Sergiu Miscoiu: The EU will be social, or there will be no EU

Interview with the Romanian political scientist about a number of issues dealing with EU reform and the role of Central and Southeastern Europe in the EU.

Vladimir Mitev

Cross-border Talks interviewed the Romanian political scientist and expert on EU affairs Sergiu Mișcoiu in the context of the renewed discussions for EU reform, following the completion of the deliberations, called Conference on the Future of Europe. 

We discussed:

– how much of a success is the announced opening to the public for consultations, called Conference on the Future of Europe;

– why the EU continues to be elites-led and the conference mostly reaffirmed the already followed agenda;

– how should we see Emmanuel Macron’s proposal for concentric circles of integration or European political community, opened to non-member from the neighborhood – as encouragement for the non-member to engage the EU or as a discouragement for their efforts to become full members;

– how should we perceive the efforts of Western Europe to impose reforms on EU’s East in fields such as energy transition, anti-corruption and EU defense; 

– what can EU’s East learn from Western Europe on the issue of rising energy prices and EU as a market;

– what could be the future role for Romania and Bulgaria within the EU.

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Mołdawia, Gruzja i Ukraina potrzebują wszechstronnej pomocy na drodze do UE

Codru Vrabie (Vlad Stanciu, Asociația INK)

W kolejnym wywiadzie w ramach projektu Cross-Border Talks (Rozmów Transgranicznych) nadal zastanawiamy się nad sytuacją na Ukrainie i tym, co ona oznacza dla regionu, w tym dla całej Europy Wschodniej. Na początku marca, Ukraina, Mołdawia i Gruzja złożyły wnioski o członkostwo w Unii Europejskiej. Jakie są ich perspektywy? Odpowiada Codru Vrabie, wieloletni działacz organizacji pozarządowych z Rumunii, od lat zaangażowany w wiele inicjatyw na rzecz lepszego zarządzania, ekspert ds. walki z korupcją, ostatnio zaangażowany w szkolenie młodych prawników i urzędników w Mołdawii i Rumunii.

Wideo w języku angielskim – transkrypcja poniżej:

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Кодру Врабие:  Молдова, Грузия и Украйна трябва да бъдат подкрепени икономически и човешки по пътя им към ЕС

Кодру Врабие (снимка: Влад Станчу, асоциация INK)

Интервю с румънски експерт по въпросите на доброто управление в контекста на кандидатурата на трите страни за членство в ЕС

Владимир Митев

На 9 март 2022 г. “Трансгранични разговори” интервюира румънския експерт по добро управление Кодру Врабие за това какво е реалистично по пътя към ЕС за Молдова, Грузия и Украйна, на чиято територия има война или замразени конфликти, какво могат да направят за тях източните страни от ЕС и какви добри примери за реформи има в тях, особено в Молдова. 

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Codru Vrabie: Moldova, Georgia și Ucraina trebuie susținute economic și uman în drumul lor spre UE

Codru Vrabie (sursă: Vlad Stanciu, Asociația INK)

Interviu cu expertul român în domeniul bunei guvernări în contextul cererii de aderare a celor trei țări la UE

Vladimir Mitev

La 9 martie 2022, Cross-border Talks l-a intervievat pe expertul român în bună guvernare, Codru Vrabie, despre ce este realist să se întâmple pe drumul spre UE al Republicii Moldova, Georgiei și Ucrainei, în condițiile în care pe teritoriile lor este război sau sunt conflicte înghețate, ce pot face pentru ele țările estice din UE, și care au fost poveștile bune de reformă în acestea, în special în Republica Moldova. Codru Vrabie a făcut un comentariu pe subiectul aderării celor trei țări la UE în acest text din blogul lui, scris cu câteva zile înainte de interviu. 

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Codru Vrabie: Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine must be supported in economic and humane terms on their path to the EU

Codru Vrabie (photo: Vlad Stanciu, Asociația INK)

Interview with the Romanian expert on good governance in the context of the three countries application for accession to the EU

Vladimir Mitev

On 9 March 2022 Cross-border Talks interviewed the Romanian expert on good governance Codru Vrabie about what is realistic to happen on the EU road of Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine, when they have war or frozen conflicts in their territories, what can the eastern countries in the EU do for them and what have been the good stories for reform in change in them, especially in the Republic of Moldova.

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The necessary change in Bulgaria: from static to dynamic identity?

Bulgarian urban landscae from the times of transition (source: YouTube)

Bulgaria’s foreign and domestic policies are a mystery to many Bulgarians themselves. This paper develops a hypothesis and an “optimistic theory” for empowering the common man in the country so that he could become the engine of modernisation in the country and the region. This is done through a method called the ‘bridge of friendship’. It sounds ridiculous. And strange. But it works.

Vladimir Mitev

This article was published at the blog “The Bridge of Friendship” on 6 February 2022.

In the English-language world, the story from Panchatantra about the elephant and the blind wise men is popular. Each of them touched a certain part of his body and proclaimed that part to be the whole being. 

The political events after Boyko Borissov’s fall from power are supposedly unfolding before the eyes of all Bulgarians. Yet, in my opinion, the media does not provide a deep and true understanding of the elephant of Bulgarian reality. The TV channels comment on various topics: the change of leadership at Bulgargas (the gas distribution company), the Bulgarian state doing something in and with North Macedonia, bickering over the judiciary, oligarchs fighting over politics and justice, etc. Yet the feeling is that at best the voices we hear are articulating their perspective on the elephant in question. We have to create the whole picture ourselves and update it constantly as we go along the course of events – if we have the time and willpower to read the media of the various political, business and government institutions while we work out our paycheck, take care of our loved ones and recover from the stress that the corona crisis contributes to.

This text will probably also, at best, cover one part of the elephant in the room. Still, I think it may be useful as an attempt to make sense of Bulgarian reality in the post-Borisov era, of Bulgarian state and political power in the face of the ongoing redefinition of the West, perhaps even of Bulgarian identity, which is often mysterious to our close or more distant interlocutors and partners from other countries. And to ourselves.

In my opinion, there is a need for attempts to make sense of these phenomena, even if the attempts prove unsuccessful or partially successful, because our nation is undeservedly struggling, experiencing severe social problems, and the disconnect between elites and people is preventing it from modernizing and becoming part of the world.

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The fight for the rule of law in EU is only just beginning

A part of the cover page of Binding the Guardian report (source: Cross-border Talks)

Małgorzata Kulbaczewska-Figat interviewed the left-wing member of the European Parliament Clare Daly in the context of the report Binding the Guardian, commissioned by her office. Binding the Guardian deals with abuses of rule of law in three EU countries, which the European Commission failed to expose and counter maneuver

Małgorzata Kulbaczewska-Figat

This article was published on 10 December 2021 at the Polish site Strajk.eu

When the European Commission reports on the rule of law in individual states, does it really always act as an impartial arbiter? And what if the answer to this question is negative? The report prepared by a team of political scientists and commissioned by Irish left-wing MEP Clare Daly shows, on the example of Spain, France and Bulgaria, the scale of Brussels’ “oversights” and inconsistencies. And its authors prove: the rule of law is a great thing, democracy is worth fighting for, but… A perfectly law-abiding government can equally perfectly well pursue the interests of big business, not its own working citizens.

Perhaps it is because of these conclusions that the report entitled Binding the Guardian has gone almost unnoticed in the mainstream media. It would be very different if the leading authors – Bulgarian-British political scientist Albena Azmanova and young researcher-trainee Bethany Howard, supported by five other academics from universities from Berlin to Oxford – had followed the usual path and drawn a simple opposition between liberal democracy and populism. However, they deviate from this path in the very first paragraph of the report.

“The development of autocratic, unaccountable governments – more ostentatious in the East, more insidious in the West – is a trans-European pathology. Such governments have developed in countries led by Eurosceptic leaders (such as Viktor Orban’s Hungary) as well as those ruled by European loyalists (Borisov’s Bulgaria). They arose in old European countries (Spain, France, Austria) and in new ones (Poland, Romania). Safeguarding the rule of law has become a matter of political emergency.”, we read in the report.

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Bulgarians both look for capitalism with modern face and are skeptical towards change

Change Continues’ leaders Kiril Petkov and Assen Vassilev (source: YouTube)

The 14 November 2021 parliamentary elections in Bulgaria gave political space to a new party that promises change. Vladimir Mitev discusses about change and status-quo in an interview for the Polish site Strajk.eu

With much of the votes at the parliamentary elections in Bulgaria that took place on 14 November 2021, there is a clear winner – the anti-graft party Change Continues. Its political intentions deal with modernisation of the country in a number of domains, with judicial reform being one of the priorities. The Bridge of Friendship blog has written a number of articles on the Bulgarian protests of 2020, which were the beginning of the fall of the government of Boyko Borissov. Following the 4 April 2021 parliamentary elections a interim government was formed by the president Rumen Radev, in the conditions in which the post-Borissov political elites are unable to agree on a clear majority in parliament. The 14 November 2021 elections were the third parliamentary elections for this year and it is still not clear whether the political crisis will be overcome after them. 

Change Continues – the newly established party, took more than 25% of the votes. Boyko Borissov’s GERB remained second with more than 22% support. The Movement for Right and Freedoms – a political party, supported by the Turkish minority, but also having an important Bulgarian businessmen in its list, is the third force with a bit over 13% of the votes. It is followed by the Bulgarian Socialist Party, which got a bit over 10%. Then comes the formation of the showman Slavi Trifonov “There is Such a People” (over 9,5%), Democratic Bulgaria (a party of the urban middle class – a bit over 6% and the party Revival (less than 5%), which run on discourses of patriotism, anti-vaccination and critique of Western integrationists circles.

On the same day presidential elections were held – with the incumbent president Rumen Radev being unable to win them at the first round, but having a large distance from the second candidate – the rector of the University of Sofia. The Bridge of Friendship blog will probably reflect on the Bulgarian political situation after the election of the new president in other articles. What we offer now is an interview, which was given to Strajk.eu – a Polish progressive outlet. The interview was done by Malgorzata Kulbaczewska-Figat – a Polish journalist specialist in matters of Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe. 

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