site.btaMedia Review: April 17

Media Review: April 17
Media Review: April 17
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The two changes in the caretaker government composition proposed by Prime Minister Dimitar Glavchev only a week after the cabinet took office on April 9, dominate Wednesday’s news media. On Monday, Glavchev proposed that Foreign Minister Stefan Dimitrov be replaced by GERB Deputy Chair Daniel Mitov. On Tuesday, the caretaker Prime Minister proposed that Minister of Agriculture and Food Kiril Vatev be replaced by State Fund Agriculture Director Georgi Tahov. President Rumen Radev has to sign the proposals for them to go into effect.

POLITICS

The news media offer different explanations for the proposed changes in the caretaker cabinet. 

Trud’s front-page story reads that the policy towards Ukraine is at the bottom of the shakeup.

According to Capital.bg, it may seem that the changes in the caretaker cabinet are GERB-related, but according to unofficial information, the preliminary government lineup had someone close to President Rumen Radev as foreign minister, because GERB was making a concession to Radev. Now that a change at the Foreign Ministry has been proposed, GERB leader Boyko Borissov could be compensating Radev by proposing a second change in the caretaker cabinet, where the Agriculture Ministry will be headed by a person close to the President. Tahov is close to the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), but also to the head of State, because he became head of State Fund Agriculture at the time of the Donev caretaker government, appointed by Radev.

Mediapool.bg explains the changes in the caretaker government with Radev giving the Foreign Ministry to GERB and the MRF as a ministry with limited financial resources but of extreme importance to Borissov and MRF leader Delyan Peevski. In exchange, Radev gets the Agriculture Ministry, which distributes over BGN 3 million a year from the EU. Also, Tahov headed State Fund Agriculture, which is responsible for the distribution of EU subsidies. Stefan Dimitrov is removed at the firm insistence of Borissov, who believes Dimitrov does not uphold true NATO positions. Radev is taking advantage of Borissov’s vulnerable position, the story reads.

Duma quotes political expert Kaloyan Metodiev as saying in an interview for Euronews that caretaker Prime Minister Glachev should immediately resign, because he is incapable of guaranteeing that he is neutral and not implementing the will of GERB leader Borissov.  The expert described as scandalous the proposed replacement of the caretaker Foreign Minister [at the time of the interview, Glavchev had not yet proposed the replacement of the Agriculture Minister as well]. In Metodiev’s words, the caretaker governments across Europe deal only with the organization of fair elections, and they have to do that while being politically neutral, without dealing with current politics. “We, however, end up in a situation where the GERB leader demanded that Glavchev replace the Foreign Minister for unclear reasons, and Glavchev an hour later proposed that replacement to the President,” the expert noted. According to him, Borissov’s radical move for a ministerial change is a sign that he has been alarmed by something.   

On Bulgarian National Radio, analyst Georgi Harizanov commented that the Foreign Minister’s replacement is due to the alarmingly high number of mistakes made by him during his extremely short term in office. One of these mistakes is Dimitrov’s statement about Ukraine. Also, his phone was switched off for two days during his stay in Montenegro, because the mobile charges there are high, and that happened at a time when Iranian drones were flying to Israel. Harizanov noted that the constitutional changes were aimed at keeping Parliament working and controlling the caretaker governments to prevent their uncontrolled power. The opinion of Boyko Borissov, as Chairman of the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, is legitimate, and the caretaker Prime Minister clearly took that opinion into account when proposing Dimitrov’s replacement. Harizanov also commented on the Global Magnitsky Act which, in his words, has become a laughing matter in Bulgaria, contrary to any logic, thanks to the activities of “a certain ambassador who took a party’s side and went to take photos with party activists at ministries and agencies, where an ambassador has no job being.” He was referring to former US ambassador to Bulgaria Herro Mustafa.

On Bulgarian National Television’s morning show, three experts commented on the proposed changes in the caretaker government and the amended Constitution. Sociologist Kancho Stoychev said that Bulgaria is yet to experience problems resulting from the constitutional amendments. “For the first time, we risk non-recognition of the election results, because the elections will not be fair,” he argued, referring to the claim that the caretaker cabinet is not politically neutral. According to legal expert Ivan Bregov, the President has the right to appoint a caretaker government, because he was directly elected by the people, and so was the National Assembly. This means that the constitutional amendments do not violate the balance of who appoints the caretaker cabinet. According to PR expert Diana Damyanova, Continue the Change had three advantages: Euro-Atlantism, but Borissov and Peevski took that away from them; moral, but that was taken away as well; beauty, which Continue the Change still have but cannot win the elections for them. The solution is for that party to say the whole truth in their election campaign, Damyanova argued.  

On bTV’s morning show, political experts Prof Svetoslav Malinov and Prof Mihail Konstantinov commented on who the caretaker Prime Minister’s boss is. According to Prof Malinov, Borissov and Peevski are acting together and somehow dominate, particularly lower-level appointments. Daniel Mitov was proposed by Borissov, given Mitov’s biography: he has been prime minister-designate of GERB, Prof Malinov recalled. “You simply have to forget the idea that this is a caretaker cabinet headed by a person independent from GERB. This is a cabinet dominated by GERB and the MRF,” the expert argued, adding that the Glavchev government might stay in power longer that it currently appears. Prof Konstantinov commented that the changes in the Constitution regarding the caretaker government are foolish in that on the list of potential caretaker prime ministers are people who cannot legally head a government. Also, the amendments should have stated who bears responsibility for the caretaker government’s actions: Parliament, the caretaker Prime Minister, or the President. As it is now, everyone says the other is responsible. The constitutional changes will be deemed unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court, Prof Konstantinov forecast. 

On Nova TV’s morning show, economist Evgeni Kanev and political analyst Krystian Szkwarek commented on the reason for the caretaker Agriculture Minister’s replacement. Kanev said that from what he understood, Borissov did not like how the Foreign Ministry was headed by a person influenced by the President and, to make a deal with Radev, Borissov gave him the Agriculture Ministry. “They want to keep the contacts with the US passing through GERB alone: defence, security, foreign affairs. It is clear that, given how things with Iran happened, there might have been a signal from abroad about inadequacy [of Foreign Minister Dimitrov], this change might have been requested,” Kanev noted. Szkwarek commented that never before has Bulgaria been in a situation where it is not known whose the caretaker government is. “Every political force plus the head of State say, ‘This cabinet is not ours.’ Why don’t we know whose the cabinet is? This constitutional reform is nothing other than a mess in which the whole State got involved,” Szkwarek argued. Kanev said that the way the caretaker government is elected was the idea of GERB and the MRF.

***

Trud has an interview with Prof Trendafil Mitev, who teaches political science at Sofia’s University of National and World Economy. Prof Mitev argues that hatred is dragging Bulgaria to the bottom. That hatred is the result of Bulgaria’s political history starting from the 1940s. The transition from socialism to democracy was seen by quite a lot of people as a policy for terminating everything from socialist times, when not everything needed to be destroyed. That brought on the public stage people who were politically and economically illiterate, and they rushed to compete in “privatizing” people’s wealth. The example of these first immediately mobilized a huge contingent of followers; new political parties, which at some point numbered 150 to 180, led by faceless individuals, sought their place at the public table. The subsequent inter-party political war caused indignation among the Bulgarian national intellectuals, who know one cannot be beneficial to society unless well-prepared in advance for one’s mission, which was not the case with those in politics at the time. So, the intellectuals did not get involved in politics. As a result, today we have a situation where no one trusts and will not trust anyone. No one realized how fatal is the political war waged by Bulgarians against Bulgarians since the start of the transition to democracy, the expert believes. According to him, the solution lies in the new generations combining forces with professionals in political science, law, and economics. 

***

24 Chasa has an interview with caretaker Minister of Youth and Sport Georgi Gloushkov. He says that it is urgent to adopt a bill on sport hooliganism, because otherwise hatred is allowed to rule.

ECONOMY

Telegraf has an interview with Petar Ganev, chief researcher at the Institute for Market Economics. He argues that it is possible for Bulgaria to surpass Greece in terms of living standard within two years. Within several years, Bulgaria could gain another 10% of the purchase power of Europeans, provided the country keeps the current levels and remains competitive. Twenty years ago, Bulgaria had 29% of the average European’s purchase power. A study shows that in 2023, that percentage stood at 64%; foreign direct investment grew by more than EUR 20 billion between 2010 and 2022, the data show.

***

Segabg.com reports that the National Revenue Agency (NRA) is a leader in e-governance and strongly promotes online communication, but 28% of Bulgarians still prefer to submit their annual tax declaration on paper at the NRA. According to the NRA’s data from the last days of this year’s campaign, 82% of nearly half a million people submitted their tax declarations for 2023 online, using a personal identification code or a universal electronic signature. However, 75,000 tax payers went to submit their declarations on paper, and another 9,000 used the postal services to send their documents to the NRA. 

HOME AFFAIRS

Trud’s front-page article reads that changes in the tariff of fees collected in the Interior Ministry’s system will lead to a sharp appreciation of Bulgarians’ IDs. The changes have been put to public discussion by the regular government of Nikolay Denkov. The reason for the appreciation lies in the insertion of a chip with biometric data in the identity cards, as required by EU law. The new IDs will cost Bulgarians aged between 18 and 58 years BGN 30, instead of the current BGN 18. Those aged between 58 and 70 will have to pay BGN 30, instead of the current BGN 11.  Bulgaria was supposed to transpose the corresponding EU regulation back in 2019. The daily has learned that the new IDs might start being issued in late May or early June. International passports will not be changed until the new centralized system goes fully into operation; it has been delayed by five years now, resulting in a significant increase of related costs. 

/DS/

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By 12:36 on 24.05.2024 Today`s news

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