Bulgaria Leader Asks All Parties to Join Talks on Turmoil

From Associated Press

President Zhelyu Zhelev said Sunday that he will call immediate meetings with the country’s political parties to try to find solutions for Bulgaria’s social turmoil.

Zhelev said he will immediately call meetings with parties represented in Parliament “to find a way out of the crisis,” according to the state BTA news agency.

In his televised speech, Bulgaria’s first non-Communist president in 40 years also urged the parties to form a council to consult with him.


He called on fellow opposition members to help him find an answer to Bulgaria’s “economic, political and moral crisis.”

Zhelev, a philosopher who led the opposition Union of Democratic Forces in June’s free elections, was elected Wednesday by Parliament. His election ended a parliamentary stalemate between Socialists and the opposition over a replacement for Petar Mladenov.

Zhelev says he favors the formation of a government of experts supported by both the Socialists and the Union of Democratic Forces. His statement indicated that some opposition members could join the government while avoiding a formal coalition.

The opposition repeatedly has rejected offers of a coalition from incumbent Socialist Prime Minister Andrei Lukanov, arguing that the former Communist Party must shoulder responsibility for past political crimes and the rapidly deteriorating economy.

Zhelev also said Sunday that he will rescind all laws that violate the constitution, “in the first place those which infringe upon the fundamental rights of the citizens.”

He said he will soon lift restrictions on Bulgarians, allowing them to move freely around the country, including the right to live in the capital.

In another development, anti-government protesters in the self-proclaimed “City of Truth,” who helped bring about the resignation last month of Zhelev’s Socialist predecessor, began dismantling their tent city in downtown Sofia.

It was not immediately clear how many of the estimated 300 people living there full-time will leave the pro-democracy encampment. Only a few of the tents, which at one point numbered about 170, are expected to remain.