Bulgarian PM: A La Guerre Comme A La Guerre, No Giving In to Bandits
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has declared his readiness to go to early elections rather than "succumb" to the "blackmailing" of "a gang of bandits".
Borisov made this declaration Wednesday during the regular weekly session of the Cabinet, at which he got the government to agree to ask the Parliament for a confidence vote after Tapegate, a scandal with leaked tapes of discrediting conversations between senior officials, including Borisov, affected public confidence in his rule.
As a "gang of bandits" he apparently refered collectively to the major opposition parties - the Bulgarian Socialist Party, the ethnic Turkish party DPS (Movement for Rights and Freedoms) - as well as the marginal conservative party RZS, and the Galeria weekly.
The tapes were leaked by the Galeria weekly, a newspaper believed to be close to former secret agent Aleksei Petrov, who is currently under investigation for organized crime and in house arrest.
The vote of confidence, scheduled for Thursday, is expected to be positive for Borisov as his party GERB with its 117 MPs and the nationalist party Ataka with 20 MPs will back his rule.
"With this vote of confidence I want to send a message to everybody who thinks that they can underestimate or blackmail us, or make us abandon the way that we have taken. This trick won't work," the Prime Minister stated during an inspection of the construction of the Lyulin Highway near Sofia.
"I spoke before the Cabinet, and will speak before the Parliament tomorrow. Show your readers and listeners these pictures of the highway. Let them see that for four years we will leave behind all these highways, the subway, the tunnels, and we are doing that with EU money. This is what they [the opposition] are so jealous of," he said.
"The truth is that I haven't done anything that I can be ashamed of, and that is illegal. If we don't have the necessary support, if they want to make us dependant, and to set conditions for us, thank you very much it is better for me to go straight to general elections," Borisov told his ministers, according to the government meeting record published on Wednesday.
"I will not let them turn GERB (i.e. his ruling party – editor's note) into a dependant party. It better be non-existent than be dependent. We better be small but be ourselves and be true to ourselves and wage our war till the end. I don't care if I will prime minister a year longer or shorter. I am strong when I am confident. We don't need a full mandate at any price. And now, when they see that the economy has started to recover, that the highways and the sports areas are being built, they want a share of that!...
"We must now continue with our heads up. Let them come up with whatever discrediting materials they wish. We are asking for a confidence vote. If we don't have that support, I am ready for triple elections in the fall (Bulgaria will be holding presidential and local elections in October – editor's note). But they should know that in these three months (i.e. the legal mandate of a potential caretaker government – editor's note), the president will be in charge of everything and they will be responsible for that government. So I want us to either be strong and confident, or a la guerre comme a la guerre. And we are getting in the trenches. At the end of the day, if that's how they want it, so be it.
"I am not going to sit in the Parliament and to have people running inside where some dude in a raincoat or a teenager with a helmet dropped off a flash memory (Borisov refers to the Galeria weekly, whose editors said they received the discrediting tapes by a random man who dropped them off in their office – editor's note). Why?... They want to intimidate me, to make me play along with them, and then there would have been no problem, and no discrediting tapes," Borisov stated.
He believes that the leaked tapes, which caused Tapegate – containing alleged evidence of political cover-ups for certain companies (Lukoil, Billa, and the Ledenika brewery were mentioned in the tapes) – and expose a rift between the two deputy prime ministers – are manipulated to contain "carefully selected truths."
He further declared that the attack against him has come in a way taught in the textbooks of the KGB and DS, or State Security, the secret police of the former communist regime. This method is attacking a person's reputation where he is strongest.
"The textbooks – in inverted commas – of KGB and DS say that to discredit somebody, you need to hit them in the strongest part of their career or image. Then you release it so that the respective person would become disgusted with themselves. Thus, they brazenly put together several truths from different contexts and get something that is really disgusting. This is what we have against us – masters of this art," Borisov told his ministers.
"This outrage with these tapping devices and leakages of classified information must stop. It disgusts the people, and torpedoes the trust in us, inside and outside, and the ministry must guarantee this won't happen any more; if we need to, let's stop the wiretapping, till we get the right formula," the Prime Minister told the Cabinet.
With respect to one of the discrediting tapes – his conversation with Customs Agency head Vanyo Tanov, in which he allegedly tells Tanov to keep the customs agents off the Ledenika brewery owned by businessman Mihail Mihov (aka Misho Birata), Borisov said he received a call from President Georgi Parvanov, to whom Mihov complained the customs agents wanted to ruin his business.
He said that Parvanov's dismissal on Tuesday of his counselor who also used to be Mihov's lawyer was an indirect prove of this connection. Borisov did say Parvanov did a natural thing by referring to him an alert by a businessman. Yet, he denied the allegations in the tape that the government let the Ledenika brewery go, saying the only instruction he gave the customs was to inspect the brewery for violations.
Late Wednesday night, a statement of the Prosecutor's Office announced that forensic experts have concluded there is evidence the tapes presented by the Galeria weekly may have been manipulated.
Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Committee for control of special survellance devices announced that Customs Agency head Tanov's phones were tapped legally as part of a past investigation of contraband in the customs. The government's investigation of "Tapegate" continues to be under way - with respect to seeking to establish a leak of classified information, i.e. the tapes, and to whether the tapes were forged or manipulated.
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