in the right way. "This is only a political theatre set to mobilize the voters of the Bulgarian Socialist Party ahead of general elections," commented Kabaivanov.


I'm Godfather of many!

Bulgarian Vice-PM and Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov has denied all involvement in the recent scandal with an illicit construction permit on sand dunes near popular resort town Nessebar on the Black Sea. The scandal, which flared in the very last days of 2012, involves the de-classification and cheap sale of Natura 2000 protected state beach land to private individuals. The incident, which had occurred in November, was uncovered by environmentalists and shook up Bulgaria's Ministry of Agriculture, which sold the land.

It also transpired that Todor Boyadzhiev, a construction businessman allegedly close to Minister of Interior Tsvetan Tsveatnov, was one of the beneficiaries of the murky deal. Commenting Tuesday, Tsvetanov said that he was not Boyadzhiev's best man, but was indeed the best man of his daughter. "You know, I get invited to be the best man of many couples and the godfather of many children," commented the minister at a press event.

"Does that make me complicit in any activity any of those people do?" added Tsvetanov. The Minister of Interior was resolutely that he has "absolutely no relation" to what happened in Nessebar. He also denied that the business rise of the TVB construction company owned by Boyadzhiev coincides with the GERB cabinet entering into power in 2009.

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