Bulgarian socialists say they do not support another Petkov-led government

Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov speaks with media members on his arrival at the meeting of leaders of the Western Balkans and EU leaders in Brussels on June 23, 2022. [Johanna Geron/Reuters]

Bulgarian socialist Kiril Petkov’s coalition allies said Wednesday that they would not support the new Petkov-led cabinet, angry with the expulsion of 70 Russian diplomats.

The socialist position has the potential to bring the European Union and NATO members closer to hosting new elections in the fall, the fourth time since April 2021.

Russian-friendly socialists said the expulsion of diplomats against suspected spies was unacceptable.

“We are holding negotiations with the PP Party to form a new government,” said Kornelia Ninova, Socialist Party leader and retiring Deputy Prime Minister.

“The decision to expel 70 Russian diplomats is unprecedented … for us it is completely unacceptable,” she said.

Mr. Ninova said Petkov decided to expel Russians without government approval, and if Petkov is not nominated as prime minister, her party could return to the negotiation table of the new coalition government with the PP. Stated.

President Rumen Radev, in conflict with the reformist prime minister, refused to comment on the expulsion for lack of detailed information, but expressed hope that Petkov would consider the results.

Petkov said the decision was made following a Security Council resolution on June 9 and three reports from intelligence agencies in May and June prior to a private hearing in parliament on the expulsion.

“There is some misunderstanding. The decision of what happened is not mine,” Petkov told reporters.

His ruling Kuomintang is trying to gather a majority for the new government after the cabinet was banished by a vote of no confidence last week, but analysts were skeptical about his success even before the Socialist Party’s decision. ..

Following the Ukrainian invasion, Petkov has taken an unusually strong stance towards Russia for a country that has cultural, religious and historical ties to Russia and has long attracted Russian tourists. I did.

He did not comment on the socialist position.

Meanwhile, the Russian embassy in Sofia said Bulgaria’s decision to expel 70 Russian diplomatic staff was a corresponding hostile action by Moscow.

In a statement on the Telegram channel, Ambassador Eleno Amitrofanova is an “unprecedented hostile step” to declare together 34 diplomats and 36 staff persona non grata as a list. Said.

“The Government of the Russian Federation reserves the right to respond to such hostile behavior, perhaps asymmetrically, with each other,” she said. [Reuters] Bulgarian socialists say they do not support another Petkov-led government

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