Thursday, 27 June 2013

Are they reformed?

I am not a Socialist. Even less am I a Bulgarian Socialist. The transition in Bulgaria has been such a wayward, idiosyncratic exercise that I – as  one who caught the last years of communism but who has fought for democracy after coming of age afterwards – define myself as right-of-centre in Bulgaria and centre-left out of Bulgaria. I have spent time in London, Sarajevo and Belgrade, sufficient time. There, I felt comfortable with the centre-left option: I like Labour more than the Tories (and even the LibDems), I used to like the Social Democrats (SDP) in Bosnia and the Democrats (DS) in Serbia before they decided to ruin themselves. I also read a lot, and I think the social democratic parties in Europe are sensible.

After the Party of European Socialists (PES) elected the Bulgarian Socialist leader, Sergei Stanishev, as its head, I thought there was a real chance for reform in this decaying, oligarchic structure called the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP). I thought – okay, this guy is of the same dough, a totalitarian child, Moscow-educated, hadn’t had a real job except party posts, but PES elected him as its chairman. Maybe this is a good sign: he will reform the party secretly from within. He rants about the usefulness of the Russian Belene nuclear power plant project, he seizes every opportunity to disgrace true centre-right reformists in Bulgaria, but after all he may be Europe’s secret weapon to reform my own Communists. Every person in the ex-Soviet bloc has their own Communists. Ask Kundera.

I have many Bulgarian Socialist friends. I admire them for their perseverance.

But Stanishev and his BSP now took a huge shit on both my friends’ beliefs and on my hopes that one day the Bulgarian left may be worth it. He appointed a mafia guy to take care of national security; he relies on the support of a far-right populist and Bulgarian neo-Nazi in parliament, even tolerating this guy’s appointment as head of the parliamentary ethics and anti-corruption committee; his foreign minister appoints former communist state security spies as chiefs at the ministry. He refuses to admit that there are tens-of-thousands-strong legitimate protests against him and the essence of this government taking place every single day in the capital. He says “these are only a couple of thousand of Sofians; it’s not Bulgaria.” It’s just like a quarter of a century ago, when his mother party invented the “Sofia citizenship” thing to separate people.

I am asking now – asking PES and all the people of Europe, for whose values I won’t stop fighting; Europe, our sacred home: Are they reformed?

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Will Bosnian ethnoelites take heed, finally?

Take a look at my comment on the June mass civic action in Bosnia against the inadequate behaviour of its ethnic elites and the implications for the country. It was written for the Institute for Regional and International Studies (IRIS) and is available here.

Friday, 7 June 2013

A couple of analyses from March and April (the UK's Bulgarian/Romanian migrants hysteria and the EU's Balkan successes in Jan-Apr)

Following are links to two analyses I wrote for the Institute for Regional and International Studies (IRIS) in March and April which for а reason were not published until today. Though a bit old, I think they offer interesting insights. The first one, "While an EU member, Britain should behave like one," discusses the anti-Bulgarian and -Romanian hysteria in British society vis-a-vis potential immigration waves from these countries once EU labour restrictions for their citizens fall in January 2014, all this amidst the recently rising eurosceptic moods in the UK. It is available here. The second one, "Brussels should step up its involvement in Balkan disputes because it works," looks at the relative successes of EU foreign policy in the Balkans (this was written before the landmark success of the Brussels agreement between Serbia and Kosovo) and urges a more consistent involvement by Brussels. It is available here.