site.btaMedia Review: December 5
The political reactions to President Rumen Radev’s Monday veto on the previously ratified agreement between the Bulgarian Interior Ministry and Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence on the provision of armoured transport vehicles to Ukraine dominate the media on Tuesday.
24 Chasa has an article that covers the reactions of each parliamentary represented party except There Is Such a People, as well as those of the Deputy Prime Minister Mariya Gabriel and National Assembly Chair Rosen Zhelyazkov. The only parties supporting the Veto are BSP and Vazrazhdane.
Duma’s main story focuses on Socialist leader Korneliya Ninova’s statement regarding the veto. Radev's motives almost entirely coincide with the group's statements from the parliamentary rostrum, she notes.
The Telegraph's story on the issue states that "the representatives of the government and the parties that support it in parliament have once again lashed out at President Rumen Radev."
Trud features an extensive interview with Association of the Prosecutors in Bulgaria Chair Vladimir Nikolov on the judicial reform envisaged in the constitutional amendments bill. "The cripling of the Prosecution Office through the Constitution will have a detrimental effect," he says. Nikolov argues that the bill gives the impression that it is primarily aimed at curtailing the powers of the Prosecution Office, at putting it under complete control. "What the draft proposes to us is a Prosecutorial Council in which the professional quota will be a 'voiceless letter' - only two members of the council elected by prosecutors and one by investigators versus six members elected by the National Assembly," he notes. "The reality will be that the Prosecutor General will be appointed indirectly by Parliament. A Prosecutorial Council entirely dominated by the political quota will not be able to fulfil its main role - to embody and guarantee the independence of the prosecution," Nikolov adds. The draft amendments to the constitution, signed by 166 MPs from GERB-UDF, Continue the Change – Democratic Bulgaria (CC-DB) and Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), are on their way to be adopted this week, the daily writes.
* * *
The Bulgarian National Radio quoted Global Metrics research, commissioned by the Bulgarian Institute for Legal Initiatives, according to which the majority of Bulgarians do not understand the need for amendments to the Constitution and 95% have no or only a vague idea of the proposed changes in the basic law. The survey shows that of the current proposed amendments, the idea of raising the standards for the election of the leadership of independent regulators enjoys the most support. The proposals to allow dual citizens to be elected as MPs and to change the national holiday from March 3 (Liberation Day) to May 24 (Day of Slavic Alphabet, Bulgarian Enlightenment and Culture) are the most disapproved, with 59% and 74% against respectively.
* * *
24 Chasa devotes two full pages to GERB's 17th anniversary lauding the party's development over the years. "GERB can only be scolded by me, and nobody can scold me", the daily quotes GERB leader Boyko Borissov as saying.
* * *
Telegraph has an extensive interview with sociologist Evelina Slavkova on the possibility of early parliamentary elections in 2024. She points out that it is realistic to hold 2-in-1 elections together with those for Bulgarian Members of the European Parliament in the summer. At the same time the sociologist underlines that she does not think that political parties are currently interested in such a development. "The local elections reproduced a similar picture as the one from the April elections. There are no new political parties making bids. Again, we will have a vote that will not offer solutions. The balance of forces will be almost similar, nothing will be produced to solve the political crisis," Slavkova notes. She points out that Bulgaria's international partners prefer to have a Euro-Atlantic government. GERB are not the political formation that will topple the cabinet, the sociologist says. She also draws attention to the MRF under the newly found leadership of floor leader Delyan Peevski, who is expected to be one of the frontrunners for the Chair position in the party. "Peevski's MRF positions itself differently in the political spectrum. It came down to saying 'If you are not capable of managing [the situation in the country], call. We will manage' and 'I can take over as prime minister for a month'. Some of these statements are for internal party use. The election of MRF Chair is imminent. It is very important that he [Peevski] creates another narrative to the party's electorate - that during his leadership, it can be talked to openly about MRF having a prime minister," Slavkova explained.
The Lukoil Group is reviewing its strategy with respect of its assets in Bulgaria and will analyze various options, including the sale of the business, Lukoil Neftochim Burgas said in a press release on Monday.
bTV reported Finance Minister Assen Vassilev's response to the news. There is no risk that the country will be left without fuel, he told journalists. The Minister pointed out that each company has the opportunity and right to decide where to operate and what to do with its own assets. "From the point of view of the Bulgarian government, we have to ensure through our representative who is in the company that it will continue to operate the refinery possibly with a strategic investor and that the Bulgarian interest will be protected," Vassilev explained.
* * *
24 Chasa quotes estimates from experts at the Sustainable Energy Development Agency regarding heating prices this winter. According to the data, for the second winter in a row, electricity is the most cost-effective, but only if energy-efficient air conditioners or air-to-water heat pumps are used. The trend is maintained after electricity prices rose 3-4% in contrast to the significant increase in the price of central heating, wood and pellets, the daily notes.
* * *
Trud features an article on the preferred destinations of Bulgarians for the New Year‘s Eve, based on an inquiry to travel agencies that offer deals for the holiday. The daily points out that of the Bulgarians who plan to celebrate New Year outside the country, Serbia and Turkiye are most preferred destinations. Serbia is among the cheapest destinations for the holiday, the food is delicious, and another factor is that you can smoke in the restaurants, industry representatives point out. Celebrating New Year's Eve in Istanbul, Turkiye, costs under BGN 300 per person, as the price includes transport, accommodation and snacks, but not the festive dinner, for which you have to pay extra and is mandatory for some offers, the newspaper writes.
When it comes to celebrating Christmas, Trud states that most Bulgarians prefer to spend the holiday at home. That is why the offers for celebrating the holiday are considerably cheaper than those for New Year's Eve, the article reads. A two-night Christmas package in Bulgaria can be found for under BGN 200 per person, as the price does not include anything outside of accommodation. Offers for Christmas in Greece start from BGN 250 for two nights, and the price includes transport.
* * *
Nova Television's morning show featured a discussion on the real estate prices in Bulgaria. "Last week the credit growth data came out. Mortgage credit growth was the highest in a decade and a half. This confirms the thesis that pouring more and more money into the property market does not lead to more people owning properties, but to price increase and the fact that fewer and fewer people can afford buying properties," said economist Georgi Angelov. He pointed out Bulgarian citizens' incomes are growing slower than house prices and this is becoming a big problem. "Observing the market and working actively on it, I see that the three consecutive yearly quarters with a decline in transactions did not lead to a decrease in prices, and even on the contrary - statistics show that there is about 10% growth this year," said credit consultant Tihomir Tashev. According to him, prices go down when buyers decrease and retreat, but sellers increase and supply increases. So far, however, such a scenario is not foreseen, Toshev underlined. Yana Hinkova, owner of a real estate firm in Plovdiv, said there is a decline in the market as far as apartment sales are concerned.
BULGARIAN CITEZENSHIP APPLICATIONS
Telegraph and Trud cover Justice Minister Atanas Slavov's statement on the number of applications for Bulgarian citizenship in 2023, which came in response to Vazrazhdane MP Petar Petrov's inquiry. Slavov noted the number of applications from the start of the year to November 24 is a record one - 20,817. Of these, the largest number of applications were from citizens of Turkiye, Ukraine, Albania and North Macedonia. By comparison, 16,711 applications were filed in 2022 and 15,809 in 2021.
Bulgaria's results from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) will be presented Tuesday at the Education and Science Ministry.
Trud has an article on the issue, writing that Education Minister Galin Tzokov "preceded the announcement of the official PISA 2022 data and outlined measures to tackle the country's poor student performance". Entry exams for students at the beginning of ninth grade in Bulgarian language and literature, science and mathematics will be introduced nationally in schools from the next school year. "From next year, we will also change the questions in the exams after the tenth grade," Tzokov announced. There will also be key changes to the format of national external assessments, and new, integral subjects will be introduced. On the last PISA survey in 2018, the main area assessed was reading literacy. The average score for Bulgarian pupils was 420, which is below the average of 487 for participating Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries, the daily reads.
Telegraph also covers the story.
On Bulgarian National Television's morning show, Deputy Education Minister Nataliya Miteva explained that the entry exams at the beginning of eighth and ninth grade are introduced to ascertain students' level of knowledge and to know what to focus on during the school year.
24 Chasa features an article on the green transition the Bulgarian public transport. 34% of buses on regular municipal bus routes should run on an alternative fuel to diesel - for example methane, according to a draft decree of the Council of Ministers proposed by the Transport Ministry, the media outlet writes. The decree concerns the period until December 2025. 17% of these buses should be zero-emission - either electric or running on hydrogen.