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Wednesday, 25 July, 2001, 00:00 GMT 01:00 UK
Bulgaria's ex-King swears oath to republic
Ex-King Simeon takes the oath of allegiance
The former king taking the oath of allegiance
By BBC Central Europe correspondent Nick Thorpe

The former King of Bulgaria, Simeon II, has been sworn in as the country's prime minister after his newly-formed cabinet won an overwhelming vote of confidence in parliament.

Although he has never given up his claim to the Bulgarian throne, he swore his oath of allegiance as prime minister in the name of the Republic.

The former King has had to swallow his pride in the throne to which he still lays claim in order to take on the more powerful but more mundane post of prime minister.

The opposition Socialists largely abstained in the vote of confidence, while deputies of the former government, the United Democratic Forces, voted against.

United Europe

In his first speech, Simeon of Saxe Coburg-Gotha told deputies that his lifetime goal was for Bulgaria to take its place in a united Europe.

An early test of his success or otherwise will come next year at a Nato summit in the Czech capital, Prague, when Bulgaria hopes to be invited to join Nato.

Simeon II kisses an Orthodox cross
The new prime minister kisses an Orthodox cross

The organization has already expanded eastward once, in 1999, when Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic joined.

The new Bulgarian prime minister pledged during his election campaign to improve the standard of living within 800 days.

Unemployment is close to twenty per cent and many Bulgarians suspect that the proceeds of privatisation have often ended up in the pockets of politicians rather than the state coffers.

The 31-year-old Economy Minister, Nikolai Vassilev, has pledged to speed up privatisation, avoid corruption and to encourage economic growth by changes in tax laws to make it easier for companies to reinvest their profits.

See also:

12 Jul 01 | Europe
Ex-King named Bulgarian PM
05 Jul 01 | Europe
Bulgarian ex-King tipped for PM
18 Jun 01 | Europe
Simeon's recipe for change
18 Jun 01 | Europe
Ex-king urged to build coalition
18 Jun 01 | Europe
King who came in from the cold
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