Tsvetan Tsvetanov, a former Interior Minister in Boiko Borissov’s first government and formerly a deputy leader of Borissov’s GERB party, has founded the Euro-Atlantic Security Center, an NGO working on key issues in the security sector.
Tsvetanov quit all party leadership posts, including the parliamentary leadership, of GERB in 2019 amid a controversy about senior politicians connected to the ruling coalition of Borissov’s third government having acquired real estate in questionable circumstances.
Tsvetanov, who has denied wrongdoing, has been critical of Borissov in recent media interviews, saying that people around the Prime Minister tell him what he wants to hear, not the real state of things, and adding that the two are no longer friends. “To say that we are would be hypocritical,” Tsvetanov told a television interviewer.
Formerly the head of GERB’s election headquarters, Tsvetanov has predicted that Borissov’s party will lose ground in Bulgaria’s autumn 2019 municipal elections.
Since the launch of the Euro-Atlantic Security Center (EASC), Tsvetanov has appeared as a commentator on a number of national media.
His EASC describes itself as working on eight key project areas, having drawn well-known experts into its team, going by the description on its website.
“As an independent non-partisan and non-governmental organization, we aim to contribute to deepening and enhancing Trans-Atlantic and regional cooperation in the security sector based on common Euro-Atlantic values and understanding of individual and collective security,” Tsvetanov said at the launch of the NGO.
“I deeply believe that through in-depth expert analysis and research, through debates and dialogue, accessible for the citizens, we can find the best solutions and answers to the hot topics in the security sector.”
Tsvetanov said that in the effort to find the best formula for security, however, “it is important to remain true to the democratic values, the rule of law, well-functioning institutions, respect for international law, human rights and freedoms. Because only when guided by the principles of democracy we can work for a more secure world for ourselves and our partners.”
The EASC website said that its project areas had been carefully selected to reflect pressing security issues and produce added-value at the national, regional, and international level.
These include fake news, cyber security, fighting terrorism, combating human trafficking, energy security and ecology, counteracting money laundering, migration and studying the communist past.
The founding of the NGO has been welcomed warmly by Bulgarian Jewish organisations, with which Tsvetanov worked closely during his political career in fighting antisemitism and hate speech and in ensuring security for the country’s Jewish community.
The description of the project areas said of the topic of fake news, disinformation and hybrid warfare that fake news erodes trust and plants negative sentiments in the public “that not only influence concrete aspects of the political process in the short term, but also cause unpredictable damage to the Euro-Atlantic partnership in the long term by jeopardizing the effectiveness of security sector cooperation that requires mutual trust”.
It said that guaranteeing cyber security has multiple aspects from data protection for each and every citizen to ensuring the security of critical infrastructure and information systems on the national and international level.
On fighting terrorism, it said that there are a number of definitions of the concept of terrorism “but despite the impossibility for consensus, most of them have two basic elements in common: the use of fear or violence for attaining political goals”.
“With the rise of radical Islamism the political aims become ever more unclear but the more clearly aimed at the “Western” model of private and public life. Ceasing financial flows to terrorism, prevention of radicalization and deradicalization are becoming increasingly important for ensuring the security of the Euro-Atlantic space.”
The project descriptions said that “Bulgaria continues to be among the main source countries for victims of human trafficking”.
“Sharing of knowledge and experience on the regional and international level in respect to the legislative framework and the operational work of law enforcement agencies, as well as increasing social awareness about the scale and consequences of this modern form of slavery are the main instruments to combat it.”
On energy security and ecology, the website said that Bulgaria is at the entry of the European Union energy market and due to its geostrategic position is a territory where a multitude of geopolitical and investment interests in the energy sector intertwine.
“Recent situations on the international stage show unequivocally that the energy sector is frequently used for political pressure from third countries. Energy security through diversification of sources and routes that guarantees energy independence is of key importance for the national and international security in the Euro-Atlantic region.
“At the same time climate change imposes the necessity to evaluate energy sources also based on their ecological impact. Environmentally motivated migrant flows and natural disasters are only two examples of ecological challenges for security.”
Money laundering is a grave problem, related to other forms of serious organized crime, such as trafficking in narcotics and people, as well as financing of terrorism, the website said.
“Constant sharing of knowledge, skills, approaches, and best practices among law enforcement agencies, the private sector, state institutions, academic circles, and non-governmental organizations committed to the topic is key for the constant adaptation of the measures for effective detection of money flows with criminal sources or aims.”
The EASC said that migration processes cause a number of potential challenges related not only to physical security and the risk of terrorism and radicalization “but also with the exploitation of the topic by populists for scare mongering the general public for concrete political goals”.
“After the Arab Spring, too often we have become witness to negative narratives about migration with the approach of elections. Designing clear migration policies and increasing citizens’ awareness about the various aspects of migration are crucial tools for overcoming the challenges caused by this phenomenon.”
Tsvetanov’s NGO said that the historical truth about the period of the communist regime should be studied and accessible for the public, it should be taught at school and subjected to a wide public debate.
“Only in this way the period will stop being a taboo and a source of misleading allegations. Knowing one’s past and building a culture of remembrance are an indispensable part of the construction of a staunch value system not only in young people but in society as a whole.”