Protests Lost Steam over Lack of Concrete Demands – Dutch Ambassador

Diplomacy | February 1, 2014, Saturday // 18:27|  views

Dutch Ambassador to Bulgaria Tom van Oorschot, photo by BGNES

The civic protests in Bulgaria lost steam because they did not voice concrete demands, according to Dutch Ambassador Tom van Oorschot.

In a Saturday interview for the Bulgarian National Radio (BNR), the Dutch Ambassador to Bulgaria commented on topics such as the wave of protests triggered by the appointment of media mogul Delyan Peevski as Chair of the State Agency for National Security (DANS) on June 14, the latest report of the European Commission under the co-operation and verification mechanism, and Bulgaria's Schengen bid.

As regards the months-long protests, the diplomat claimed that the discontent had indicated the lack of trust in the political situation and the fact that the public did not feel adequately represented in Parliament.

"In my opinion, this is a serious problem in Bulgaria because the democratic system requires that the majority population feel represented in Parliament," he stated, adding that it was good that civil society had expressed its opinion because the people had to have ways of expressing their views.

He claimed that the protests had been a sign of people's dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs but the actual goal of the rallies had not become clear.

"This is hardly the right way if you want the government to resign. It would be much more constructive to state concrete demands and see whether politicians respond to them," the Dutch Ambassador to Bulgaria noted, according to reports of

He went on to say that in order for Bulgaria to attract investments, it needed a stable government.

"Over the past one and a half years we witnessed three governments and each time there were substantial changes in the administration. This means that there is no stability in the reforms and plans change too often," he declared, adding that the business sector needed predictability.

"The business sector wants to have confidence in the system and it does not like insecurity. The color of the government is therefore irrelevant, but the government has to be stable, so that it can fulfill its obligations for a long time and complete its term in office" the Dutch diplomat explained.

He claimed that the recent report of the European Commission on Bulgaria's progress in the sphere of justice and home affairs was balanced and objective.

"A lot of work remains to be done. Stability is required. What the Netherlands demands is that these reforms are sustainable and irreversible," he said.

The Dutch Ambassador to Bulgaria argued that an estimation of whether the recent CVM report on Bulgaria has been positive or not was a very subjective matter.

As regards the topic of Bulgaria's accession to the Schengen Area, he pointed out that it was not on the agenda at present.

"Bulgaria's efforts to guard the external EU border are highly appreciated. I believe that the country put a lot of effort into strengthening the security of the border," he declared.

Regarding the criticism leveled against Bulgaria over the construction of a border fence, he emphasized the distinction between refugees and illegal immigrants, adding that while measures aimed at deterring refugees could not be adopted, it was only logical for a country to take steps to curb the influx of illegal immigrants.

Citing recent data, the Dutch Ambassador to Bulgaria informed that only 80 Bulgarians had entered the Netherlands since January 2014 to look for a job there.

He noted that the fears of the local population were related to criminal activities.

"Bulgarians often become victims of such practices. There are Dutch and Bulgarian organizations specializing in such activities. This is a result of the free movement of workforce, of people. This is precisely what we are trying to fight. There are great opportunities for Bulgaria in the EU. Bulgaria is a great country with huge potential but this is not known in the EU," the Dutch diplomat said.

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Tags: Dutch Ambassador, Schengen, Schengen Area, cvm report, Co-operation and Verification Mechanism, EC report on Bulgaria, justice and home affairs, anti-government protests, Delyan Peevski, State Agency for National Security, DANS


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