The Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) has released a new report criticizing a lack of political transparency in Bulgaria.
“GRECO notes that top officials of the government are not subject to a proper integrity framework: no code of ethics is applicable to them, no awareness-raising on integrity matters is provided and no mechanism for confidential counseling on ethical issues is in place,” the report, issued by the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption monitoring body, reads.
GRECO also highlighted the absence of rules and transparency regarding lobbyists working to influence government policies.
“GRECO is also concerned about ineffective verification of top officials’ declarations of interest and assets,” it reads.
Bulgaria’s judicial system, and relations between executive power and the Prosecution, are often questioned by the country’s opposition parties. The report addresses this issue, too.
“Another issue of concern is the lack of effectiveness of the criminal justice response to corruption offenses involving top government officials,” it continues.
Bulgaria’s prosecution, headed by Ivan Geshev, is often the target of criticism for a lack of political transparency, such as not taking effective measures to address the former Prime Minister Boyko Borissov’s alleged involvement in a money laundering scheme in Spain.
The prosecution has also been criticized for its sluggish response to police violence against journalists during the 2020-2021 protests against GERB, for having halted investigations into the possible poisoning of arms dealer Emilyan Gebrev, and for having taken no significant action against the naming of Movement for Rights and Freedoms MP Delyan Peevski in the Pandora Papers.
Earlier this week, the current interim government boasted of six months of government during which all challenges were purportedly successfully dealt with. Bulgaria’s current interim government was selected by President Radev and is headed by his advisor Galab Donev.
“We found a state whose development was put on pause,” Donev said.
“We improved the coordination and communication between institutions, and through our overall activity, we have changed people’s lives for the better,” he added.
In August 2021, large protests were held against the interim government in response to plans to reinstate deliveries from Gazprom, and overturning deals made by the previous pro-Western cabinet. Donev’s administration have leveled out their positions since, but remain critical of the former Prime Minister Kiril Petkov’s legacy.
According to analysts, Bulgaria faces another turbulent year in 2023, including a series of general and mayoral elections. Even then, the possibility of new elections leaves Bulgarians with little hope of a pathway out of the country’s extended political logjam.
Image via Pixabay