Sofia Hosts Party of European Socialists amidst Mass Protests
The entire leadership of the Party of European Socialists, PES, is in the Bulgarian capital Sofia Saturday for a sitting of its Council.
The President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, and the Chairman of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, Hannes Swoboda, will attend the meeting.
Bulgarian Prime Minister, Plamen Oresharski, will participate as well.
While in Sofia, Schulz will also meet with Bulgarian President, Rosen Plevneliev, and Oresharski will meet with Romanian counterpart, Victor Ponta.
The gathering of the women branch of PES started Friday evening.
Their leader, MEP Zita Gurmai, says women work two months longer each year to make the annual wage of men holding similar jobs, thus this was the main focus of their forum.
Achim Post, PES Secretary General stated that in October European parties must nominate their candidates for the post President of the European Commission. Each nomination has to be endorsed by their own party and five other parties in five other countries.
The final PES nomination will be known in February, 2014.
Gurmai spoke with more detail, revealing PES was planning to nominate Schulz, which dispels rumors that Sergey Stanishev, the leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP, who is also leader of PES, might be eyeing the post and having a chance to be nominated successor of Jose Manuel Barroso.
Stanishev, who is facing mass discontent from his own country people and BSP party, also spoke at the briefing, saying he would not and never use PES to score points and influence Bulgarian Socialists internal battles.
Bulgarian citizens have staged mass protest rallies for 7 days in a row, sparked by the outrageous decision of the government and the Parliament to appoint controversial media mogul and lawmaker Delyan Peevski as Chair of the State Agency for National Security (DANS) with Stanishev seen as one of the masterminds behind the plan.
At the briefing, the latter stressed the Socialists respected the protests and understood why people are outraged, but added dialogue cannot not be held on the streets and should take place inside government offices.
"I respect each and every protest if they are peaceful, but we see that there are provocations, and some extremists groups are trying to sneak and provoke clashes and violence," said he.
When asked why Peevski was chosen to lead DANS, Stanishev turned abrupt and told journalists that they are asking too many questions now, but have failed to inquire why the previous government of the center-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria party, GERB, appointed a number of unfit people at different posts.
"I will tell the protesting Bulgarian people to never forget what happened in the last four years and how your former PM threatened the democratic development of your country," Gurmai said in Stanishev's support.
On other topics, the Socialist leader commented that PES will work to win the EC President post, while the main focus of the campaign would be tackling youth unemployment.
The PES meeting is held in the National Palace of Culture, NDK, in downtown Sofia.
The adjacent parking lots are closed due to security reasons. Idling vehicles are banned.
Meanwhile, according to Facebook organizers, Sofia is preparing for its 8 consecutive and largest protest rally. Demonstrations are expected near NDK as well.
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