Nicolae Popescu, Research fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) in London and blogging for EUobserver critzises the Bulgarian president Purvanov's lack of commitment to the European Union and European standards in his last post.
What angers Popescu is Purvanov's defence of the totalitarian Azerbadjanian regimes right to mess with the electoral laws without European involvment. Purvanov has also chosen to make a state visit to my previous home land Republic of Moldova, the fact that drew my interest to Popescus high quality blog.
Moldova's president Vladimir Voronin not only calls himself communist but uses some good old tricks from 1989 when they seem fit. I wouldn't say that Moldova is a totalitarian country now, and it's definitely not communist in any sense of the word. Politicians give and take dirty tricks, but Voronins' tricks go well beyond most European standards. For example Voronin has arbitrarilly expelled 245 romanian citizens from Moldova, in fear that they might support his liberal opponents. In Voronin's mind Romanian and Liberal seem to be synonymes. I'm sure neither romanian liberals or their adversaries would agree on this...
One could point ut that the presidents job is to keep good relations with friends and foes, no matter where they stand politically. The time of Purvanovs state visit could have been picked more carefully though... Moldova is going to elections on 5th of April, and Purvanov's cosy handshakes with the communist president might seem like support of his political party. Likewise might the visit to the Bulgarian minority living in Moldova seem as a way to convince them to vote for Voronin.
Things just might be interpreted this way... Popescu interprets them this way any way. I am convinced he is not alone.
Purvanov's orientation towards the EU has been quite a hot topic in Bulgaria lately. When the country was freezing form the lack of Russian gas in January, Purvanov boldly declared his support for opening all Bulgarian nuclear reactors, no matter what Bruxelles would say. Two years before, the closing of one of the reactors was a compromise Bulgaria had to do to join the EU.
The EU-question is rather complex in Bulgarian politics. All parties pay lip service to European ideal, but the absence of a well defined European ideal gives room for very many opinions under this umbrella. There is also strand of nationalistic anti-EU thinking that not is limited to a certain parties, even if the ruling Trojka might be closer to this strand than the SDS-DSB opposition.
Purvanov is the most EU critical politician in public discussion. Bojko Borisov has chosen the EU stars as symbol for his party GERB. Prime minister Stanishev takes a lot of beating from Bruxelles, but he seems more than happy to take part in EU politics...
I don't think this hesitant attitude towards Europe is very unique for Bulgaria, but rather a Europan phenomenon.There is another great post on Euobserver about this, noting the ironic fact that the only truly european party is Declan Glaney's party Libertas, working to prevent the Eu from getting more influence over national states.
Read Popescus post