News / Europe

    Bulgaria's Cabinet Quits Amid Protests

    Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov speaks in the Parliament in Sofia, February 20, 2013. Bulgaria's government resigned from office on Wednesday after nationwide protests against high electricity prices.
    Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov speaks in the Parliament in Sofia, February 20, 2013. Bulgaria's government resigned from office on Wednesday after nationwide protests against high electricity prices.
    Stefan Bos
    Bulgaria's government resigned Wednesday following violent protests fueled by outrage over rising energy prices blamed on foreign-controlled companies.  Lawmakers are expected to vote on the resignation Thursday.  The Cabinet in the European Union's poorest country quit amid a wider debate in Europe about EU-demanded privatization of public utilities in member states.   

    Prime Minister Boiko Borisov's government stepped down amid pressure from tens of thousands of protesting Bulgarians in cities across this Balkan nation of more than seven million people.

    Demonstrators shouted slogans such as "Mafia!" to vent their anger after the government raised electricity prices by 13 percent, in a country where average monthly wages hover around $480.  

    Protestors kneel as Bulgarian national anthem is played, as they block a main boulevard during demonstration against high electricity prices in Sofia, February 20, 2013.Protestors kneel as Bulgarian national anthem is played, as they block a main boulevard during demonstration against high electricity prices in Sofia, February 20, 2013.
    x
    Protestors kneel as Bulgarian national anthem is played, as they block a main boulevard during demonstration against high electricity prices in Sofia, February 20, 2013.
    Protestors kneel as Bulgarian national anthem is played, as they block a main boulevard during demonstration against high electricity prices in Sofia, February 20, 2013.
    ​A rally in the capital, Sofia, turned violent Tuesday when protesters clashed with riot police, leaving some 15 people injured.  

    That violence shocked Borisov, who began his career guarding the Black Sea state's communist leader, Todor Zhivkov.  

    The former bodyguard-turned prime minister told parliament his administration resigned because he did not want to impose power by force.  

    Borisov said his rightist GERB party came to power in 2009 because it was the will of the people.  He said his government did "the most to meet the demands of the protesters" but acknowledged there was "nothing" it could do "to help them."  The prime minister also said, "Our power was handed to us by the people, today we are handing it back to them" as the state "needs leadership that has new credibility."

    Borisov's move was expected to lead to early elections in April or May.

    He leaves behind uncertainty about foreign investments in the country.  Just before resigning, he not only fired his finance minister but cut power prices of foreign-owned companies, risking a diplomatic dispute with the Czech Republic.

    In Prague, the Czech Republic's prime minister, Petr Necas, said the move conflicted with EU norms and accused Bulgaria of "politicizing" the power sector by threatening to revoke the electricity distribution license of a key Czech majority-owned company.  There have also been fines for another Czech company and an Austrian power distributor.

    Bulgaria's energy pricing policies have worried the European Commission, the EU's executive body, says spokesperson Marlene Holzner.

    “If there is a market and the market is working, than you have the best price that is possible," she said.  "It will mean that the increase that is foreseen by many, many forecasts will not be as steep.  In Bulgaria, we have regulated prices both for the small and medium enterprises and also for the end users.  Our position as the commission is that we would prefer to have market prices, but you can always, for a certain number of people, for very vulnerable consumers of course, have regulated prices.”     

    It comes amid European concerns over EU directives about opening up public services to foreign investments, ranging from the energy sector to even water suppliers.     

    There have been protests against these policies in several countries, including Portugal and Greece, where the EU demands the privatization of public water works in exchange for billions of dollars in crucial bailout money for the troubled economies.

    You May Like

    Former US Envoys Urge Obama to Delay Troop Cuts in Afghanistan

    Keeping troop levels up during conflict with both Taliban and Islamic State is necessary to support Kabul government, they say

    First Lady to Visit Africa to Promote Girls' Education

    Michele Obama will be joined by daughters and actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto

    Video NYSE Analyst: Brexit Will Continue to Place Pressure on Markets

    Despite orderly pricing and execution strategy at the New York Stock Exchange, analyst explains added pressure on world financial markets is likely

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora