Rosen Plevneliev: A President who undoubtedly will be missed

Written by on January 2, 2017 in Bulgaria - No comments

In his last New Year’s speech as president, Rosen Plevneliev warned the Bulgarian people of populists “armed with ideologies and methods from the past”. He meant extremists on the right, such as the Patriotic Front, and on the left.

Exactly 10 years after Bulgaria joined the European Union Plevneliev said, that step had been an “undeniable historical achievement”. According to the outgoing president, Bulgaria is different now, compared to 10 years ago. He said, the gross domestic product had tripled since, and there was three times more money for education, pensions and social policies.

Plevneliev, who will be succeeded by former general Rumen Radev on January 22nd, 2017, said that thanks to European solidarity, Bulgaria had changed for the better. “We must continue to write history of a strong Bulgaria in a strong European Union”, he said.

During his rather difficult term, Plevneliev had established himself as a pro-European president, who found the right tone and content when talking to the Bulgarian people. Observers believe that it will not be easy for Radev to fill his predecessor’s shoes, in this or any other regard. Differences in positions, e.g. regarding Europe and Russia are one thing, personality, tact and having a conscience another.

Plevneliev’s decision to refrain from naming a caretaker government during his last days in office lead to harsh criticism from Radev, who might have to get used to the fact that he should be president for all Bulgarians, rather than a soldier who makes his mark by going after others.

The outgoing president also said in his New Year speech, Bulgarians should put aside the language of hatred and give way to understanding. For Hanukkah, he visited the Sofia Synagogue, where he called on Bulgarians to preserve tolerance and respect among all in society. These kinds of quotes, which are so important, especially in Bulgaria, might be gone, when Plevneliev leaves.

This president who says what other Bulgarian politicians fail to even think, who wants a socially inclusive, tolerant and modern Bulgaria, who made the country aware of the fact that former communists and state security agents were “still trying to dominate society” and who delivered lots of the more intelligent statements in Sofia politics, will undoubtedly be missed by many.

By Imanuel Marcus

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