Tag: Bulgaria

Split EU Lawmakers Rap Bulgaria on Rule-Of-Law Failings | World News

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Parliament turned up the heat on Bulgaria on Monday as lawmakers debated a resolution that highlights flaws by the EU’s poorest member in respecting the rule of law, combating endemic corruption and supporting media freedom.

A vote is expected later this week on the resolution that challenges Prime Minister Boyko Borissov’s governance after almost three months of anti-graft protests in Bulgaria that seek his resignation.

Thousands of Bulgarians have been rallying daily since July, accusing three-times premier Borissov of eroding democratic rules and allowing corrupt practices that support oligarchs and businesses close to his centre-right GERB party.

In a heated debate, lawmakers from the socialist party family, as well as the Greens and liberals slammed Bulgaria’s government for backsliding on democratic values and abuse of EU funds.

MEPs from the centre-right group EPP, to which Borissov’s own party belongs, defended Borissov as a pro-European leader.

Bulgaria ranks as the bloc’s most corrupt member state according to Transparency International’s index. The country has dropped to 111th position in terms of media freedom from 51st in 2007, when it joined the EU, according to Reporters Without Borders.    

“Bulgarian citizens will deal with their government, but we need to stop feeding the vampires that are sucking the life blood out these wonderful people,” said Clare Daly from the group of the European United Left-Nordic Green Left.

EPP chair Manfred Weber said the protests showed that democracy works in Bulgaria. Borissov has refused to step down and on Monday Weber said protesters could have their say at an election scheduled for next March.

A European Parliament resolution rapping Bulgaria for shortcomings in respecting the rule of law would have no practical consequences except political embarrassment for Borissov. But it would also be a signal that Brussels is not turning a blind eye.

Unlike Hungary and Poland, Bulgaria has managed to avoid a formal EU process checking if rule-of-law is observed, by promising changes and setting up bodies to combat graft and overhaul the judiciary, while dragging its feet on delivering results.

Last week the European Commission, in a milder tone, criticised Bulgaria’s shortcomings on courts’ independence and the lack of senior officials jailed on corruption charges in its first report on rule of law in the EU.

Speaking on Monday, the EU’s top democracy official, Commissioner Vera Jourova said the EU Commission would press ahead in monitoring Bulgaria until it sees tangible results in fighting corruption and overhauling of the judiciary.

“There is still unfinished business. And we want to see the job done,” she said.

(Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova in Sofia and Jan Strupczewski in Brussels; editing by Richard Pullin)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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Thousands at anti-government protest in Bulgaria [Video]

SHOTLIST

SOFIA, BULGARIAOCTOBER 3, 2020SOURCE: AFPTV

1. Wide shot protesters march to the old parliament headquarters in downtown Sofia during anti-government protest2. Mid shot protester waves Bulgarian flags as he takes part in anti-government protests in the capital Sofia3. Wide shot protesters wave Bulgarian flags and shout slogans as they take part in anti-government protests in the capital Sofia4. Mid shot man beats a drum as he takes part in anti-government protests in the capital Sofia5. Close-up shot protesters watch a caricature of Boyko Borissov projected on the facade of the Bulgarian parliament6. Wide shot protesters shout slogans and wave Bulgarian flags during anti-government protest in front of the Aleksandar Nevski cathedral in downtown Sofia7. Wide shot protesters march next to the Aleksandar Nevski cathedral in downtown Sofia during anti-government protest8. Mid shot protesters march next to the Aleksandar Nevski cathedral in downtown Sofia during anti-government protest9. Close-up protesters wave Bulgarian flags during anti-government protest in front of the Aleksandar Nevski cathedral in downtown Sofia

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Thousands march calling for Bulgaria govt to quit

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Sofia, Oct 3, 2020 (AFP) – Thousands of people marched through the Bulgarian capital Sofia on Saturday calling for the government to quit, the latest in a series of such protests.The protesters, most of them young, gathered in front of the parliament, shouting “Resign!” and “Mafia” “Europe heard us and saw us!” lawyer Nikolay Hadjiguenov, one of the march organisers, told the crowd.On Wednesday, the European Commission expressed its concern over the independence of the judiciary in Bulgaria, the lack of progress in the battle against corruption there and what it said were threats to the independence of its news media.For the past three months, there have been regular demonstrations at which protesters have called for the government to resign. Recent polls suggest that more than 60 percent of the population support them.But the country’s centre-right Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, in power for nearly 10 years, has refused to step down before the end of his mandate next March.vs/jj/har

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