Amidst growing internal strife, Bulgaria’s coalition partners find themselves embroiled in a heated dispute over an upcoming high-level visit to the United States. The discord, marked by public statements and counterstatements, reflects the intricate dynamics within the government as the nation prepares for a change in leadership.

The controversy began when GERB leader Boyko Borissov revealed, before the official announcement, details of a substantial delegation of 30-40 individuals set to visit the US—the first such high-profile visit since 2019. Bulgarian Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov responded by deeming the premature disclosure “completely incorrect” and sought a meeting with Borissov to address the issue.

Sources suggest that the disagreement extends beyond the timing of the visit, with speculations arising about whether it should occur during Denkov’s term or during the future term of Mariya Gabriel, set to commence in March. Allegations of “funds waste in the ministries” added fuel to the fire, with Borissov expressing concerns about extravagant travel allowances for ministers.

Borissov, in a parliamentary session, criticized the purported travel expenditures, emphasizing the need for accountability in government spending. The GERB leader insinuated that the meetings during the US visit might not be at the highest level, further fueling speculation and highlighting potential divisions within the coalition.

The debate continued, with Borissov arguing against what he perceived as excessive air travel and asserting that meetings of such significance should involve the Prime Minister or Secretary of State. Denkov, in response, emphasized the need for direct communication and requested a meeting to discuss ministerial evaluations and the ongoing rotation talks.

The underlying tension was further exacerbated as the leaders addressed the topic of rotational politics. While both Borissov and Denkov agreed that a rotation would occur, they differed on the conditions and timing. Borissov insisted on adherence to the signed agreement, expressing confidence in GERB’s mandate. Denkov echoed the sentiment, emphasizing the need for continued pro-European policies and economic development.

The Prime Minister defended Kiril Petkov, a coalition partner, during a briefing in the National Assembly, deflecting blame for the delayed change of regulators. Borissov pointed to the challenges faced during Petkov’s administration, highlighting the complexities of navigating the political landscape.