06---Bulgaria2

Twenty-five years after the fall of Communism, Bulgaria’s relationship with Russia is ambiguous. There is disagreement – both in the National Assembly and on the streets – about the political direction the country should be taking. Whereas younger Bulgarians often support EU membership, many in the older generation would rather see stronger ties with the East.

So, how has Bulgaria’s transition to democracy compared with other former socialist countries? Certainly, Bulgaria remains the poorest country in the EU, as well as the most corrupt. In fact, this year the European Commission announced that, despite seven years of EU support and monitoring, little progress has been made fighting corruption and organized crime in the country.

One of our commenters, Costi, blames the current problems on the transition between Communism and democracy. He argues that the process “took so long that it became a political system itself”.

To get a reaction, we put this comment to Andrey Kovatchev, an MEP with the ruling centre-right, pro-European “Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria” (GERB) party. How would he respond to Costi?

In Bulgaria, the transition [from Communism to democracy] was handled poorly. In Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Hungary, there was strong popular resistance. In Bulgaria this was not the case. The Communist leadership tried to keep everything under control and started the democratization process under its leadership, keeping the Communist instruments – including the secret security service – and merely changing its name from the “Communist Party” to the “Socialist Party”. For instance, whereas after 1989 Germany did not accept any judges from the DDR days, in Bulgaria all Communist judges continued to be judges after the transition, bringing to the new generation of young judges the same corrupt tendencies that were common in the past.

In short, the legacy of old regimes has corrupted many segments of Bulgarian and Romanian society, including the economy, the media, and the judicial system, and it will take us more time to restore it. There is a saying: the further East you go from Berlin, the more difficult is the legacy of the past.

To get another perspective, we also approached Louisa Slavkova, Executive Director of the Sofia Platform, an organisation established to help countries in their transition to democracy. How would she react?

_Louisa_SlavkovaWhat I think Costi is arguing is that the institutions have failed to fulfil the expectations of the people. Looking at periods of democratic transition in any country, there is a lot of expectation and energy in the first stages. But this energy diminishes quite quickly when people realize expectations are too high to be met.

However, since the fall of the Berlin Wall, we have done a lot. Bulgaria is fortunately not what it used to be 25 years ago. There is still a lot of unfinished business, for instance on the side of education. One of the most dangerous things I think is lack of historical memory and knowledge of Communism and I think this is the biggest issue, rather than saying that the transition has become a ‘political system’ in its own right.

Since the start of the millennium, civil society has been growing. Young people look for education in European universities outside of Bulgaria and no longer accept the ideas of the past. The total number of Bulgarian students studying abroad is estimated at 80,000 a year.

Next, we received a comment from Ivan, arguing that liberal European values would struggle to find a foothold in Bulgaria because it was a deeply conservative society with strong Eurosceptic tenancies. How would Louisa Slavkova respond to this?

_Louisa_Slavkova[I don’t agree with] the assumption that many in Bulgaria are Eurosceptic. There is a lot of research that has been done in this country, and it shows exactly the opposite. For example, let me refer to a poll done recently which reveals that while Bulgarians are bonded to Russia in a cultural sense, they do not see Russia as the country model they should be following. I’m not sure if your visitors are familiar with this, but part of the ideology of the Bulgarian Communist party was to create the idea of being part of this pan-Slavic culture. History books were devised and re-written to make Bulgarians believe they are part of [a united] Slavic ethnic group. So, this argument that the majority of Bulgarians are Eurosceptic and we are part of the Eurasian space is simply not true.

The poll mentioned was commissioned by the European Council on Foreign Relations and conducted earlier this year. The main finding of the poll was that, although culturally speaking Bulgarians feel strongly attached to Russia, they do not believe that Russia provides the best model for security and prosperity.

Finally, we put Ivan’s comment to Andrey Kovatchev. What would he say about Euroscepticism in his country?

This message of Euroscepticism […] is spread by the Russian Orthodox Church, which is telling people that we need to defend thing like traditional family values, that we do not belong in a Catholic Europe, that we should go back to join our Slavic brothers. They try to portray the EU as something perverse, saying we need to defend our children from them. A lot of this propaganda is not free-of-charge – most of the people spreading this message are paid by the regime of [Russian President] Vladimir Putin.

However, that message is far from the reality. Bulgaria is the most pro-EU country in Europe. We have more trust in the EU institutions – the Council, the Parliament, and the Commission – than in our national Parliament and Court. Statistics on Bulgarian migrants show this: they left Bulgaria to live in other EU countries or in the US. There is no mention of Russia. And even the people saying that Bulgaria should join the Eurasian Union are included in these statistics. Far more than 50-to-60% of children of Russian oligarchs and ministers are living and enjoy education in the West

Is the transition from a communist system to a democracy working in Bulgaria?  Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!



108 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

    • Emilios

      (y)

    • Alexander Tsankov

      Poor guy. In Bulgaria, there is no vote for anyone. There is political order or democracy or anything. Its Mafia. Everything is kind of a lost cause, everyone who has money or power makes whatever he wants. There are thousands of crimes done by the minority of gypsies which are under the political mafia, because those gypsies vote for the mafia. Like a Bulgarian song says – Here there is no justice, there is no peace, there is no freedom, fuck police.
      On top of that all the political talks, like the one from the Gerb guy are not relevant to the current situation. The problem in Bulgaria is that those people concentrate their political propaganda on something like highways and they construct a lot of highways, after 2 years all of their work (the highways) are broken down and devastated, ravaged by nature. The money for the construction are drowned in some pockets and two years later the guys worked on the highways had no pays. Its a system that consumes money for actually doing nothing and pretending they care for the citizen, which is not really the case.

      Which drive us to the conclusion that they lie. That they are incompetent and the worst thing is that there isn’t an actual alternative to vote for. All of them are corrupted. The Prime Minister of Bulgaria is a guy that is a Fire Fighter. 4 years the minister of the interior was a guy that was a physical education teacher. There is no hope that EU can help in this situation. Its a lost cause.

      I’m telling this from the perspective of 22 years living under those circumstances.

    • Felix Schönbach

      As canidate of the EPP he is kind of indirectly elected. There are democratic deficits in the EU, but that doen’t make the criticism wrong. Orban certainly tends to an authocratic behaviour.

    • Emilios

      Exactly!

  1. Matej Zaggy Zagorc

    Democracy has failed worldwide. It’s a lie, a facade we’re made to believe is the best option for modern society. And we’re brought up thinking it is, and will defend it without much thought because of that.

    • Felix Schönbach

      In which way has democracy failed? Has it failed in terms of enable citizens in the political process? Has it failed to create a society where almost every miority has rights and is allowed to join the political process instead of being repressed. Has ist failed in terms of providing peace and stability? In which terms has democracy failed and what is your alternative?

    • Yvetta

      No, it has not failed. The problem it is not being fully implemented.

  2. Ivan Burrows

    You mean ‘European Values’ of forced integration, poverty, misery, mass unemployment, lost generations and a stolen democracy ?

    • Emilios

      Bravo!

  3. Nick

    The problems in Bulgaria have nothing to do with the EU, but with the people of the country to get their act together. Blaming the EU is like blaming a car for drink driving.

  4. Daniella Jordanni

    European values?!? Really? What are those? Criticizing Bulgaria?!? Oh Lord, I am so tired of political games of brain-washing. You know where you can put that article, right? I don’t have to spill it out for ya…

  5. TT

    No, it has not been a failure. While it is true that things change slowly, it is also a fact that all polls show, that the great majority is pro-european, they are well-aware of the scope of corruption and there is an ever increasing intolerance for it. In many ways Bulgarians protect EU values better than other members.
    Also, since it joined EU and in spite of the influence of the former-communist circles, it has been a predictable member during all international problems.

  6. Karel Van Isacker

    Why this attack on Bulgaria? Because they try to keep peace with Russia instead of following the aggressive discours of European politicians? thanks to the EU, Bulgaria has lost over 20% of its tourism income that originates from Russian tourists. Who will pay for all the lost income to a population that is already impoverished and treated badly by the EC/EU (have a look at the rates the EC/EU approves for European projects, they are ridiculously low)? Seriously, the level of debates you try to initiate become more humiliating every week.

  7. Georgi Krestanov

    Bulgaria is part of Europa sinse 681 A.D. – bilding of Bulgarian State on Balkans , and mentaly since 864 A.D. – conversion to Christianity

  8. Costin Halaicu

    The main reason for which European integration tends to hit walls of resistance in the east is that it doesn’t come accompanied by perceptible positive shifts in living standards. It makes people feel cheated by Europe. It may not be the fault of Europe specifically (it really isn’t, the blame can rest on the shoulders of corrupt local political elites), but it does certainly seem so to many. And besides, are Eastern European countries so incompatible with European values? I really doubt it, and I see my own country (Romania) quite well reflected in what mrs. Louisa Slavkova’s response in your article: there is actually higher public confidence in European institutions here then in the national Parliaments and Governments. What the European institutions lack though is channels of communication, media. We get to see European points of view in our media (mind you, not pro-European views expressed by the local establishment, but rather views expressed by European elites) infinitely fewer times then national pov’s. On top of that, there is a feeling that “Europe doesn’t do enough”, but people don’t even really know how little power Europe actually has. What eastern Europe needs is more EU governance, more communication from the EU institutions in mainstream media, and more powers delegated to the EU by our national governments. Better governance should lead to higher living standards eventually, and when it will do so, more European values will be widely accepted. American General Lucius Clay famously stated at the end of the WW2: “There is no choice between being a communist on 1,500 calories a day and a believer in democracy on a thousand”. I would say that his statement holds true for Eastern Europe today, if we replace “communist” with “corrupt”, and “believer in democracy” with “believer in European values”.

  9. Dani Alexandrov

    Why that ugly attach on Bulgaria!? Bulgaria is part of the EU family, and that`s country`s choice!

  10. Rick Wilmot

    Debating Europe, I wish you would stop creating divisions. You only encourage Ivan the Terrible to force his separatist agenda down the throats of the more sensible people. Europe will always be better together. I want to see a federalist, social democratic Europe, warts and all, because there is no perfect system and that is the best we can expect in our present state of political evolution. Returning to separate states and war would be crazy!!

    • Marcel

      Well I do NOT want to see anything of the kind. The undemocratic EU is the arch enemy of people who love democracy. Bigger isn’t better, as proven in history by the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, the Habsburg Empire and the Third Reich. In fact, smaller is better as proven by Switzerland and Norway.

  11. Toti Iliev

    good read and quite right:
    ” Certainly, Bulgaria remains the poorest country in the EU, as well as the most corrupt. In fact, this year the European Commission announced that, despite seven years of EU support and monitoring, little progress has been made fighting corruption and organized crime in the country.”

  12. George Titkov

    The EU starts resembling the former USSR too much, that’s what Bulgaria’s values are incompatible with. We don’t want Brussels to decide everything for us. We want the voice of the people to be heard and we want our national interests to be considered when making union-wide decisions. I don’t want my Prime Minister to always vote the same as the German Chancellor and always agree with the ‘European’ opinion, when it’s against our national interest. If by ‘European values’ you mean the dictate of the rich and strong EU countries over the rest, then we are incompatible, yes. This is not what we signed up for when we joined the EU.

  13. Petar Shumanov

    So as BG citizen, studied in DE, working with AT and LAT will say HAHAHA, you are the ones who are losing EU values and every action in the direction, such articles and so on, will bring you, not us, closer to the autocratic regime.. it’s so obvious that article with such name has the target to destabilize the union and not to straighten it…, what is behind?…, maybe task from Kremlin ;)

    • Jorjano

      The ones that pay for your debt :)

  14. Petio Peshov

    Remind us, please, the European values are defined by politics or the citizens? And why the politcs decide instead of realize the people choices /petitions, referendums)?

  15. Симеон Миланов

    “Bulgaria is fortunately not what it used to be 25 years ago. ” hahaha :D yeah, 25 years ago the country was 9 million people and now it is 6, 25 years ago the country had health care system, very good educational system (this is proven by the fact that there was science back in those times), 25 years ago there was job for young people,security for older people and ethnic peace (while now we are on the bring of ethnic war). But I suppose most importend there was hope, now there is now hope. As for the desire for good relations with Russia – why not ? We can’t be enemies with people with whom we share the same words for mother,bread,motherland and love as one of our history professors said. And we have economic interest in keeping friendly with Russia. Besides Russia never treatened us (except in the heads of some pseudo-dissidents). MOst statistics show that 60 to 80 % of the nation supports Russia and it’s foreign policy, so cheers to all the rusophobic people :D

    • Petyo123

      (Y)

  16. Slavtchev Angel

    Ridiculously stupid superfluous “debate”! You reached yet another milestone of highly superficial discussion about… wait for it… values?! Define European values! Are they the same for Dutch, German, Spanish or Greek people?
    If you define “European values” (sorry, but WTF again) as personal freedom, economic freedom, free movement of goods, services, people and capital and most of all dvision of state from religion, then YES, Bulgaria is no different from Europe. But, hey, why not bitch about Bulgaria?
    Bulgaria DOES HAVE its problems with corruption and freedom of press, but who has not? Bulgaria has the lowest standard of living, poorest in the EU, low EU-funds absortption rate, but… Values?!
    Boo.

  17. Ivo

    We chose to be part of a free,democratic and peaceful world.We didn’t chose to be part of alliance against someone or something!

    • Dobromir Panchev

      True!

  18. Nigel Daff

    …. my comment is not really important but I am sure there is a general difference qua culture, food -diet, clothing, furniture, schooling and so on and so on when the CLIMATE comparison between countries is quite different. I am sure an african migrant to sweden will have great difficulties adjusting and likewise a bulgarian culture, climate, history bla bla bla will be very different to those in a northern european country – just my opinion

  19. Тиберий Баръмов

    This is so faraging… I LIKE IT : ) First of all, there are no such thing as “bulgarian values” – we love freedom of speech, of self-expression, all rights… every bulgarian loves his hometown, his region and our small, but lovely country… we have crisis… we love Star Wars & Queen, and yes, we watch GoT (Shireeen!) : ) Sometimes someone even loves EU. Actually, that’s all. Everything else is political gibbering and i’ll be glad, if that is our unique value, from which all the other Debating Europe is spared. Pozdrav and live long and prosper! : )

  20. Rudi Špoljarec

    Maybe , but unfortunately after 60 yrs of non democratic regime it’s not easy for them to improve democracy. Poor people , like us here.

  21. Ferenc Lázár

    Why are you always picking up on east European countries?! How about the changes of East Germany,vwhich was the hardest and most sadist communist country among all Warsaw treaty? Did you integrate all those east Germans better than the Polls, Huns or Bulgarians?! And why do you keep suggesting that former communist countries didn’t bring values into E U.?

  22. Ibrahim Uzun

    While the fascist party named ataka attacking all the manoritys, and the Bulgarian government discriminating the Turkish manority as long it is going on the democracy in Bulgaria is not in danger.

  23. ironworker

    I bet the reality is indeed sour and the level of dissapoinment is beyond the charts. A lesson for future generations. Choose wisely and never accept crap like CVM (Cooperation and Verification Mechanism) from others. You can clean your own house without any foreign”help” or “supervision”. Bulgaria deserve better.

  24. Debating Europe

    Dear all, apologies for the deleted comments. No hidden agenda or conspiracy to silence your comments. Merely a human error. Feel free to post your comments again.

  25. Niko Kosev

    Bulgaria chose to be part of a free, democratic and peaceful world. We didn’t chose to be part of an alliance that is against Russia, because we love Russia and it’s people in the same way we love Ukraine and it’s people. It’s difficult for us to chose from the 2 sides.

    If this is against the current EU agenda, than let it be. It’s not that the EU made the life of ordinary Bulgarians easier or something. I’m sorry to say this, but most of the people in Bulgaria don’t believe and don’t feel as a part of the European UNION at all.

  26. Slavtchev Angel

    Has Debating Europe recently been a failure promoting division among Europeans? Write your comments here.

  27. Stoyan Kostov

    Could you please start with a definition of “fail”. Bulgaria is clearly not Estonia or Poland but also it isn’t as bad as Belarus, or Ukraine. Still I am confident that the EU integration is the best and only path and the pols show that most Bulgarians agree with me. The only question is how long will it take to catch up with the rest of Europe, not if we should try to?

  28. TJ Todorov

    Complete failure! Now we are ruled from faceless stupid politicians, that follow only their personal interest. We have “democratic” elections, while looking for a watermelons we see on the free political market offered only pumpkins. And we are free to elect only one of them :)

  29. Ibrahim Uzun

    Bulgaria has to decide European Union or communism rules !
    Bulgar has to learn to respect the rules of law to respect the manoritys that they are existing today, every manority has the right to exist culturally , religiously and ethnically, But today in Bulgaria we are witnessing different type of era, Almost the same of the communist era .
    With the current situation the Bulgarian regime should join Russia and not EU .

    • Maia Alexandrova

      Bulgarians respect minorities’ rights and the laws in Bulgaria. It is the Roma and Turkish minorities that do not. This is the problem.

  30. George Titkov

    In my (previously deleted) comment I said that the EU has started to resemble the former USSR a bit too much and that there is no democracy in the Union itself. The big countries dictate what policies will be upheld by the EU. Our own Prime Minister admitted that in the Council of the European Union he votes same as everyone else, because the Union ‘unity’ seems to be the first and most important consideration when making decisions. But who decides what is the ‘common position’ of the EU? Not Bulgaria, at least that’s certain. Big countries decide, small ones vote ‘YES’. So, is this ‘democracy’? We have no right to do anything unless Brussels allows it. Gas pipelines, nuclear plants, infrastructure, everything must be allowed by Brussels and Brussels has its own agenda.

    In this context, democracy is not working in Bulgaria either. The political transition from Communism to something else was completed quickly. However, what came to replace Communism is not democracy but kleptocracy. Elections here are everything but free and democratic. Many, many people are forced to vote for the ruling party by their employers, under the threat of losing their jobs. The gipsy minority is paid to vote for one or another party. The big and influential media are used for propaganda purposes by the ruling party. The public opinion polls are a propaganda instrument as well. Political power has become a means to steal millions and millions from the state budget. Ordinary people are kept with a very low income, so that they’re easy to manipulate or buy. There can be no democracy with such levels of poverty, which in turn is caused by the same political system I described. And the EU can do nothing about it. It accepted Bulgaria too soon and now it’s too late.

    • Dobromir Panchev

      True!

  31. Petyo123

    Don’t worry about us , you’d better take a look at Greece . Oldest democracy in human history and finally one bancrupt country . :)))

  32. Georgi Krestanov

    In Bulgaria the mafia is hidden as liberal Party – DPS – actualy turkysh proekt to ruin the country and trojan horse from Ankara in Brussel . The Lider of this Party – Dogan becam milions for hydro ingenier Project – and he is actualy whit Philosofy education ….In the name of pease and under pressure from Turkye and USA is not investigated ….

  33. Нико Ников

    Еnough democracy .. barely survived …. it’s time to start living European … free from the dictate of the US ..

  34. plikerut

    Bulgaria is a part of EU since 681year.

    • EU reform- proactive

      @Plikerut

      people of Europe- PLEASE- it would be high time to understand and make a clear distinction between the EU- a suzerain political construct & not a country- and all (once “totally” independent) countries of/in Europe!

      The EU, a design of questionable concoctions by (political) bureaucrats, their lobby groups & their lawyers (originally started in 1947 with good intentions) in an office wearing white shirts & a tie! Slowly becoming disconnected from their folks and their long history- only connected by a myriad of “paragraphs” on paper– most of it wishful theories, most unworkable but heavily enforced from the “top down”.

      Anyway- here is your Bulgarian history in more detail: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Bulgaria

    • Marcel

      Actually, EU reform, the idea to build what was to become the EU was always with the intention that it specifically NOT be democratic. There were no good intentions at all.

    • EU reform- proactive

      Hi Marcel,

      I must admit, you beat me hands down in criticizing the EU! But, let’s be a bit more generous & give late Robert Schuman some benefits & not 100% doubt! If true that Construction is statistically the EU’s most fatal industry (22%)- in comparison to “Extraterritorial organizations & bodies” {0% = “Politics”}- let’s suggest its time to reverse these 2 industries and their consequential fatalities! Also- one should & must have a plan B!

      As starters, why not consider a new set of “EU entry criteria & new EU membership categories” for whoever “elects” & would qualify from any of ALL the 48 sovereign Members of the “Council of Europe” (CoE)? Make it a level playing field. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_of_Europe
      But: “reset” ALL to full sovereignty first, freeze the EU to idle speed, the TTIP & send its bureaucrats back home- keep just a couple to turn the light on & off!

      Eligible should be any sovereign European country that desires and strives for a prized special “ULTIMATE EU Membership”………E.g. using the UN “World Happiness Report” as a minimum requirement- see here:
      http://one-europe.info/the-world-happiness-report-this-year-7-european-countries-entered-the-top-10-of-the-happiest-countries

      The basket of criteria’s & to achieve these standards are more or less set out by the UN & achievable by all educated & skilled Europeans as: (and not the “Bilderbergers”, “Illuminate”, global Corporatism, Banks, NATO & their henchmen!) healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity, (perception of) corruption, & everything else of achieving these goals!

      One could create a “Platinum membership” for European countries making it into the first 20 on the global “UN Happiness list”. A “golden Member” need to make it into the e.g. 21-30 group and Silver Member must reach the 31-40. A country can lose its position any time if it mismanages its affairs but cannot be punished or expelled by the EU suzerain! The rest has to change and evolve- even if it takes to infinity!

    • EU reform- proactive

      Let me conclude by presenting the new version EU2.0:

      “2015- EU17 overall qualifiers”- or the new “Advanced European Union” of happy & sovereign countries should look like this: (details of shared competences etc to be negotiated by all relevant members afresh- based on the painful experiences of the old & failing old EU)

      Platinum Members (11): Switzerland, Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Netherlands, Sweden, Austria, Luxembourg, Ireland, Belgium.

      Gold Members (3) : United Kingdom, Germany, France.

      Silver Members (3): Czech Republic, Spain, Malta.

      All other unlisted European countries (e.g. Bulgaria=134) are still laggards, in apprenticeship mode but encouraged to achieve more!

      http://worldhappiness.report/

  35. Maia Alexandrova

    In Bulgaria ordinary people live under an immense oppression – by the government, the mafia and Roma Indian criminals. There is widespread fear from those three criminal groups which almost entirely control life in the country and are the main contributors for the failure of law and democracy in Bulgaria. Wages are kept artificially low by those in power as a means of economic subjugation of people. Small businesses have to fight mafia for a place in the market. Roma Indian thieves are let loose to terrorise towns and villages everywhere. It is an uneven battle for people who just want to live in peace, work and look after their families. They are desperate for help and protection. In the end many opt for emigrating to other countries instead. Bulgaria is in top 5 in the world for negative population growth. It is a country with great nature and people but when criminals rule, life is not easy.

    • Yvetta

      My oh my, Maya, who are these Indians living in Bulgaria? All of the years I lived there and the times I’ve gone back I’ve never caught a glimpse of them.

  36. Christos Mouzeviris

    Everything in Europe is a work in progress … And so in Bulgaria… Nothing is perfect or finished and done yet.. As long as we keep working on it.. So if you asking if Bulgaria has failed in democracy, well look at the biggest advocate of world democracy, the USA.. Is everything rosy over there? Are African Americans treated equally? No.! Is all perfect in Greece, Italy, Belgium, France, Spain, Germany, Luxembourg and so on, some of the oldest or the founding members of EU.. Bulgaria is still in the process and obviously has a lot to do but if Europe must have a say then it better be constructive and help out. Not point the finger!

  37. Marcel

    Emmm… Bulgaria is in the EU, that means that it is by definition not a democracy as the EU is not democratic.

  38. Tarquin Farquhar

    @Andrey Kovatchev
    Catholic Europe? Don’t tell that to the Germans. Or the British. Or the Dutch…

  39. Yvetta

    All of the countries of the former Eastern Bloc are struggling but the ones that have joined the EU are faring better to the ones that have not. Bulgaria is getting there slowly. But democracy is not something you can adopt overnight…political change should come from inside the country and is not something that can be imposed from the outside.

    • Yvetta

      Disagree with this comment. Democracy in ancient Athens exactly was introduced so as to give voting rights and a say in how the City-state was run to sea traders that had acquired wealth but did not own land, and therefore, did not have voting rights before.

  40. Ivan Burrows

    .

    There is little difference between communisms and Europeanism, both are run by an elite and both ignore the people they claim to represent.

  41. Nadezhda Ogden

    Works for those with initiatives, brain and money. It doesn’t for those relying on the government the unemployed and the vulnerable, just like anywhere else in Europe.

  42. Alexander Neofitov

    I believe that this discussion, as many other on the subject, suffers from a deeply rooted misconception about what democracy stands for. Bulgaria is a fully-fledged democracy from day 1 of its post-socialist existence. At its core democracy is about “rule of the people”: all it needs is a mechanism that enables the people to choose whoever they want to be ruled by. It does not ensure just or efficient government, or prosperity or well-being for that matter – all it does is making sure that those that govern are elected on the basis of free and fair elections, competition and open discussion of alternatives. The presence or absence of the latter distinguishes democracies from autocratic regimes. It can be argued that, with some exceptions, those are happening in Bulgaria, so the country is certainly not an autocracy. If by “fully-fledged” is meant “liberal” that is another story altogether. Bulgaria has certainly had and is having substantial problems with imposing the principles of constitutional liberalism in its functioning as a democratic system of governance. However, Bulgaria, as any other post-socialist country (or any country whatsoever), is as liberal, open, prosperous, Europe or Russia-leaning as its own people want it to be. And that is the major point of democracy.

  43. Petio Peshov

    There was never a transition in Bulgaria. Yesterday it was communism, inexistant civil society, censorship, totalitarism and discipline. After the 90s, liberalism, poverty, manipulation, corruption, mafia, anticonstitutional party, crisis and more and more people leaving the country. We never knew exactly what the real democracy is! Living in France for 12 years now, i’m concerned about my home country and try to stay involved but it is very difficult. Example, now when it is a crisis in Greece, greeks come to Bulgaria to buy food, be treated in a hospital. So the synonyme of crisis in the EU is not Greece or Spain but Bulgaria. There’s always hope but the citizens never knew real democracy so they dont know how to achieve it and defend it.And the great countries don’t have the interest that a small strategic country became strong. (not USA, not Russia, and even the EU…). The european medias stay focused on Greece and Ukraina but they don’t talk about that the USA are deploing now a military equipement in Bulgaria, Romania and the Baltic countries. So they provoke Russia and menace the regional peace. I am not a russophile but tthe balkanic, the central and estern european countries have an important export to Russia and today the countries like Bulgaria, SErbia, the Baltic countries etc are sacrificed beacause Germany and France have an agreement with the States the IMF and the World bank.

  44. Petio Peshov

    There was never a transition in Bulgaria. Yesterday it was communism, inexistant civil society, censorship, totalitarism and discipline. After the 90s, liberalism, poverty, manipulation, corruption, mafia, anticonstitutional party, crisis and more and more people leaving the country. We never knew exactly what the real democracy is! Living in France for 12 years now, i’m concerned about my home country and try to stay involved but it is very difficult. Example, now when it is a crisis in Greece, greeks come to Bulgaria to buy food, be treated in a hospital. So the synonyme of crisis in the EU is not Greece or Spain but Bulgaria. There’s always hope but the citizens never knew real democracy so they dont know how to achieve it and defend it.And the great countries don’t have the interest that a small strategic country became strong. (not USA, not Russia, and even the EU…). The european medias stay focused on Greece and Ukraina but they don’t talk about that the USA are deploing now a military equipement in Bulgaria, Romania and the Baltic countries. So they provoke Russia and menace the regional peace. I am not a russophile but tthe balkanic, the central and estern european countries have an important export to Russia and today the countries like Bulgaria, SErbia, the Baltic countries etc are sacrificed beacause Germany and France have an agreement with the States the IMF and the World bank.

  45. Pk

    The transition has failed because after the fall of the communist regime, the people who “ruled” the state remained in power. Their kids, sons/ daughters in law are still on those positions. How do you create democracy when the actors are the same? You don’t. you claim that there is transition process- this transitioning has been happening for 25 years now. The highest corruption has nothing to do with Russia or the Russian church- no one is forcing the governments not to follow the law or not to create better ones that would eliminate corruption and put people in jail. We do best what we always do- we blame someone else for our failure- russia, bad Europe, the Turkish yoke, the previous government, but never the greed and unwillingness of the MPs. Once they grab the power- man it is like dogs , they will never let go.

    The Eu was presented as a savior for all our problems, something you magically join and then the entire state is better and we shower in money and well- being. The people (most of them ) took this quite literally , failing to understand that the acceptance means- you no longer play by your rules, you follow someone else. Also that hard, hard work is needed. While everybody wants to be the boss- no one wants to be the “supporting staff”. In my opinion- BG was not ready to join the union and they should have waited until the state was able to deliver on all the requirements.
    Some say it is a process- yeah but this process has literally been at the same position for 25 years. Instead of making progress, we acquit criminals, corrupted politics and magistrates have not changed for that time, medias have no real purpose, because the majority is affiliated with some political party, poverty levels are shocking. It takes actions and the willingness of the people to create something better (germany for example), but in Bulgaria it seems like there is more talking than actions. Since Romania is making a bigger progress and putting criminals in jail it means that something or someone in BG is not doing their job. And the people cannot change a thing, because the faces they are left on elections have been the same for the past 25 years. Please explain to me how this is possible- 25 years – in every ruling government ? You better ask what the bulgarians understand under “democracy” you will be surprised in my opinion.

  46. Petko Ivanov Prodanov

    Can anyone say what is democracy? I think this is just a word serving for the exposure of people, but without real content and real reality it shows the good distribution of goods is not so good.I thing this is bullshit that we have justice, care and attention to a weak and common interests and general morality.How however we can explain the striving permanent of sustained economic growth that is absurd and unnatural, but hardly perceived asworldly wisdom .There no future such purely formal alliance, not really address the need for support, solidarity, toward a common goal, and de facto policies conducted entirely in the interests of certain lobbies and groups.So the freedom is very well in Bulgaria.Ok yes of course on what we have to work, but trust me, most people do not rely on European officials to improve their lives ! They were more tired of hypocritical love ! Europe is not one united family, and is more confused continent.

  47. Daniella Jordanni

    How many times are we going to discuss the same topic? Is there nothing else happening in the EU? Or is it that by focusing on Bulgaria’s democracy, people would not focus on more important things going on? Oh and BTW, if Bulgarian democracy has failed, we can only blame the international institutions in charge that were so “thoughtful” and “smart”. Yes, thank you idiots!

  48. Boris Mihaylov

    Transition process still ongoing… But the answer definitely is “yes” – yes, it’s working!

  49. Daniel Dimitrov

    EU never existed for the common Bulgarian in Bulgaria. EU never had Bulgaria as a fully recognized member and turned their backs on all social, economical, political and military risks that this country was involved in. Bulgaria existed as a part of the barrier between the West and the East, so that the West could safely prosper. Now, no one in the Western EU cares about the mafia that runs this country more than they care to be politically correct. EU never helped Bulgaria’s transition like it helped Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia. How ironical it is to condemn it “partially fledged” sitting safely behind the iron curtain, just pointing fingers and judging.

  50. Slavey Tolev

    It is a slow and painful process… As a Bulgarian living abroad I see it as the 40 years in the desert moment that Bulgaria needs to go through.
    Corruption and blaming anyone but one self are two of the major obstacles to overcome.

  51. Rick Wilmot

    Democracy is a sham, it lets people think that by voting they will make a difference. David Cameron was elected as PM with 26% of those who bothered to vote.

  52. Daniel Yosifov

    There is a book that is called ” Deeds of Russian tsarism in Bulgaria ” ( Авантюрите на руския царизъм в България – in bulgarian). This book contains opinions of the author, but only letters and telegrams proving that Russia has always tried more harm Bulgaria than to help her.

    I suggest all bulgarians who haven’t read this book and still thinks that Russia is the better option rather than EU to read it. I hope it change your mind.

    • Bulgarians are the Oldest nation in Europe

      The Old BuLGars were local BaLKan population who have been to the East and back, most probaby Scythians (which translates as wandering – walking about from Bulgarian). And the Scythians were Northern Thracians. Thraki is the name the Greeks gave to most of the local tribes when they colonised the Balkan Coast line. Sclavus or Sklaveni, that is Slavs is the Roman – Latin name for the local Balkan – Thracian population in the Lower Danube basin, for tribes like the Gethi (aka Gothi, also Gutsuli today in the Old Rus – Ukraine) meaning glorious, that is Slav, from the Indo Aryan Sanskrit gayate. BuLGars, from the root word blg, blk, blh means noble white glittering. Same for BaLKan. Part of the local population went as far as Eire known as Fir Bolg. Other BuLGars, those of kanas (from the Bulgarian iz-KON-en = in the beginning, in the head of smth, later knez or knyaz) Altsek (Alzeco) settled in the Apenini and hundreds of toponyms in Italy bear a Bulgarian name today.

  53. Dimitris Stamiris

    PERIKLIS MAKE DEMOCRACY BUT THIS DAYS THIS WORD IS ONLY IN PAPERS !!!!

    TODAY IF YOU LOOK DEMOCRACY AND FACISM OR DICTATOR ….. LOOKS THE SAME !!!!!

    • George

      I was also only on paper back then, Dimitris…women were not allowed to vote, slaves were not allowed to vote. The Athenians used to steal money from their allies etc. As long as human nature has anything to do with it, it is never going to be right…

  54. Любомир Иванчев

    Democracy? Bulgaria isn’t a democracy, unless you consider “democratic” practices like going into power by buying votes, stimulating widespread corruption, endorsing confict of interrests on all government levels and displaying complete impotency to deal with the population’s social and economic problems. No, in truth Bulgaria is an oligarchic republic. The government works for the interests of the dominating circle within a small elite – successors of the former communist elite. The political parties represent different oligarchic circles within that elite that compete for power and wealth. There is no effective social state, there is no effective healthcare, the education system is at an all-time collapse. The citizens are viewed as complete pawns and tools in the hands of this elite. Where and when did someone see democracy here? Populism and demagogy – yes, but last time I checked there was a big difference bethween them and democracy.

    • Bulgarians are the Oldest nation in Europe

      And guilty of this are the Tataro Mongol Moskel (Ugro Finnic) New Great Russians, as well guilty of Bulgaria s biggest national catastrophy – losing half of Bulgarians historic and ethnic lands and population brought to genocide by Turks, Greeks, Serbs, Romanians and Great Russians.

    • Bulgarians are the Oldest nation in Europe

      As if there was no ethnic and government oppression in Turkey.

    • George

      This has been one of the side-effects of the change of regime in Bulgaria…before it was all about Pan-slavism. You never heard things like Bulgaria is the oldest nation of Europe…

  55. MJ35

    In Bulgaria there was not a civil war after Communism like the one they had in Romania. Now Romania is a little bit better than Bulgaria. Do not Forget that Bulgaria was part of Ottoman Empire and Romania was not !!!

  56. Dimitrovgrad Alexei

    They call this debate but all 4 are pro-EU and anti-communist.
    Wat I hear from Bulgarians is anything but positive, and polls show the majority thinks living standards were higher 30 years ago.
    Maybe Bulgaria shoulndn’t ‘ follow Russia, at least not every aspect of its policy, but clearly it should be more independent of Brussels and Washington, and cater for the needs of the Bulgarian people. Some of the policies of 30 years ago should be restudied and reapplied.

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