Momchil Doychev: South Stream Violates both EU and Bulgarian Law
Political scientist Momchil Doychev shared with Novinite.com his views on current developments in Bulgaria with regard to the country's place in the EU and in regional politics as well.
Mr Doychev, Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev has explained that one of the main priorities of the caretaker government would be that the country should uphold to its EU and NATO commitments. This statement sounds very vague. What could he have had in mind, apart from observing the law and common rules?
I could only try to guess what the President has in mind, but under the Constitution the priorities enumerated by the President are designated to show that the interim government has greater leeway within the framework, and that could mean anything. On the other hand, [the statement] did not make it clear what could be done in case of a crisis, in the conflitct between Russia and Ukraine, for example. Such a decision has been left into the caretaker government's hands, with the President appointing a cabinet as the Constitution requires, but keeping himself distanced from the actions of that cabinet. For the next two months [which the the caretaker government is to spend in office] he seems to have remained with limited competences, as [it would have been] in a normal parliamentary situation.
But do you consider the immediate actions that the cabinet took in its first days in power with regard to South Stream to be a signal that it would keep its commitments to Europe?
They undoubtedly were. This should have been done a long time ago. We were actually witnessing a violation of laws and rules of the Constitution itself under the previous government. There were attempts to circumvent [a decision of] the Prime Minister, who said activities regarding the South Stream would be halted, and it virtually turned out that they are ongoing, and even the last decision, with which South Stream Bulgaria saw its capital in the project increased 25 times, shows that we we are undergoing an institutional crisis, because it is unacceptable that authorized institutions take certain decisions and administrative and bureaucratic units do quite the opposite. At the same time we see that nether the Prosecutor's Office nor the other agencies reacting in these cases responded to these blatant violations.
If we leave the national level aside and continue to the European one, it is just now that we have seen a suspension of any project activities, even though it had been known for weeks that work on South Stream was ongoing. Why didn't the EU Commission issue any response?
The EU cannot act in the way we would probably wish it could. After all, it is a union of states, not a federation or a confederation. It seems to me, however, that if we look at the role of South Stream at a foreign-policy level, the situation is clear. The project was signed in the shadows, in breach of Bulgarian and EU law, and someone should bear the judicial responsibility. But if we don't have a Prosecutor's Office that could act to the benefit of the Bulgarian people (it is obviously conformed to the backdoor games instead), this cannot happen. Apart from European laws, the Bulgarian ones have also been violated.
Another hot topic on which the caretaker government rushed to take a stance was the situation in Iraq. Interim Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov announced yesterday we could expect exports of terrorists from Iraq and also a refugee tide to Bulgaria. Do you estimate there is such a threat?
Threats like these are often overrated. Generally there are many exaggerations in the media. But of course, such a threat does exist. Our country is, without any doubt, ill-prepared. I even thin the EU as a whole is not prepared to meet such a development. But one must take into consideration that were are bordering neither Iraq nor Syria and therefore it shouldn't be expected that it is precisely us who should expect a tide. Institutions, however, should have knowledge of the situation and do their work. The Bulgarian intelligence, for example, should have a clear picture of the perils, but given that less expenditure is being set aside for armament than for guarding the political elite, should we even put this into question?
The government also backed Kristalina Georgieva as Bulgaria's EU Commissioner candidate. All the recent infighting about her candidacy kept aside, how do you evaluate her chances to become the EU's High Representative?
There are agreements [in the EU institutions] that unfortunately play a bigger part than the personality of a candidate to a certain EU position does. It seems to me that, if we look at it through another perspective, she has a chance to become, so to say, the EU's “foreign minister”, even though I am not an optimist.
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