Bulgarian PM Blasts Opposition over NPP Referendum

Energy | October 20, 2012, Saturday // 10:21|  views

Bulgarian Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, believes Bulgaria and Bulgarians cannot afford to build a second NPP on their own. Photo by BGNES

Bulgaria's Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, accuses his predecessor Sergey Stanishev of manipulations in connection with the referendum on the project to build a second Nuclear Power Plant in the Danube town of Belene.

Speaking in an interview for the weekly political talk show Panorama of the Bulgarian National Television, BNT, Borisov stated that the leader of the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP, and his top rival Stanishev simply wanted a referendum, not to build a NPP.

The PM backed his statement with the fact the previous Cabinet of the Three-Way Coalition failed to sign the contract on Belene in 2006.

Regarding the outrage of the Socialists and the other major opposition party, the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms, DPS, stemming from the ruling, center-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria party, GERB, changing the wording of the referendum's question, Borisov explained it was done in order to adhere to the law and align it with article 42 of the Constitution.

"We edited their question: "Should nuclear energy be developed in Bulgaria through the building of a Nuclear Plant at the Belene site?" to "Should atomic energy be developed in Bulgaria through the building of a new Atomic Plant?" We did it because the contracts on Belene are classified, and we cannot declassify them without the agreement of the Russians. We also have a law for the safe use of atomic energy, this is why we replaced nuclear with atomic. This does not change in any way the meaning of the question and our desire to hold a referendum. Everyone knows that this is about Belene. But if we put it in the question, we are having a concrete text, thus we are violating the Constitution. We are simply correcting the Socialists' legal mistakes. Otherwise, the President will refer it to the Constitutional Court and we will have to start everything all over again and this will drag on for months," said the PM.

He noted the staggering price of the project, estimated by the consultants from HSBC at BGN 20-22 B, stressing Bulgaria and Bulgarians simply cannot afford such cost, which he compared with the one of Sofia's subway - BGN 1 B.

According to him, Bulgaria produces more energy than it needs, and should rather focus on energy effectiveness.

Regarding the two gas pipe line projects – the EU-backed Nabucco and the Russian South Stream, Borisov explained the country would take part in both.

"I told them in Vienna that if there is a common will, then we are going to start building Nabucco. Our plan is to begin around January 10. We will also sign the South Stream contract with Russia in November," he stated.

The PM confirmed Russian President, Vladimir Putin, will arrive in Sofia on November 9, something the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry is yet to confirm and the Kremlin has so far denied.

Borisov also said he was firm the new tax on earnings from the interest of bank deposits would be imposed in 2013.

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