Bulgaria Govt Refrains from Calling for Top Judicial Body's Resignation

Domestic | January 27, 2016, Wednesday // 18:29|  views

Bulgaria's Deputy PM Meglena Kuneva and Justice Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva at a press conference on the report prepared by the EU Commission about Bulgaria's judiciary and its effort to combat corruption and organized crime. Photo BGNES

The cabinet of Bulgaria has refused to urge the Supreme Judicial Council (VSS), the high decisonmaking body of the judiciary, to step down, despite criticism against it in the EU Commission's report published Wednesday.

Governing parties demanded a day earlier that the VSS dissolve itself, amid a number of scandals involving its members over the past days.

However, at a news conference after the report was unveiled, several ministers said they would not assume the same position, despite criticism hurled at the VSS in the report.

The council itself meanwhile announced it would not dissolve itself despite calls.

Governing parties differed in their reaction, with main coalition partner GERB accepting the decision and junior coalition partner Reformist Bloc jointly (including maverick DSB party of Radan Kanev) reiterating its call.

Opposition parties in Parliament describe the demand as "anti-constitutional" an a blatant interference in the work of the judiciary.

Under the constitution, Parliament has no competence with regard to the VSS. It is only the latter that could take a decision for an early end to its term.

On Wednesday, Justice Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva made clear the government did not consider the VSS's dissolution to be "its business".

Deputy PM Meglena Kuneva, who attended the same press conference, meanwhile described the CVM report as "objectively objective" and a confirmation that Bulgaria should implement anti-corruption measures already prepared by the current government.

Kuneva reiterated her call on lawmakers to adopt the draft anti-corruption law rejected by MPs last year.

It was Kuneva and her party, Bulgaria for Citizens Movement (DBG), that pushed for the preparation of an anti-corruption bill, with both her and the PM vowing to resubmit it early this year after it was surprisingly turned down.

Despite criticism "against certain institutions" such as the VSS, Bulgaria should stop perceiving the CVM reports as "pointing a finger at Bulgaria" and should rather take them as "a partnership mechanism", Zaharieva added for her part.

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Tags: VSS, Ekaterina Zaharieva, Meglena Kuneva, CVM, cvm report, EU Commission, judicial reform, Supreme Judicial Council


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