Parliament Rejects Opposition's Demand for Hearing of Deputy PM Simeonov, He Apologizes for Callous Remarks
107 POLITICS - DEPUTY PM - CONTROVERSY amplified
Parliament Rejects Opposition's Demand
for Hearing of Deputy PM Simeonov,
He Apologizes for Callous Remarks
Sofia, October 24 (BTA) - The government majority in Bulgaria's Parliament Wednesday defeated an opposition motion to give Deputy Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov a hearing in connection with his callous remarks about disabled children's mothers, made on SKAT Television on October 16.
"This law [the People with Disabilities Act] was started as an attempt to please a group of loud-mouthed women who speculated with their children, manipulated the public, exhibiting allegedly sick children in scorching heat and heavy rain without a modicum of motherly feelings and care for them. They simply used them in a most unscrupulous way as a tool to achieve their financial goals," Simeonov said in his televised interview.
His statement has sparked daily countrywide protests by mothers and their supporters, pressing for the Deputy PM's resignation. United Patriots Floor Leader Volen Siderov (leader of the Ataka Party) joined the demand.
On Wednesday, Valeri Zhablyanov MP of BSP for Bulgaria described what happened as "an unheard of scandal" and insisted, on behalf of his parliamentary group, that Simeonov appear in the debating chamber and account for his conduct. "Regardless of the context of the statement, of the way the words and commas are arranged in it, the entire Bulgarian public was left with the bitter impression that Mr Simeonov, speaking in an official capacity, found it necessary to refer to motherhood as an instrument of blackmailing the State," Zhablyanov argued.
"We demanded a hearing of Deputy Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov because the institution he represents needs to be compelled to demonstrate whether it can adequately handle the current crises," said another Left MP, Dragomir Stoinev. "Valeri Simeonov is a product of a style in politics that turned the institutions of the State into enemies of the people, that turned those elected to serve the people into masters parasitizing on its back," Stoinev said further on. "This is not about personal cynicism and manners, this is an expression of state cynicism in respect of citizens, and the GERB political alchemists share the responsibility for this," the BSP MP argued. "The State must be purged of this cynical and destructive governance method, people treat the State fairly and it is only normal that they should expect the State to be adequate in its responsibilities to them," he added.
Boris Yachev MP of the United Patriots countered the motion of BSP for Bulgaria, saying that two social bills which will solve the problems of disabled people are to be debated on Friday.
Commenting on the news that Simeonov has publicly apologized, Yavor Notev MP of Ataka described this as "a new circumstance that will be considered in connection with the relations within the [United Patriots] coalition and the decisions on further actions." "The issue with Simeonov's resignation affected the entire society in an inadmissible and unforgivable manner," he added. "This assessment is shared by Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and by Ataka leader Volen Siderov, and this assessment will not change regardless of Simeonov's statement today," Notev pointed out.
Movement for Rights and Freedom
Yordan Tsonev MP of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) also opposed a plenary hearing of the Deputy PM. He does not see a point of Parliament hearing an "immoral and cynical" person. "What he [Simeonov] meant to say is a shame and disgrace for the whole country," Tsonev commented. "If you vote in favour of this hearing, the MRF will leave the debating chamber and we will not humiliate our constituents by forcing them to listen to a cynic," he added.
The MRF demands Deputy Prime Minister Simeonov's resignation, MRF Chairman Mustafa Karadayi said, addressing the legislature. He argued that in a number of statements Simeonov has "overstepped a red line" and described his statement about the disabled children's mothers as "brutal and cynical". "A deputy prime minister uttered the most horrible words that can be uttered, the problem is not just about politics, it is also about being moral and civilized," the MRF leader commented. He does not think that anybody's apologies will work at this stage.
"People like him can no longer be part of power and of politics at large. His participation in the government of democratic Bulgaria, which under the Constitution is a State committed to the rule of law, is inadmissible," Karadayi insisted. "This deputy prime minister must go without delay - he is a millstone around the neck not only of GERB but of the country. His continuance in office makes Bulgaria, in addition to the poorest, also the most inhuman EU Member State," he said.
"If he does not step down, the MRF will take follow-up political action to defend democracy and revive statehood," the party leader warned. "In civilized countries such manifestations entail the departure of not just a cabinet member but of the prime minister," Karadayi added. In his opinion, "in a bid to keep the construct intact, GERB expose the State to risk."
"Democracy in this country is in a crisis, statehood is in its dying throes, and the Deputy PM is seriously involved in the destructive process. Under the circumstances there are several options: either one deputy PM goes, or the entire government goes, or the entire State is disgraced," the MRF leader commented.
"Volya backs the demand for Simeonov's resignation," the party's leader Vesselin Mareshki said, addressing the National Assembly in a declaration on behalf of his parliamentary group.
"In recent days we have witnessed a monstrous, perverse conduct," Mareshki said, stressing that nobody has the right to treat any mother and any child in this way. "The only one who stood up for Simeonov was [Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister and VMRO leader] Krassimir Karakachanov," the speaker said, recalling that Volya are pressing for his resignation as well. "The sooner those two leave the Government, the stronger its chances are of serving out its term in office," the Volya leader believes. He wonders whether VMRO and NFSB [National Front for Salvation of Bulgaria, led by Simeonov] do not have decent people to replace Karakachanov and Simeonov. "Learn a lesson, go down to earth, be responsible," Mareshki called on the powerholders.
Approached by journalists in the Council of Ministers on Wednesday morning, Simeonov said that at a Coalition Council the GERB and United Patriots leaders had considered the daily protests in front of the government building.
"At the insistence of the Coalition Council, I offer my apologies to everybody who were hurt of felt insulted by my statement in an interview on SKAT TV," the Deputy PM said. "By no means did I intend to offend anybody whatsoever," he added.
Simeonov recalled that he has helped people with disabilities and has such a case in his own family. LI/LG