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(DF) Kiril Petkov on National TV: There Is No Rift in Government Coalition, Interior Minister Rashkov Has Total Freedom

December 17 (BTA) – Prime Minister Kiril Petkov said in a Bulgarian National Television interview Friday evening that there are no rifts and frictions in the coalition and that he has given total freedom to Interior Minister Boyko Rashkov. “Our coalition has people who are experienced in parliamentary life and others who are less experienced, but they all have the right motivation. […] From now on, with this motivation, I believe the coalition will make the right decisions”, he said. Petkov was asked questions about the crisis on the energy market, the COVID pass and vaccination, dealing with the aftermaths of recent floods. He said the new government faces multiple problems in all possible sectors but there is continuity and a friendly attitude between the caretaker government of Stefan Yanev and the new government. “For example, the caretaker Prime Minister is a minister in the new government. It is an opportunity for me to have somebody to ask when I have a question in the early days. Asked about the crisis in the energy sector, he said that nothing justified such a dramatic increase of heating and electricity prices on the day the new government took the oath of office. “I believe that the moratorium was the right step. Now, what I want to make sure as Prime Minister is to analyze carefully [the market] before users are asked to pay higher prices. We have to make sure that no resources are leaked from the system to make certain people rich while end-users are made to foot the bill,” he said. He admitted that the COVID pass (for vaccination, past infection, negative COVID test or antibodies) is a cause of disputes within the coalition. He believes, though, that not agreeing on all matters is a strength for the coalition because it makes sure more arguments are heard. “I decided that being the Prime Minister I must show leadership and a green certificate is now required for the Council of Ministers staff. We don’t have to do the same the next day for all ministries but if we have good results, I believe each minister will borrow the pilot project for their ministries,” Petkov said. He was adamant that President Rumen Radev does not have “his men” in the Cabinet. It is a claim often made by the opposition, based on the fact that several members of Petkov’s government, including Petkov himself, were members of the last two caretaker governments appointed by President Radev. The Prime Minister said that the only people he feels responsible to, are voters. Asked whether Bulgaria should step back from its position about the start of EU accession talks with the Republic of North Macedonia, he said that it is not a question of stepping back. “I gave a clear mandate for the upcoming steps with the Republic of North Macedonia: to build on the Bulgarian position through additional workgroups on economy, infrastructure, culture, on the measures and policies for accession and the assistance. We set ourselves a timeframe of six months and I said that clearly.” As for the calls of the ruling coalition to Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev to come down, Petkov said that it largely depends on the members of the Supreme Judicial Council. “Even if we succeed and Mr Geshev steps down as we all urge him to do, but the Supreme Judicial Council is the same, all we have done is replace one person with another,” he argued. He said that he wants to see “lustration of all thieves” but that can only be done by the competent institutions. “I have given [Interior Minister] Boyko Rashkov total freedom for any investigation he can do. The umbrella [for some offenders] are gone. Nobody should think they can go away with impunity, even if they are in the government coalition and even if they are a minister.” He said he has never thought of becoming Prime Minister but has long dreamt of making a change in Bulgaria. He believes that Bulgaria has a huge potential for development. The difference between running a company and running a country is in the level of responsibility, he said. “To every person walking in the street, I feel a responsibility. If we do our job well, these people will live a better life. If we don’t, we will be yet another disappointment.” He is reluctant to tag his government as left, liberal or right, and says it is “practical”. “I am glad that the coalition government has people of all political leanings. For some things I believe we should be Right-wing. I believe that economic growth comes from the private sector, that free business can create added value and not the government”. His dream is to see his country with the best quality of life in Europe ten years from now. “Quality of life means clean nature, good education, good health care and good opportunities for business people. As for the government, it won’t matter that much who is on power because there will be working institutions,” said Kiril Petkov. LN