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Yes, Bulgaria National Conference Resolutions: Party to Join EPP, Strengthen Ties with Coalition Partners

The 3rd National Conference of Yes, Bulgaria Saturday adopted resolutions on the party’s future development and the performance of the outgoing Nikolay Denkov Cabinet. Yes, Bulgaria is part of the Democratic Bulgaria right-wing coalition together with Democrats for Strong Bulgaria (DSB) and the Green Movement.
Established in April 2018, Democratic Bulgaria is now part of the Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria (CC-DB) parliamentary group, which is the second biggest group in the National Assembly and part of the ruling majority together with GERB-UDF.
Party’s future development
Under one of the resolutions adopted on Saturday, Yes, Bulgaria will apply for membership in the European People’s Party (EPP). A total of 533 delegates voted in favour of joining the EPP, 36 backed an application to the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), and 45 supported the proposal Yes, Bulgaria to not join any political family. 
The other Bulgarian parties in the EPP are GERB and UDF.
The 3rd National Conference also adopted a resolution on Democratic Bulgaria’s organizational development and strengthening. The coalition needs to be upgraded in terms of organization and programme so as to guarantee the representation of the democratic community’s interests and the effective participation of centre-right supporters in the country’s governance, the document reads. This upgrade should go hand in hand with the creation of a long-term national agenda on Bulgaria’s development that takes the new realities into view. 
To that end, regular general assemblies will be held betwen the coalition parties’ bodies. Yes, Bulgaria’s leadership will hold talks with the parties within Democratic Bulgaria on the creation of a Programming Board, which in the next one year will elaborate a long-term programme on secure, free and modern Bulgaria that meets the new challenges, threats and opportunities facing Bulgaria and the world from centre-right positions. As a partner of Democratic Bulgaria, the Continue the Change party will be invited to participate in the discussions on the programme.
When creating the Board and establishing its practices, the parties will take into view the experience gained in Democratic Bulgaria’s Governance Alternative format. The Board will have representatives of the parties within Democratic Bulgaria, experts, and citizens, the resolution reads. 
Yes, Bulgaria Executive Council member Nadezhda Yordanova told reporters that Continue the Change has been invited to join the Programming Board. “It is a matter of judgment, we expect them to join the debates,” she noted. A wide circle of experts will also be invited to the Board. Asked whether this is a step towards merging Yes, Bulgaria and DSB, Yordanova said: “This is a step towards better functioning of Democratic Bulgaria, because must ensure a better and more adequate representation of the democratic and Right-thinking people.”
Cabinet performance
In another resolution, the Yes, Bulgaria party praised the performance of the outgoing Nikolay Denkov Cabinet. The document says the party is aware of the need to have a government which will guarantee further reforms and a stable Euro-Atlantic course.
The party said the rotation government could be backed for another nine months if a clear political commitment is made to implement the following reforms: a judicial reform based on a Justice System Bill drafted by a large working group at the Justice Ministry; a reform of the security services based on draft legislation proposed by CC-DB; a modern cyber security framework with guaranteed democratic control; election of authoritative members of the anti-corruption commission; broader powers of the parliamentary ad hoc committees; and an effective system for countering disinformation and propaganda.
According to the resolution, the format of a rotating government should be supported for another nine months, provided that the governance and law-making programmes are updated. The party wants guarantees that the government will step up its efforts to join the euro area, complete Bulgaria’s accession to Schengen by seeing that land border controls are lifted, modernize the Armed Forces, expand interaction within NATO and the provision of military-technical assistance to Ukraine. The document lays a special emphasis on a detailed mechanism for appointments to the regulators.
Yes, Bulgaria said the power-sharing coalitions, CC-DB and GERB-UDF, must agree on a binding majority.
Addressing the 3rd National Conference, Yes, Bulgaria Chair and Democratic Bulgaria co-leader Hristo Ivanov said that if a clear answer is not received on the weekend from GERB-UDF on whether the reforms will continue, there is no point in [their joint governance] continuing. “The task is quite simple and we can deal with it in the time we have,” he stressed.
CC-DB and GERB-UDF have scheduled negotiations on government rotation on the weekend after nine months of power sharing.
Ivanov underlined that the only way to make the perception that there is no desire for substantive reforms disappear is to sign a detailed document with GERB-UDF that guarantees voters that there will be reforms. Only in this situation it makes sense to have a cabinet, he explained. “We must learn to build bridges, but also to defend our positions. And we can do this together. We have learned our lessons,” Ivanov addressed the participants in the forum. “The task of the conference is to prepare for the next horizons, for what we want to happen in the next 9 months,” he announced. The conference should lay the foundation for a new political platform, choose a European political family that Yes, Bulgaria should become part of, and formulate the organizational tasks.
According to Ivanov, the best European family would be the EPP, where their coalition partners from DSB are also members.
DSB Chair and Democratic Bulgaria co-leader Atanas Atanasov called for tighter unity and joint decision-making bodies in the Democratic Bulgaria coalition. He also said the youngest entity, Continue the Change, should be drawn closer. Bulgaria needs its united Euro-Atlantic forces, he said.
Atanasov recalled that whenever the democratic forces were united, Bulgaria benefited from it; in contrast, when they were disunited, “the dark forces pulled us towards Asian despotism”. “When we ran separately in the 2017 elections, we did not enter parliament, and for four years the country was governed by GERB and the United Patriots, who promoted the interests of the Russian empire in Bulgaria,” the DSB leader said. In his words, these moments in Bulgaria’s most recent history should not be forgotten so as to prevent “the Russian streams from starting to flow once again”.
Continue the Change co-leader Kiril Petkov called for the democratization of what he referred to as the permanent power systems. He said that rather than taking them over, “we should turn them into institutions”.
In his view, the top two priorities in terms of reforms are the security services and the regulators. Petkov said the services had been setting the agenda for 30 years. “If we gradually make cracks in this system and reassure the other communities that this is right, it will be good for all,” he said.
Petkov said CC and DB should set themselves realistic tasks because no one can ignore nearly one million people voting for them, just as CC-DB cannot ignore the other communities in Bulgaria. “We represent a heterogeneous community with some common characteristics,” Petkov said. “This is the community which generates added value, the free people with a shared vision for Bulgaria’s European future. It is our task to be united,” he said.
There is also a large community which is opposed to change out of fear that any change will harm its interests. Another community remembers its youth under communism. Still another community was very oppressed under communism, with barbaric approaches, it still bears the wounds of that time and is united, said Petkov. “One of the big mistakes of our community is that we think we know more, we can do more, and therefore the other communities should all listen to us. I have realized that we can be the engine of Bulgaria, but its movement depends on how all these communities interact,” the CC co-leader said.