RFI: Kiril Petkov - "Mr. Proper" of Bulgaria
The new Bulgarian prime minister is a real surprise, Radio France International wrote in an article on its website.
With an undisputed victory in the country's elections, Petkov's formation managed to form an unprecedented ruling coalition at a time when his country was in the midst of an ongoing political crisis. And while last spring Kiril Petkov was a complete stranger in Bulgaria, today he embodies the real hope for change in Bulgarian citizens. Its main goal is one: to put an end to the scourge of corruption.
In order to understand the rapid rise of Kiril Petkov, one must look at his career, which is completely atypical for the political class in Bulgaria. The new Bulgarian Prime Minister grew up in Canada, studied at Harvard, USA, and returned to the country only at the end of 2000. He comes from a family with parents and teachers who emigrated in the 1990s when Bulgaria was in the height of the economic crisis. The family settled in Canada, where Petkov grew up and studied, and later moved to Harvard. In 2007, when Bulgaria joined the EU, Petkov returned to his homeland.
In Bulgaria, Petkov successfully launched a probiotic laboratory, thus embodying the "journey of the Golden Boy" and in a way fascinating and stimulating voters and supporters. This passion for success is something extremely important in Bulgaria, in a fragile society, in a country whose young people prefer to emigrate because there is no future, so being a successful person who started from scratch and went through the United States and Harvard is a very strong argument.
Fight against corruption
Appointed Minister of Economy last spring, when the country was in the midst of a political crisis, Kiril Petkov puts the fight against corruption first in his work. Bulgarians often call him "John Travolta" because of his visual resemblance to the actor.
The fight against corruption and the removal from political life of former Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, who has dominated Bulgarian politics for a decade, were the winning formula for the success of his We Continue the Change party.
"Petkov and his team managed to expose corruption scandals within six months of heading the economy ministry under the caretaker government," said Romain Le Quiniou, director of Eurocreative, a think tank for Central and Eastern Europe. Bulgarians saw this as a desire to eradicate corruption, a practice that has accumulated during all previous governments since the transition. This is indeed the great challenge for Petkov and his allies: for the Bulgarian people to believe in their political system again."
North Macedonia: lifting the veto
Another important issue for the new Bulgarian prime minister: the fight against Covid-19. The vaccination rate in Bulgaria is below 30% and the country has one of the highest deaths in the world. Therefore, the main goal of the new Bulgarian Prime Minister will be to convince his fellow citizens to protect themselves from the virus.
On the international stage, Kiril Petkov presents himself as a convinced pro-European and wants to move forward on an extremely sensitive issue in his country: the accession of North Macedonia to the European Union - something that Bulgaria opposes. "The tactic he has adopted is not to focus the talks only on reading history," said Nadezhda Ragaru, "but also to offer real economic co-operation between the two countries, real infrastructure development. From this point of view, the two sides have common interests. For its part, in order to shine in the area of Southeast Europe, Bulgaria must have more developed transport networks. So the hope is that through joint projects, probably in the coming months, Bulgaria will lift its veto over RNM. "
In an interview with the Financial Times just before Petkov took office, he gave himself six months to complete talks with Macedonia. The place for this will be the summit for the Balkans, which will be held in France in June next year, "
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