TEN DAYS THAT SHAKE THE RULING TRIO
Postponement of political decisions still more frequently bespeaks of impossibility to make them rather than of wisdom. In normal countries where concepts such as political responsibility and morality have not devaluated, such a situation is almost impossible. Anywhere in the world that would be the beginning of the end of a government which obstinately doesn's want to quit. As per BSP's will, the scam rocking the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which cannot subside for a third week now, will be waiting for its deferred solution. The executive bureau of the biggest party within the tripartite coalition gave Interior Minister Roumen Petkov ten days to prepare a report on his ministry's state during the... last 18 years. Mr. Petkov will have to describe the state of affairs at the Interior Ministry during the entire transition period towards democracy! It's logical for one to ask himself the question if Premier Sergey Stanishev has decided to behead Roumen Petkov in a particularly painful way or gives him time to save his skin. Or if he has not decided anything because he is not capable of making a decision due to lack of decisiveness?
Roumen Petkov's report should be ready on April 11 and discussed then by the ruling coalition's council. Well, the partners will probably read the report only after BSP's leaders edit it and make it proper. Otherwise, the coalition partners might show unhealthy morality and leave
Sergey Stanishv to lie in the bed he has already made
For the time being there are timid hints that could happen. How else shall we explain the PM's lamentation on the Day of Humour and Lie (April 1) that not a single party from the coalition should disaffiliate from what's happening at the Interior Ministry because it concerns the Government as a whole. At the same time, NMSII's leadership recommended PM Stanishev to send Roumen Petkov on a holiday. The NMSII even promised to withdraw its Deputy Interior Minister Tsonko Kirov. On Tuesday it will become known if he will go on a political vacation. On top of all NMSII's Deputy Chairman Milen Velchev said on April 2 that the party would back the Premier, especially if he acts more radically, but their stance might evolve. We are not acquainted with all the facts about what's happening at the Interior Ministry, said Mr. Velchev some hours after Premier Stanishev announced that everything concerning the scam has been placed at the disposal of coalition partners. NMSII's MP and Chairman of the parliamentary Internal Commission Mincho Spassov repeated in front of his party fellows there were a lot of facts showing how in some cases Roumen Petkov acted in contradiction with the public notion of a minister of internal affairs. The MRF has not voiced its stance yet.
The scam at the Interior Ministry is the biggest so far that has shaken the tripartite ruling coalition. According to politicians and observers,
things cannot be hushed up this time
as it happened with the Central Heating Utility-Frontier affair.
The opposition claims that BSP is moving as per the Ovcharov scenario, but in a completely hysterical way. BSP's supreme leadership indeed made a joke with Bulgarian taxpayers declaring on April 1 that the question regarding Roumen Petkov's resignation has not been raised at all. And they did not want to send him on a vacation while the Prosecutors' Office was inquiring into his meetings with the dubious businessmen, the revealing of confidential information and State secrets. Instead of having a serious talk with their party fellow and explaining him it does not become a minister of internal affairs to have informal contacts with such businessmen, the socialists advised Mr. Petkov to dismiss Valentin Petrov, the Chief Secretary of the Interior Ministry.
When former minister of economy and energy, Roumen Petkov, fell last year in the Frontier situation, a month and a half before him two fuses had blown. The Premier dismissed deputy minister of economy Kornelia Ninova and Deputy Disaster Management Minister Delyan Peevsky. Afterwards, together with Mr. Ovcharov who resigned, they were presented to the public as pure as angels. Mr. Stanishev even admitted he acted hurriedly and without proven facts some ten months ago, concerning ex-minister Ovcharov. Now, the decision regarding Roumen Petkov will rest on clear conclusions and shall not depend on ultimatums, the PM said.
I think I have proven in difficult moments that when there are facts, I act uncompromisingly. But I accept no ultimatums from anybody. There is a way to burrow our heads in the sand and wait for the storm to pass away. There is also an opportunity for arranging the situation - I think this is what we are going to do, the Prime Minister underlined. All the leaders of BSP, even the lobby of Roumen Ovcharov, backed Roumen Petkov. The red party obviously hopes that his report on the Ministry of Interior for the last 18 years will scare both the coalition partners and the opposition because it will bring to light compromises for the previous governments.
How is it possible that the person most deeply involved in the affair is investigating himself, the opposition objected and decided to request
non-confidence vote N5
It pointed at the accretion of the state with crime as the main reason. But because of the four votes that failed completely in the past forecasts for success are rather timid. The Bulgarian New Democracy requested that the entire Government hands in its resignation, the United Democratic Forces insisted that the President gather the National Security Consultative Council, the Democrats for Strong Bulgaria said the non-confidence vote was obligatory to defend Bulgaria's image in front of the world. Stefan Sofiyanski recommended directly that the majority replace its premier. Volen Siderov from Ataka asked that both rulers and opposition sit at the table and negotiate the organisation of parliamentary elections ahead of schedule. At the same time GERB held a special press conference and requested an early election, too. It is obvious that BSP considers Roumen Petkov's survival more important than the interests of the state, the GERB Chairman Tsvetan Tsvetanov said. He added that his party was disturbed by the fact that President Georgi Parvanov was keeping silence about the crisis.
The left wing MPs said they would not yield to suggestions for compromising. BSP's spokesperson, Angel Naydenov, said from the parliamentary tribune on April 2: On occasion of what is happening in the Ministry of Interior, we are ready to take measures related to the political responsibility, including of the Minister of Interior, but only when we have clear evidence and a solid ground to base our decisions on. Naydenov added that under circumstances of this kind the red group was even ready to make
structural and personnel changes in the Cabinet
Socialists are frightened for the first time, the opposition comments. The biggest dreamers even think this vote may be successful. The debates and the voting will almost coincide with the deadline by which Roumen Petkov should be ready with his report.
The Bulgarian Socialist Party denies there will be a secret union of the three leaders this weekend, but says this may happen at the end of next week. However, the BANKER weekly learned that Sergey Stanishev would still find a way to meet his partners, at least in order to find out whether there would be surprises in the non-confidence voting. If things get pressing, the office on 20 Positano street is ready with another trick to get a delay. It is not yet clear when the inspections of the National Security State Agency and the Prosecutor's Office of all signals for high level corruption and abuses in the Ministry of Interior will be ready. And without them, the report prepared by Roumen Petkov for ten days, can only be accepted for information.