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Biography

Source: Личен архив

About me

author: Yordan Vassilev
Founder and first editor-in-chief of the “Demokratsia” newspaper (January1990); MP in the 7th Grand National Asembly and in the 36th National Assembly of the parliamentary group of the Union of Democratic Forces


Petar Stoyanov was born in 1952 in а noncommunist family. After his graduation at „Patriarch Euthymius“ High School in Plovdiv in 1970, he passed his judicial state examination from the Faculty of Law at the “St. Clement of Ohrid” Sofia University in 1976. Following his successful completion of Law Studies, Petar Stoyanov worked as a civil and commercial litigation lawyer in his native town of Plovdiv from 1977 till 1992.

 

Petar Stoyanov is one of the few Bulgarian politicians whose biography is associated with only one political party – the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF). He is one of the founders of the UDF in Plovdiv and the first spokesman of the “blue party” in the city. From 1994 till 1997 Petar Stoyanov was MP and deputy chairman of the parliamentary group of the Union of Democratic Forces. Due to his professionalism, Petar Stoyanov became deputy minister of justice during the rule of Bulgaria’s first noncommunist government since 1944 headed by Filip Dimitrov (1991-1992).

 

On June 1 1996, Petar Stoyanov ran against the then president Dr Zhelyu Zhelev in the first primary presidential elections in Europe and won by 66% which made him being the only candidate of  United Democratic Forces  against the candidate of the Bulgarian socialist party. He was the first presidential candidate who placed Bulgaria’s NATO and EU membership in the focus of his election campaign. On November 3, 1996 as a UDF presidential candidate he was elected President of the Republic of Bulgaria by 2,502,517 votes or 59,73%.  He took office on January 22, 1997.

 

In his first days in office, President Stoyanov was faced with the worst political crisis in Bulgaria’s post communist history. Not only the government of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) resigned but also the parliament was besieged by tens of thousands of protesters and was virtually nonfunctional. The newly elected president was the only working institution in the country at that time. According to the Bulgarian Constitution, President Stoyanov had to provide the biggest parliamentary group – that of the BSP – with the mandate to form a new government. When the BSP representatives submitted their proposal for a new Council of Ministers, the President refused to submit it for approval to the National Assembly. On that same day, February 4, 1997, President Stoyanov convened the Consultative Council of National Security. Under the pressure of the head of state and the other participants at the Council, the BSP representatives gave up the mandate to form a new government which put an end to the political crisis in the country.

 

On February 12, 1997 President Stoyanov appointed a provisional cabinet and called new general elections. The first measures taken by the president and the provisional government were aimed at controlling hyperinflation and preventing a food crisis.

 

Jointly with the cabinet, President Stoyanov started negotiations with the International Monetary Fund on a currency board introduction in the country - the only measure which could control inflation, stabilize the financial system and win foreign investors’ confidence.

 

Being aware that Bulgaria could not join the EU without being a member of the NATO, President Stoyanov asked the provisional government to adopt a decision for membership in the Alliance. Petar Stoyanov was the first Bulgarian head of state who voiced the country’s aspiration to join the Alliance at the NATO summit in Madrid in July 1997.

 

Petar Stoyanov’s landmark achievements won him an unprecedented public support. During the first year of his mandate, President Stoyanov’s approval rating was 85%. The surveys of the MBMD sociological agency of June and December 1997 showed that the approval rating of the Bulgarian head of state was 91% which was the highest approval ever for a Bulgarian politician. Even at the end of his mandate President Stoyanov’s approval rating was positive – 50% approval as opposed to 41% disapproval (MBMD data).

 

In 1999, Petar Stoyanov firmly supported the EU and NATO position against the aggressive policy of ethnic cleansing pursued by Milosevic in former Yugoslavia. His unconditional support for the military operation launched by NATO against the Milosevic regime was disapproved by part of the Bulgarian public. The Bulgarian Socialist Party, led by Georgi Purvanov organized protests against that policy. Thanks to the resolute actions of the Bulgarian head of state, Bulgaria broke with its past of the most loyal satellite of the former Soviet Union and began to build its new image of a loyal partner of the North Atlantic community which was crucial for the country’s membership in the Alliance. Former Bulgarian premier Philip Dimitrov wrote in his book “Myths of the Bulgarian Transition”: „Few presidents will have the chance to give Bulgaria so much as did President Petar Stoyanov when he succeeded in contributing to the peaceful solution of the crisis on February 4, 1997 and when he demonstrated his strong will by risking his prestige, he contributed to the faster and more efficient government support for the Western countries’ position in the Kosovo crisis.”

In 1999, by invitation of President Stoyanov, the US President visited Bulgaria for the first time in the country’s history. President Clinton stayed in Sofia from November 21 till 23, 1999. The presidents of the USA and of Bulgaria addressed the 50,000-strong rally in Sofia. The visit of the US President marked a breakthrough in Bulgaria’s Euro-Atlantic orientation and gave a strong impetus to its NATO and EU accession.

 

Petar Stoyanov was President of the Republic of Bulgaria from 1997 till 2002. The next presidential elections were won by the then leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party Georgi Purvanov.

 

In addition to his straightforward policy with regard to Bulgaria’s foreign political priorities, Petar Stoyanov has also been commended for his unswerving position against corruption and abuse of power, for his support for the rule of law and the rights of citizens and for his reputation of a politician who has gained no personal profit from being in power.

 

In 1997 President Stoyanov received the “Leader of New Europe” annual award for “exceptional achievements in building the image of new Bulgaria in the world”.

 

In 1998   the Bulgarian president received the Annual Award of the American Bar Association and the Anti-Defamation League’s Courage to Care Award. He was awarded the Annual Award of the Association of Russian Lawyers in Moscow in 1999.

 

President Stoyanov is the year 2000 recipient of the annual award of the Crans Montana World Economic Forum for his contribution to the development of democracy and free market economy. That same year he was elected member of the Policy Advisory Commission of the World Intellectual Property Organisation in Geneva and of the Advisory Council of the World Leaders Project.

 

In 2002, as fellow of the German Marshal Fund, Petar Stoyanov read lectures in a number of US universities such as the Georgetown University in Washington, John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in Boston, and the New York University, among others.

 

Petar Stoyanov is founder and chairman of the “Petar Stoyanov Centre for Political Dialogue” Foundation, established in 2002 in Sofia.

 

In 2003, Petar Stoyanov was elected member of the European Executive Committee of the Trilateral Commission. Petar Stoyanov is also member of the Board of Directors of the Global Fairness Initiative, founded by President Bill Clinton.

 

Since early 2004, Petar Stoyanov has been member of the International Board of the American Association of Jurists. He is co-chairman of the World Justice Project.

 

Petar Stoyanov was chairman of the Union of Democratic Forces and of the Parliamentary group of the UDF in the 40th National Assembly from October 1, 2005 till May 22, 2007. After the unconvincing result for the party at the elections for European Parliament, Petar Stoyanov withdrew from active politics and gave up his MP mandate in the 40th National Assembly.

 

Since December 2009, Petar Stoyanov has been President of the Center for Global Dialogue and Cooperation – CGDC in Geneva and Vienna whose main objective is to promote dialogue between different nations and religions and to adopt the best EU practices for interaction among the representatives of business and politics in the Western Balkan countries.

 

Petar Stoyanov is married to Antonina Stoyanova, Senior Legal Officer with the WIPO, Geneva. They have two children.

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