May 17. 2021. 5:10

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Boyko Borisov’s “Russian roulette”

In 2016, the Bulgarian Parliament adopted a law on mandatory participation in the elections with the aim of increasing the legitimacy of representatives in the country. The sanction envisaged for the voters to neglect their obligation to vote at the elections is removal from the electoral roll. However, the removed voters have the possibility to be reentered into the electoral roll. Nevertheless, this does not resolve the problems. This is an undemocratic law because the right to vote implies that each voter can decide whether or not he or she would participate in the elections. Voters are not to be coerced to vote or sanctioned if they do not vote. Hence, this in itself is an indicator of ignorance/non-recognition of democracy and the undemocratic spirit of the regime in Sofia. Bulgaria has a large diaspora which traditionally does not participate in the elections. This year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic the participation in elections will be rendered more difficult even for the voters living in Bulgaria.

As there are no accurate records, it is assessed that the diaspora includes between 2-2.5 million citizens. In example, there are around 700,000 Bulgarian Turks, who had survived a calamity in the 1980-ies of the last century, living in Turkey, and around 300,000 living in Greece. Will they participate in the elections? The Movement for Rights and Freedom (DPS), an ethnic party of Bulgarian Turks, is trying to galvanize as many ethnic Turks as possible to participate in the elections.

Identity crisis

Bulgaria has also disputed the identity of ethnic Turks. Bulgarian Turks have been stripped of their rights through the policy of forcible assimilation and the massive exile in the 1980-ies, under the regime of communist dictator Todor Zhivkov. In example, in the period from June to September 1989 alone around 340,000 ethnic Turks emigrated from Bulgaria to Turkey. This was an act of ethnic cleansing, not voluntary departure, as the Bulgarian authorities had presented it at the time.

Analysts believe that the political rhetoric of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ekaterina Zakharieva (GERB) and the controversial VMRO-BND leader and Minister of Defense Krasimir Karakachanov aimed at negation of identity and language of Macedonians reminds of the rhetoric of Italian fascists in relation to the Slovenians, in which they negated the identity of the Slovenians and the Slovenian language in the early XX century. In Bulgaria patriotism is closely connected with the identity crisis.

International position of Bulgaria

Bulgaria is trying to find a new balance between its obligations towards NATO and the traditional emotional ties with and sympathies for Russia. As a NATO member, Bulgaria is responsible for a 354 kilometer- long eastern border of the NATO alliance. The border on the Black Sear is less than 500 kilometers away from Crimea and directly neighbours with the area controlled by the Russian Black Sea fleet and the Russian air force. As Bulgaria has the obligation to control Russian military activities at the Black Sea, it is trying to find the right balance in its relations with the two sides.

State Department report critical of Bulgaria

Boyko Borisov’s “Russian roulette”

Bulgaria requires thorough decriminalization and demafiaization

According to analysts, if the orchestrated attacks on North Macedonia do not stop, the EU and the US will find a political option that will represent the future of Bulgaria. Boris’s attack on North Macedonia is a suicidal move, which will firstly cost him, and then Bulgaria as well, because the US will not allow Bulgaria to blackmail anyone, and particularly not North Macedonia, which became 30th member of NATO thanks to the support of the US.

Analysts believe that the upcoming parliamentary elections will therefore be an exceptionally big and important opportunity for the Bulgarian voters to turn their back to such social deformations and request democratic development of their country, towards the necessary prosperity and true respect of European values, including good neighbourly relations, recognition and appreciation of diversity and plurality of modern society, which is what the EU truly is. Maintaining the current status quo in Bulgaria is unsustainable.

Ljubljana/Washington/Brussels/Sofia, 1 April 2021

  • Link (ENG): Analysis ● 2021 Elections in Bulgaria: Boyko Borisov’s “Russian roulette”
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