Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said on Sunday (22 March) he was impressed by the statements of a Russian official who boasted that his country knows how to control the coronavirus, and said he had ordered his ministers to obtain the Russian medicines.
Borissov slammed the EU for a lack of solidarity in the coronavirus crisis during a government session broadcast live.
“European solidarity broke into pieces,” Borissov said, lamenting the response by the EU institutions, which, in his words, only allow some flexibility on how EU funds already allocated could be better used. He also regretted that the EU long-term budget has not been agreed.
@BoykoBorissov said at a presser that there is no EU money for #COVIDー19 . "They only allowed us to spend what is not contracted yet from the structural funds."Apparently he missed the EUR 37b plan and #CRII. @ElisaFerreiraEC @NicolasSchmitEU @GertJanEU
— Ivailo Kalfin (@IvailoKalfin) March 22, 2020
Borissov, who is well-known for not mincing his words, acknowledged that he could be in for criticism because, he said, lots of people in the capitals are listening to what he says.
In recent days, Bulgaria has turned to self-reliance in producing protective clothing and masks, and also in producing some quinine-based medicine, supposedly useful against the coronavirus.
On Saturday, Borissov said he had ordered the resumption of production of Analgin-quinine, a medicine popular under communism, whose production stopped in 2012 in line with EU requirements. France produces a similar medicine, but in Borissov’s words, there would not be enough of it for Bulgaria.
Apparently, Borissov disclosed his confidential conversation with the prime minister of North Macedonia. “The prime minister of Macedonia called me today, asking for a medicine (against coronavirus). ‘Give me just one phial,'”, he quoted his north Macedonian counterpart as saying.
But more importantly, he said he was deeply impressed by an interview with a Russian official he saw on TV channel bTV.
Prof. Dmitriy Edelev, known as Russia’s most prominent commentator on coronavirus, told the Bulgarian channel that in his country, coronavirus is under full control although the first people contaminated were registered only two months after the first cases in China.
“We know which medicines work against the coronavirus. The medicines we have are sufficient. Today in Russia, because we knew how to react, there is not a single acute case, not a single patient requires ventilation”, Edelev said and continued:
“I advise the Bulgarian doctors to learn from us. These are not secrets, this is public on the Russian health ministry’s website,“ he said, adding that the document was published on 3 March. “We don’t keep this secret. The Bulgarians are a brotherly people and we would be happy if you are all healthy”, the Russian professor said.
He also said Russia possessed an experimental vaccine and was ready to share it with the world whenever the World Health Organisation asked for it.
Borissov’s TV appearance was prompted by a statement by President Rumen Radev earlier on Sunday that he would veto part of the state of emergency law and return it to parliament for reconsideration. The law is riddled with measures that are not directly related to combating the coronavirus, the head of state said.
According to the president, the law is attacking the last remains of free speech in Bulgaria. The emergency law stipulates heavy fines and imprisonment for spreading “false information”
“Experts, journalists and citizens will be forced to self-censorship. […]And another important thing – according to the adopted law, this restriction remains after the state of emergency,” Radev explained.
Following the president’s statement, Borissov convened a government session broadcast on TV, where he vented his anger at the head of state. The prime minister accused Radev of acting as a populist, called his attitude “bad energy”, and complained that the veto was “an attack in the back”.
More on EURACTIV Bulgaria by Krassen Nikolov.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]