SOFIA — Donald Tusk should not interfere in Polish politics, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said Thursday.
Borisov said he and the president of the European Council — who belong to the same political family, the center-right European People’s Party — were friends but “we have to remain neutral, impartial.”
He was speaking at a press conference at the launch of the Bulgarian presidency of the Council of the EU. Two Bulgarian officials confirmed that when Borisov said “we,” he was referring to the rotating presidency and the role of president of the European Council.
In an interview with a Polish news weekly on Monday, Tusk, a former Polish prime minister, said the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party is deeply authoritarian and would likely try to quit the European Union if the country stops being a net recipient of EU funds.
“I have no doubt that for PiS one of the goals is to ‘free’ Polish politics from the burden of the EU,” Tusk said.
Poland faces growing pressure from the European Commission over worries that the country is backsliding on its commitment to democracy. The Commission last month took the unprecedented step of triggering the Article 7 procedure, which could eventually lead to the suspension of Poland’s EU voting rights — a move Tusk called a “sad day.”
Borisov, who was speaking in Bulgarian, added that the “rule of law must be measured with clear indicators.” A Bulgarian diplomat said this doesn’t mean Bulgaria would veto any decision on Poland.
During a long press conference, Borisov defended the presence in Bulgaria’s coalition government of the far-right United Patriots, saying it reflects their success in last year’s election. He also rejected accusations that media freedom is in danger in the country. Sofia is the lowest ranked EU country on the World Press Freedom Index. He said “in no way we can control the media,” adding that journalists in Bulgaria “have absolute freedom.”