Ex EU Commissioner: Bulgarian Govt Cannot Afford to Play Game of Early Elections

Politics » DOMESTIC | March 27, 2012, Tuesday // 13:14
Bulgaria: Ex EU Commissioner: Bulgarian Govt Cannot Afford to Play Game of Early Elections Former EU Commissioner Meglena Kuneva has refuted allegations of a coalition partnership with ruling party GERB. Photo by BGNES

The GERB government should not waste time playing games of early elections but should focus on improving the living standards in the country, according to former EU Commissioner Meglena Kuneva.

Asked to comment on the dispute about the area of 17 square meters on the maritime border between Bulgaria and Romania, she says that the fact that the issue was brought up by the Romanian Foreign Minister came as a surprise.

"The question was never brought up during our talks with the EU. The European Commission is absolutely right – there can be no EU membership in the case of unresolved territorial claims between neighboring countries," she notes in an interview for the Bulgarian "24 Hours" daily.

Regarding the resignation of Traicho Traikov, Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism, Kuneva firmly condemns the manner in which he was made to leave.

"I feel embarrassed that the dignity of a Bulgarian Minister was trampled upon in such an absurd manner," she states, adding that "this is no way to keep a team together."

The former EU Commissioner and independent presidential runner at the elections in October 2011 sides with the belief that energy issues were at the bottom of Traikov's removal.

Lauding Traikov for his vocal stance on key energy projects, she argues that he had no clear mandate from the government that could enable an estimation of his achievements.

The former EU Consumer Protection Commissioner draws attention to the largely unclear stance of Bulgaria on the Belene NPP project.

"I cannot figure out the opinion of the government. A number of scenarios were played out. First it was a quagmire, then it was said that too much money had gone into the project and it had to be completed. At the current stage we are still unaware of its cost, of the involvement of a Western investor or of Bulgaria's consumption," she notes.

She believes that a repeat of the crisis of the so-called Videnov's winter (1996-1997) is likely to recur because of the skyrocketing prices of fuels and food products, the numerous bankruptcies of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the strikes, the severely inflated prices of pharmaceuticals, and the spike in unemployment.

Asked to comment on the scenario of early elections, she says that the GERB government needs to make it clear whether it plans to complete its term in office.

"If they plan to use the trick of early elections to stay in power, thereby wasting scores of opportunities to improve the lives of the people living here, this is too high a price. They have a majority of MPs that has been servicing them for 3 years, no holds barred. This means that they have the leverage to get along. Why is this not happening," Kuneva asks.

Regarding the much-anticipated transformation of the Bulgaria for Citizens civic movement into a political party, she once again refuses to commit to a concrete date.

"There is no such thing as "the party of Meglena Kuneva. We have 141 parties. The people are disgusted with political installations and the gratification of a leader's vanity. I will not get tired of repeating that, in my opinion, the current leading forces have entered into a cartel agreement that also functions as a cover-up for other economic interests. I do not want to have anything in common with that", she states.

The former EU Commissioner opposes claims of pollsters that the support she earned at the presidential elections in end-October 2011 is waning due to the postponed formation of a party.

"I do not have the slightest intention of arguing with them. Three months ago, the approval rating measured 5%, while now it is 9%," she adds.

Kuneva denies rumors of a potential coalition partnership with center-right ruling party GERB.

"It never crossed my mind to enter into coalitions. Words like "balancer" or "crutch" bode no good. If anybody needs them, it is their diagnosis," she remarks.

Asked to comment on her withdrawal from the National Movement for Stability and Prosperity (NDSV) party, she explains that it is only loyal to make it clear to a party you belong to whether you plan to run on their voting list or not.

"Naturally, it was a tough decision. I have very positive feelings towards the thousands of people I worked with there. But my focus on the Bulgaria for Citizens movement brought up the question of who I am standing for and I had to give an unequivocal answer," she declares.

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Tags: NDSV, National Movement for Stability and Prosperity, Meglena Kuneva, GERB, GERB government, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, Traicho Traikov, Economy and Energy Minister, Belene NPP, energy projects, border dispute, Romania
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