Happy Friday! While restaurants and many bars, hiding behind restaurant registrations, opened doors this week, hospitals have closed theirs to planned operations. The measure was taken to alleviate pressure on doctors anticipating a new surge of stricken Covid-19 patients over coming weeks. It is not the first time non-emergency surgeries have been cancelled - in the spring and autumn of last year hospitals overwhelmed by the new virus had to do the same. Some observers have claimed that this contributed to the extra fatalities that put Bulgaria at one of the top spots of per capita deaths in Europe. As for the government e-portal for vaccinations, it started with some system issues, but now seems to be working smoothly. The only question is - how many vaccines are available?
Parliament rejects negotiations with Russia for the purchase of Sputnik V
On Friday, the National Assembly opposed a motion by the Bulgarian Socialist Party that would have authorized the government to negotiate with Moscow for the purchase of the Russian vaccine, Sputnik V. The motion was backed by 65 Socialists, but 9 MPs voted against it and 79 abstained, so it was dropped. Instead, MPs backed a motion for the government to consult the European Commission if Bulgaria can probe buying vaccines that are still not approved by the EU regulators.
US Senators say corruption, media freedom and a politicized judiciary jeopardize bilateral relations
"Persistent corruption, declining media freedom, politicization of the judiciary, and other threats to the rule of law pose serious challenges to the US-Bulgaria bilateral relationship," a statement issued by Democrat Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez and Republican Committee member Jim Risch on Friday warned. The Senators hailed "robust and growing" relations between the two countries, especially in security and energy, but warned of declining press freedom as recorded in media freedom indexes. The Senators stressed that last summer's protests were in defense of the principles of democracy and rule of law and reminded the government that it is imperative that it protects them, as elections draw near.
Prime Minister Borissov promises 35 billion euro GDP growth over the next four years
In another Facebook Live video from a construction site Prime Minister Boyko Borissov announced that, if reelected, his government will achieve a 35 million euro rise in Bulgarian GDP during the next four years of a potential fourth mandate. "Four years ago nobody believed we'd reach 60-70 million euro [GDP], now I can promise we will reach 100 million euro [in the next four years]." His announcement follows promises by various parties on day one of the campaign that GDP and salaries would rise significantly.