US Ambassador Engages in Dialogue with Bulgarian Independent MPs

Domestic | July 7, 2011, Thursday // 15:04|  views

US Ambassador to Bulgaria James Warlick has expressed his admiration for the bravery of independent MPs to leave party ranks. Photo by BGNES

10 independent MPs met Thursday with US Ambassador to Bulgaria James Warlick to discuss the creation of a new independent political project.

The meeting was held at the initiative of the US diplomat.

Dimitar Chukarski, a former member of the conservative Order, Law and Justice (RZS) party, said that the meeting had given them the opportunity to brief Warlick on a number of topics that interest independent MPs.

He also emphasized the need to make Bulgaria a country of the citizens and the regions, allowing them to have an independent policy.

Chukarski said independent MPs currently belonged to an informal group due to what he termed "an anticonctitutional" regulation in the Rules of Organization and Procedure of the National Assembly banning renegade MPs from forming a new group.

"The second thing we acquainted Warlick with was our stances- every one of us, through a free vote, asserts and defends the interests of their constituency. You know that the criticisms over the years have focused on the fact that parties backpedal on their promises", Chukarski said, as quoted by bTV.

In his words, independent MPs have not betrayed the interests of their constituencies and do not accept the "creation of private political parties which spend the state subsidy and lots of money from other sources, in a totally nontransparent manner."

Commenting on the meeting, James Warlick expressed his admiration of the independent MPs for the bravery to part ways with their parliamentary groups.

He said that each of the independent MPs had assured him of their commitment to serve the interests of the people and vote according to their personal conscience.

Warlick also pointed out that this had been his first meeting with independent MPs and that he intended to maintain a close dialogue with them.

The saga with independent MPs in Bulgaria made headlines as Kiril Gumnerov, Valentin Nikolov and Ognyan Peychev left the Ataka political group in Parliament late May, in protest against the incident in which Ataka activists, including MPs clashed with praying Muslims in the central Sofia mosque.

This prompted a string of mutual accusations, with Ataka leader Volen Siderov claiming that GERB had "bought" his erstwhile MPs using GERB money and deflecting a part of the state subsidy that belongs to Ataka for its election results in 2009.

The renegade MPs on their part claimed that they and other nationalist MPs have been made dependent by being forced to to sign promissory notes turning them into guarantors of loans taken by offshore companies.

The issue stirred widely publicized debates about party funding and MP dependence in Bulgaria.

Independent MPs also helped the government of the center-right party GERB stay in power in June.

The Cabinet survived the no confidence vote on economic crisis policies initiated by the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) with the votes of the 117 GERB MPs and 9 independents (former members of the conservative party RZS and the nationalist Ataka), while its traditional earlier allies, Ataka with 17 MPs and the Blue Coalition MPs, did not take part at all in the voting.

The no confidence motion was overturned with 124 MPs against, 70 in favor, and 2 abstaining.

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Tags: Volen Siderov, RZS, Ataka, Valentin Nikolov, Kiril Gumnerov, Dimitar Chukarski, Ognyan Peychev, US Ambassador, James Warlick, no-confidence vote


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