Deputy Prime Minister Simeonov Will Not Resign, Denies Involvement in Wrongdoing at Agency for Expat Bulgarians
November 1 (BTA) - "My functions at the State Agency for
(SABA) are limited to coordination," Bulgarian Deputy Prime
Minister Valeri Simeonov said at a news briefing at the Council
of Ministers on Thursday.
He was reacting to appeals for his resignation by the Bulgarian
Socialist Party, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms and the
Volya Party over alleged corruption in the issuance of Bulgarian
origin certificates by the SABA, required for the award of
Bulgarian citizenship. Simeonov, whose party is part of the
power-sharing United Patriots coalition, supervises the Agency
whose Chairman Peter Haralampiev, nominated by the United
Patriots, was among 20 SABA officials arrested on October 31 in
connection with bribery, documentary fraud and malfeasance in
Simeonov argued that he as assigned to coordinate the SABA
activities of SABA by a Prime Minister's order of May 16, 2017.
The Deputy PM was adamant that he has no right to direct and
control the Agency's activity.
Simeonov pointed out that so far he had "strictly, precisely and
effectively" fulfilled his duties to coordinate the work of the
Agency. This is evidenced by the fact that as a result of this
coordination, the Labour Migration and Labour Mobility
Regulations were amended in June, enabling the number of members
of Bulgarian communities in Ukraine, Moldova and other foreign
countries to rise from zero in 2016 to 7,700 in 2018.
Besides this, his efforts helped simplify the process in which
people of Bulgarian origin can obtain a Blue Card (a work permit
for non-EU citizens). In addition, Simeonov argued, the SABA
has intensified "on an unprecedented scale" its work with
Bulgarian communities abroad (mainly in Ukraine, Southeastern
Serbia, Hungary, Macedonia and Albania).
Simeonov sees these facts as ample evidence of the untenability
of the appeals for his resignation because he coordinates SABA's
activity in an administrator capacity.
Regarding the alleged crimes that have yet to be proven,
Simeonov recalled that on October 30, 2017 he was alerted at his
office in front of witnesses about abuses in the activity of
SABA. Since he had no way of checking whether the alerts were
true, he informed the other Deputy Prime Minister, Krassimir
Karakachanov, and then referred the written materials in
question to the competent specialized services.
Disabled children's mothers are also pressing for Simeonov's
resignation, over callous remarks he made about them on SKAT
Television on October 16. SN/DT