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Bulgarian government faces no-confidence vote and political turmoil

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A no-confidence vote on Wednesday threatens to topple Bulgaria‘s government and Prime Minister Kiril Petkov, who pledged to tackle corruption and took an unusually strong stance against Russia, according to Reuters.

Petkov’s four-party coalition took office six months ago only to disintegrate earlier this month over disagreements on budget spending and whether Bulgaria should unlock North Macedonia’s European Union accession.

The European Union country now faces a new round of political turmoil and possibly its fourth national election since April 2021, putting at risk millions of euros from EU recovery funds and its plans to adopt the euro in 2024.

The gridlock may also hinder Bulgaria’s efforts to secure stable natural gas inflows after Moscow cut gas deliveries to the Balkan country – almost completely reliant on Russian gas – over Sofia’s refusal to pay in roubles.

Speaking during a debate on the no-confidence motion in Parliament on Tuesday, Petkov appealed to lawmakers to support his cabinet amid a war in Ukraine and surging inflation.

“This government will not allow stealing from Bulgarian taxpayers,” Petkov said. “You have to decide – you have a genuine chance to push the country into political crisis in times of war.”

Petkov, has taken a strong pro-European and pro-NATO position, an unusual stance for a country with a traditionally friendly stance toward Russia.