PM Petkov on Nova TV: Successes and Further Steps

Sofia, February 13 (BTA) - The greatest success of the incumbent government so far was probably the management of the current COVID-19 wave, Prime Minister Kiril Petkov said on Saturday, speaking in an interview for Nova TV after the first 62 days in power. It managed with minimal restrictive measures and a really well-chosencouncil of wide-ranging experts to ensure in-class attendance at schools and, with some problems, hospitals to cope with the challenge.

Asked what he would he consider his greatest failure, Petkov said people do make mistakes and he and his team do appreciate criticism. But they are sure they want to make a change [after the name of the incumbent Continue the Change party in the ruling coalition] and will do everything possible to achieve it.

Taking a question about his visit to the Supreme Cassation Prosecution Office (SCPO) as Prime Minister after his remarks in Brussels about the 20 individuals, and handing them publicly available information from media publications about 19 people, Petkov said the "list of 19 names was delivered to the 20th person", implying that Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev was among the biggest corruptors and offenders.

The inexplicable, to the Prime Minister, failure of the specialised services and the prosecution to take action, led him resort to publicly available absolutely glaring information anyone could just Google.

No one is above the law, Petkov said, adding that this was the new rule and implying no corruption.

Taking a question about the names of politicians on the list of 19, Petkov mentioned former Prime Minister Boyko Borissov (after the leaked photos of wads of euro notes and gold bars on his nightstand), former finance minister Vladislav Goranov and Movement for Rights and Freedoms MP Delyan Peevski, who was designated under the US Global Magnitsky Act in 2021 for involvement in major corruption but the Bulgarian prosecution service has not found him responsible for any wrongdoing.

Asked about the names of those not in politics, Petkov said he had no problem with that, but the prosecution should be left to do its work first.

Commenting on the opportunity for the Justice Minister to propose to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) the early dismissal from office of the Prosecutor General, Petkov expressed full confidence in Justice Minister Nadezhda Yordanova' s competence. He is sure she will support her proposal with solid arguments and, if the SJC does not accept them, the public will know the decision was made in spite of those facts. The government is focused on transparency, Petkov underscored.

On the subject of the Counter-corruption and Unlawfully Acquired Assets Forfeiture Commission and the recent resignation of its head and foremer prosecutor general Sotir Tsatsarov, Petkov said a new law on the Anti-corruption Commission was to be passed soon. It provides for the split of the institution into two, one division having investigative authority. He is hoping to recruit investigators specialised in anti-corruption from the Bulgarian diaspora abroad, to avoid any connection with local corruption rings.

Taking a question about Friday night's late meeting of the government Security Council and the worst possible scenario, Petkov said the worst could be some act of aggression on the part of Russia towards Ukraine and the possible risks for Bulgaria that would involve, including energy problems and action in such a case. He underscored, however, that this is only in the worst case and was just a scenario.

Asked about the delayed delivery of F-16 Block 70 jets, the Prime Minister said it was mainly due to the pandemic and their delivery would be put off by some two years.

On the topic of when the green certificate will be called off, Petkov said the answer lies in figures. When the number of intensive care beds occupied by patients with COVID-19 drop to a degree when there is no longer a risk for the health care system, or when the vaccination rollout rises to 60 per cent so that it would ensure the same for the intensive care beds. No one wants the green certificate in Bulgaria indefinitely, Petkov said, we only want to be sure the health care system is not threatened.

So if the occupancy of intensive care beds drops to 5 per cent by April, then Petkov assumes the green certificate can be called off.

As to the Recovery and Resilience Plan, the subject of some recent controversy, Petkov said it had been sent to the European Commission, which had then sent a list of queries on it, those queries had been addressed and the result had been sent back to the EC. There was no delay and no risk for Bulgaria to lose money because of that. Better invest the money wisely./BR/BR

Source: Sofia