The Resurrection of Todor Zhivkov

Views on BG | December 1, 2010, Wednesday // 11:04|  views

Bulgarian bloggers recently pointed to an amazing resemblance between dictator Todor Zhivkov and current Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, presenting in a collage the latter as originating from the communist leader. File photo

By Nadezhda Neynsky

New Europe

This month [November] a question was raised in Bulgaria, echoed in Brussels and eagerly waits for its reply.

"Were Boyko Borisov's words, praising the merits of The First - as they liked to refer years ago to Todor Zhivkov (the Bulgarian communist leader) - dropped accidentally or represented a well thought through move?"

And while closer and distant supporters of the Bulgarian Prime Minister sought to excuse or downplay his words, the answer naturally came from no one else but Zhivkov's granddaughter, who notes the following in an interview:

"I believe that the opinion that he expressed is an assessment of a politician of the new generation, I genuinely think and hope that he truly sees and feels things this way. This is an assessment that no other politician of the rank of Prime Minister or the position of Boyko Borisov has ever given to this date. And I also believe that his act is particularly valuable and praiseworthy, because my opinion is that he really thinks so."

The answer, however, does not settle the problem. Indeed, it is only the tip of the iceberg, which gradually emerged from the sea of public apathy. The real debate is not who is for, and who against Zhivkov. One man even approached me a few days ago with the words: "There is no point in turning back, Zhivkov has passed away and this is past." The big and pressing debate for Bulgaria today, more than ever, is the debate about the assessment of the last 20 years of Bulgarian history. This assessment divides the people of Bulgaria into categories that are not simply left- or right-oriented.

It divides them into Democrats and non-Democrats.

Viewed from this angle, things start to logically fall into place and to outline the allies of each side.

When some days ago at the Forum, "The Endured European Dream of Bulgaria 1944-1989", organized by the member of the European Parliament from the GERB Party Andrey Kovatchev for the repressed Bulgarian citizens by the regime, I stated that our descendants must know which is the moral boundary that they must never cross. I meant the very same boundary dividing democratic Bulgaria and its totalitarian past.

Everyone can find and read Europe's assessment of the totalitarian regime in the resolutions of the European Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. I will only remind that to no other politician in Europe did it occur, even as a joke, to praise Hitler or Stalin.

Maybe because the rest of Europe is more sensitive to the suffering of the thousands, whose future and lives were destroyed by the regime. Maybe because the rest of Europe still remembers the division and the Cold War, the communist camps and the Berlin wall. Or maybe because the citizens of Western Europe still pay from their own pockets to restore to European standards the economies of the former communist states. When Hans-Gert P?ttering, president of the European Parliament (2007-2009) and Chairman of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, equated fascism and communism, and called Hitler and Stalin "devils for Europe", this was a definite signal that right-wing Europe, the one that led the European Unification, will act as the guarantee that the totalitarian regime will forever remain in the past.
At the same time in Bulgaria, a strategy of undermining everything done in the last 20 years was undertaken. The philosophy that "all are political garbage", which was used over the years, in fact consciously or not served particular circles. Thus we come to the present day government of GERB (party-member of the EPP) and ATAKA (a nationalistic party), whose leaders for the first time, publically preach the idea that over the last 20 years in Bulgaria:

- Everything was privatized and stolen;
- Democracy became equal to criminality and corruption;
- The Bulgarian membership in the EU is not based on merits but on a political gesture;
- Certain foreign companies in Bulgaria must be nationalised;
- Europe doesn't like Bulgaria;
- Russia is the only one who cares and thinks about Bulgaria.

Thus, logically, the nostalgia for Zhivkov's time follows, the time when "a lot of things were done. The fact as well is that 20 years after, we still only privatize what's been built at that time", said Borisov.

It is interesting to know why these leaders stand behind the idea that the last 20 years were not good years for Bulgaria. It is interesting to know where they have been during these 20 years, on which side of the barricade? Did they take any public position within these years on the dramatic questions for Bulgaria and did they have courage to defend it?

These are logical questions, keeping in mind that in the last 20 years Bulgaria:

- Conquered and defended its right of democratic development;
- Stood for the rights of the minorities;
- Restored its economy;
- Removed visa restrictions for its citizens;
- Joined the family of the free European nations;
- Became a member of the Euro-Atlantic structures.
The way we live today, and the way we will live tomorrow, depends only on the ability of today's leaders to carry out brave and necessary reforms. I would like to remind them that they have the unique chance to live in a free and democratic society and to be armed with all the tools of democracy.

The question is whether they are able to use the tools of democracy or if they will remain in the grip of the stereotypes from the past.
We shall see...

Nadezhda Neynsky (Mikhaylova), former foreign minister of Bulgaria, is a Member of the EPP from Bulgaria.

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Tags: Bulgaria, Todor Zhivkov, Nadezhda Neynsky, Boyko Borisov


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