Bulgarian Cabinet Undergoes 'Highly Principled' Reshuffle - Wrap-up

Domestic | May 18, 2011, Wednesday // 22:44|  views

Bulgarian PM Borisov (left) with his deputy, Finance Minister Djankov (middle), was at Plovdiv University on Wednesday as news about resignations in his Cabinet started to rain. Photo by Darik News

Bulgaria's Cabinet saw Wednesday a reshuffle of key figures, which, while not completely unexpected because of various rumors running for months, came as a bid of a surprise.

Within a matter of a couple of hours, the government saw the resignation of Transport Minister Alexander Tsvetkov, the resignation of Deputy Economy Minister in charge of energy Mariy Kosev, as well as the melodramatic finalization of the dismissal of National Social Security Institute head Hristina Mitreva.

According to Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, the reshuffle of his Cabinet is based on "principled rules", the more specific rationale being technical failures such as failing to boost and accelerate the absorption of EU funds.

Transport Minister Alexander Tsvetkov will be replaced by his deputy Ivailo Moskovski.

Tsvetkov somewhat surprisingly resigned his position, the only explanation on part of the Transport Ministry and himself being that her had personal motives for this move.

Various statements and media reports, however, suggest that the reasons for his dismissal have to do with the bad performance over the absorption of EU funds from Operational Program "Transport", the delayed reforms in state transport companies, and the technically bankrupt Bulgarian State Railways (BDZ) Holding.

These motives are somewhat paradoxical since the Transport Ministry just boasted a relatively decent performance in the absorption of EU funds, while the ailing state railways are doing much better than in the past few years.

MPs from the ruling party GERB have recently suggested that Tsvetkov is being investigated for abuses by the State National Security Agency DANS.

In September 2010, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov himself indicated that Tsvetkov is under investigation over a public procurement tender, a project for the construction of a "rolling highway" terminal at the Dragoman train station.

Bulgaria's Deputy Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism Mariy Kosev's resignation was announced just minutes after the news about the resignation of Transport Minister Alexander Tsvetkov broke.

Kosev will be replaced by Delyan Dobrev, member of parliament from the ruling GERB party, who has so far served as deputy chair of the energy committee.

Mariy Kosev is the second deputy minister in charge of the energy sector. He succeeded Maya Hristova, who was also removed from the management of the Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH). Kosev spent less than a year on this job because Maya Hristova was ousted on June 4, 2010.

Kosev himself said that said his removal was prompted by "a change in the political environment" and the appointment of "a more politicized candidate".

He dismissed as "unfounded" claims by GERB MPs that his replacement was connected to the Renewable Energy Act. The controversial piece of legislation drove a rift between the business sector and the government, with allegations that it was too restrictive in nature.

The Belene NPP project, however, could have provoked the reshuffle, Kosev admitted, adding that he could not say that "for sure".

"The rationale for the removal of the Minister of Transport is that I want to optimize further our work with Brussels, and especially the absorption of EU funds," Borisov said after paying a visit to Plovdiv University "Paisiy Hilendarski", confirming that Tsvetkov's deputy Ivaylo Moskovski will take over his job.

He has thus not commented on reports that the real reason behind Tsvetkov's dismissal is that he is under investigation over lobbyist interests by the State National Security Agency DANS.  

Borisov further praised the new Deputy Economy Minister Delyan Dobrev, who will replace Mariy Kosev.

"He is very young, very sensible, very smart and ambitious to prove himself, and he made a very good impression on me from his work in Parliamentary Committee on energy during the adoption of the Renewable Energy Act," the PM explained, adding, "I need working people who are pragmatic and think for the future, not philosophers with pretentions language."

The Cabinet reshuffle on Wednesday was wrapped up with a melodramatic farewell address by ousted National Social Security Institute Director Hristina Mitreva who spoke before her institution in tears saying that she was falsely accused of messing up the expected revenue forecasts and is being dismissed as politically inconvenient.

Borisov expressed his resentment at the complaints of the ousted head of the Social Security Institute Hristina Mitreva that she had been pressured by the ruling party GERB to make certain appointments.

He even said that it was his bad he had not removed all senior officials appointed by the former government as he was relying on their professionalism.

It is still unclear of the latest reshuffle of the Borisov Cabinet is completed as reports and opposition politicians have indicated that at least one more minister and several more deputy ministers will be dismissed with Agriculture Minister Miroslav Naydenov being the most likely candidate to be kicked out.

Alexander Tsvetkov is the fifth minister of the Borisov Cabinet who has to go in less that two years after ex Foreign Minister Rumiana Jeleva, ex Health Ministers Bozhidar Nanev and Anna-Maria Borisova, and Diaspora Minister Bozhidar Dimitrov.

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Tags: Boyko Borisov, Prime Minister, cabinet reshuffle, Alexander Tsvetkov, Transport Minister, Ivaylo Moskovski, Mariy Kosev, Delyan Dobrev, deputy ministers, Hristina Mitreva, NOI, National Social Security Institute


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