Tuesday saw cabinet ministers from Bulgaria and N. Macedonia undertake a series of bilateral meetings in Sofia. The pivotal - and most sensitive - issue was that of the inclusion of the Bulgarian minority in the N. Macedonian constitution (where no progress was made) and the signing of three memoranda of understanding - for the Sofia-Skopje train line and for cooperation between the two countries' SME support and agricultural agencies.
Bulgaria still bottom of Transparency International corruption perception index
Bulgaria is still the EU country where corruption is perceived to be most prevalent, according to Transparency International's annual report released on Tuesday. Bulgaria fell two positions in the global ranking compared to 2020, falling to 78th place out of 180. Sofia is now in the company of Burkina Faso and Benin. The nearest EU country is Hungary (73), while Romania has climbed one place to 66. Bulgaria's score is 42 out of 100, which is not its worst result - in four of the last 10 years it has scored just 41 points.
New government has 45% approval, unseen since 2009: Gallup
Public confidence in the new cabinet starts at 44.9 percent and is higher than distrust (39 percent) - something that was last seen at the beginning of Boyko Borissov's first term in power in 2009, according to the polling agency Gallup International - Balkan. President Rumen Radev begins his second term as the country's most popular politician. The agency also reports an increase in trust in parliament, up to 32 percent, albeit accompanied by a slight decrease in levels of distrust in the institution (57 percent). The survey also notes widespread fear of inflation and a hardening of public attitudes over Skopje's EU prospects.
Court action over failure to vaccinate over-60s
The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHK) and the Open Society Institute has filed a lawsuit with the Sofia District Court and the European Committee of Social Rights about the state's failure to vaccinate the most vulnerable Bulgarians at the beginning of the immunization campaign. According to the complainants, thousands of Bulgarian citizens with pre-existing diseases, or those over 60, could have avoided severe illness, and even death, if they had been vaccinated in time. Although the current government will have to answer these claims, the action really targets the failings of the previous caretaker and regular cabinets, and takes into account the positive change in vaccination policy in early 2022, BHK noted.