Bulgarian PM: Protests Don't Scare Me

Domestic | November 28, 2011, Monday // 11:00|  views

Bulgaria's Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, says he does not want to be the leader of a country where people are revolting. File photo

Bulgaria's Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, suspects the protests and strikes that are shaking the country are an attempt to topple the cabinet.

Speaking Monday, in an interview for the TV channel bTV, Borisov warned those, who are staging the protests – workers from the indebted State Railway Company, BDZ Holding, farmers, policemen and others, he was ready to resign immediately and let them elect someone like his predecessors.

The PM blamed policemen, who declared they too are getting ready for protests, for not going on strike at the time when talk about the Interior Ministry getting the most financing in the country over the influence of its Head, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, was spreading among the public.

"They kept quiet because their direct supervisors are leftists; I would be happy to hear them talk how they lack shoes, uniforms, everything, at the time everyone was saying they have too much money. And when we responded to the public opinion that the security sector has too many privileges and we started taking away from them - here we go - protests," he stated, adding that Minister Tsvetanov will invite representatives of the police labor unions to propose themselves where to apply budget cuts.

Regarding the large-scale farmer protest planned for Monday, Borisov stressed that instead of protesting, farmers must thank the cabinet over the fact that next year the sector is receiving times more in funding, giving as example grain producers, who will receive BGN 1.6 B, while animal keepers receive funding for the very first time.

The country's leader further declared he was not at all afraid by the BDZ strike, but rather worried if Transport Minister, Ivaylo Moskovski, will be able to negotiate with the German creditors of BDZ deferred payment on the loans.

"German Chancellor Merkel must slate BGN 350 M in her State budget, because we have no money to pay for deals sealed by the previous cabinet; those who are striking, let them say how to pay," Borisov pointed out, referring to the case of the default loan from the German KfW for the 2005 purchase of Siemens-made railcars with the German government being a partial guarantor for the loan.

The PM explained that BDZ workers and labor unions have known for years that the company survives on subsidies and was mismanaged, but never before protested against all this.

When asked to comment on plans of Podkrepa (Support) Labor Confederation and of the Confederation of Independent Bulgarian Syndicates (KNSB) to stage a mass protest rally on November 30 against the sudden increase of retirement age as soon as 2012, Borisov stated that he acceded to the syndicates thousand times, but compromise was no longer an option. He accused the labor unions of walking out from the Three-Way Council meeting with the cabinet and the business, after he complied with their request to chair the Council.

"See how manipulative and mistrustful they are – setting this trick – first they want me to lead the meeting and I go, and then they say "let's do it another time when we are invited officially," he said.

"The world is heading to an abyss and we don't want our country to be dragged there too. I do not want to be the PM of a country where people are revolting – I want the people to support us in our attempt to fix the quagmire created in the last 20 years," Borisov concluded.

According to the PM, Bulgaria's biggest chance and prospective is to enter the pact of financially stable countries with a 3% budget deficit.

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