Tag Archives: Bulgaria

Environmentalists against the Environment: When Good Intentions Are Not Enough

This article is published in collaboration with the Serbo-Croatian portal Bilten. Debates over natural conservation have been at the center of public attention in Bulgaria. They usually appear as clashes between investors and environmentalists over tourist resort projects. Media represents them as a contradiction between concerns with the employment of citizens, living in the vicinity of national parks, and green activists, caring for natural conservation, but disregarding economic growth. In reality, the green movement were complicit in the establishment of a liberal conservationist regime that was abused by inv ..

“Bulgarian welfare does not combat poverty but the poor”*

The article was originally published in the portal of the Bulgarian left, New Left Perspectives. KOI’s 2018 report “The people” against welfare payments: or the art of making those in need ask for more restrictions against themselves authored by Vanya Grigorova is a follow-up of an earlier, 2016 report entitled Poor against poor. That previous report detailed the ever-proliferating types of welfare payments existent in Bulgaria, the common misconceptions about them, and the discursive and policy stratagems the Right deploys to limit access to the social safety nets. The main thesis, then and now, is that t ..

Bulgarian Academy of Sciences Researchers on the Campaign Against a Project on Gender Equality

Note from the LeftEast editors: days after The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (a.k.a. The Istanbul Convention) was declared “unconstitutional” by the Bulgarian Constitutional Court, the witch-hunt against the so-called “gender ideology” took its first symbolic victim. A project on gender equality nominated in the first phase of UNESCO’s Participation Programme 2018-2019 was blocked by the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, and later by the Bulgarian Ministry of Education and Science (despite the fact that the Ministry had ..

It was never about the Istanbul Convention

The debate over the ratification of the so called “Istanbul Convention” in Bulgaria, as in some other countries in the region, became a huge public scandal and probably the most important political matter of 2018. Originally intended to provide states with a framework for prevention and reduction of domestic violence against women, the document has become a byword for a conspiracy against the Bulgarian people and their supposed “traditional values” violated by foreign liberal powers through the use of “gender ideology”. On the 27th of July the Constitutional Court, referred to the matter by 75 deputie ..

When is OK to shut down a newspaper? “Economic” vs. “Political” Pressure on the Public Sphere

Note from the LeftEast editors: The Bulgarian media market is extremely concentrated and under immense pressure to contract still further. Several analytical outlets have recently shut down due to financial constraints. The lack of media pluralism and the severe ownership concentration have been reflected in the recent decision of Reporters Without Borders to downgrade the country’s media freedom ranking from 35th to 111th place. In this short piece, Jana Tsoneva zooms in on the latest chapter of media closures and attacks on press freedom. The article is published in collaboration with the web portal Bilt ..

Bulgarian Lessons: Liberalism as Market Power plus Expensive Electrification of the Whole Country

This article is published in cooperation with the Serbo-Croation portal Bilten.org. The past few days, a high-voltage scandal is literally grilling the main politicians and business elites in Bulgaria: an obscure local energy company is going to buy the Bulgarian assets of the largest electricity distribution company in the country, owned by the Czech state company CEZ. The intensity of the controversy belies a deeper debate over when a private business deal constitutes a legitimate public concern. In short, the deal has exposed some paradoxes underpinning the separation between public and private, so dear to li ..

Bulgaria (not) only for Bulgarians

At this year’s summit of G20, the newly elected French president Emanuel Macron stated that the problem with the slow economic development of Africa was civilizational. As an example, he noted that African women gave birth to 7-8 children, in which he saw a negative economic effect without accounting for its economic roots–the reason must be the “innate backwardness” of the people. Similarly, in Bulgaria the problem with the social and economic segregation of the Roma is viewed as civilizational, which can have negative consequences in the future such as becoming a burden to the social system. This se ..

Solidarity undone: the left-green protest that didn’t happen in Bulgaria

The recent protests against the destruction of the national park in Bulgaria’s Pirin mountain reveals the relation of forces in Bulgaria’s green movement. The start of Bulgaria’s EU Council presidency on 11 January 2018 put the country into the focus of European public opinion. As usual, the spotlight was on the progress of Bulgaria’s integration into the EU and, unsurprisingly, on the ‘cloud of corruption’ hanging over the country. While PM Borisov obediently promised to tackle this issues within the next two to three years, people across Bulgaria took to the streets, seizing the opportunity ..

Call for Solidarity from Bulgaria: No Nazis on Our Streets, No to Fortress Europe

Note from the LeftEast editors: In January 2018 Bulgaria has taken the presidency of the Council of the European Union for the first six months of 2018. Meanwhile Neonazis will still be marching the on the streets of Sofia in February to commemorate General Hristo Lukov: the head of the interwar Legion and Minister of War in the late 1930s. Known as a stark nationalist and anti-semite, he was killed by a partisan woman. The march that commemorates him combines nationalist, chauvinist, anti-communist and racist rhetorics. It is a feast of the international right extreme, whose members come to Bulgaria in big num ..

In the Name of the Constitution: Ethnic Minorities and Technologies of Disenfranchisement in Bulgaria

Note from the editors: Starting next month Bulgaria will assume the presidency of the Council of the European Union. To acknowledge this momentous occasion, this month LeftEast will carry two texts by Jana Tsoneva analyzing the politics of contemporary Bulgaria. This article originally appeared in July on the Serbo-Croatian portal Bilten and is republished here with their generous permission. It is a habit of the lazy mind to associate only ex-Yugoslavia with ethnic conflicts, but in the late 1980s Bulgaria, too, was on the brink of an “ethnic war”. The post-1956 period regime was marked by the increase of ra ..