Published by Wikileaks & Bivol.bg
 id: 244434 date: 1/20/2010 15:16 refid: 10SOFIA47 origin: Embassy Sofia classification: CONFIDENTIAL destination:  header: VZCZCXRO2963 OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR DE RUEHSF #0047/01 0201516 ZNY CCCCC ZZH O 201516Z JAN 10 FM AMEMBASSY SOFIA TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6656 INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY   C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 SOFIA 000047    SIPDIS    E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/18/2020  TAGS: PREL, PGOV, ECON, ENRG, BU  SUBJECT: BULGARIA:  THE BORISSOV GOVERNMENT AT SIX MONTHS    Classified By: CDA Susan Sutton for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).    1.  (C)  Summary:  Nearly six months in office, Prime  Minister Boyko Borissov's government has started to make good  on its promises on rule of law and the economy, winning kudos  (and funds) from the European Commission in the process.  Although it appears to be backtracking on its initial  anti-Russian bluster on energy, the government has otherwise  pursued a forward-looking, trans-atlantic agenda, including  probable acceptance of a Guantanamo detainee, increased  support for Afghanistan, and eager interest in hosting  missile defense assets on Bulgarian soil.  Five seats short  of a majority in Parliament, Borissov has managed his  "floating majority" with a deft hand, while exacting strict  party discipline from his GERB MPs.  With no real opposition  to worry about, the biggest challenge Borissov has faced is a  lack of an experienced and qualified cadre. End Summary.      2.  (C) Former bodyguard and Sofia mayor Boyko Borissov took  power July 27, 2009, with a promise to clean up endemic  organized crime and corruption, eliminate the culture of  impunity within which previous governments and connected  business interests operated, and restore Bulgaria's  reputation within the EU.  On rule of law, the government has  started to deliver the goods.  It is investigating possible  criminal activity of seven former ministers, two of whom have  been formally charged.  It passed legislation to reform the  Ministry of Interior and the State Security Services (DANS)  to eliminate overlapping roles and improve interagency  cooperation.  It established interagency organized crime task  forces and implemented new measures against money laundering.   The government's initial, dramatic moves on corruption and  organized crime, and its success in breaking up two large and  infamous organized crime rings (one involving kidnapping and  another auto theft) has kept Borissov's public approval  rating high.  The government's efforts have won kudos from  the EU, which has unfrozen nearly USD 300 million in  pre-accession funds partially as a result.    3.  (C)  It is the economy that required even more of the  government's attention in its first six months.  Inheriting  what it described as an 11 percent budget deficit after a  spending-spree by the out-going Socialist-led government, new  Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister (and former World  Bank executive) Simeon Dyankov immediately set about putting  the fiscal house in order.  It hasn't been easy or pain free.   Dyankov suspended payments on most government contracts, and  subsequently slashed public administration and defense  spending in his near-balanced 2010 budget.  Bulgaria's  unemployment rate has increased from 6.3 percent in December  2008 to 9.1 percent in December 2009, and is projected to hit  11.4 percent in 2010.  On the bright side, Bulgaria has  managed to avoid IMF assistance, and will probably be the  only EU country to meet the Maastricht criteria in 2010.    4.  (C)  Borissov has kept his Trans-Atlantic orientation and  empowered the most pro-U.S. members of his cabinet (including  Deputy Ministers Tsvetanov and Dyankov and Defense Minister  Mladenov, whom the PM tapped January 20 to take over as  Foreign Minister).  Despite very tight budgets, he has  increased Bulgarian deployments to Afghanistan and made  investments in the U.S.-Bulgaria joint training facilities.  Bulgaria has taken a strongly supportive stance on U.S.  Missile Defense plans in the region, and has offered to host  M.D. assets.  When asked to consider accepting a Guantanamo  detainee, the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior  Tsvetanov moved quickly to make it happen, expending  political capital to gain the support of opposition parties.  (Formal approval by the Council of Ministers on Bulgaria's  acceptance of a detainee is expected in January.)    5.  (C)  On energy Borissov has shown less resolve.  After  promising a complete review of each large energy project to  which the last, Moscow-friendly government entered into with  Russia, it appears all of these projects still have some life  left in them.  The Bulgarians are proceeding with South  Stream (but trying to get the best deal possible at each  stage), while the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline is in a  holding pattern.  On the Belene Nuclear Power Plant, which  has become synonymous with non-transparency and graft, we are  hearing disturbing rumors that -- seeing no way to get out of  the project and with no means to finance it -- the government  is considering giving a stake of the project to their Russian  partners.      SOFIA 00000047  002 OF 002        MANAGING A "FLOATING MAJORING" AND A TOOTHLESS OPPOSITION  --------------------------------------------- ------------      6.  (C) Domestic analysts widely viewed Borissov's decision  last July to form a minority government as an irresponsible  gamble.  Now most agree it was a stroke of genius.  GERB's  MPs are young and inexperienced, but they show absolute party  discipline and loyalty.  Our contacts confirm they are  improving over time.  Borissov continues to depend on the  reliable support of the ultra-right party Ataka and the  center-right Blue Coalition to garner the additional five  votes he needs in Parliament.  Relations with the third party  in Borissov's "floating majority" -- the center-right Order,  Law and Justice -- have disintegrated, but with little  consequence for GERB's ability to get things done in  Parliament.    7.  (C) The real opposition in Parliament, the Bulgarian  Socialist Party (BSP) and the ethnic Turkish party Movement  for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) are in internal disarray after  their stinging electoral defeat in July.  Focused on internal  power struggles and rebuilding, they represent little  resistance to GERB initiatives.  Into this void stepped  President Georgi Parvanov, the BSP's former head, who has  openly and personally criticized Borissov for his handling of  the economy and energy policy, and refused for some time to  approve the government's sought recall of its ambassadors to  the United States and Turkey.  The Borissov-Parvanov rift has  healed somewhat in recent weeks just as Borissov has warmed  up to certain of Parvanov's pet energy projects with Russia.    COMMENT  --------    8.  (C) This government has shown the political will to bring  real change.  Its Achilles' heel is lack of an experienced  cadre.  Human capital first became an issue during government  formation, when Borissov couldn't find a single, sufficiently  untainted energy professional to take over what the PM hoped  would be a newly-created Ministry of Energy.  Instead, the  colossal Ministry of Economy and Energy never underwent  reform and now neither the economy nor energy get the  attention they need.  Borissov's shallow bench was further  highlighted by the embarrassing, failed candidacy of  Bulgarian EU Commissioner nominee Rumiana Jeleva.  With  Jeleva's badly damaged reputation preventing her return to  her previous position as Foreign Minister, Borissov had no  acceptable replacement except the well-regarded Minister of  Defense Mladenov (see septel).  With so few people to turn  to, Borissov is taking on more and more himself.  (We  understand Borissov even toyed with the idea of naming  himself Foreign Minister upon the first signs of trouble for  Jeleva's EC nomination.) Outside the rule of law and defense  portfolios, where, at least until now he has had a capable  team in place, Borissov has turned into micro manager  extraordinaire.  His iron grip on Parliament combined with  his centrality within the government have not only spread him  thin and weakened hopes that the GERB party would develop  into something more than a vehicle for its founder, but also  have opened Borissov up to accusations that he is developing  a Russian-style, authoritarian state.  But so far such  criticisms have resonated little with average Bulgarians, who  still want their plain-talking, tough-guy Prime Minister to  succeed.  SUTTON  

About Author

Leave A Reply