President Rumen Radev Identified Strengthening Statehood as an Immediate National Goal in his Message for a New Bulgaria
The Head of State Announced Iliana Iotova and He Will Run for a Second Term as President and Vice President of the Republic of Bulgaria
The most important immediate national goal is strengthening statehood. Achieving this will require a legitimate Parliament and a responsible Government to terminate the corrupt model of governance, establish rule of law, neutralize the puppeteers who have concentrated significant resources and power, slash corruption and bring citizens back to governance, President Rumen Radev stated, while presenting his Message for a New Bulgaria in the Coat of Arms Hall in the Presidency.
“Bulgaria needs a strong political alternative with the necessary decisiveness to achieve this primary aim,” the Head of State declared. Furthermore, unless statehood is strengthened, any new governing configurations and their policies will be doomed to fail and the state will continue lagging behind in terms of living standard and quality of life in the EU.
“2020 was the year of Bulgarian awakening. People in the streets were chanting ‘Thugs out!’ asking to take the future of Bulgaria into their own hands,” the President pointed out. He emphasized that the Parliamentary Elections in April will pose a dilemma for citizens as to whether to accept or reject the current model of governance: monocratic, behind-the-scenes, repressive and corrupt, wasteful and unjust to the regular Bulgarian. “Ever since the beginning of our mandate as President and Vice President, we have encountered the vices of this model, concentrating power in the hands of the Prime Minister and a close circle of people around him. This model of governance leads to the decay of statehood,” Mr. Rumen Radev noted. The President indicated that a lack of decisive actions for strengthening statehood poses the risk that following the upcoming Parliamentary Elections the regular haggling between the parties will occur, hence leading to a Government of puppeteers under the specious pretext of national unification, national salvation, a cabinet of experts or other such wording.
In his Message for a New Bulgaria, the Head of State outlined the changes needed to bring our country’s potential to fruition. “They are the necessary foundation for our future governments to be able to develop constructive policies for reforms in education, healthcare, in the social field, culture and spirituality, security, for promoting entrepreneurship and attracting investments, for bolstering productivity, protecting nature and developing a green economy based on science, innovation and digitalization,” the President declared.
Guaranteeing fair and accessible elections was among the focal points in the President’s Message. According to Mr. Rumen Radev, urgent reforms in the Electoral Code and a will to guarantee trust in the electoral process, as well as achieving a high voter turnout by updating the electoral registers, video surveillance and livestreaming the ballot count and the protocol filling, 100% machine voting, distance voting for Bulgarians abroad and creating a constituency for Abroad, transparency in the work of the electoral administration and information services, and fair access to media coverage during the campaign are all required.
The Head of State emphasized the need of constitutional and legal reforms to strengthen statehood and the rule of law. These amendments must guarantee civil participation in governance, judiciary independence in the interest of justice and public interest, optimizing the structure and functions of the Supreme Judicial Council, an effective, responsible and honest Prosecutor’s Office, as well as the obedience of magistrates only to the law. The President added that the legal amendments must contribute to a more effective separation of powers, to more transparency and foreseeability of the law-making process and putting an end to lobbyist legislation. It is of major importance to achieve more robust protection of ownership and fair competition in business. Corruption must be uncompromisingly persecuted, regardless of the political affiliation and social status of the perpetrators. “Should this not happen, every future government could think of power as a source of unsanctioned benefiting and the corrupt governance model and oligarchy will continue to reproduce,” stated Mr. Rumen Radev further.
The President called for broadening transparency and accountability mechanisms in order to cut misuse of power and thievery. For this, government expenditure must always be justified by estimates of the effects expected and those in power should report on achieving the goals set.
The role of Parliament as an authority to control the Council of Ministers must be solidified, the Head of State additionally emphasized. Therefore, blitz-control must be reinstated and the spending of budget surplus should be carried out only upon approval of the National Assembly. Civil control must also be enhanced through real electronic government, transparency and accountability for all public expense, online streaming of committees on public procurement tenders above a designated financial threshold, as well as of the Competition Protection Committee meetings. The creation of a current registry of all concession agreements and annexes thereto, along with shedding light on the loan portfolio of the Bulgarian Development Bank are essential. In the interest of transparency, all contracts and agreements with partners concluded up until this moment by state-owned companies, parties to in-house contracts, as well as the payments under them must be published. The scope and volume of in-house contracts should also be restricted, the President shared.
“The projects in the Recovery and Sustainability Plan for the Republic of Bulgaria must be selected under clear criteria and publicity, so as to support the country’s modernization, rather than simply to absorb funds”, Mr. Rumen Radev stated. Efficient checks on persons occupying high-ranking offices and those related to them for inconsistencies between their legal income and their standard of living must also be implemented, the President declared.
In his Message for a New Bulgaria, the President called for guaranteeing freedom of speech through transparency of media ownership, state media’s financial independence from those in power and adhering to professional and ethical standards.
The past decade has demonstrated what the governance of an EU member state – and in general, of a modern democratic country – should not look like, President Radev stated. The morality, culture and competence of the future leaders is of key importance for the trust in institutions, he added. “Therefore, it is necessary to achieve a new type of governance, where the main qualities shall be a mixture of honesty and competence,” the Head of State declared. The President and Vice President suggest that the political powers who have garnered the trust of voters to govern the State achieve a consensus upon formulating and implementing a pact for dignity, professionalism and competence regarding the nominated high-ranking officials.
“In this situation, Mrs. Iotova and I consider it our duty to announce our intention of running for a second term as President and Vice President of the Republic of Bulgaria,” the Head of State declared. He added that the format of the nomination will be additionally clarified within the legally determined timeframe and the early announcement will allow for the political players to position themselves as per the principles stated. This will help Bulgarian voters make an informed choice between the status quo and the alternative. “We will continue uniting public efforts to change the current model of governance and create conditions for a modern development of Bulgaria,” the Head of State Mr. Rumen Radev further indicated.