Controversial Ex-Intelligence Chief Gives Up Post over Bulgaria's NATO Bid

October 15, 2003, Wednesday // 12:00
Controversial Ex-Intelligence Chief Gives Up Post over Bulgaria's NATO Bid
Intelligence veteran Gen. Brigo Asparuhov gave up his appointment as a PM advisor a day after he stated his “unshaken commitment.” The news that he was offered the post enraged NATO. Photo by Yuliana Nikolova (novinite.com)
NATO-disliked Cabinet advisor designate Gen. Brigo Asparuhov has relinquished the appointment promised to him by the prime minister, governmental spokesman Dimitur Tsonev announced on Wednesday.

In a conversation late on Tuesday following Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg's arrival from Hungary, Gen. Asparuhov stated he would not accept the post. He cited as a motive his unwillingness to have his name involved in allegations that he would disturb Bulgaria's oncoming accession to NATO.

The prime minister has accepted his decision.

The news comes only a day after the general affirmed he is holding on to the post in spite of the controversy stirred around Bulgaria over the imminent appointment.

Asparuhov used to work for Bulgaria's communist state security service, after which he took the post as National Intelligence Service chief.

Controversy over the appointment of Brigo Asparuhov has been gathering momentum since the middle of September when the prime minister announced his decision to appoint him to the post of special services coordinator. He was downgraded after it became clear that the post actually does not exist in the state administration system.

Back then US Ambassador to Bulgaria James Pardew warned that Asparuhov's appointment could potentially hurt Bulgaria's prestige and was later joined by the envoys of UK, Italy and the Netherlands who also expressed concerns over this step. A NATO spokesman even argued that the issue does not affect the interest of a single country but of the alliance as a whole. Bruce Jackson, President of the US Committee on NATO Enlargement, said that Washington officials were stunned and worried by the news.

Last week NATO leaders even made it clear they expect controversial Gen. Brigo Asparuhov to be kept away from the Alliance's classified information.

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