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Bulgaria: Parliament Approves New Cabinet

Sofia, 21 May 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Bulgaria's parliament today confirmed Prime Minister Ivan Kostov and his Cabinet, clearing the way for promised market reforms and a new Western-orientation for the Balkan country.

The final vote was 179 to 55, with all deputies present, except for the opposition Socialists voting for Kostov. Kostov's anti-Communist United Democratic Forces coalition won an absolute parliamentary majority in elections last month.

The new Prime Minister pledged that years of what he called false reforms and officially sanctioned theft had come to an end. He said his Cabinet would immediately set to work to "bring Bulgaria into the 21st century as a civilized European country." Kostov said the Cabinet's immediate priority would be to stabilize the national currency by tying domestic money supply to foreign exchange reserves.

Kostov said the Cabinet would then privatize many of the country's state companies, sell off state banks, cut the bloated state bureaucracy and go after organized crime. He said joining the European Union (EU) and the NATO alliance would also be key goals.

Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov congratulated Ivan Kostov on the parliamentary approval. Stoyanov also praised all parties in parliament for helping overcome the country's political crisis earlier this year and making possible the current political change.