Bulgaria for Citizens Movement Cofounder: Nuclear Referendum is Sloppily Organized

January 8, 2013, Tuesday // 01:22
Bulgaria: Bulgaria for Citizens Movement Cofounder: Nuclear Referendum is Sloppily Organized
Daniel Valchev, former Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister and co-founder of the Bulgaria for Citizens Movement, photo by BGNES

Daniel Valchev, former Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister and co-founder of the Bulgaria for Citizens Movement, has urged Prime Minister Boyko Borisov to bear in mind that he owes his spending of poorly absorbed EU funds to former EU Commissioner Meglena Kuneva and her negotiating team.

Meglena Kuneva is a former Minister of EU Affairs in the government of Simeon Saxe-Coburg and the NSMP party (2001-2005), three-way coalition government (2005-2007), Bulgaria's Chief Negotiator in the EU accession talks in 2001-2007, and Bulgaria's first EU Commissioner in 2007-2009, when she was in charge of consumer protection.

Kuneva founded the Bulgaria for Citizens Movement in end-2011 and the movement was established as a political party in July 2012.

In a Tuesday interview for Nova TV, Daniel Valchev said that Prime Minister Borisov felt insulted by the Bulgaria for Citizens Movement but no member of the party meant to offend him personally.

"In politics it is not a matter of saying "you are this and you are that." If we keep thinking like that, nothing will improve in Bulgaria. When you have been in power for 4 years, you cannot forever keep steering the conversation back to the fact that Bulgaria was founded by Khan Asparuh," Valchev said, hinting at the habit of Borisov to lay the blame on previous governments.

"It is a fact that Bulgaria is the poorest EU country with the smallest education and science spending, we have the worst healthcare, we are the fastest disappearing nation in the world...It is only normal that we sit down and talk about these things and about what will change for Bulgarian citizens over the next 4 years," Valchev commented.

He said that although Greece was always being cited as a cautionary tale, the salaries and pensions in the country were 3-4 times higher than those in Bulgaria, regardless of the technical bankruptcy.

Commenting on the upcoming nuclear referendum in Bulgaria, he suggested that center-right ruling party GERB had thrown its supporters into a state of confusion as to what was expected of them.

He suggested that it was a crime that Bulgaria's first real referendum was held in such a sloppy way.

Valchev reminded that the question at the referendum was unclear.

"I could be for nuclear energy but against the N-plant site in Belene," he pointed out.

He argued that the nuclear referendum was dishonest and would have no legal impact whatsoever.

"The worst about it is that the government can now continue construction works and nobody could stop them. If this N-plant really costs EUR 10 billion, let us see how these EUR 10 billion can be put to better use," Valchev reasoned.

He went on to say that nothing was clear about the January 27 referendum, including the period for the construction of the nuclear power plant, the terms of the contract, the contractor, and the price.

Valchev claimed that the referendum was being held not to ask people about their opinion on the matter but to allow the government to do whatever they wanted.

The co-founder of the Bulgaria for Citizens Movement, which has been calling for a boycott of the referendum, predicted that an insufficient number of people would go to the polls on January 27.

Reminding yet again that Bulgarians were in the dark about what they were actually being asked, he also suggested that the claim that nuclear energy was cheap was open to dispute.

He explained that the Bulgaria for Citizens Movement was not urging people to abstain from exercising their democratic right to decide, but added that going to the polls on January 27 meant "taking part in a play with unknown scriptwriters."

Valchev also drew attention to a U-turn in Prime Minister Borisov's stance on the referendum, stressing that he had urged a "yes" vote several weeks ago and shifted to calls for a "no" vote on Monday.

On January 27, Bulgarian citizens will have to answer the question "Should nuclear energy be developed in Bulgaria through the construction of new nuclear power units?"

The referendum was called to decide the fate of frozen Belene NPP project and was initiated by the Bulgarian Socialist Party.

In a Sunday interview, Boyko Borisov urged GERB supporters to vote "no" on January 27, specifying that the center-right party supported nuclear energy but opposed the Belene N-plant project and was in favor of the construction of a new unit of the existing Kozloduy N-plant.

The Bulgarian PM added that GERB was also in favor of the extension of the lives of the operating units 5 and 6 of the Kozloduy NPP.

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