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Bulgaria: Two Socialist Legislators Defect As Talks Break Down

Sofia, 24 January 1997 (RFE/RL) - Two legislators of the ruling Socialist Party defected to the opposition today as talks between the two sides today failed to resolve Bulgaria's political crisis.

The official BTA news agency quotes the defecting legislators, Alexander Marinov and Fidel Kosev, as saying they would vote against any Parliamentary efforts to form a new Socialist government.

Today's failed talks, hosted by anti-communist Bulgarian President Petar Stoyano, saw leaders of the ruling Socialist party (BSP) and the opposition Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) fail to compromise on forming a broad-based interim government to rule until new elections.

Stoyanov afterwards termed the demands of the Socialists "very difficult" given the urgency of the crisis.

The Socialists agreed to form a "non-Socialist, broad-based" government to rule until early elections are held in December. But socialist leader Georgi Parvanov insisted that Socialist Prime Minister designate Nikolai Dobrev head that government.

Ivan Kostov, leader of the opposition Union of Democratic forces, said after today's talks that dialogue has broken down completely. Kostov said a continuation of negotiations between the parties will only, in his words, "serve to mislead public opinion". Kostov says the opposition is now demanding immediate parliamentary elections.

Meanwhile, the Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) has warned it cannot control Bulgaria's deepening economic crisis and urged politicians to resolve deadlock blocking the formation of a new government.

A bank statement issued today said the central bank alone will not be able to contain further depreciation of the national currency, galloping inflation and deepening destabilisation of the country's financial system.

The national currency - the lev - hit a new low of 915 to the dollar on the interbank market today from 600 at the beginning of January.