Bulgaria celebrates May 6 as the day of its military, a theme that was picked up by several contestants in the country’s European Parliament election campaign – though with predictably varying interpretations, from portraying the vote as a choice between good and evil, through to a call to revive Bulgaria’s army to prevent it becoming a victim of a Ukraine-Russia scenario.
Some notes from The Sofia Globe’s election notebook:
* Boiko Borissov, leader of centre-right party GERB, posted greetings on Facebook to the country’s military – from generals down to cadets – on the occasion of Army Day, illustrating the post with a photograph of himself in the general’s uniform that he wore when he was Interior Ministry chief secretary.
His deputy, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, however had EU funds on his mind, lashing out at the current Bulgarian Socialist Party government for an “absolute standstill” in preparations for carrying out EU-funded projects in the new financial programming period. Tsvetanov, deputy prime minister and interior minister in the 2009/13 GERB government, favourably compared the use of EU funds when his party was in government, using 34 per cent of contracted funds.
* BSP leader Sergei Stanishev, list leader for his party in Bulgaria’s May 25 European Parliament elections and also leader of the Party of European Socialists, posted a video on Facebook marking May 6 as St George’s Day and saying that the saint was a symbol of the choice between good and evil (some days ago, Borissov also characterised the European Parliament vote in Bulgaria as a choice between good and evil, though doubtlessly he had a diametrically different idea about which party was in which role.)
Stanishev urged everyone to make a choice, whether to be a sacrificial lamb or whether to fight for a good and fair Bulgaria.
* Reformist Bloc list leader Meglena Kouneva was in Bulgaria’s Danube city of Rousse, launching the bloc’s campaign there along with the number two on the list, Svetoslav Malinov.
A flash mob was arranged to lay flowers at the monument to the fallen in the Serbo-Bulgarian War: 28 flowers to symbolise the 28 member states of the EU. That the number of flowers brought by supporters in fact outnumbered the countries of the EU was seen as a good sign by Kouneva, who said “this is a good sign for the EU, that it will strengthen and expand”, as the Reformist Bloc wanted it to.#
She spoke in praise of EU solidarity and said that the EU should be a place where the individual was respected, where everyone knew their rights and states were organised so that there could be no deviations from these values.
Malinov said that the BSP and Stanishev were robbing Bulgaria of its European future. While they were in power, there was poverty and lawlessness, but the Reformist Bloc wanted a performance in the May 25 elections that would make a change of government inevitable and put it on the path to govern.
* Ivailo Kalfin, list leader for Georgi Purvanov’s ABC, a rival set up against the current leadership of the BSP, focused on what he described as the sheer lack of national targets and national consensus in Bulgaria.
Campaigning in Belogradchik, Kalfin said that cities in Europe that were in areas adjoining the Danube were among the richest, but in Bulgaria the opposite was true, that this was one of the fastest-declining and poorest regions. North-western Bulgaria had huge potential that was not being used, Kalfin said.
The priorities of ABC, Kalfin said, were the economy, health, education, the way that state institutions worked and importantly, acting against the demographic crisis.
* Nikolai Barekov of Bulgaria Without Censorship (BWC) handed out traditional thick lamb soup in Sofia and said that only by restoring the Bulgarian army could save the country such scenarios such as the one in Ukraine.
“What is happening in Ukraine can happen in Bulgaria if we rely only on our allies. Is someone preserving the territory of Ukraine?” the BWC chief said. The only thing that Bulgaria could count on if someone encroached on its territory was its own army, which should be restored at once.
He called for Bulgaria to help ethnic Bulgarians to return to the country by providing them with passports and transportation to Bulgaria.
“We cannot feed Syrian refugees while Bulgarians die arm’s-length away…these are ethnic Bulgarians, who could improve the workforce in Bulgaria, and we should not rely on refugees from Syria. It cannot be that ethnic Bulgarians should choose whether to live in Ukraine or in Russia, their place is in Bulgaria, in the EU,” Barekov said.