The Bulgarian Solution of the Greek Crisis: Why Bulgaria Must Aid Greece!
The so called Greek crisis has been shaking Europe for the past two years. What started as a problem with Greece's sovereign debt complicated by some data cooking in Athens, has spilled over far beyond, into a full-fledged European debt crisis questioning the building paradigms of contemporary Europe, and even the existence of the European Union and of its offspring, the euro zone.
As it turned out, hundreds of billions of euro worth of bailout aid and scores of half-hearted measures adopted by the Merkozy-dominated EU summits have failed to cope with the crisis in both Europe, and Greece, whose political and oligarchy elite seems bankrupt not only when it comes to state finances but also with respect to moral solutions.
Meanwhile, the Greek nation is logically growing more and more indignant because of the intervention of the lending Troika (EU - ECB - IMF) in Greece's domestic affairs; the country has been plagued with strikes on a daily basis, and the forecasts for the competitiveness of the Greek economy are hardly encouraging.
Against this backdrop of a total crisis in Bulgaria's southern neighbor, in the past months, years actually, the Bulgarian government has adopted an approach that deserves to remain in political economy textbooks under the title, "The Mistaken Geoeconomics of Bulgarian Finance Minsiter Simeon Djankov."
Its gist boils down to marching around various European media, preferably German newspapers (Bulgarian media don't even count, they are used in bulk), and explaining that the Greeks are terribly in debt, that Bulgaria is doing much better, that Bulgaria will surpass Greece's living standard about 2020, that in six months Greece will quit the euro zone, that this won't be an issue for Bulgaria and for Europe, that the Greeks must figure their way out on themselves, that there is an "exodus" of Greek firms moving to Bulgaria because of the instability in Greece and the stability in Bulgaria... And these are only some of the highly perplexing let's-join-those-kicking-the-Greeks-while-they-are-down messages coming from Bulgaria's highest state level!
Such shocking nonsense has been coming for months not only from Bulgaria's Finance Minister and Deputy PM Simeon Djankov, but also from Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov. Borisov, however, cannot be expected to be knowledgeable about geoeconomics and geopolitics, unlike the highly praised and renowned (no sarcasm here) former World Bank economist Djankov. Yet, both appear to be terribly deficient in terms of stately and diplomatic sense about how one should behave with their neighbors in international politics. That is, NOT because Bulgarians need to be nice per se but because their nation's interests necessitate a totally different approach!
Many in Bulgaria would immediately object that the Greek politicians are actually treating Bulgaria even worse by seeking to intimidate the Greeks with suggestions that they might descend to Bulgaria's living standards, or be reduced to "Bulgarian pensions." What is more, the Bulgarian society widely believes that the Greeks themselves despise Bulgarians (perhaps ever since the wars between the Byzantine Empire and the First Bulgarian Empire). This perception is widely built upon the humiliating treatment of many Bulgarian migrants working in Greece's agriculture.
All of that may or may not be true but none of it means that the authorities in Sofia should have adopted their current destructive and "apple-polishing" approach aimed at showing the strict disciplinarian teacher (Frau Merkel, of course) that the classmate sitting next to us is being naughty while we are pointing fingers at them gloatingly.
This kind of approach is not in Bulgaria's best interest in any way. In the best-case scenario it means colossal missed benefits, and in the worst-case scenario – outright economic and political losses.
Why? Because Bulgaria would have benefitted a lot more from a rich Greece than from a Greece that is bankrupt and is being demonized on a daily basis. And because Bulgaria is in fact capable of helping its southern neighbor FOR FREE, while also deserving the gratitude of both Greeks and others across Europe.
Before I explain how this can be done, I'd like to remind our readers from around the world about the Bulgarian-Greek situation before the 2008 crisis: massive Greek investments in Bulgaria (even though some of them were dubious and "unhealthy"), a large number of Greek tourists and business visitors, and, most importantly, huge and dynamically growing Bulgarian exports to Greece.
There is no way that Bulgaria can benefit as much from a debt-ridden Greece simply because a couple of thousand firms filled some paperwork on this side of the border to save a bit of cash. Bulgaria can derive only marginal benefits from that, and the Cabinet in Sofia knows it too well but apparently keeps trumpeting the "arrival" of Greek firms to "delude the masses" in Bulgaria.
The fact of the matter is that Bulgaria is CAPABLE of helping Greece FOR FREE while deriving tremendous economic, diplomatic, and image benefits, while also – for the very first time in centuries – contributing a constructive solution to the resolving of Europe's problems.
The Bulgarian solution of the Greek crisis must come in two subsections: A) political, and B) infrastructural and economic.
А) The Bulgarian government declare asap all-out political support for Greece's efforts to cope with the crisis as well as total political solidarity with the Greek people in these moments of hardship. From its highest state level Bulgaria needs to declare its trust and belief in the capacity of its neighbor's state and nation to cope with their ordeals.
I've been following Bulgarian politics pretty closely but not once in the past two years, since the start of the Greek crisis, have I heard of any well-founded position of the Bulgarian government on this issue. Neither have I heard anybody from the government in Sofia utter any magic words such as "support" and "solidarity".
The short-sightedness of Bulgarian PM Borisov and his deputy Djankov, as well as of ex Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov is plain shocking, while the situation is in fact extremely simple. What do you do when your neighbor's house is on fire? Do you rush to help put it out, or do you stand by smirking until your house catches on fire, too? Or until everybody stops walking down your street because the neighbor's burned-down house is an ugly picture? (By everybody I mean investors.)
Political declarations can be either worthless, empty talk, or an invaluable, free diplomatic tool. When it comes to factors such as the stock markets or the feeling of wretchedness and crisis in Europe, which are influenced by perceptions, such a tool can be of great importance even when projected by a tiny Bulgaria. Not to mention the gratitude of the Greeks, which will grow proportionally to the sincerity of Bulgaria's political solidarity. And all talk about national interests aside, there is no reason Bulgaria's solidarity with Greece shouldn't be sincere.
B) Bulgaria must initiate a package of regional economic cooperation measures to include both Bulgaria, and Greece, and as in some aspects - Macedonia, Romania, Turkey, Albania, Kosovo, Serbia, Cyprus.
These measures are to be focused on creating joint infrastructure, common international transport corridors (functioning ones!) and logistics terminals, joint tourism and regional development projects, trade, agriculture, joint small and medium-sized enterprises, common business incubators, common hi-tech parks as well as educational and cultural exchange.
This package won't cut the Greek government debt, obviously (that's up to some much more high-ranking factors), but it will have a very powerful and simple goal – fueling the real economy in Greece, Bulgaria, and the other participants – at least in some economic sectors and at least in some geographic regions, if not in all of them.
These kinds of investments into the real economic and the people will not only bring about tangible economic development to entire regions in the Balkans but will also help immensely on the perception level – people in Greece, Bulgaria, officials in Brussels, Berlin, Paris, London, will see that we've gotten down to hard work over here, that we got goals and perspectives, and new horizons to be achieved together.
Before anybody voices criticism that the poor shouldn't pay to save the rich(er), I'd like to point out that the funding for such a package will likely be raised pretty quickly not only through international loans and EU funding (already available) but also from various donors and investors from near and far, including international, state, and private actors. Even the economic giants from East Asia – China, Japan, and South Korea – might like to get involved. Wide international support can be ensured through the proper and honest ideological justification of this initiative for the creation of "New Balkans" and a "New Europe."
Even if no funding is found – which is practically impossible because, fortunately, in today's civilized world there are plenty of factors who appreciate quality economic and stability building projects – Bulgaria would still benefit greatly from putting such a proposal on the table at a negligible cost. But if the Bulgarian government doesn't have the will, time, decency, or knowledge to draft something like that, I would gladly sit down and spend a few hours on outlining a dozen possible key projects whose joint implementation would aid a great deal Bulgaria and Greece, as well as their neighbors!
Badmouthing your neighbors won't get you far in the contemporary world but constructive and innovative thinking in the name of your national interest will. Should its leadership finally start making some real sense of the situation with the Greek crisis, Bulgaria can emerge as a ray of hope, and a factor carrying some weight for restoring the belief in a united Europe.
But no! The Sofia government's shortsightedness boils down to an approach in which we are the good guys, and they are the bad guys, who are fiscally irresponsible and torment our olive pickers. (An approach that of course doesn't help in any way to stop the actual abuse of our olive pickers.)
To sum up, the solution to the Greek crisis is a Bulgarian one. Partially at least, if not thoroughly. Unfortunately, the leadership in Sofia hasn't racked its brains and demonstrated goodwill enough to figure it out.
This article in BULGARIAN
Helping Greece Helping Themselves!
Is the only prudent way Bulgaria to aid Greece.
What the Europeans are going to do without the “Greek Psyche” in them mind?
There is no escape from the “Greek Psyche” and the “Greed” embedded within that in Europe. Unless unconditionally The Hole European Civilisation is fully and truly partitioned and re-coded with new “Psyche” source code in the global humanity OS.
There is No visibility the “ Greed” to discrete in the next 1000 years.
The wars for resources are just beginning.
"For I am not so enamored of my own opinions that I disregard what others may think of them." Copernicus
“Love Bulgaria” 1%++
Hi Mr. Dikov,
It is great you have such a critic opinion, but from my experiance reading articles in this manner I can say that it is strange how journialist form small countries are limiting themselves in critisizing their own country autorithies and keep silent expressing their opinion when it comes to the big names in european policy as is the case with Mrs. Vivian Reading (http://www.dnevnik.bg/evropa/novini_ot_es/2012/02/20/1769959_evrokomisar_reding_kum_gurciia_solidarnostta_ne_e/). And not only here, how about telling us, readers, what you think of Mr. Wolfgang Shoeble(Germany finance minister) or Mr. Jan Cloud Junker (Luxemburg prime minister) or even Mrs. Angela Merkel (why not)? They all have expressed their opinion about Greece and they were not vey pleasant. Even worst, their opinions are infornt of big media such as Reuters, Bloomberg etc. And about the neibhourhood, Greece, Germany, France, Netherlands and other west european countries, they are in the Eurozone and they are one family, which cannot be the case with Bulgaria. So tell me, who is more closer to the greeks? Bulgaians, that are 4-5 times less developed or Germans, that have salaries and pensions close to greeks and that are living and sharing one community for 30 years already? So please Mr. Dikov, who is the neighbour?
“To sum up, the solution to the Greek crisis is a Bulgarian one. Partially at least, if not thoroughly. Unfortunately, the leadership in Sofia hasn't racked its brains and demonstrated goodwill enough to figure it out.”
Well, there is no such thing as a sense in economics and politics business.
Sense, Economics and Politics are contradictory in source and core.
If Greece wake up and Go and Do and Be …......... as it should be for a great country, Bulgaria will be the first one to comradery and journey with Greece for future socio-economic, cultural and regional growth.
But, for the time being “Greece is just not going anywhere, while looping in the cycles”
Therefore any push is helping Greece to wake up, to let go the past and embrace the future.
"Love Bulgaria" just 1%++