Lawyer, politician and statesman, Petar Stoyanov was President of the Republic of Bulgaria from 22 January 1997- 22 January 2002.
Petar Stoyanov was born in 1952. In 1976 he successfully completed his Law Studies at the Sofia University with a Master’s degree. From 1976-1991 he worked as a civil and commercial litigation lawyer in his native town of Plovdiv, second biggest in Bulgaria.
In November 1989 he became one of the founders of the Union of Democratic Forces (the major non-communist party founded after the fall of the previous regime) in Plovdiv and became the first spokesman for UDF in the city.
From 1992 to 1993 Petar Stoyanov was Deputy Minister of Justice in the first democratic UDF government in Bulgaria.
From 1994-1997 he was Member of Parliament and Deputy Chair of the UDF Parliamentary group and from 1995-1997 Deputy Chair of the UDF Party.
On the 1st of June 1996 Petar Stoyanov won against then President Dr. Zhelyu Zhelev in the first-ever Primary in Europe held by UDF. In November 1996 Petar Stoyanov and Todor Kavaldzhiev were elected President and Vice President of the Republic of Bulgaria, winning against the Bulgarian Socialist Party candidates Irina Bokova and Ivan Marazov with 2,502,517 votes (59.73%).
Petar Stoyanov is the first Bulgarian politician to place Bulgaria’s membership of NATO and the European Union at the centre of his election campaign. He took office on January 22, 1997 and in his program speech once again confirmed his policy for the Euro-Atlantic orientation of the country, which he called a new civilizational choice for Bulgaria. This Euro-Atlantic policy marked the entire mandate of President Stoyanov. It was at his insistence that the caretaker Cabinet appointed by him submitted Bulgaria’s application for membership of the North Atlantic Alliance. In November 1999, at President Stoyanov’s invitation, Bulgaria was visited for the first time by an American President – Bill Clinton, which was seen as important support of the country’s new line of policy.
Petar Stoyanov’s Presidency will also be remembered for resolving the most severe political crisis in the new history of Bulgaria. In February 1997, in the midst of mass protests against the government of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, he calmed down social unrest by refusing to accept the Bulgarian Socialist Party proposal for a second Cabinet and calling a National Security Council to resolve the crisis. Following the crisis resolution, he appointed a caretaker Government and called early parliamentary elections.
Jointly with the caretaker Cabinet he facilitated the introduction of a Currency Board in the country, curbing hyperinflation, resolving the food shortage, stabilizing the financial system and winning the much needed confidence of foreign investors.
After the early parliamentary elections in April 1997 and the formation of the UDF government with Prime Minister Ivan Kostov, Petar Stoyanov firmly supported and worked together with the Cabinet for the realization of its core policies: reforming the Bulgarian economy, stabilizing the Bulgarian financial system, attracting more foreign investments and maintaining Bulgaria’s Euro-Atlantic orientation.
Apart from his unequivocal policies regarding Bulgaria’s foreign policy priorities, Petar Stoyanov will be remembered for his strong stance against corruption and abuse of power, for his protection of the rule of law and the rights of citizens and for his reputation as a politician who has not acquired any personal benefits from power.
In November 2001 Petar Stoyanov lost the presidential elections against the candidate and leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, Georgi Parvanov, and left the presidential office on January 22, 2002.
In 2002, he founded the Petar Stoyanov Centre for Political Dialogue in Sofia. Petar Stoyanov has been involved in a number of international organizations: he was a member of the Clinton Global Initiative, the European Executive Committee of the Trilateral Commission and the International Advisory Board of the American Bar Association. He was one of the founders and the President of the Center for Global Dialogue and Cooperation in Vienna.
He currently serves as honorary co-chair of the World Justice Project in Washington DC, Board of Trustees’ member of the Library of Alexandria, as well as Board member of the Nizami International Center for Learning, Tolerance, Dialogue and Understanding.
He has also won numerous awards, including the New Europe’s Leader of the Year 1997 “for significant achievements in building the image of new Bulgaria worldwide”, the Anti-Defamation League’s Courage to Care Award, the Annual award of the Association of Lawyers of Russia and more.
Petar Stoyanov is married to Antonina Stoyanova. They have two children.