French Le Figaro: European Sofia Still under Russian InfluenceViews on BG | January 4, 2010, Monday // 15:41| views
Dozens of thankful Bulgarians are pictured commemorating in 2008 the end of World War II by participating at a ceremony before the Monument of Soviet Army in Sofia. Photo by Sofia Photo Agency
Bulgaria joined the European Union in 2007, but still cannot get rid of the hold of its former big communist brother.
Bulgaria’s daily life, lifestyle, and ways of doing retail remind of Russia, something that disheartens diplomats from old Europe, working in the country, according to an article published in the French Le Figaro, dedicated to the 3rd anniversary of Bulgaria’s EU accession.
The author, François Hauter, writes that European diplomats are up in arms against the mafia, the lack of justice, and Bulgaria being the Russian model in the EU, all leading to their continuous, firm opposition against the release of the EUR 10 B from the European Commission for Bulgaria.
Hauter, however, points out that Sofia is not Congo and it is a city much better developed than Bucharest with residents demonstrating a higher lifestyle than the one in Western Europe’s largest provincial cities and with residential areas not as neglected as the ones in the Romanian capital.
“But Bulgaria is considered a Far East, a comparison we do not even dare to use for Hungary or Romania. Everything Western Europeans do not allow themselves as reproach to those two countries is reserved for Bulgaria,” the author writes.
Hauter calls the 1989 revolution a “royal coup,” a change of power leading only to former communists and now socialists dividing the country’s resources, but points out the same thing happened in Romania. The author also talks how the anti-Turkish disposition, used by the communists as a cover-up, is now a memory and Muslims have equal rights in Bulgaria.
According to the article, what is bothering the European diplomats the most stems from the fact that half of Bulgarians live bellow the poverty line while the elite leads a lavish lifestyle reminding the one of the Russian oligarchs and this life “a la Russe” is unacceptable for Europe.
As example the author talks about lavish parties, and direct demonstrations of wealth and power.
“Those who can demonstrate wealth, do it. They are the godfathers driving in corteges of armored cars. They are the feudal lords of entire towns and even regions. They divide the public orders; they launder the money in their families… Bulgaria is like Cecily…but today our periphery is no longer Palermo…it is Russia,” the article explains, adding that Central Europe and the former Soviet Republics openly hate Russia while for the Bulgarian people the attraction and the repulsion go hand in hand, and sympathy is predominant among those ruling the country.
As an example, the author uses the words of President, Georgi Parvanov, who at the opening of the Year of Bulgaria in Russia said: “Time cannot erase the good memory of those Russian soldiers who fought for Bulgaria’s freedom,” words unthinkable anywhere else in Central Europe, according to Hauter.
The article further analyzes the Soviet imprint and describes it as a very deep one over the fact that Bulgaria was an ally of Germany in World War II, something that placed local communists in a weaker position while the Soviet terror left its traces in people’s minds and dissidents became extinct in the country’s own concentration camps.
Hauter ends the article with the description of his conversations with an elderly couple and their recollection of the horrors of the repressions on the part of the Communist State Security and with Bulgaria’s youth telling him Bulgarians are people who obey easily and seeing the problem in the symbiosis between the State, the Secret Services and Russia.
“The overly diplomatic compromises of European functionaries cost a fortune. They first penalize Bulgarians who wish to see their country a modern one. But they also impede other Europeans, who loose trust in the EU enlargement. We advance like crabs, like we are ashamed of imposing our democratic principles and our values of honesty in the public life and the economy,” Hauter concludes.
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