site.btaMedia Review: September 20

Media Review: September 20
Media Review: September 20
Bulgarian newspapers (BTA Photo)

Farmers' protests around the country, provoked by the lifting of a ban on Ukrainian food imports by the Bulgarian Parliament on September 14, were covered extensively in all media outlets on Wednesday.


24 Chasa features an article pointing out that two protests were held in Sofia on Tuesday - by the farmers and by miners unhappy with the closure of the coal plants - but after meetings with government representatives everyone remained satisfied. The daily writes that by the end of September an agreement is expected to be signed between the cabinet and the miners' trade unions, according to which a state enterprise will be set up to employ the miners who have lost their jobs. Regarding the farmers' demands, the article adds that Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov has announced that sunflower imports from Ukraine will rather not take place.

On Bulgarian National Radio (BNR), Agriculture Minister Kiril Vatev said that the government plans to sign at its weekly meeting Wednesday a memorandum with the protesting farmers. He said that they will make a commitment to hold talks on item 1 of a declaration of demands of the protestors. This item calls for continuing the ban on the import of Ukrainian wheat, maize, rape and oilseed; banning the import of unrefined cooking oil, fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables, milk and dairy products from Ukraine; and tightening control over the origin, quality and safety of farm products imported into Bulgaria. Vatev also said: "Talks with the Prime Minister of Ukraine are ongoing. They have been a permanent practice since the import of agricultural products from Ukraine became an issue. Officially, there is a decision to continue with the ban on the four previously banned crops, to negotiate quotas. The other three crops do not concern us. What concerns us is sunflowers, unrefined oil, powdered milk and honey," Vatev explained. „The government insists for controlling Ukrainian export of these four products - sunflower, unrefined sunflower oil, powdered milk and honey," he stressed, adding that there is a period of one month to agree on the quotas for the licensing regimes.

Also on BNR, the former chair of the parliamentary agriculture committee, Plamen Abrovski, said that farmers missed an opportunity to oust a weak minister. He believes that Agriculture Minister Kiril Vatev is only competent on matters concerning meat processing since he comes from this business. "He said nothing for 100 days. Even today we have no idea what the Agriculture Ministry plans to do."

On BNR, Georgi Georgiev, the leader of the anti-corruption organization BOEC, urged the leaders of Continue the Change – Democratic Bulgaria (CC-DB)  to stand up and speak up for the Prime Minister and the government amid the farmers' protests. He argued that the CC-DB leaders owe it to people to rake a clear stance. "They are nowhere to be seen and allow [GERB leader Boyko] Borissov and {Movement for Rights and Freedoms MP Delyan] Peevski to lead the process and pave the way for appearing in the upcoming elections as the saviors, as the people who solve problems. That has to be exposed!," said Georgiev. He argued that the root cause of all problems with Ukrainian farm produce and Bulgarian farm produce, is the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. "The only one who is responsible is Putin and his Russia. But no one is protesting against the root cause - they protest against the consequence," he said. That is why BOEC are holding a protest in front of the Russian Embassy in Sofia on Wednesday when they will demand that Russian Ambassador Eleonova Mitrofanova go home, that President Rumen Radev be impeached, that the Russian agents and dependencies in Bulgaria be exposed and the Monument to the Soviet Army be dismantled.

In the morning programme of Bulgarian National Television (BNT) on Wednesday Tihomir Bezlov, a prominent expert of the Centre for the Study of Democracy, said that he is optimistic against the background of farmers' protests because they shed light on the issue of excessive concentration in agriculture, which he and other analysts have been trying to raise for 10 years now. "It is now clear that the EU subsidies are playing a very negative role leading to over-concentration [of land and other agricultural assets] in the hands of a bunch of people," he said. "EU statistics shows that we are the EU's top producer of grain crops: 63% of all agricultural production of this country is grain. For comparison, it is 1% in the Netherlands. The problem with grain growing is that it has very low added value. It is not bad to grow grain, but give it to the animals because the added value there is higher," he argued. He went on to say that Bulgaria consumes 1 million t of grains and produces 8 million. "The problem of this sector is that it cannot sell its grain in Bulgaria and the price on the international markets is very low because there is abundant supply of Ukrainian grain, which is more competitive on what used to be Bulgarian markets in Europe."


Duma quotes GERB leader Boyko Borissov as saying that his party and CC-DB are in a real coalition, which also features Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF). "We have no agreement, but we feel responsible because we voted for this government and for the appointment of these ministers," he notes. The newspaper writes that in recent months Borissov has claimed that the two leading parliamentary groups are not in coalition and that GERB is not responsible for the government but only for Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mariya Gabriel’s actions.

24 Chasa also covers the story including a statement by CC-DB MP Nastimir Ananiev, who denies that MRF are a part of such coalition. "Unless GERB works with them, as we have seen that many of the [parliamentary] committees that were due to GERB were given to the MRF," he is quoted as adding. He also disputed Borissov's words of a "real coalition" as there is no official agreement between the parliamentary groups.


In an interview with Telegraph, sociologist and political analyst Evelina Slavkova discusses the political situation in the country. She says that if President Rumen Radev is to make a new political project, he will have to be in charge of it. Slavkova reminds that Continue the Change and Bulgarian Rise were founded with his support but states that Radev realizes that he should be heading his next project, if there is one. At the same time the sociologist notes that there are no clear indicators that the President is laying the foundations of such a political project. She pointed out that whether the head of State will turn his attention and efforts in this direction will depend on whether there will be early parliamentary elections, or whether the current government will carry out its full term in office, as its end will coincide with the end of Radev's second term in office as President. Slavkova also highlights that Radev and the cabinet have mutual interest in confrontation between each other.


24 Chasa has an article on MPs’ failure to agree on the separation of the Commission for Anti-Corruption and Illegal Assets Forfeiture (CACIAF) in two on Tuesday. The aim is CACIAF to be divided into two commissions: for confiscation of illegally acquired property and for anti-corruption – one of the amendments required for the second payment under the Recovery and Resilience Plan. The daily highlighted three points which proved controversial on Tuesday. The most problematic of them was CC-DB's idea to create a nomination board to evaluate candidates for commissions’ membership. It is envisaged that it will consist of five members - one each proposed by the Supreme Cassation Court, the Supreme Bar Council, the Justice Ministry, the Ombudsman, and the National Audit Office. Candidates will be assessed on whether they meet the requirements, their moral qualities, their qualifications and experience, and their concept of work. After that, the board will present a "recommended ranking" to the relevant committee in Parliament. The idea, however, did not appear in the text adopted at first reading and was rejected by the Legal Committee for the second reading of the bill

Telegraph also covers the story.


Telegraph quotes an interview with Justice Minister Atanas Slavov in which he urges for a reform aiming to depoliticize the Supreme Judicial Council. He proposes the inspectors to be nominated by the judiciary and elected by the parliament, instead of the current model according to which the MPs decide who to elect as an inspector and and which in Slavov’s words leads to electing of people “who have nothing to do with the judiciary".


Trud features an interview with acting Prosecutor General  Borislav Sarafov on the amendments to the Judiciary Act. He states that a change in the Prosecution’s Office is necessary, but warned that its dismantling and degradation would be disastrous for society. “There is a real danger that instead of introducing a real effective control over one Prosecutor General, the society will receive 28 completely uncontrolled and omnipotent regional prosecutors, over whom no one will have the right to establish control, to carry out checks, audits, to coordinate and control their activities. You get 28 local feudals,” Sarafov argued.


24 Chasa writes that it received confirmation from the Tourism Ministry that Tourism Minister Zaritsa Dinkova has sent a letter to hoteliers seeking ideas on how to help the tourism industry. All industry associations have received it and many suggestions have been given but are still being processed, the daily adds. Dinkova's letter shows that more than BGN 300 million has been provided by the European Union for staff training so that the problem of staff qualifications can be solved.


24 Chasa features an article on the shortage of staff at prime working age in the seaside tourism industry. Workers from the age group over 60 and such around 16-years-old predominate. "Here the summer season lasts only three months, while in Greece it is almost half a year, especially in the south. There is no social system that would support someone for 9 months of the year, while they only work for three. Retraining staff and attracting young people from tourism schools and colleges is another thing," the daily quotes former Tourism Minister Ilin Dimitrov.


Duma quotes Eurostat data according to which Bulgaria lags behind in the rate of wage increases compared to other European countries in the second quarter of 2023. Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia and Romania are outpacing Bulgaria, which for several quarters in a row recorded the highest wage and labour cost growth in the EU. Hourly labour costs in Bulgaria increased by 14.2% year-on-year, but in previous quarters the growth was over 15 and even over 16%, the daily states. The media outlet points out that this growth is not enough to pull Bilgaria out of last place in wages rankings. While in Germany the hourly wage was EUR 39.5 at the end of 2022, in Bulgaria it was only EUR 8.2, Eurostat data show.


In an interview with Trud, Bulgarian Petroleum and Gas Association (BPGA) Chair Zhivodar Terziev states that fuel prices will approach BGN 3. The reason for this is the rise in oil prices on international markets and has nothing to do with the debate in parliament regarding the abandonment of Russian oil, he stresses. Terziev also points out that the heating season is starting, which also contributes to the rise in fuel prices. He also highlights the importance of the Burgas refinery, noting that it produces around 6.5-7 million tonnes of fuel per year. Of these, 3.5-4 mln tones are for domestic consumption and the rest is for export, explains the BPGA Chair. If the refinery does not work, there will be a shortage on the market in the region, prices in Greece will rise and there could be a supply problem.


Duma quotes a Eurostat survey which states that Bulgarians rank second in the EU in terms of distance travelled by plane. A total of 16.3% of all km travelled by any major mode of transport by Bulgarians were travelled by flight. The 2021 data put Croatia in first place with 25.4% and Spain in third place with 13.1%. The EU average is 7.3%. Bulgarian passengers travelled almost ten times less distance by train - only 1.7% of the so-called passenger-kilometres. More than twice less than airline flights were traveled by buses - 6.7%. The dominance of distance travelled by cars is total - 75.3%.


24 Chasa features an extensive interview with NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies Director Gavin Schmidt regarding the expected climate change in Bulgaria. "You will not often see the winters your parents or grandparents experienced anymore," he states. "Everything changes, so the seasons change. Whatever the weather is like in Sofia, you may have already effectively moved a few degrees and now you're going to move a few more. So after a while it will be like in Istanbul and then Beirut - that's where you are headed as a climate," Schmidt notes. 


Nova TV reported that the first mobile blood donation point in Bulgaria is operational, thanks to the thousands of donors in the "I Believe and I Help" campaign. The vehicle is equipped to a high standard and is located in Varna. "Its value is nearly BGN 150,000, collected with funds from bottle caps and donations. From now on it will start touring different cities, villages and support blood donation", explained the organizer of the campaign Vladislav Nikolov.




By 19:28 on 01.12.2023 Today`s news

This website uses cookies. By accepting cookies you can enjoy a better experience while browsing pages.

Accept More information