Private Wars and State Prosecution. Or Vice Versa
The Bulgarian banking system, usually given as an example of stability, is being subjected in the last days to an unprecedented and - I would say - unexpected ordeal. Death threats, upon "orders" by a person of authority and influence, emerged just like in Brazilian or even Turkish TV soap operas. And it only took days before the Prosecutor's Office declared they were not true. Well... that does not happen even in TV soaps - a quick solution involving a twist which one does not yet know if it is a happy ending...
Now let’s put TV soap operas aside and look at things seriously. Quite seriously.The Bulgarian Industrial Association and the Financial Supervision Commission were today very clear in their messages: play with anything you like, but do not start a smear campaign, which affect business in the country. Because business makes the entire state work, it generates production and jobs... It creates what we started, a little automatically but rather genuinely, to call "Evropata" ["the Europe"]. Business in Bulgaria is now virtually the most important thing and each Bulgarian lev it produces, is equal to thousands of BGN generated by the state...
If such a scenario could be rapidly forgotten, I am not sure the same will go for financial threats and uncertainty. The latest development, or even developments now, are the first real, really real challenge for Bulgaria since it is a member of the European Union. The interference of the state in private disputes, siding practised by judicial institutions and the "innocent" changing of positions within hours, hitting at business adversaries from the first pages of newspapers are all but a European thing.
And what is more, the way in which a businessman like Tsvetan Vasilev was subjected to a flash attack using any means, shows that both the media and institutions in Bulgaria are still failing to match European standards for a civilized debate and genuine rule of law. The banker, the businessman and the mere person Tsvetan Vasilev has his rights and they should be respected by everybody, as a European attitude would require. Tomorrow, this campaign might affect anybody and this is the bigger concern for the democracy of which we have dreamed for a century. The arrests were a mistake? There is not the slightest trace of a death threat? And all that personally communicated by the Chief Prosecutor just days after his subordinates claimed quite the opposite thing and even the name of Tsvetan Vasilev was implicated as a person who "hired contract killers". This fact alone is capable of pushing investors away, investors that either way aren't flocking to Bulgaria even now but that our economy needs more and more...
The weak government displayed an even greater weakness by not saying a word on this hysterical and thoroughly made up scandal and on the attempts of a Balkan-style retribution. Now the question is whether it was private wars that fell victim to the state prosecution. Or it was vice versa. The answer to this question will become clear over the next few days. Until then, if Bulgaria's government does not react, Brussels will certainly do.
Maxim Behar is a prominent Bulgarian businessman and media expert, Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Board of Bulgarian Business Leaders Forum (2001-2012), now Board Member, Founder and first Executive Director if the Bulgarian Investment Forum. Organiser of tens investment project and forums in Bulgaria and abroad, member of tens local and international business Boards, founder and publisher of Novinite Media Group.
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