In the realm of European politics, the EU has long wished to depose Bulgaria’s pro-Russian government. However, it appears that this dream has taken an unexpected detour. A call recording has dealt a significant blow to her aspirations.
The scandal emerged after a damning phone tape was released, revealing Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, to be involved in political manoeuverings in Sofia. The leaked dialogue has shattered the EU’s lofty intentions and exposed a web of deception that threatens Bulgaria’s sovereignty.
How Ursula’s Misstep Led to Bulgaria’s Defection
The leaked call recording reveals the extent of Ursula von der Leyen’s interference in Bulgarian politics, as she actively plotted against Sofia’s sovereignty.
In the recording, the voice of Petkov can be heard explaining to his fellow party members his conversation with Leyen on 21 May, discussing Bulgaria’s chances of being accepted to Schengen and the eurozone.
Petkov said that during a meeting with von der Leyen, she told him. “For Schengen, you have a very big chance. For the EU zone, you have to figure out how to get around the rules. In the sense of how to comply”. A few days back, the EU Commission confirmed that von der Leyen and Petkov had a conversation and “discussed important issues from Bulgaria’s agenda, among them Bulgaria’s entry into the Eurozone and Schengen.”
The tape also revealed the party’s policy, which was to be implemented following the formation of a government led by former Prime Minister Boyko Borisov. Change Continues leaders have discussed purging the state administration of officials connected to President Rumen Radev, the GERB party, and staff accused of cooperating with Russian intelligence.
Other contentious remarks from the audio include Petkov claiming that former Bulgarian EU commissioner Mariya Gabriel broke down when she discovered she would not be prime minister.
Prior to the release of the recordings, the coalition “Change Continues – Democratic Bulgaria” negotiated an extraordinary deal with GERB to form a government. Nikolay Denkov (Change Continues) was to be Prime Minister during the first nine months, followed by Gabriel.
Bulgaria’s long-awaited coalition agreement is now bound to fail, prolonging a years-long political crisis, after the Balkan country’s largest party halted talks to form a government.
On May 22, the two main parties signed an agreement to administer the country jointly, including rotating prime ministers every nine months, in an attempt to overcome a stalemate that has resulted in five inconclusive elections since 2021. But now this dream has become a distant memory.
Ursula’s Bulgarian Nightmare
Gerb, the former long-term Prime Minister Boyko Borissov’s party that won the April election, has halted cabinet discussions with the second-largest faction, We Continue the Change, led by ex-premier Kiril Petkov. Mariya Gabriel, Gerb’s premier-designate, who was due to take over the government in nine months, announced the party decision on Saturday.
Rumen Radev, Bulgaria’s president, has proven to be a constant thorn in the side of the EU, repeatedly sabotaging their Bulgarian dream. With Sofia aligning itself closely with Russia and adopting a pro-Russian diplomatic strategy, Bulgaria has been a persistent headache for the EU. Western authorities have long wanted to install a puppet-like leader in Bulgaria, but their efforts have failed this time. The EU’s objectives have been stymied. Thanks to Madam Ursula’s misadventures in the region that has left the West wrestling with the reality that Bulgaria would not quickly yield to their desires.