Head of State: US Senate Criticizes Bulgaria Because Government Ignores President's, Protesters' Positions

March 5 (BTA) - Bulgarian President Rumen Radev was
approached by journalists here on Friday for comment on a
position issued earlier in the day by two US Senators at the
start of the Bulgarian parliamentary election campaign.

"I am not an opponent to the Government. I have always
objectively rectified what I see and what outrages Bulgarians.
If the Government had listened earlier to what I am saying, to
the grievances of people and of the protesters, the US Senate
Foreign Relations Committee would not have come up with this
devastating assessment today," Radev said.

He was referring to a position published online by US Senate
Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-Idaho)
and Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.).

"The United States and Bulgaria have a robust and growing
relationship that, like the NATO alliance as a whole, is
strongest when it rests on shared democratic values. We would
like to see this relationship continue to develop, particularly
on shared security and energy goals, but persistent corruption,
declining media freedom, politicization of the judiciary, and
other threats to the rule of law pose serious challenges to the
US-Bulgaria bilateral relationship", the two Senators stated.

"Bulgaria scored lowest in the European Union on both
Transparency International's 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index
and the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index.
These rankings underscore the breadth of the challenges facing
Bulgaria. The Bulgarian government and judiciary must work to
uphold the rule of law for all, not just some, and the media
must have the freedom to report the truth without facing
harassment, violence, or punishment," the position reads further

"For almost eight months, in a continuous series of protests,
the people of Bulgaria have called for an end to corruption and
respect for rule of law and democratic values. As the April
parliamentary elections draw near, it is imperative that the
government of Bulgaria protect these values", Senators Risch and
 Menendez urge.

Speaking to the Bulgarian media on Friday, President Radev noted
 further that the US lawmakers' assessment refers to all things
that he has been speaking about since taking office and over
which people have protested: corruption, the erosion of the rule
of law, the stifled media landscape, the politicized judicial
system. "If the Government is indeed keen on our relationship
with the US as a strategic partner and if it turns a deaf ear to
 my messages, let it at least listen to the assessment and
recommendations of our strategic partner," the head of State

Later on Friday, at an extraordinary news briefing called by the
 GERB party, Deputy Foreign Minister and GERB member Georg
Georgiev accused the President of "lying outright, using a
position from personal profiles to denigrate his country and mar
 its reputation, which is extremely cynical". Georgiev argued
that Radev insinuated that this is a position of the Senate,
too, whereas the two Senators actually expressed their own
opinion in their personal profiles on social media, which does
not bind the Senate and the US Government.

According to the Deputy Foreign Minister, the President does not
 perform his functions as a unifier of the nation, joins
election campaigns and, from this point of view, violates the
Constitution. "The new element is that, for lack of sufficient
competence, he embarks on something that can damage our
reputation in the world," Georgiev commented.

"If it succeeds in the elections, the Government will continue
to address the issues raised both with the new US administration
 and with the members of Congress," Daniel Mitov told the same
news briefing. Mitov, who was foreign minister in the second
Boyko Borissov cabinet and is now No. 2 on the GERB-UDF
candidate list for Sofia's 25th Multi-member Constituency,
recalled that Prime Minister Borissov has been a guest of
several U.S. presidents. "I dare say that a person like Radev,
who has not been invited to a visit to the US on a single
occasion, is hardly in a position to make comments of the sort
he made today," Mitov argued.

Later on, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said in a press release
 that relations between the US and Bulgaria have never been more
 active and deeper.

The Ministry said it had received assurances from both the US
Embassy in Sofia and the Department in Washington that this
statement does not bind the US Government, which by no means
would wish to influence the election campaign in Bulgaria.

Source: Sofia