July 2021 is incredibly hot in Central and Eastern Europe – both in climate and politics. Elections, political changes, fighting against oligarchy are the focus of the first episode of the podcast Cross-Border Talks, hosted by Malgorzata Kulbaczewska-Figat and Vladimir Mitev in cooperation with Strajk, The Barricade and Naprzod Foundation.
Both Bulgaria and the Republic of Moldova held their parliamentary elections on 11 July 2021. And the results seem to suggest that we are cruising in the times of Joe Biden. In Moldova the party of a pro-EU economist and technocrat, Maia Sandu, got an overwhelming support for its anti-corruption agenda, which promises the dismantling of the remains of the clientelist networks of the former almighty oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc.
In Bulgaria, the results are inconclusive for a second time this year. But it is clear that the era of Boyko Borissov, who has been the prime minister for most of the last 12 years, is gone. The legacy of Trump seems to be in a slow retreat now, while the political culture of “my way or the highway” makes the formation of a new government majority difficult. In this situation the importance of the president Rumen Radev gets a boost. And while he was accused of being pro-Russian, when he was elected in 2016, now he seems to be warm to at least two American initiatives – the anti-corruption fight and the Three Seas initiative.
And it is the Three Seas initiative which is the key topic of this edition of Cross-Border Talks.
The summit of the initiative in Sofia took place on 8 and 9 July 2021 and it became clear that The Three Seas Initiative has been undergoing a change – with its economic and regional cooperation elements taking the upper hand… while the anti-Russian and anti-Chinese agenda remains in the background. Malgorzata and Vladimir discussed the changing attitudes of Bulgaria and Poland – two countries with ambitious leaders – towards the initiative. We hear the Bulgarian president Rumen Radev presenting the results of the summit. We read part of the Declaration of the participating countries. And we try to answer the question – what next for regional cooperation in Southern and Central-Eastern Europe?
Next comes The Crossroads Post – a rubric for news reporting and reflection on current affairs:
And the topic of the issue is Sofia summit of the Three Seas Initiative. It is the subject of discussion in Malgorzata and Vladimir’s bilateral exchange, which goes under the rubric P2P Broadband: