EU's Reding urges Bulgarian parties to stop bickering

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding urged Bulgarian politicians Tuesday to stop quarrelling and end the political crisis gripping the bloc's poorest country after 40 days of protests.

"Stop the political quarrelling! That is the message I gave to the two big political parties," Reding told journalists after a lively two-hour public debate in Sofia.

"When a country is in trouble and it seems that there are problems to be solved in this country, it is for political parties to forget about their fights," she said.

She added that the parties must "sit down together and exercise their obligations to solve the problems and not to create supplementary problems."

Thousands of Bulgarians fed up with corruption and poverty have taken to the streets every evening since June 14 calling for the Socialist-backed government of non-partisan Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski to resign.

The previous rightwing government of Boyko Borisov threw in the towel in February after nationwide protests, prompting early elections on May 12.

Since joining the European Union in 2007, Bulgaria's efforts to reform its judiciary and tackle graft and organised crime have been closely scrutinised by Brussels.

Reding said that this would continue as long as is necessary as "an agent for change".

"You can count... on us pushing your government into a real fight against corruption," she said.