Bulgarian PM Asks Tainted Judge to Quit after 2nd EC Warning
Bulgarian Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, has asked controversial magistrate, Veneta Markovska, who was recently elected constitutional judge, to withdraw in case the European Commission continues to cast doubt in her appointment.
Borisov made the statement Monday at a briefing, informing he had talked to Markovska in person, adding he expected to have a conclusion of the case by Friday since the EC answer would come by then.
"If this is a slander, it is ugly, but if there is a speck of truth in these allegations of corruption, trading influence and conflict of interest, the right thing is for her to withdraw. I asked her to follow closely what Brussels is saying and make a decision accordingly, particularly if her image is tainted and there are things she should be ashamed of. She understood. She is very upset and has health problems. The EC repproach is aimed at the Parliament; this is not my business, but since EU criticism is always directed to those ruling the country, I asked her to do so," he explained.
The PM stressed Markovska's nomination did not come from his Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria party, GERB, and the latter is responsible only about the one of Anastas Anastasov, but failed to mention her candidature was proposed by independent MPs, close to GERB, and his MPs voted for her.
Ignoring strong criticism from the European Commission that the Parliament is covering up tipoffs against one of the candidates, the Bulgarian MPs elected last Wednesday without debates the 2 constitutional judges from their quota.
They were Anastas Anastasov, Deputy Speaker of the Parliament from GERB and Markovska, Deputy Chair of the Supreme Administrative Court, VAS.
A week before the Parliament voted for the two constitutional judges, the MP from the opposition left-wing Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP, Yanaki Stoilov, announced that a tipoff has been logged against judge Markovska, signed by someone named Georgi Tolev.
Immediately after Markovska's election as constitutional judge, the EC announced that Bulgaria might face an interim report on justice and home affairs in case "the situation requires it."
The warning was stated by Olivier Bailly, spokesperson of EC.
"There were serious allegations of trading influence and corruption on the part of one of the candidates," Bailly said, but did not disclose a name.
The statement was made by the EC spokeswoman, Pia Ahrenkilde-Hansen, during a briefing in Brussels.
Hansen firmly refuted claims in Bulgaria that Bailly was a temporary spokesperson, on top of it voicing personal opinions.
Hansen's words gave indirect answers to Foreign Minister, Nikolay Mladenov, who labeled the warning rumors, to Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, who said he did not accept Bailly's words as the EC official position and to Borisov, who just hours earlier, urged the European Commission to come up and officially announce its accusations against Markovska.
Meanwhile, the other EC spokesperson, Mark Gray, told the Bulgarian National Radio, BNR, the Commission was voicing alarm about the allegations against one of the candidates for constitutional judges, but would not comment on the qualities of the person in question, and it was up to authorities in Bulgaria to decide what is ahead. He explained there were no concrete plans about an interim report, but the possibility is always standing.
Monday morning, Markovska still received support from the GERB Chair of the Parliamentary Legal Committee, Iskra Fidosova, the former Interior Minister and MP from the opposition left-wing Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP, Rumen Petkov, who resigned during the term of the previous Cabinet on allegations of ties with organized crime, and from the leader of the marginal conservative Order, Law and Justice party, RZS, Yane Yanev, who went from threatening to "fire PM Borisov" during the 2011 presidential election to becoming this year one of his strongest allies.
This support and the fact Markovska's nomination was voted by MPs from GERB, BSP, the independents and from the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms party, DPS, prompted a number of political experts and figures to see a behind-the-scenes coalition ahead of the 2013 general election.
Yanev and others have struck back, accusing the leaders of the Bulgarian for Citizens party and former EU Commissioner, Meglena Kuneva, the leader of the opposition right-wing Democrats for Strong Bulgaria, DSB, Ivan Kostov, and media close to them, of uniting in a vicious attack against the judge, also to score points ahead of the election.
The conservative leader has been extremely fervent in criticizing Kuneva lately on all subjects. Her party is not parliamentary represented, but recent polls show it would be the third major force in the 2013 election, after GERB and BSP.
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