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Politicians Comment EC's Latest CVM Report on Bulgaria

Image: gov.bg

Politicians commented Wednesday the European Commission's latest report on Bulgaria's progress in meeting its commitments on judicial reform, the fight against corruption and organized crime under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM). The report was released on Tuesday. 

PM Borissov
Speaking to reporters before the weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers, Borissov said that the EC's report "directly corresponds to the most generous budget to all social strata in the history of Bulgaria", meaning the draft budget for 2019. The Prime Minister said there is money for the budget "thanks to the good results of the fight against corruption and contraband trade". 
Borissov stressed the statement of EC First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, who said that if the positive trend in Bulgaria continues, the CVM process can be concluded before the end of this Commission's mandate. The Prime Minister asked whether the recent spate of protests aims to stop the fight against crime and asked whether the protestors assessments that Bulgaria is in a quagmire corresponds to the findings in the CVM report. 
The Prime Minister said he wants a debate on the freedom of the media in Bulgaria with the participation of the relevant European Commissioners. The media environment was one of the new highlights of the EC report. Borissov said that the media debate must take place immediately. "There is nothing that can be seen as a problem by us on this issue. There is nothing hidden in Bulgaria that remains unpublished - just the opposite, there are fake and tabloid news items galore," he said, adding that he has participated in public meetings "of the most strongly opposition media" and has never been in a news outlet considering itself pro-government. "It is impossible for the cabinet to be ambushed by the media for weeks on end, to have live broadcasts where people show disrespect to cabinet ministers, and at the same to claim that media freedom does not exist," Borissov said. 

Opposition Movements for Rights and Freedoms
Opposition Movements for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) deputy floor leader Yordan Tsonev said, speaking at a briefing in the National Assembly, that the CVM report is objective and good. 
Tsonev noted that this is the best report since the CVM started to be applied. "It is a positive development that the report is said to be the penultimate, let's hope that it will remain so," he said, adding that the everyone sees that Bulgaria's progress is "big enough" in the monitored processes and sectors, and also that the CVM has exhausted itself by way of impact. 
Tsonev, too, commented the critical remarks in the report about the state of the media in Bulgaria. He argued that if Parliament had not delayed passage of the Mandatory Deposit of Printed and Other Works Act moved by four MPs of the MRF: Delyan Peevski, Yordan Tsonev himself, Hamid Hamid and Velislava Krusteva, there would not have been critical remarks, least in respect to the media environment's transparency. 

Supreme Judicial Council
Chief Inspector of the Inspectorate with the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) Teodora Tochkova said in a position on the CVM report that the SJC Inspectorate will continue to work on the implementation of the criteria laid down by the EC so that the incumbent Commission has all grounds to terminate the monitoring of Bulgaria by the end of its term in office. Tochkova said that the work of the Inspectorate has been assessed objectively in the report. She noted that the Inspectorate has implemented a recommendation in the CVM report of January 2017 to require assistance from the EC's Structural Reform Support Service. 

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