Войната в Украйна, последиците за Балканите и ролята на България

Масови протести на солидарност с украинския народ поставят българското правителство под натиск да окаже военна помощ на правителството в Киев (източник: Pixabay, CC0)

Българска гледна точка за ролята на страната и на ЕС в Западните Балкани

Д-р Антон Панчев

Антон Панчев е преподавател по албански език, култура и общество в Софийския университет. Той е и един от редакторите на сайта Obshtestvo.net, който де факто е българската медийна връзка между албаноезичния и българоезичния свят. 

Тази статия е публикувана в албанското списание Shenja в неговия 132 брой през април 2022 г., на страници 27-29. 

Войната в Украйна, като резултат от руската агресия, създаде една нова ситуация в областта на регионалната и на глобалната сигурност. Балканите ще бъдат засегнати дълбоко от тези геополитически процеси не само заради географската близост с Русия и с конфликта в Украйна, но и заради хроничните слабости на нашите държави – нестабилните политически институции, структурните икономически слабости, социалните проблеми, възможните междуетнически напрежения в някои страни, дестабилизиращата политика на Белград и други.

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The war in Ukraine, the consequences for the Balkans and Bulgaria’s and EU’s role

Large-scale demonstrations in solidarity with the Ukrainian people take place in Sofia and other big cities regularly, as military and security experts ask the Bulgarian governmen to provide military aid to the government in Kiev (source: YouTube)

A Bulgarian perspective on the country’s role in the Western Balkans and considerations about the EU’s implication in it

Dr. Anton Panchev

Anton Panchev is a professor of Albanian language, culture and society at the University of Sofia. He is also one of the editors of the site Obshtestvo.net, which is a de facto Bulgarian media connection between the Albanian-language and the Bulgarian-language worlds. 

This article was published in the Albanian Shenja Magazine in its 132th issue in April 2022, at pages 27-29. 

The war in Ukraine, as a result of Russian aggression, has created a new situation in the field of regional and global security. The Balkans will be deeply affected by these geopolitical developments not only because of the geographical proximity to Russia and the conflict in Ukraine, but also because of the chronic weaknesses of our countries – unstable political institutions, structural economic weaknesses, social problems, possible inter-ethnic tensions in some countries, destabilising policies of Belgrade, etc.

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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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Nikolay Krastev: Today Bosnia and Herzegovina is the “sick man” of the Balkans

An interview about the ongoing political and state crisis in the Western Balkan republic

Martin Markov, UNA News, 31.01.2022

Nikolay Krastev is an international journalist and Bulgarian specialist on the Western Balkans. He has extensive experience in reporting on geopolitical issues and has worked as a correspondent for the Bulgarian National Radio in the Western Balkans and in Moscow.

For more information on the greatest political crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s 26-years old history, read these articles: at Euronews and Al-Jazeera.

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“The Battle of Stalingrad” for Skopje led to the resignation of Prime Minister Zoran Zaev

Northern Macedonia continues to pass through tests in its attempts to affirm itself in international relations (source: Pixabay, CC0)

Bulgaria actively supported the processes that led to Zaev’s downfall and the expected coming to power in Skopje of a new majority

Nikolai Krastev

Cross-border Talks: In the recent years Macedonian politics has been marked by the country’s attempt to receive a green light for the start for accession negotiations witht the EU. While previously the obstacle to that process of admittance at a European level was Greece, in the last two years Bulgaria has been blocking the start of these negotiations. Sofia has grievances with regard to what it calls the ideology of “Macedonism”, a political tendency which negates the Bulgarian essence of a large number of Macedonian historical figures or of the Macedonian cultural heritage until the moment when a Macedonian identity emerged or was imposed. Bulgaria tends to put that tipping point at 1944, but it is probably more just to view the emergence of this new identity as a process which has started before that and continued long after it. To resolve such historical dispute a Bulgarian-Macedonian historical comission was established. However, in the absence of political will on both sides to view as common or shared the heritage, which they tend to see exclusively as yours, the commission hasn’t achieved any result.

Under Zoran Zaev there was expectation that Northern Macedonia’s Western partners would pressure Sofia to give up on its pretentions. However, the international situation after the Brexit led to developments in which some European countries are also not quite interested in a rapid EU enlargement in the Western Balkans. At the same time, the clash between pro-Biden and pro-Trump forces in Bulgaria led to a situation in which on 14 November 2021 Bulgarians would vote for a third time for Parliament in this year. Also, president Rumen Radev seeks reelection in conditions of intensified and heightened emotions in Bulgarian society. The Macedonian issue is one of the talking points in media, with a number of Trump-leaning voices criticising even the hint of a possible Bulgarian-Macedonian detente that doesn’t represent Macedonian capitulation. In October 2021 Radev organised a first-in-time meeting with Bulgarian organisations from Northern Macedonia, that could be read also in the context of the forthcoming presidential election. As we see from Nikolay Krastev’s report, Bulgaria also became a controversial issue in Macedonian local elections.

This article was published on The Foreign Insider on 1 November 2021. 

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