site.btaMedia Review: December 8
The likelihood for a government on the cabinet-forming mandate of GERB-UDF and prime minister designate Nikolay Gabrovski is one of the most discussed topic by the print and electronic media on Thursday.
A headline in 24 Chasa says that the politicians have respect for Gabrovski, who is a prominent neurosurgeon, but are not going to vote in favour of a cabinet line-up suggested by him.
Trud says in a headline that after briefings in the United States, a government is likely to be formed on the third exploratory mandate. The newspaper quotes the opinion of political analyst Hristo Panchougov who told Bloomberg Bulgaria TV that given that Gabrovski does not have any political experience, his nomination is just a demonstration on the part of GERB of a desire for some kind of compromise. Panchougov argues that the situation calls for a person with political expertise and leadership skills. The disintegration of the political body, of the institutions, and the current crisis are the result of nothing but the absence of such political expertise, Panchougov argues.
Speaking on Nova TV, Ivan Hristanov of the Continue the Change said that Gabrovski is an excellent expert in his area "but here the question is governing a country". Hristanov described Gabrovski's nomination as a strange choice. "Apparently for ten years in power GERB turned Bulgaria into a hospital. Still, this is no medical facility and what is needed is a strong administrator, a person who knows how the state functions," Hristanov said, adding Continue the Change will not respond to Gabrovski's invitation for a meeting. Hristanov also repeated that the party will not support a government on GERB's mandate.
Also on Nova TV, GERB's MP Delyan Dobrev said that the proposed ministers in the cabinet on the party's mandate are not going to be "political faces from GERB". Dobrev said that since the other formations in Parliament do not want GERB leader and former prime minister Boyko Borissov to again head a government, nor do they want political figures from the party in the line-up, Gabrovski was nominated as the prime minister designate and all members in the line-up he will propose will be of his standing.
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Trud has an interview with political analyst Tsvetanka Andreeva who discusses the recent exchange of sharp words between President Rumen Radev and two former ministers from a caretaker government appointed by him: Kiril Petkov and Assen Vassilev who went on to form their own party, Continue the Change, which is now the second biggest political force in the incumbent Parliament. Earlier in 2022 Petkov was prime minister of a coalition government. In the interview Andreeva says that Radev owes an explanation who "imposed Kiril and Assen on him". The interviewee also says that it is only a matter of time for a rift to occur between Continue the Change and Democratic Bulgaria.
BULGARIA'S ASPIRATIONS FOR THE SCHENGEN AREA
The other most commented political topic in the news media on Thursday is Bulgaria's failed bid to be admitted to the border-free Schengen Area after the Netherlands and Austria did not change their stance against this country.
24 Chasa prints a page-long piece of political analyst Tihomir Bezlov who tries to explain the reasoning behind the Netherlands' and Austria's objections.
Trud carries a signed comment whose author argues that the Netherlands' veto of Bulgaria's accession is due to the importance of European seaports that are gateways to the Middle East and Asia and whose relative importance may change if Bulgaria joins the Schengen Area.
Capital.bg says in a headline that "Schengen is Setting behind the Horizon". A subheading says that the door for Bulgaria's joining the area will likely not open next year either.
Speaking on the Bulgarian National Radio (BNR), Dimiter Markov of the Centre for the Study of Democracy, said that regarding accession to the Schengen Area, Bulgaria should not press ahead with technical measures that fail to yield results in a bid to meet criteria that are undoubtedly political. To show that it meets these criteria, Bulgaria must lay on the table political results, Markov said. The expert noted that Bulgaria is used as a scapegoat of internal political problems in the countries objecting its joining the Schengen Area but on the other hand, this country continues to give all grounds for such a treatment. "As long as Bulgaria continues to give fresh reasons to these critics, the issue will not be solved," Markov said.
Former deputy prime minister in charge of European affairs and justice minister Zinaida Zlatanova said that Bulgaria is a hostage of a foreign political agenda. Commenting Austria's objection to Bulgaria's entry in the Schengen Area, she said that Vienna's argument about unregistered migrants does not target Bulgaria especially. She said that a heated political debate on migration has been going on in Austria in the recent says, with the conclusion that a huge number of migrants end up there.
The Thursday newspapers discuss the two bills concerning the work of the counter-corruption commission Parliament passed at first reading on Wednesday. Most of the reports highlight that the counter-corruption commission is to be granted investigative rights.
The bills were discussed by a number of experts on the Bulgarian National Television.
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The print dailies report in detail on Wednesday's large-scale country-wide police operation against drugs pushing which involved 3,000 police officers, gendarmerie and border police staff. 24 Chasa provides Interior Ministry data on how many people with what quantities of what type of drugs have been detained in January-October. With 32 tonnes seized in 22 months, marijuana seems to be the most popular drug, the report writes. However, the cited statistics excludes drugs shipments apprehended by the Customs Agency.
A headline in Trud says that the operation, code-named White, hit the drugs mafia in Bulgaria.
Commissioner Hristo Donov of the Directorate General for Organized Crime Control said on Nova TV that the operation continues "until the desired results are achieved". Donov confirmed that 56 persons were detained in the raid on Wednesday, saying that some of them are from "important levels in the criminal hierarchy".
Donov was also interviewed by bTV where he said that 150 locations have been checked in the operation.
The online news outlets reported at length the ongoing large-scale operation on Thursday.
24 Chasa frontpages the news that after several setbacks, Bulgaria's strategic plan in agriculture was finally approved by the European Commission so that the sector will be eligible for EUR 8 billion until 2027. The approval of the plan is reported in all print newspapers.
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24 Chasa and Duma write that the National Revenue Agency (NRA) has reported a 60% increase in the number of online betting websites in 2022 in Bulgaria. Newly registered websites increased by six to 16 in 2022, whereas until 2021 they numbered only six. NRA suspended more than 130 unlicensed online betting platforms.
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24 Chasa and other newspapers report on the latest official business statistics which showed that the economy is slowing down.
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Telegraph writes about an idea to put a microchip in the vehicle that tracks high speeds and sharp breaks and so reduce the price of car insurance.
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On Nova TV financial analysts discussed the growing interests on consumer loans. The expectations are that the interest may double to 4-5% at the end of the next year.
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Speaking on BNR, Luchezar Bogdanov, Chief Economist of the Institute for Market Economics, commented the situation with the missing budget for next year. Bogdanov said that Bulgaria is in a situation where without an official budget procedure it is possible to change taxes and welfare benefits and amend law ordering the executive power to make certain payments. The expert described this as a "complex situation, in which a budget for next year is missing but at the same time, Parliament has the clout to change various spending parameters. The attempt to avert this type of political populism failed".
Bogdanov further argued that the stakeholders should stop avoiding "always and at any cost" the reform of the laws treating social assistance. "This is a forbidden topic. No one is willing to touch the beehive, with the result that the powers that be are trying to pursue a social policy via the tax environment," he said.
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On BNT, economist Kaloyan Staikov of the Institute for Energy Management said that the EU cap on fuel prices creates an artificial market shortage and that the cap will hardly have any impact for consumers in Bulgaria.
The print and online news media have lengthy reports on the attempted plot to overthrow the government in Germany.
24 Chasa devotes a page and a half to reports on a suspected link of a relative of a Bulgarian royalty from the early 20th century in the thwarted attempt.
Trud runs a profile of Heinrich XIII Prince Reuss and of the far-right Reichsbuerger [Citizens of the Reich] movement who were believed to be behind the plot.
The University Students Day which is marked on December 8 is reported in all print newspapers. 24 Chasa says that 200,000 university students will be celebrating in Bulgaria on Thursday, noting that their number has increased 2.5 times in the past 40 years.
Nova TV ran a report showing that the winter resort town of Bansko, Southwestern Bulgaria, a popular place for December 8 celebrations, has had lines of revellers waiting to enter restaurants and discos already on Wednesday.
All reports about the holiday stress that police presence across the country will be beefed up to prevent accidents.
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Citing Google data, 24 Chasa and other newspapers write that the name of Russian President Vladimir Putin and of the former chef de cabinet of ex-prime minister Kiril Petkov, Lena Borislavova, were the most searched names in Bulgaria during the year. The most frequently questions which the Bulgarians asked the search engine were how to cast a ballot in machine voting and how much one gramme of gold costs.
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Duma reports on a roundtable in Parliament on Wednesday on the much and long-discussed topic about whether Bulgaria needs a national children's hospital. According to a doctor participant in the discussion, Bulgaria has excessive admissions of children for hospital treatments, given that between 50,000 and 60,000 babies are born annually while hospital admissions of children under 12 months old are 100,000.