Bulgarian President: February 4, 1997, Is 'Day of Humility'

Domestic | February 4, 2010, Thursday // 16:08|  views

Bulgarian President Parvanov next to a banner reading, "February 4, 1997, 13 Years Later". Photo by BGNES

Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov has called February 4, 1997, an important date of Bulgaria’s post-communist transition.

Parvanov participated at a public discussion at Sofia University dedicated to February 4, 1997 – the day when the then ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party succumbed to mass public pressure and street protests, and returned the government mandate thus agreeing to the holding of early elections.

At the end of 1996 and beginning of 1997, Bulgaria saw staggering hyperinflation and economic crisis – which led to mass street protests. The crisis is attributed to the Socialist government of PM Jean Videnov. Upon Videnov’s resignation, the BSP was considering whether to form a new government as they had a parliamentary majority.

The BSP Chair at the time, however, Georgi Parvanov, and Interior Minister Nikolay Dobrev (now deceased) – who was slated to become the new PM, returned the mandate paving the road for the elections of June 1997 that were won overwhelmingly by the opposition rightist Union of Democratic Forces leading to the government of Ivan Kostov (1997-2001) which stabilized the country.

“February 4, 1997, was no accident in the policies of constructive dialogue. Nikolay Dobre is a symbol of high morals in Bulgarian politics,” Parvanov said Thursday calling for declaring that date a “Day of Humility.”

“I am talking about the idea of consensus here – this idea has been severely criticized. However, the formal legal grounds are not enough for somebody to govern,” the President declared 13 years after the date of the fateful decision of the Socialists to back which many believe had prevented the outbreak of a civil war at the time.

“There was nothing messianic in our decision to return the mandate. We never thought or expected any kind of recognition. It is a fact that the memories from 1996-1997 have begun to fade. Maybe this is a good thing because people tend to forget hard and unpleasant moments. There has been an argument as to who exactly took the decision of returning the mandate. It is historically correct to say that it was made by Nikolay Dobrev,” Parvanov said.

“February 4 must remain in history as a symbol of reason. The decision that led to the early elections was not emotional, the last thing that a person could feel at such times is fear,” he explained.

He explicitly stated that he had prepared reports as a Chair of the BSP saying that the Socialist Party was responsible for the total crisis of the country, and that he had assumed his fair share as a participant in the party leadership at the time.

“There is a big lie about that situation – that Nikolay Dobrev and I went to the then President Stoyanov with a folder containing the names of the new Ministers, and that Stoyanov convinced us at the very last minute to give up forming a cabinet,” Parvanov said.

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Tags: February 4 1997, Georgi Parvanov, Bulgaria President, Petar Stoyanov, Jean Videnov, Nikolay Dobrev


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