site.btaPrime Minister Sees "Attempted Blackmail" in Planned Farmer Protests against Ukrainian Imports
Thursday's lifting of the ban on Ukrainian farm imports is beneficial for all citizens, and therefore "the Bulgarian government will not yield to attempted blackmail", Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov said on Friday, as quoted by the Government Information Service.
Denkov feels that the expected nationwide protests by Bulgarian farmers against the scrapping of the ban are being politicized, "to judge from pledges of support from political parties and the fact that some of the protest leaders and organizers are close to certain political figures".
He argued: "The prices of foodstuffs, not just bread and sunflower oil but also meat - where the input includes fodder - depend on imports. These prices are paid by all people. If any individual subsector is affected adversely, we will help it."
Denying allegations that Bulgarian grain-growing is dying, the Prime Minister noted that this subsector is earning enviable profits. He said: "Official data clearly show the financial situation of Bulgarian grain-growers. In 2022, the first year of the Ukraine war, they reported a 20% to 25% rise in profit compared with 2021. The government has been giving crop growers between BGN 1.5 billion and BGN 2 billion in taxpayers' money annually over the last few years, and they have been reporting profit thanks to that support."
Denkov believes it is "wrong and damaging" to extend government support to the entire agricultural sector. "This year, too, there are companies which continue to make profit. Others are having a hard time, indeed, and their problems should be addressed specifically," he said.
The Prime Minister asked each subsector of agriculture to identify its own problems. He is willing to discuss the issues with the farmers and to look for solutions based on available numerical data. He asked to meet on Saturday with representatives of the 22 organizations which are planning next week's protests.