SPEECHES AND STATEMENTS
Statement made by President Rumen Radev on the occasion of the adopted by Parliament State of Emergency Measures Act
The National Assembly passed the State of Emergency Measures Act. The state of emergency was declared by virtue of resolution on 13 March. My decision is to impose a veto on part of the act and to return it for a reconsideration in the Bulgarian Parliament.
The crisis requires that the institutions and the public should pool efforts. The trust which the power holders earned should be rationally utilized, it should not be a prelude to an uncontrollable exercise of power. The lack of staff, of equipment and capacity in our healthcare system and deficiencies in organization are compensated by extremely restrictive measures which increase the tension and aggravate the crisis itself, under which conditions the medical staff and the people in vital productions and services work.
The Act attacks the last remains of the freedom of speech. Although there is no definition of false information, the Bulgarians are threatened with the imposition of heavy fines and imprisonment. The experts, journalists and citizens will be forced to impose on themselves self-censorship, moreover, in conditions of a dynamic change of our understanding of the pandemic, of its perception and the need for alternative positions. This norm may be used to interpret any uncomfortable free thought. And even more importantly – according to the adopted Act, this restriction will remain in force also after the state of emergency is over.
Currently the world and Bulgaria in particular are faced with two parallel crises: the first one is the health crisis, caused by the coronavirus, and the second one is the economic and social crisis, caused by the measures for fighting the virus. The economic crisis is currently neglected, it does not receive much attention. However, it places thousands of Bulgarians in a difficult struggle for survival. They do not need threats, they need support. All affected countries are adopting rescue packages for the poorest, for those that are technically unemployed, for the small and medium entrepreneurs, billions are allocated. We should take into consideration that the capacity of our budget is more limited. However, the needs of the Bulgarians are more desperate and pressing because of the low incomes. The lack of convincing measures in support of the affected will trigger social tension in the near future. Famine will prevail over fear and there is the risk that the consequences be devastating. Therefore the government should urgently reconsider its policy regarding those that suffer most and are most affected.
The speculations with what is most necessary – the disinfectants and the personal protective gear erodes the so needed trust in the public. Uncompromising measures should be taken against speculation. However, for their part, they should not result in blocking the industrial activities, in postponing the long-waited reduction of the prices of thermal energy and fuels, they should not hinder the expected seasonal reduction of a lot of goods. The so proposed model for fighting speculation practically makes impossible the import of life-saving medicines and products, whose price on the international market is increasing.
I fully agree with the stance that in times of hardship the armed forces are obliged to help the public. However, when they are entrusted with power-enforcing functions beyond their constitutional powers, a broad consensus should be sought between all possible responsible institutions so as to minimize the risk of abuse of power and a single institution should not be entrusted with providing the solutions – the executive branch of power, ignoring the role of the supreme commander-in-chief in times of peace and war.
The Act itself became overgrown with unnecessary clauses that are not directly related to fighting the coronavirus.
Esteemed Bulgarian politicians,
No battle has ever been won with fear. A total blockade will cause more problems than solve. The responsibility each one of us assumes is important in a time of trials: restricting contacts, personal hygiene, protective gear and public solidarity, particularly with a focus on protecting the elderly.
The detailed motives for the veto will be announced as soon as possible. I hope that the Bulgarian Assembly deputies will take them into consideration and approve the veto. And the Bulgarian government should promptly implement more measures in support of the weakest and most affected. Moreover, these measures should be concrete and adequate. We should not forget that we have a future and what Bulgaria’s tomorrow will be after the state of emergency is over depends on our common sense, actions and solidarity today.
Thank you for your attention.