site.btaUPDATED Shouting Match Continues in Parliament over Constitutional Changes, Delyan Peevski’s Entry in Constitutional Committee
The shouting match continued in Parliament for a second day on Thursday over the controversial election of MP Delyan Peevski (Movement for Rights and Freedoms, MRF) to a parliantary committee that is expected to elaborate changes in the Constitution. Most of the time it was interlaced with comments on contemplated constitutional changes.
In a declaration on behalf of the Continue the Change – Democratic Bulgaria in connection with the election of Peevski as a member of the Constitutional Affairs Commission, Democratic Bulgaria co-chair Hristo Ivanov called the MPs to give themselves a few days to calm down, followed by another round of consultations next week and proposal for reconstruction of the commission. Also on Thursday. it became clear that there was a meeting between him, MRF leader Mustafa Karadayi and Peevski. "Discussions are ongoing, there is no agreement, we will continue to argue," Ivanov told journalists. Karadayi said that MRF are not willing to debate the composition of the committee, as “there are written rules, which apply equally to everyone."
Peevski responded by saying that "Mr Ivanov must understand this - it is our right to decide who participates in the commission and if they want to make a constitutional reform, so it will be. They cannot be moral judges of anyone."
MRF's draft for constitutional amendments, proposed a year and a half ago, is published today on the the party’s website. It includes splitting the Supreme Judicial Council into two higher councils - of judges and prosecutors, each of 13 people, while the prosecutor general has only a methodological function.
"The reform will be made as it is needed by the Bulgarian judiciary, Bulgarian society, our partners. It will be done here in this Parliament, with the participation of the MRF and Mr Peevski," MRF’s Deputy Chair Yordan Tsonev said in a MRF statement, read in the plenary hall.
Peevski was at the heart of the development of MRF’s draft constitutional amendments, he added.
"Let's move forward, there will be no changes, we will not give in to any outside suggestions, the reform made in this way we will decide,” stressed Tsonev. He pointed out that each parliamentary group will decide who will participate and do this reform. "Our decision is to give way to specialists who understand the subject," Tsonev explained.
“I don't understand what is shameful in Mr Peevski being in your committee when you went to his feet to beg him. You asked only MRF for this constitutional reform, no one else and this is also a fact, as is the fact that they then voted your government,” There is Such a People floor leader Toshko Yordanov said in the plenary, addressing Continue the Change – Democratic Bulgaria.
“The constitutional reform should not be at any cost,” Vazrazhdane leader Kostadin Kostadinov told journalists in Parliament. “The model that is good for us is the one in the US - the justice minister is also the prosecutor general,” he explained. In his words, the big problem is that there is an established institutional democracy in the US, while here there is none.
BSP leader Korneliya Ninova argued that the talk of constitutional changes boils down to a struggle for influence, offices and levers for capturing the judiciary.
“You adopted the so-called judicial reform together in violation of the Constitution, by your own admission,” she said, addressing CC-DB, GERB-UDF and MRF. “The purpose was to replace the Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev. And when that was about to happen, the CC-DB, in our opinion, realized that were being used. That the reform would come down to Peshev instead of Geshev and that you had no control over this process. That is why today Hristo Ivanov is about to renounce his many years of struggle for judicial reform. The proposal to change the Constitution is an attempt to find a way out. Because there is a tendency for this Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) to choose the new Prosecutor General, but this SJC is ruled by other forces, not the reformist ones, who want change, and you run the risk of putting Peshev instead of Geshev - that is not a reform. You want, through the Constitution, to change the SJC, to have a new election so that you have control over this process and you can participate in the election of the new Prosecutor General. Why don't we just say that's what this is actually about. Again about a battle for influence, for positions and for leverage to control the system,” Ninova added.
GER-UDF floor leader Desislava Atanassova said in the corridors of Parliament that her party has a firm position that each parliamentary group makes its own decisions and no other group can interfere in them - directly or indirectly. “The GERB-UDF is not involved in the talks between the MRF and the CC-DB. The Constitutional Commission must work because the efforts in several successive parliaments have been in this direction. That was the point of giving more time to the 49th National Assembly by supporting a regular government so that the parliament would have time to amend the Constitution,” she pointed out.
“The Constitution Committee and the Legal Committee (part of the rotation agreement) should be taken out of the context of all the other committees, leadership and chairmanships that will come to the plenary for a vote. I would also like President Radev to finally show his draft Constitution, which he has been talking about for years and nobody has seen,” Atanasova added.
She clarified that GERB-UDF will support some of MRF’s proposals for changes but did not want to provide details because any excessive comment "would make the substantive debate impossible later".