Bulgaria's Ex-PM Apologizes over Response to 2013 Protests

Domestic | May 10, 2016, Tuesday // 09:48|  views

Sergey Stanishev, head of the Party of European Socialists (PES) and former Prime Minister of Bulgaria. File photo, BGNES

PES leader and former Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev has issued an apology to thousands of protesters who took to the streets of Sofia and other big cities in the summer of 2013.

"I am sure many people were sincere when going to the streets to protest in the summer of 2013, because they feel betrayed. I respect these people and owe them an apology," Stanishev says.

Popular discontent rose in mid-June 2013 after Parliament appointed Delyan Peevski, a controversial lawmaker and alleged media mogul, head of the State Agency for National Security (DANS), the country's domestic security and counter-intelligence agency.

Peevski was then (and is now) an MP from the liberal Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), which was the coalition partner to the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) at the time whose head Stanishev was until the summer of 2014.

In an interview with Biograph magazine on the occasion of his 50th birthday, Stanishev explains that the DPS had insisted on taking a key security position following an attempt on its honorary chairman Ahmed Dogan's life earlier in the same year.

"My biggest political mistake was that back then, in 2013, allowed to provoke the people, and that I failed to talk our partner DPS [out of taking the DANS chairmanship]."

He asserts he tried to convince the DPS that the appointment of Peevski would cause an outburst of anger in society and would jeopardize "everything we have ever fought for."

Peevski, who owns a print media empire (until recently officially controlled by his mother) and reportedly controls certain broadcast media outlets and who is thought to be behind a number of shady economic deals worth billions related to public procurement and privatization, has since the protest been vilified by his opponents as the Bulgarian symbol of backroom games by.

Stanishev, however, defended Peevski's nomination before Parliament in 2013.

His BSP party later tried to use "class" rhetoric to divide the tens of thousands of protesters, causing them to largely disperse outside of Sofia.

In the interview, he accuses GERB and "other actors" of "funding heavily" the demonstrations in their further stage.

He also argues Lyutvi Mestan, the head of DOST party who then chaired the DPS, had pushed his coalition with the socialist to a collapse after negotiating with GERB his party's involvement in the next cabinet.

GERB, however, did not seek support from the DPS after winning the 2014 early election, amid allegations such behind-the-scenes bargaining had indeed taken place.

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Tags: Sergey Stanishev, DANS, protests, DPS, BSP, Delyan Peevsk, GERB, Lyutvi Mestan, Boyko Borisov


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