Rumen Radev: The EU should be strongly committed to fighting corruption and upholding the principles of democracy in Bulgaria

2021-09-24 19:49:00

The Head of State held a meeting with representatives of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs in the European Parliament

The European Union should be strongly committed to fighting corruption and upholding the principles of democracy in Bulgaria. This is what President Rumen Radev said during a meeting at 2 Dondukov Blvd. with members of the Monitoring Group of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) in the European Parliament, whose delegation is on a working visit to Bulgaria. Vice President Iliana Iotova also took part in the meeting.

The strengthening of the rule of law, the problems with corruption, as well as the massive civil protests in Bulgaria last summer were among the topics of the meeting. "When young people are on the streets and protest en masse against corruption, they expect unequivocal support from the European institutions," the Head of State said. In his words, in the eyes of young Bulgarians, the EU is a pillar of democracy and law and when there is no unambiguous reaction to corruption scandals, hope turns into disappointment and leads to emigration of the young people of Bulgaria.

The Head of State pointed out that the caretaker government, by following the principles of transparency, accountability and responsibility, has checked a number of vicious corruption practices of the previous government, which has also restored the people's hope that corruption can be tackled. "The people want a different face of Bulgaria," the President further stressed and called for a real commitment from the European institutions to the consolidation of the rule of law in Bulgaria. As an example, Rumen Radev singled out the specialised courts and prosecutor's offices set up in the wake of the European Commission's recommendations, which instead of leading to effective convictions in the fight against corruption at the top levels of power, are becoming a tool for pressure against political and business opponents.

The issue of the passivity of the prosecutor's office in major corruption scandals in Bulgaria and the ostentatious activity in other cases at the same time was also raised by the MEPs. The President stressed that the issue of the need for accountability of the Prosecutor General and the adoption of an effective mechanism to control his work is on the social agenda and is consistently raised in the National Assembly.

Responding to a question from members of the European Parliament about media freedom in the country, Vice President Iliana Iotova pointed out that the problems are mostly related to the non-transparent way the executive branch finances and allocates funds. As an example, the Vice President pointed to the European funds for communication strategies, which have been used in the past as an instrument for influencing the media. In her words, legislative changes should be considered to prevent such abuses.

The head of the delegation from the European Parliament, Sophie in 't Veld, expressed her impression that there are many problems in Bulgaria, but she sees a determination to change this. In her words, "corruption is poisonous" and the members of the LIBE Committee have the ambition to contribute to solving this problem. Sophie in 't Veld expressed the hope that the next Bulgarian government will be stable and strive for real reforms.

MEP Clare Daly shared her observation that in Bulgaria EU funds are concentrated in a few rich people. She pointed out that she had visited Bulgaria several times during the mass protests last summer. "We are disappointed that the European Commission did not intervene," Daley concluded.

Bulgarian MEP Elena Yoncheva was also among the members of the European Parliament who took part in the meeting with the Head of State.



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