PM Boyko Borissov announced the government will ‘not force’ Bulgaria’s entrance to the Eurozone because the people are not fully convinced. He made the announcement during a speech at the 30-year anniversary convention of one of the largest Bulgarian union organizations, KNSB.
“Could we set closer deadlines with our coalition partners if the whole nation is not entirely convinced this is the right path for us. I personally am convinced that [entering the Eurozone] is the right thing. Until we have absolute consensus, we will not force entering the [Euro] waiting room.” Borissov said.
It is very much in Borissov’s style to announce a major policy initiative, reform or action only to abandon it toward a major milestone. It seems the Eurozone will prove another such instance.
Borissov self-described as a firm believer of Bulgaria entering the Eurozone, and pointed out “no country has come to worse after adopting the Euro.” He then went on to acknowledge in detail why the people might fear the move, most notably for increased living costs.
While Borissov might like the optics of the event and announcement to reflect a deep concern for ‘the people’ and the country, the move is quite transparent in confirming the opposite.
In fact, Borissov’s announcement is designed to achieve two things: one, postpone any major step in – honestly – any direction, including to enter the Eurozone; two, make sure he takes no responsibility neither for putting the project on hold, nor for going forward with it. In other words, his concern is his own image, both to the voters and to his European partners (he was clear he personally supports the Euro).
54% of Bulgarians want a referendum to determine whether the country adopts the Euro, a recent poll showed. Pro-Russian party leader Vesselin Mareshki said a week ago that his party will begin collecting the necessary signatures to organize a vote. But while many people have doubts about the Euro, the government has done nothing to make its case for entering it, or at least to put out clear and sensible information about the pros and cons. Bulgaria’s deteriorating media environment only aids the kinds of fears and worries, which Borissov now cites as reason to shelve the initiative but will likely not do much to present a counter argument.
The non-parliamentary liberal coalition Democratic Bulgaria sharply criticized the announcement. The coalition pointed out Russian hybrid attempts are in line with the decision and it will only worsen the panic. They argue that “the PM is either afraid of something or he wishes to cover the inability of this government to realize real headway in this key priority for Bulgaria and Bulgarians.”
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