Views on BG | October 6, 2001, Saturday // 00:00

Associated Press

Bulgaria`s prime minister on Saturday called for a broad national consensus in this Balkan nation, currently facing painful economic and social reforms.

In an address to the nation, Simeon Saxe-Coburg made the plea for cooperation in the wake of his party`s controversial decision to support incumbent president Petar Stoyanov in next month`s elections.

Many lawmakers of the ruling party had pushed for the election of an own candidate, but Simeon insisted on backing Stoyanov `for the good of the country`s unity.`

`We should not have divisions within the nation, but an agreement to resolve the principal problems in order to achieve a better standard of living,` Saxe-Coburg said in his address.
The prime minister listed as his cabinet`s main priorities the introduction of important economic laws, decisive anti-crime measures and foreign investments aimed at cutting unemployment, presently standing at 18 percent.

`We decided to support the incumbent president because of his engagement in sharing our efforts against corruption and poverty,` the prime minister said. He praised Stoyanov for helping to unite the nation and bring it closer to the Euroatlantic structures.

The 49-year-old Stoyanov, an independent backed by the former ruling Union of Democratic Forces, has been widely viewed as the leading contender for the November 11 elections. He hopes to be elected for a second five-year term.

Simeon, Bulgaria`s former monarch, was exiled in 1946 after communists came to power. He returned home earlier this year to win 120 of 240 seats in June parliamentary elections and enjoys broad public support.

His National Movement Simeon II has vowed to make fighting corruption and improving ordinary Bulgarians` standard of living its key domestic priorities. It governs in coalition with the Turkish minority Movement for Rights and Freedoms, with 21 lawmakers. Two ministers come from the ex-communist Socialist Party, although the party is officially in opposition.

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