French Le Figaro: Borisov - the Strong Man from Sofia

Diplomacy | October 14, 2009, Wednesday // 12:51|  views

French President Nicolas Sarkozy (L) greets Bulgarian PM Boiko Borisov (R) at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Monday. Photo by BGNES.

The leader of the Bulgarian cabinet, Boyko Borisov, reserved his first foreign visit to France, the French daily Le Figaro writes.

In article dedicated to the Bulgarian Prime Minister's official visit to Paris, titled “The Strong Man from Sofia,” author Thierry Portes talks about the relationship between Borisov and French President, Nikolas Sarkzoy, describes Borisov's demeanor and his raise to the political helm in Bulgaria.

“The look is direct, the handshake vigorous...The new Bulgarian PM is a friend of France and this is good. Former karate competitor, coach of the national team, he was in charge of security for Bulgaria's last king, Simeon Saxe-Cobourg-Gotha, who came back to lead his country between 2001 and 2006,” the article reads.

The publication explains how Borisov's closeness to the “cabinet leader with royal blood” secured his skyrocketing career in the Bulgarian Interior Ministry, notes his election for Mayor of Sofia in 2005 and reelection in 2007, and his victory in the July general elections in the country.

The author quotes Borisov saying that Sarkozy is Bulgaria's best friend in the world, the person who carried on the release of the Bulgarian medics from Libyan jail, and how they worked together in many joint police actions when both were Interior Ministers. Borisov is also cited as giving high praise to the President of the European People Party (EPP) group in the European Parliament, Joseph Daul, whose support secured the inclusion of Borisov's Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party in the EPP and GERB”s and Borisov's personal rise to power.

Le Figaro writes that in addition to political courtesy, Borisov came to Paris in an attempt to clear several cases, particularly the corvettes' deal where the Bulgarian PM is quoted as saying: “Not that we do not want them, we can't have them. We can not splurge on the little we have.”

The article further notes Borisov is the leader of the poorest EU country, joining the Union in January 2007, and now counting on France's help. It reminds that last year the European Commission froze EUR 825 M in EU program funds from which EUR 220 M are lost for ever. “Some of the funds were released in September to encourage the new cabinet, but Brussels is watching Bulgaria closely and will help under the condition Sofia makes progress in the combat of corruption and organized crime,” the author points out.

“And this is where Boyko Borisov's image joins the reality in Bulgaria. He does not conceal he had been elected to combat the mafia and his objective is to reestablish the confidence of the EU so that it can release the frozen funds. The jaw clinches. The body is tense, ready for assault. Is the new strong man in Sofia going to achieve everything his predecessors failed in?” the author asks.

The publication points out that Borisov has never been tangled in a scandal but his life is far from the simple existence of a Hollywood policeman, noting that as the founder of a security company, the Bulgarian PM, in addition to serving the former king, also worked for former communist dictator, Todor Zhikov, rising in his career “at times when in this shadow world former communist secret services agents crossed paths with Balkan mafia". “One does not become Prime Minister by accident, especially in Bulgaria, the country in Europe bearing the most the mark of the Soviet rule,” the author stresses.

“I had the unique chance to listen in an informal environment to the Communist regime person number one, and to his antipode, the old monarch. What I heart taught me to understand history, the mechanisms of economic power and world politics,” Borisov is quoted as saying.

“Today the PM prefers to remember the years he passed near his royal tutor. To revive memories of his grandfather, an “enemy of the people,” killed by the Soviets in 1944. And to turn resolutely to Western Europe. With the look, strong and determined, of someone who does not succumb to corruption,” the article concludes.

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Tags: Boyko Borisov, Francois Fillon, Nikolas Sarkozy, corvettes, Armaris, Le Figaro


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