site.btaMedia Review: December 7

Media Review: December 7
Media Review: December 7
Bulgarian dailies (BTA Photo)

The media generally discuss Bulgaria’s failure to join the Schengen area and its various aspects against the backdrop of increased migrant pressure and the problems in domestic and international affairs.

“Bulgaria Will Join the Schengen Area, But Not Now” is the title of the editorial by Trud commenting on the exchange of recriminations by the two largest parliamentary groups who blamed each other for the country’s expected failure to join the Schengen area. “While intense shuttling to and fro is under way in Brussels in Bulgaria’s favour, the MPs for Continue the Change in Sofia hatched yet another meaningless scandal,” the daily writes. Commenting on the exchange of declarations between this party and GERB, whose MPs retaliated with saying the former themselves were part of the problem as they had undermined confidence in Bulgaria while in power. Attending the EU-Western Balkans Summit in the Albanian capital Tirana, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Bulgaria could try Schengen entry again in a year. has been quoted as saying that illegally crossing Bulgaria's border with Turkiye is possible at the cost of EUR 50.

Bulgaria and Romania will not be divided on Schengen, the former chief EU negotiator and deputy foreign minister Vladimir Kissyov predicted in an interview for the Bulgarian National Radio (BNR). There is no reason whatsoever regarding the criteria, for Bulgaria has fulfilled them years ago, he added. Underscoring that Bulgaria should take a firmer stand in defending its positions, Kissyov said he has not seen the Dutch ambassador laying a single flower in honour of those who died defending the European borders. He likened the Bulgarian border police to the volunteers who fought in the epic Battle of Shipka in the 1877-1878 Liberation War. 

***

Neither the Bulgarian border is crossed for EUR 50, nor does anyone shoot straight at anyone else, 24 Chasa quotes Interior Minister Ivan Demerdzhiev as telling Bulgarian National Television (BNT) in connection with a video and photos distributed by several international media, which alleged that Bulgarian authorities guarding the border fired at refugees, one of whom ended up wounded.

“I am disappointed by such manipulation on the eve of the Schengen decision,” he said. "The incident of October 3 at the border was immediately investigated by a joint Bulgarian-Turkish commission, which came up with a categorical conclusion that the shooting was not carried out from Bulgarian territory and by a Bulgarian border policeman. Nevertheless, this report appeared before the Schengen decision," the Interior Minister clarified. "This report is in sharp contradiction with the position expressed by Mr Rutte a little earlier that the Bulgarian border is crossed probably for EUR 50 and it is very interesting which of the two theses is true," Demerdzhiev said.

***

A large-scale operation against drug dealing codenamed “White” is under way in Bulgaria. By order of Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev, district prosecution offices and gendarmeries began searches in three regional centres at homes of well-known criminals currently under trial or about whom there is information of being involved in drug dealing, writes 24 Chasa. Besides a prophylactic review of the criminals, the operation is also expected to see larger police presence around schools and universities.

The joint action of the Interior Ministry and the prosecution is the first in months against drug distribution. For a long time, the Ministry has reported a sharp increase in the number of drivers who get behind the wheel after using drugs, which indicates a trend of growth in drug distribution, magistrates said.

The operation was launched in the early hours after St. Nicholas Day, Nova TV reported. Homes of well-known names in the criminal world are being searched, ones who were part of previous investigations involving drug dealing. 

***

Trud carries and interview with its former editor-in-chief Tosho Toshev on the occasion of his 80th anniversary. Toshev headed the daily for over 20 years after the fall of the communist regime in 1989. “The change came on the paper wings of Bulgarian newspapers,” Toshev says.

***

BSP for Bulgaria Deputy Floor Leader Ivan Chenchev: Radev’s Government Began to Cut Social Benefits, Duma quotes him as saying on BNT’s Referendum show. "We from the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) say what happened regarding Schengen is cynical. The Bulgarian state itself initiated two2 checks by the Commission here. They ended with a positive report. The Netherlands did not even want to look at the facts of these reports. There has been one final inspection, which was again instigated by the Bulgarian State, and it was made by the Austrian Ambassador. He commented that the Interior Minister should not pass the responsibility for the shortage of border police officers to Parliament.

"A budget needs to be tabled or revisions made to the current extension proposal. These proposals are important for all Bulgarian citizens, for the functioning of the state. The refusal to table a budget is strange and worrying. The caretaker cabinet has 2 versions of the budget, in their words. The question is why they are not tabling them. The current caretaker government has started cutting social benefits. From January 1, there will be no BGN 0.25 discount on a litre of fuel, but we were promised there would be. There will be a higher excise duty on cigarettes, who knows what else. The two types of planes that the caretaker government wants are BGN 6 billion. If we remove half of them - here we have BGN 3 billion for BGN 850 minimum wage, free textbooks up to 12th grade and much more", Chenchev is adamant about the priorities of the left and the behaviour of the caretaker government.

***

Strong external pressure on BSP leader Korneliya Ninova has been applied over the past weeks to reconsider her position on the Istanbul Convention, 24 Chasa reports as having leaked from the party headquarters. The new Party of European Socialists President Stefan Lofven has sent a letter on the refusal of the Bulgarian socialists to recognise the Istanbul Convention, in which he reminds that the other parties in the political family of the left question whether the BSP professes the common values and call for action against it. A short time ago, a scandal on the subject arose at the Congress of the Socialist International in Madrid when Ninova, who was Vice President for one term and was nominated again, was pressurized to withdraw until, in the long run, her name was not even included in the list of nominees without any procedure. Ninova is against the Istanbul Convention which contradicts the Bulgarian Constitution.

ECONOMY

The refusal to let Bulgaria accede to Schengen means unfair competition for various industries and will make Bulgarian business more expensive, the Chairman of the Governing Board of the Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association (BICA), Vassil Velev said on Nova TV. "Bulgaria's membership in the euro area, Schengen and the OECD is a national cause and a big priority around which society should unite. Our readiness for Schengen has been confirmed by the competent European institutions - and at extraordinary checks. The European Parliament and the European Commission have called for full membership."

We are witnessing a "political corruption", of solving internal problems at the expense of the development of a people and a country. "Bulgaria should use all possible levers and channels of influence. We can boycott their goods, we can not buy fuel in their petrol stations. We can not send our children to Dutch universities," he said. Bulgarians don't need to buy Dutch TV sets and appliances when there are Japanese ones, not to fill up in such a chain with fuel but in others, not to send our children students there but in other countries, Velev gave an example of possible measures. He backed the call for this country to boycott Dutch EU applications and initiatives.

***

24 Chasa quotes Regional Development Minister Ivan Shishkov as saying in parliament that the construction of the three lots of Hemus motorway will be completed by 2025. Construction of Lot 4 near Pleven can begin after the case of illegal building along the route established last year is solved. Revisions to the Spatial Development Act have just been tabled which will resolve the matter, including the problems with the construction of Lots 4 and 5.

***

Bulgaria is set on the road to begin production of euro coins in preparation of entering the euro zone, President Rumen Radev said in Tirana where he is attending the EU-Western Balkans Summit, Telegraf reports. The document sets out the practical steps that will allow Bulgaria to produce euro coins when it is admitted to the euro zone. These steps concern the minting of a certain amount of trial coins with the common designs and national design. "This is a recognition of the efforts of several governments in this direction and especially a recognition of all the Eurogroup countries for the efforts of the caretaker government to tackle the huge inflation that Europe has not remembered for many years, a recognition that the government in Bulgaria is coping, it has broken the trend, the efforts to ensure macro-financial stability are also recognised. This is a success for Bulgaria," Radev is quoted as saying.

***

24 Chasa also reports on the support of over USD 1.0 million the Japanese government decided to provide in aid to the Ukrainian refugees in Bulgaria.

The money will be provided under three projects to be implemented, respectively, with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNICEF.

The project with the UNHCR Office is called "Protection and Assistance for Ukrainian Refugees in Bulgaria". It will use a budget of up to USD 445,898 to create: a helpline by which Ukrainians, mainly women and children, will receive advice about issues they need to tackle in Bulgaria; a legal consultation office; and learning opportunities, including Bulgarian language courses.

The project with the IOM is dubbed "Protection and Direct Assistance for Persons Affected by the Crisis in Ukraine Who Reside in Bulgaria". The maximum amount of this portion of the aid package is USD 311,231. It will support the early social inclusion of Ukrainian refugees, the enhancement of their access to health care, employment and accommodation, and services for socially vulnerable groups with specific needs.

The third project, with UNICEF, is titled "Assistance for Humanitarian Education and Personal Development of Children, and Participation of Ukrainian Child and Youth Refugees and Other Socially Vulnerable Children and Young People in the Receiving Communities in Bulgaria". The maximum budget is USD 262,500. It will go towards creating opportunities for quality education for Ukrainian refugees, including remote online learning and Bulgarian language study, assistance for dealing with possible problems related to gender discrimination, and help for inclusion in welfare programmes.

"The Japanese government hopes that this aid will ease, at least to some extent, the burden on the Bulgarian government in its effort to support the Ukrainian refugees in the country. The Japanese government, in cooperation with the international community, will continue to follow the situation closely and provide assistance to the people of Ukraine," the Embassy in Sofia said.

 

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