site.btaMedia Review: February 27

Media Review: February 27
Media Review: February 27
BTA Photo

No single topic dominates Tuesday's news media.

POLITICS

24 Chasa has an interview with Democratic Bulgaria co-leader Hristo Ivanov. He says that early elections might become necessary if Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria (CC-DB) and GERB-UDF cannot reach an agreement on a clear governance programme, priorities, and mechanisms as well as a guarantee that the reforms will continue, particularly regarding counter-corruption and the restart of all bodies that have to fight corruption (justice, services, counter-corruption commission, regulatory bodies). Since the CC-DB’s priorities will remain the same after possible early elections, a third option might also occur: the formation of a new majority either in this parliament or in the next between those who do not mind there being no reforms and actual fight against corruption. “At many stages where we cannot reach an agreement with GERB on a topic, such majorities appear in the plenary hall. That option was observed in some messages from the guests of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms’ conference [on February 24],” Hristov tells the daily. He also says it is logical for Democratic Bulgaria to run in the European Parliament elections jointly with Continue the Change in light of their voters’ expectations and the tasks they wish to solve at this stage. His formation’s candidates for MEPs will be chosen through internal elections.

***

Trud has an interview with Guner Tahir, leader of the National Movement for Rights and Freedoms (NMRF) and former member of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), who comments on the latest developments in the MRF. According to him, MRF Honorary Chairman Ahmed Dogan being absent from the party’s National Conference on February 24 is a sign. Dogan decided to not attend in the last minute, possibly because of an expected provocation by delegates of Turks who once lived in Bulgaria, and he did not have time to even record a video address, hence why a text by him was read at the event. According to Tahir, it is worth noting that the text was read not by a person at a leading position in the party, which has usually been the case, but by Iskra Mihaylova, who is from the very close circle of Delyan Peevski, who was elected co-leader of the MRF along with Dzhevdet Chakarov on Saturday. It is also worth noting that the event lasted less than a day, and not the usual two days. Tahir notes that it is not the delegates’ positive reactions at the National Conference that should be considered real but those of the masses, which is evident from the MRF’s municipal and regional conferences in the last two months. Namely, there were no new candidates for heads of the party’s local structures, leaving the old chairpersons in office in 90% of the cases. Peevski will play the key role in the party’s governance; Chakarov was proposed by Dogan not only because of the negative reaction to Peevski’ nomination of the local structures in Bulgaria and those in Turkiye, but also because Peevski cannot sign the party’s financial documents due to being sanctioned under the United States’ Magnitsky Act. Tahir further argues that there will not be a fight between Peevski and Chakarov, who is much more intelligent and would not enter an unnecessary confrontation, but between Peevski and Dogan.  

***

Duma presents the positions of Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) Deputy Chairs Hristo Prodanov and Kristian Vigenin on the decision of municipal councillors of BSP to support CC-DB-Save Sofia’s candidate for Sofia Municipal Council Chair. According to Prodanov, by embracing GERB in Sofia, these municipal councillors put a stain on the BSP’s organization in the capital. The BSP City Council had decided that no cooperation agreements should be signed with the CC-DB-Save Sofia group and GERB in the Sofia Municipal Council, so with their vote the BSP municipal councillors violated the City Council’s decision, Prodanov argued. According to Vigenin, the councillors embraced GERB, so the BSP National Council could not but terminate the terms in office of Ivan Takov, head of the party’s organization in Sofia, and all the heads of BSP’s district organizations in the capital. New delegates will be nominated and district conferences and a city conference will be held before the end of April, Vigenin is quoted as saying. 

***

On Bulgarian National Radio, sociologist Kancho Stoychev commented that there probably will be early parliamentary elections in late 2024, not now, because the main political players have problems to solve. He thinks that the GERB-UDF’s and CC-DB’s talks about the regulatory bodies are actually a cover for the fight over the Judiciary and the prosecution service. Commenting on the processes in the EU, Stoychev said that Europe is acting like the US’ vassal, and that has been a main problem in European politics for 15 to 20 years now. For decades to come, Europe will be armed with US weapons instead of its own, because Europe cannot produce enough quantities of the necessary quality, having missed the moment to do that. Also, Europe is replacing its energy dependence on Russia with a dependence on the United States. There is a crisis of leadership in Europe, with a fatal distance between the people’s will and what is happening in the administration. Most people in Europe want an end to the war in Ukraine, while the elites talks how this war should be fought to the last man. The EU elections will lead to stronger presence of far-right and far-left parties in the European Parliament, Stoychev argued.

***

Nova TV’s morning show interviewed the head of the Chief Directorate for Combatting Organized Crime (CDCOC), Chief Commissioner Yavor Serafimov. He revealed that the person who has threatened judge Vladislava Tsarigradska via email has also made threats against Deputy Prime Minister Mariya Gabriel and ministers. In his words, such threats against a wide circle of public figures have become more frequent in the last week or two. “We believe that all these signals are sent by one and the same individual, possibly someone with the nickname The Red Pirate. He is a Bulgarian national with a nomadic way of life who manages to obtain the email addresses of public figures. He also makes bomb threats against schools. We think he will soon be found. We are actively searching for him,” Serafimov said. He thinks the person in question is mentally unstable. Serafimov also talked about Martin “The Notary” Bozhanov, a person shot dead in Sofia on January 31 and implicated in influence trading in the Judiciary. Serafimov said that in the February-March 2022 period, the Interior Ministry received five alerts against Bozhanov. The alerts, related mostly to trade in influence, property crimes, coercion, and threats by Bozhanov and the group he probably headed, were referred to the CDCOC  for a check. The information gathered during the check has been sent to the Sofia City Prosecuto’r Office. The check established coercion against judge Tsarigradska, who was called in for questioning; pretrial proceedings were launched. Also established were property crimes and names of persons mentioned in relation to Bozhanov. “We are talking about more than three prosecutors and judges mentioned in the data provided in the alerts. Bozhanov being well-acquainted with them aided the results of court cases,” the Chief Commissioner said.

On bTV’s morning show, judges from Pleven (Northern Bulgaria) complained that they have been receiving threats on their official email address for a week now. The messages, which call the judges corrupt, ignorant, and uneducated and which threathen to “gut” them, began after Bozhanov’s murder and the statements made by judge Tsarigradska, Pleven District Court head Vessela Lyubomirova-Sahatchieva told bTV. Forty-four messages have been received thus far. “I cannot say whether a group is sending them or one and the same individuals. They [the police] explained to me that the messages are sent from gmail, making it very difficult to establish the location and identity of the sender, and we are waiting. I have no information about pretrial proceedings having been launched,” she said. The Court has alerted the police, the district prosecutor’s office, the head of the Justice Ministry’s Protection Directorate General, and the CDCOC’s Cybersecurity unit. 

***

24 Chasa writes on its front page that the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church is trying to prevent oligarchs from choosing metropolitans to their taste. The daily refers to the Holy Synod’s decision of February 24 to annul the recent elections for Metropolitan of Sliven and to consider a new ordinance on the future election of metropolitans of eparchies. This will have a direct impact on the election of the next patriarch.  

Bulgarian National Television’s morning show covered a protest in Sliven over the annulled elections and the Holy Synod’s decision to deprive priests and laity of their right to participate in the elections. The protesters commented that the decision goes against the Church’s laws, because the Metropolital of Sliven has been elected in this way for 150 years. According to them, big interests are involved in who will take this post. Those defending the Holy Synod’s position claim the decision is grounded and helps clean house by removing people affiliated with the communist-era security services.  

ECONOMY

Trud’s front-page story reads that once Bulgaria joins the eurozone, companies will get blacklisted if they purposefully violate the rules for calculating prices in EUR. According to the National Plan for the Introduction of the Euro in Bulgaria, the blacklist will be published on the website of the Consumer Protection Commission to prevent those traders from misleading consumers with their goods’ prices. A month after the EU Council adopts a decision on Bulgaria’s entry in the eurozone and for 12 months after Bulgaria introduces the single currency, the prices of goods and services have to be displayed in both BGN and EUR. People fear that traders will round the prices upward, for example a pastry will be sold for EUR 1.60 or even EUR 2.00 instead of EUR 1.53. A trader who rounds the price upward will not be blacklisted as long as they display the prices correctly in BGN and EUR, meaning there is no violation if the trader puts a price of BGN 3.00 and EUR 1.53 before entry in the eurozone but increases it to BGN 3.52 and EUR 1.80 post-entry. 

Segabg.com quotes Finance Minister Assen Vassilev as saying that Bulgaria is heading towards implementation of the eurozone entry criteria and, hopefully, will become the 21st country in the euro area next year. Bulgaria’s inflation rate is dropping faster than in the eurozone, and that criteria will be met in 2024. An information campaign on the euro’s introduction will begin once an entry date is set by the European Commission and the European Central Bank. That is when actions on the money’s exchange will start being planned, Vassilev added. Bulgarian National Bank Governor Dimitar Radev commented that Bulgaria would have joined the eurozone together with Croatia in 2023, were it not for the political factor here. Croatia made remarkable political progress after entering ERM II, while Bulgaria entered an unproductive political cycle after 2020. “However, that is already behind us; since mid-2023 we are once again on the road to the eurozone,” Radev is quoted as saying.

Bulgarian National Television’s morning show focused on whether Bulgaria will get the green light for entry in the eurozone and what the price of a delay will be. Expert Latchezar Bogdanov of the Institute for Market Economics and financial expert Lyubomir Datzov commented that attempts at price speculations are being made even without Bulgaria being in the euro area, and that other countries have experienced speculations after the euro’s adoption. Bogdanov noted that the average annual inflation in Bulgaria is 7.8% and the trend is towards shrinkage, but that takes time. The whole of Eastern Europe has a similar inflation rate, he added. According to Datzov, entering the eurozone as of January 1, 2025 requires a negative inflation for eight months. “The main problem remains: we lack synchronization of the monetary policy,” he added.

***

Telegraf has an interview with Gencho Kerezov, Chairman of the Experts Council of the Bulgarian Cities and Regions Association (BCRA), who talks about the rise of AI. According to him, there will come a time when a deputy prime minister for AI will become necessary.

***

Capital.bg reports that the biggest mining and quarrying companies in Bulgaria registered an increase in revenue of 19% on average, compared to 26% in 2021. Maritsa East Mines is at the top once again with a turnover exceeding BGN 865 million. All companies in the top 10 registered a profit, which amounted to BGN 3.9 billion in total, while in 2021 two companies were operating at a loss. The number of personnel remained unchanged. However, the average growth in the sector is slowing down. The prospects before Maritsa East Mines are not good. After the Maritsa East 2 thermal power plant’s production shrank sharply in 2023 because of its electricity becoming unsellable after the stabilization of the exchange prices, the Mines’ financial results worsened significantly. Data show a drop in revenue by 48% in January-September 2023 and a loss of BGN 99.6 million.

***

Telegraf’s front-page article reads that experts are calling for two additional sports classes a week in schools to increase pupils’ physical activity.

***

Mediapool.bg writes that repairs of streets in Sofia take 120 m a year on average. The repairs of some 600 m of the capital’s 6st September Street have been going for five years now. The last 400 m have been under repair since August 2022, when the deadline was a year ago. The situation was similar with the adjacent Tsar Ivan Shishman Street. Some BGN 46.7 million were planned for the renovation of Sofia’s historical centre, and BGN 41.5 million of this sum was allocated under the EU-funded Regions in Growht programme. However, the deadline for the resources’ absorption was in late 2023. Some BGN 10.3 million under the project will not be paid from the EU budget because of the ongoing repair works, the e-zine learned from Sofia Municipality. The main delay results from 6st September Street, which is being repaired by a company with frozen accounts, meaning the company is in no hurry to finish its job and get paid by the municipality.

/DS/

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By 10:58 on 25.04.2024 Today`s news

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