President Rosen Plevneliev Presented the Structure, Membership and Priorities of the Caretaker Governmen2014-08-05 13:11:00
Rosen Plevneliev, President of the Republic of Bulgaria:
Good morning and welcome to all!
The fourth caretaker government since the beginning of the democratic transition is yet to start functioning. This is the second caretaker government which I have appointed in the past two years, which, unfortunately is a clear sign of the political instability that we should overcome together. This fact naturally predetermines the basic tasks the current government should address. All of them can be united around the ambition to calm down the public, to make it possible for the mechanisms of parliamentary democracy to start functioning, free from tension and pressure.
The parties represented in the 42nd National Assembly failed to form a stable majority which could support a functioning government and the mandates I handed down were given up. At a time of an acute crisis of trust, the presidential institution played its role in seeking a dialogue and making nationally responsible decisions. A lot of consultations in all possible formats were held whereby I clearly demonstrated my willingness to work so that an agreement on the issues which are important for the country can be reached, a non-partisan approach can be adopted and a consistent policy can be pursued.
In democratic states elections are the only legitimate tool to overcome political crises. I already announced that the general election will be held on 5 October. In line with the procedure stipulated in the constitution, I will issue a decree whereby I will officially dissolve the National Assembly tomorrow and appoint a caretaker cabinet, which will prepare the upcoming general election and will rule the country in a difficult and unpredictable situation.
The caretaker government has been formed and will strictly adhere to the principles of expertise, non-partisanship and a consistent further development of the national priorities. We should not forget that the caretaker government is not only necessary for Bulgaria, but it also creates opportunities. It creates opportunities to take significant measures so that important state priorities can be implemented. These include: signing a Partnership Agreement with the European Commission for 2014-2020; launching a procedure for Bulgaria’s joining the EU Single Banking Supervisory Mechanism as the first step toward entering the European Banking Union, as well as developing the “Bulgaria in NATO 2020” program, which the caretaker government has the ambition to implement. These decisions will have a long-term impact on the development of our homeland. Inactivity at times of crisis is dangerous and unacceptable. Moreover, if the government starts preparing the important decisions for the country in a non-partisan and expert way, this will attract the public support and will ensure the necessary public trust in each one of the next governments.
I have said more than once that unprincipled confrontation will lead to nothing good and therefore you should not expect the caretaker government to adopt such an approach. On the other hand, Bulgaria is in an environment of a record low public trust in the institutions and you can win trust only if you make your actions public. Although the caretaker government will not adopt a revenge-seeking approach, it will tell the truth and will not hide from the Bulgarian citizens the state the country is currently in. The caretaker government will show that the government of the state can be open to the civil society and the ideas the people generate may be part of a governance program.
To me, the real hero of the past year was the Bulgarian civil society. It showed that it has far exceeded the level of the political class and has developed a heightened sensitivity to any unfair and cloak-and-dagger arrangements. The civil society in Bulgaria is the real guarantee for the country’s European democratic development and I will continue supporting it in any possible way. By making the appointments in the caretaker Government, I would like to show my respect for the constitutional order, the rule of law and the democratic and pro-European civil society in Bulgaria.
It is an honor to me to nominate professor Bliznashki for prime minister of the Republic of Bulgaria. He is an eminent constitutionalist, who adheres to democratic views. He is also a European, a man who has an active civic position.
Such are also the deputy prime ministers: Ekaterina Zaharieva - deputy prime minister in charge of economic policy; professor Hristoskov - deputy prime minister in charge of social policy; Hristo Ivanov - deputy prime minister in charge of justice, home affairs and security; Iliana Tsanova - deputy prime minister in charge of management of EU funding. Each one of them enjoys an excellent reputation of an established professional and they have achieved their success by being hard-working and displaying personal qualities. The justice minister will be deputy prime minister in the structure of the current caretaker government. Thus I would like to clearly show that the rule of law lies at the basis of the democratic and law-governed state and is above its power structures.
The caretaker government will complete the transition to the 43rd National Assembly at a difficult time for the nation. It will have to earn the public trust and that of the Euro-Atlantic partners. The caretaker government will work in a transparent manner and as early as its first workday it will publicly announce its priorities and tasks. These will include measures for organizing and conducting the general election, economic measures, measures to ensure social and health protection, education, culture and sport; policies in support of the rule of law, home affairs, security and defense, policies aimed at holding a European dialogue and an efficient management of the EU funds, as well as measures ensuring a transparent government and interaction with the civil society.
It will make a thorough analysis of the implementation of the budget as of July 31 and will prepare a budget forecast until the end of the year. It will show the real picture of the finances in this country, the deficit, the fiscal reserve, the debt, the uncollected revenues, the bloated expenditures, the due payments to the construction companies, municipalities, hospitals and others, the public procurements and contracts that have been signed even though no funding is available for them.
The government will revise the initiated by the outgoing government Regions Programmes, project by project, and re-allocate the saved money to the citizens hit by the recent devastating floods in some parts of the country. It will do this through the Commission for disasters and accidents, and for the payments due under EU-funded programs, which seems to be the most reasonable investment because for each lev from the budget Brussels adds a further four leva for free.
We will do our best to unfreeze the two suspended operational programs “Environment” and “Regional Development.” However, this takes time and money to make financial corrections, to settle payments and speed up construction works.
However, a very different legacy will be left to the caretaker government – due payments and demotivated construction workers, municipalities and other beneficiaries, right in the middle of the construction season and in the months in which we will have to make a last decisive attempt to implement the EU billions.
Unfortunately, in the last days of its functioning, the 42nd National Assembly turned a deaf ear to the necessary revision of the budget, which would have provided the opportunity to minimize the losses from the EU funds and speed up the implementation of the funds, to support the municipalities and beneficiaries, to envisage a buffer to the financial system, given the serious problem we have with the fourth biggest bank in the country.
It is not the caretaker government that will bear the responsibility, but those, who for technical reasons and using party propaganda and strongholds, failed to take into account the strongholds of the people. No tactical interests are above financial stability, above the European orientation, above the European solidarity and the public interest.
The 2014 budget was mistaken from the very beginning. For instance, consider the planned extra two billion revenues compared to 2013, which however, nobody managed to collect and there is no way to collect them in their full amount. The budget update was supposed to correct the mistakes made when it was planned and to secure some freedom of action for the caretaker government in an unpredictable environment. This did not happen. The willful refusal of the 42nd National Assembly to correct the mistakes in the 2014 budget means less security in the state in this transition period.
Despite the agreement reached on achieving a new, higher level of stability, just the opposite thing happened. A simple text was not approved, which had already been approved by the 37th National Assembly in support of Stefan Sofiyanski’s caretaker government whereby the government was given the chance to respond in case a crisis arises. What the 37th National Assembly did in a statehood manner, the 42nd National Assembly refused to do because of its narrow party interests.
The opportunity for the caretaker government to sign agreements, if necessary and under the regime of a follow-up ratification, with international financial institutions in support of the financial stability and social protection was declared a blank check. The same politicians who during the already two-month long torrential rains and floods have been explaining how everyone should insure their property, refused to insure the state by failing to approve a text which is not worth even a single lev but only requires some work in parliament. Although the budget update was short-sightedly refused, the budget will be revised and the caretaker government will prepare the budget update and it will be introduced in the 43rd National Assembly as early as the first days it starts functioning.
In this tense situation it is necessary to resume the dialogue with the European institutions and the Euro-Atlantic partners. Professor Bliznashki’s caretaker government will conclude and sign a Partnership Agreement with the European Commission for 2014-2020. At its very first sitting, the government will nominate a worthy EU commissioner, who enjoys a broad public support not only in Bulgaria and Europe, but also throughout the world. The Bulgarian candidate for EU commissioner is Kristalina Georgieva. We will use all opportunities provided by Bulgarian foreign policy to support her candidacy for a high post in the European Commission.
Although the Bulgarian banking system is stable and enjoys a high liquidity, the events that have been unfolding in the past couple of months showed that we should join the EU single banking supervisory mechanism as the first step towards Bulgaria’s entry in the European Banking Union. The caretaker government will launch the procedure to this effect.
Apart from taking prompt actions to ensure stability, the caretaker government will continue to take actions in order to prepare key reforms, for instance in the energy sector, the judiciary, e-government and others. The caretaker cabinet will prepare the necessary documents and analyses which will make it possible for the next regular government and parliament to speed up these reforms. The caretaker government will also set up an Energy Board with the participation of international partners. It will restore the integrated approach in the energy sector where everybody comes together to address the problems in this problematic sector - rather than make backdoor arrangements with a few elect.
The situation in the Bulgarian energy sector is critical. A correct diagnosis should be made and a new approach should be adopted to stabilize it. A broad political and public consensus is needed to implement big energy projects. Therefore a functioning National Assembly is necessary. We support the construction of every pipeline that can pass through Bulgaria and ensure the needed diversification of the energy sources and routes. Although we support the construction of South Stream, it should be done in compliance with the European rules. The project will remain frozen until it gets a green light from the European Commission.
The work on updating the strategy on the reform of the judiciary will continue so that real conditions can be created for achieving an efficient judiciary, which serves the public interests.
The caretaker government will finalize the work on the Strategy on intelligent specialization and the project on the strategy on higher education and will continue the preparation for launching an Operational Program “Science and education for a smart growth.”
We will further pool efforts to speed up the construction of a functioning e-government. This is one of the most effective mechanisms for improving the business environment, for reducing corruption, for boosting the efficiency of the state institutions. A bill for introducing e-government in the Republic of Bulgaria will be drafted.
The basic goal of any caretaker government is to organize fair and free elections. A civil board for free and fair elections will be set up with the Council of Ministers, which will ensure public monitoring of the elections.
Esteemed Ladies and Gentlemen,
The deficits of trust and the deficits in the economy are the two sides of the same coin, namely the lack of stability, dialogue and transparency of governance. The caretaker government cannot solve all these problems within its term in office, which is limited in time and has limited powers. Nevertheless it can take important steps to solve the problems, which the next government will build on. Ensuring such continuity is the key to restoring the public trust in politics and restoring the stability in the state.
The word crisis comes from the Greek word for a choice and decision, for a turning point. The caretaker government will work so as to make sure that the current situation becomes precisely that turning point which ensures more stability, more transparency and dialogue, more reforms.
Elections are upcoming. Although the politicians will be involved in pre-election fights and will fight to secure victory, I should recall that the most important victory is that of the ordinary people. They should be heard and supported. The caretaker government will also work to this effect.
I wish you success and good luck!
Esteemed Ladies and Gentlemen, let me present the members of the caretaker government of the Republic of Bulgaria.
Prime Minister of the caretaker government is Professor Georgi Bliznashki. A recognized constitutionalist, who has made a significant contribution to the Bulgarian law. He is a Professor in constitutional law who has more than 70 scholarly works devoted to the topic of constitutional law. Professor Bliznashki is extremely famous for his rich academic activity, teaches subjects in the bachelor’s and master’s degrees in a lot of Bulgarian universities. He actively participated in the earliest achievements of post-1989 Bulgarian democracy – he took part as an expert in the national round table. He was Assembly deputy in the 36th and 39th National Assembly, observer and later MEP. In 2014 he became head of the Initiative Committee for conducting a referendum on electoral rules. A man with a broad outlook, a man of the rule of law, a real European, I wish him success!
Ekaterina Zaharieva is Deputy Prime Minister in charge of Economic Policy, Minister of Regional Development and Minister of Investment Planning. Mrs. Zaharieva was deputy prime minister and Minister of Regional Development and Public Works in the former caretaker government and before that she was deputy minister of regional development and public works. She is a lawyer, a committed expert, having an extremely rich organizational experience, which she also successfully employed in her work in the presidential institution.
Deputy Prime Minister in charge of Social Policy and caretaker Minister of Labour and Social Policy Minister is Professor Yordan Hristoskov. As an undeniable professional in the sphere of pension insurance and labor market, he was head of the National Social Security Institute in the 2000-2009 period. He has experience as minister in Reneta Indzhova’s caretaker cabinet and I am convinced that he will once again prove his exceptional expertise and commitment in the current government.
Hristo Ivanov will be deputy prime minister in charge of Justice, Home Affairs and Security and Minister of Justice. He is a lawyer and has gained considerable experience in different international projects related to the assessment of legislation and promoting the rule of law. As program director of the Bulgarian Institute for Legal Initiatives since 2006, he launched different initiatives related to the reform of the judiciary and the prevention of corruption.
Iliana Tsanova will be Deputy Prime Minister in charge of the Management of EU Funding – a position she held in Marin Raykov’s caretaker government. She diligently performed her tasks and produced good results. For quite some time Iliana Tsanova worked for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and has gained considerable experience in co-financing, organizing and structuring projects with the help of EU funds in a lot of countries.
Daniel Mitov is foreign minister. A political analyst who has gained rich experience while working at the Political Academy for Central and Eastern Europe. Later he became member of the team of the US National Democratic Institute. As an official representative of the Institute he has gained considerable experience not only in Brussels, but also in other countries throughout the whole world.
Roumen Porozhanov is Finance Minister in the caretaker government. He has been an official in the ministry for quite some time and has held all expert positions up to director of a directorate. He is a knowledgeable expert, who has gained considerable experience in public finances and the real sector. He was CEO of the Agricultural State Fund and chief of the supervisory council of the Bulgarian Bank for Development.
Vassil Shtonov will be Minister of Economy and Energy. He is alumnus of the University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts University of Technology, the world-famous MIT, with a degree in electronic engineering, finance and business administration. He has gained considerable experience as an investment banker and consultant in the energy sector and technologies, in the banking sector and telecommunications in a lot of countries.
Svetlana Zhekova will be Minister of Environment and Waters. Her professional development is directly related to Bulgaria’s European integration in the sphere of ecology – an experience which will be very important for improving the communication with the European Commission. She started out on her career by holding junior positions in the Ministry of Environment and Waters, devoting many years to her work. She gained a ten-year experience as representative and state expert in the Ministry since 2004. Later she held different responsible positions in Bulgaria’s Permanent Representation to the EU.
Nikolina Angelkova is caretaker Minister of Transport, Communications and IT. She is alumnus of Harvard Business School – Boston. She specialized in financial management of the EU structural funds, European law and regional politics and structural funds in France. She was member of the Management Board of the Road Infrastructure Agency, deputy minister of regional development in charge of European affairs and international cooperation. A national contact point for the Danube strategy. A young and capable expert who has achieved international recognition. In 2014 she was recognized as one of over 200 world leaders at the World Economic Forum. Nikolina is also a real polyglot.
I have appointed Vassil Groudev as caretaker Minister of Agrticulture and Foods. Although he is the youngest specialist in the caretaker government, he has a good eye for the agricultural sector in the country. In the 2006-2013 period he held different positions in the Agricultural State Fund.
Yordan Bakalov is Interior Minister. Mr. Bakalov is associate professor and lecturer in national security, an expert in the sphere who has won recognition. He has been an Assembly deputy for quite some time, famous for his activity in the national security, internal security and public order commission for four mandates of the National Assembly.
Velizar Shalamanov is caretaker Minister of Defence. Alumnus of the Military Academy, has a PhD in cybernetics and associate professor in automated government systems. He served in the Bulgarian army for many years and has been head of units for military intelligent systems and government and member of the interdepartmental committee for integration in NATO. He is a long-standing lecturer at a lot of Bulgarian universities. He has worked on a lot of national and international projects in the defense sector. Since 2013 he has been director of Demand Management in the NATO Communication and Information Agency.
Miroslav Nenkov will be Minister of Healthcare in the caretaker government. Doctor Nenkov is acting chief of ward in the Clinics on Anesthesiology, Reanimatology and Intensive Care at the Bulgarian Military Medical Academy. Apart from being an anesthesiologist, he has also specialized in intensive care, therefore I hope that by making intensive efforts he will also bring at least some stability in the healthcare sector, despite his short-term mandate. Doctor Nenkov is well acquainted with the challenges the caretaker government is facing since he was deputy minister in the caretaker cabinet in 2013.
Associate professor Roumyana Kolarova will be Minister of Education and Science. A famous political analyst and university lecturer who has published more than 50 scholarly works, she is head of the Political Science department at Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski.
Martin Ivanov will hold the position of Culture Minister in the caretaker cabinet. He is PhD at the History Institute at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. He teaches industrial history at Sofia University and at the Higher School of Insurance and Finance. He has specialized in Cambridge and the National University of Ireland. He is author of more than 150 scholarly works. He was chief of the Archives State Agency in the 2011-2013 period.
The three-times Olympic medalist Evgenia Radanova will be Minister of Youth and Sport in the caretaker government. She has been absolute European champion in short track. She has won 47 medals at European championships, 37 of which are gold. Evgenia is undeniably one of the greatest athletes of Bulgaria and is the first Bulgarian athlete who participated in both summer and winter Olympic Games.
I wish success to the caretaker government!
I give the floor to Prime Minister Professor Bliznashki.
Professor Georgi Bliznashki, caretaker Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria:
Esteemed Mr. President,
Esteemed Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Elections for European Parliament conducted on 25 May in Bulgaria confirmed the discrepancy between the configuration of the parties in the 42nd National Assembly and the public attitudes. The result of these elections confirmed and increased the deficit of legitimacy in the actions of the ruling coalition and later this fact provoked irreconcilable internal conflicts and led to the disintegration of the coalition. The political parties reached an agreement on conducting an early general election on 5 October 2014 and thus the government practically lost the parliamentary support it needed. The resignation of the government became inevitable and it was tendered on 23 July 2014. Thus the parliamentary crisis escalated into a government crisis. The political parties represented in parliament one-by-one refused to make attempts to form a new government. As you know, yesterday the protective fences around the national political institutions were removed – this was what we planned to be one of the first steps the new government would take. However, the power holders apparently paid attention to our intention and thus this marks a new beginning in the development of the national political process of the Bulgarian democracy.
Fulfilling his functions stipulated in the constitution, the President of the Republic of Bulgaria is appointing a caretaker government today and he entrusted me to head this government. At a time of a serious political confrontation the goal of the caretaker government will be to ensure more stability, a dialogue and transparency of governance. To this effect we should more than ever before strictly observe the constitution and the laws in the country. Precisely the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria is the basis on which our state is built. Under conditions of a political crisis, the Constitution should become the starting point for restoring the public morale and for once again restoring the public trust in the state institutions.
By concurrence of circumstances, I myself have devoted my whole professional life to upholding the values and principles of constitutionalism and democracy. As prime minister of the caretaker government, the major commitment I will take on is to strictly stick to the letter and spirit of the constitution. Moreover while fulfilling the functions and powers the caretaker government has entrusted with, we will strictly adhere to the principle of lawfulness as a fundamental constitutional principle.
The caretaker government does not discuss amendments of the constitution, it does not propose and adopt laws, it does not plan the budget. In line with the principles of parliamentary democracy, it is limited not only in terms of its mandate, but also in terms of its powers. Undoubtedly the current government must ensure above all a good administration, which should be responsive not only to the needs of society as a whole, but also to the needs of the individual citizens.
Therefore the President of the Republic lawfully and convincingly set the priorities and tasks of the caretaker government along a couple of basic directions. First, to ensure stability of the basic public systems and sectors of governance. Secondly, to improve Bulgaria’s image in the EU and among our NATO partners. And thirdly, to continue working on key reforms.
Despite the limited resources the caretaker government will have access to after the political parties represented in parliament refused to update the budget, we will not turn a blind eye and deaf ear to the pains and concerns of our compatriots who suffered from the natural disasters days and months on end and we will do our best to help them. We should all show solidarity with these people and pray to nature to be more merciful.
Organizing and conducting free and fair elections may and should be done in an open and transparent manner with the active participation of the civil society. The caretaker government will pool efforts to ensure free and fair elections and will firmly and resolutely oppose any attempts to distort the people’s vote. It will do its best to provide the chance to all Bulgarian citizens in the country and abroad to make their choice and express their will. However, we should not forget that the responsibility for this choice is a civic duty of each one of us.
For 405 days in a row the Bulgarian citizens demonstrated their strong will and determination to maintain their human dignity and promote their democratic ideas to counterbalance the arrogant attempts of the oligarchy to impose its diktat on the country. Anyhow the Bulgarian citizens defended their sovereign rights to be the source of power in the state and its moral judge. Currently they should take the next step and actively participate in the election campaign and freely make their choice on 5 October when the general election is held.
The power is again in the hands of the sovereign people. As responsible citizens we should all prove that we are wise and proud people who are able to determine their own status, to self-govern themselves, and alone to decide their destiny. I believe that the upcoming early general election will successfully mobilize the public and will stimulate civic activity. This is the only way we can have a legitimate outcome of the elections, which will be accepted by everyone and which no one will question. Because we are all aware that our country needs a strong and responsible government which can rely on a clear and substantial majority in the National Assembly to resolutely follow the path of the reforms our public is anticipating.
I would like to assure you on behalf of all ministers in the caretaker cabinet that we will do our best to fulfill our civic duty and to justify your trust for the sake of Bulgaria and the country’s superior interests.
Thank you for your attention.