MEP Slavi Binev: I Am the Only Dissident in Bulgaria
Slavi Binev is a Bulgarian politician, businessman and sports competitor.
He was born on December 10, 1965, in Sofia.
Binev's grandfather, Georgi Karadzhov, was one of Bulgaria's well-known authors of children literature and of love poetry. His father, Pencho Binev, is a distinguished scholar with recognized inventions in the field of the pharmaceutical chemistry, power engineering and organic synthesis. His mother, Petranka Bineva, was a journalist and a banker.
Binev is a graduate of the French Language High School in Sofia and of the "Vasil Levski" National Sports Academy, also in the capital (1986-1990) with Master's Degree as Professional Tennis and Boxing Coach. In 1988 – 1990, he studied sports journalism at the Academy. He is currently in the process of completing a PhD in Social Psychology at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.
From the beginning of the 90s until 2006, Slavi Binev had been one of the main shareholders in R – System Holding AD, (formerly Royal Holding Co.). Between 1994 and 2007, he was Chairman of the Supervisory Counsel of the company, which was ranked by the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry 34th among the top 50 holdings, according to the maximum rate of profit for 2003. At the time, Washington Times published an editorial article, entitled "New Kids on the Eastern Block," dedicated to Slavi Binev and his business achievements.
Binev was elected first term Member of the European Parliament in 2007, and is currently a second term independent MEP, after being reelected in 2009. At the EP he is Member of the Parliamentary Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, Deputy Member of the Subcommittee on Human Rights, Chairman of the INETGROUP of Sport, Member of the Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast INTREGROUP, and member of a number of other delegations and groups.
Binev is also deeply involved in sports – he has 5th Dan Taekwondo, and is a multiple Taekwondo champion of Bulgaria and winner in numerous international competitions – European and Balkan champion. Binev is an international Taekwondo referee, and has been coach of the Bulgarian International Taekwondo Team, Vice-president of the Bulgarian Taekwondo Federation, member of the Bulgarian Olympic Committee, and Member of the Research Committee in the World Taekwondo Federation, among others.
In 2007, he was initiated as Archon of the Orthodox Church.
Binev is married and has five children, and a granddaughter, Niya, a child of his daughter Martina.
In February 2012, the MEP launched a new civic movement, dubbed Civic Movement for Real Democracy, GORD, (in Bulgarian the abbreviation means PROUD) and a new political party "Conservative Party Movement of Success."
The abbreviation GORD coincides with the name of another GORD, formed by dissidents from the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms, DPS, headed by Kasim Dal.
A number of new movements and parties popped on Bulgaria's political horizon recently. How is GORD different, what change will it bring, what are its goals?
With absolute certainty and open pride, I can assert that there is no other such movement as GORD. It is the only one that has declared itself being for a full change of the dysfunctional political and State system as a whole.
What makes it different – many things, but mostly I can say what makes it different from a party with which some simpletons are attempting to compare us, only on the basis of letters that are the same. The difference is as huge as one saying "I am from GORD" and "I am from GERB." The first means "I can and I will do it," and the second "I am with this one because I am anonymous and need a cover-up to deal with things." These are different types of people – those from GORD deal with blows of life since childhood, and the others are hiding since childhood behind their mothers and say "my uncle is an officer from the Communist police (militia)." The PROUD do not want their grandchildren to blame them one day that they allowed some imbeciles to lead them and to have destroyed their future. The others don't care, because they don't even have families that appreciate them. Exactly like the first men in the country now – those from GORD are ready to fight; those from GERB have given up and are slaves of their arrogant leader – they are ashamed, but do it quietly so that no one can find out.
You have significant support from a number of prominent Bulgarians who joined GORD. How and with what did you attract them?
The prominent people are prominent because they have achieved something and did not and do not let others walk all over them, especially people with fewer qualities than them. They are not embarrassed or nervous to say Stop! Enough! when they see that the direction is wrong. There is a need to replace the leader, the system, the principles, and everything actually, and this will guarantee the right route to the goal, whatever this goal is. There is also a need to eliminate those, who, on top of it, after receiving some support from outside the country, insinuate that it is almost beneficial to those abroad to have the country being ruled by enthusiastic Komsomol apparatchiks and empty-heads. A recent example that is just proof for this was the last elections.
You also announced the founding of a new party - Conservative Party Movement of Success, CPA. How is it going to be connected to GORD and how are they different?
The connection is clear. It must be known that the Civic Movement is a place where people gather because they have common ideas, but in order for these ideas to become reality, there is a need of their political expression. CPA is a Christian conservative party, whose goal is to become one of GORD's engines and to lay the foundations of this club where there will be people who are ideologically committed to the movement, as well as people who are party members. The sense of civic movements is to be a breeding ground for ideas and for reporting problems that need to be solved at the political level. "CPA of Success" is just one of many parties, whose leaders are willing to participate in this public, civil and political club.
Are you going to form unions and coalitions with other movements and parties, such as the one of former EU Commissioner, Meglena Kuneva?
GORD is open to absolutely anyone who did not and does not represent the status quo until now because this status quo was and is a stumbling stone to the development of the country in the right direction. In fact, this status quo created people who learned to work just as politicians, or more precisely to give savvy advice without being sure if they have any brains. Meglena Kuneva, unfortunately, despite speculations about the short-term public memory, must be absolutely sure that real people, and those who tend to not forget, remember that she was one of the important factors in two of the most criticized and most unsuccessful governments of Bulgaria. Not to mention that as a person who has worked with her, I myself, have a very negative attitude to her conceit. For two years, despite numerous commitments to protect common interests of Bulgaria and despite my attempts to contact her to coordinate our actions, I was unable to meet with he even once and it was her fault. I always thought that she is a very bad media product and that her arrogance is not much different from that of Borisov; it is just more polished and refined.
Do you have political ambitions beyond the European Parliament? Are you going to run in the next general elections as party leader?
In any case, the incapacity of people, who have ruled the country until now, gives me a reason and confidence to run even for Emperor of China. Their inexperience and inability to deal with any of the problems, give me full grounds to have a much more active role in domestic politics. I am a man who has always been motivated by problems and has sought their solution. I have been happy to prove this way my qualities, and anyone who has any merit must step forward and voice a desire to solve problems, especially in the situation that had been inflicted upon our country. I think modesty is a quality only for those who have no other.
In addition, would you entrust your own money to these people, your own fate, and worse, the fate of your children? Imagine them out of power. What are they capable of - nothing! As with all the power they possess. I do not want my children, and us before that, to be fed dreams cooked with lies.
Some comment on the dispute over the abbreviation GORD with the Civil Union for Reforms in the Country, recently founded on the city of Shumen by former followers of DPS?
I do not consider this a serious question. We have followed all legal procedures so that we can make sure we can use the name. If someone decides to contest this, from a legal viewpoint, this can only end up being detrimental to them.
You were elected in the EP on the ballot of the far-right, nationalist Ataka party. You are an independent MEP now. What is the reason for the break-up with Ataka leader, Volen Siderov, and his nationalists?
I have never been a member of Ataka and have always been a civic nomination. I have tried to be of benefit to the change Siderov wanted to bring, but since the moment he threw himself in the deadly embrace of GERB and its leader, Boyko Borisov, I realized that this glimmering hope for something new will break into pieces in "commercial" interests and populism. Ataka's breaking into pieces released me from the commitment to be part of something that no longer exists.
You are a very strong critic of Boyko Borisov and his cabinet. What are their biggest mistakes?
These are not his mistakes, because this is what he is capable of. The fault is ours and we need to fix it. Borisov simply took advantage of opportunities and interpretations of democracy in our country, of the naivety of political parties in Europe, which supported him and of the opportunity to label anyone who stood or stands in his way. I think it is clear to even the most hardline supporters of GERB that this is a party of failure, a party of excuses, of a complete fiasco, of arrogance and of sick ambition that does not correspond to merits, a party of people with slave mentality who do not want to be free, a party of brownnosers and sycophantic individuals.
What do you think about the last report of the European Commission under the Monitoring and Verification Mechanism? You insist Brussels is talking. Are you going to tell us what the talk is about?
There is no need for me to say. Anyone, who reads the report carefully and understands a bit the European slang will see that the accusations are serious, and numerous, and I do not know how this time Borisov will find excuses for the mistakes of his government in some previous ones. There has never been a more critical report since I'm in the European Parliament. But it has been proven that even if a letter written in blood on the skin of a fellow countryman gets to Borisov, he will interpret it as good news.
And the media will help him. There has never been such sick ambition and such inadequate attitude to European institutions. We are seriously becoming the laughing stock with this pretense, the performance of complex tasks that are not in our power and the absolute unpreparedness to protect our own people and our own social benefits. Bulgarians were even criticized by our country leader for too many of them getting rich. This statement was based on parameters that are reported in Europe, while the truth is that people receive a monthly wage equal to the daily and even to half of the daily fee of the "Commissar," who is criticizing us. This proves one thing - we have a government that cannot articulate the problems of the country and cannot protect its own people. And how would it happen when at the EU Council of finance ministers meetings our ambassador in Brussels sits behind the plate Bulgaria, instead of the Finance Minister.
You are also a very strong critic of Bulgarian media. Why?
I understand that this is a rhetorical question; otherwise it will sound unserious on the backdrop of everything that is happening. I have no opportunity whatsoever to send a critical message to this government – my statements and words, criticizing Borisov and his rule, which I have voiced in the EP as well, never receive publicity. This puzzles me because the media themselves do not realize that to help this government they have to criticize it. This way they will enable them to not make mistakes. Otherwise, or as is in this case, media are accomplices in the government's sleaze. They become accomplices in the way everything in the country is explained - from someone, who died accidentally, through someone who accidentally killed himself in the hands of the police, all the way to no one knowing who is responsible for dams in Bulgaria. There is no way to not have punishment for the culprits when so many people died over bureaucratic negligence.
Are there any free media in Bulgaria at all? After all, you received a pretty large tribune recently?
It would be something indeed to not give a tribune to the only dissident in the country. This would be difficult to explain even for Borisov, who can explain everything. When one creates something like GORD and when such renowned personalities get involved in it, and they are joined by many new ones, both the media and the government cannot circumvent it. And I do not think I was given a large tribune; it was rather achieved by lots of technical tricks and was not easily gained. I am currently seen as exotic, as someone who is na?ve, and sets on a road only with faith in victory against some wild animals that got even wilder from enormous greed. My ambition for the reconstruction of the political space is perceived as a political safari, against a much more powerful entity – the almighty dictator and it is reported in the media in the section "Exotic," under the pseudonym "David against Goliath." But those who have followed me know the final biblical end of these stories and know that it will not be the first battle in which the media have doomed me and which I will win.
What do you think about ACTA and the fact that the government first signed the agreement and later withdrew from it? Was this "street pressure"?
Boyko Borisov is famous for not knowing what the first rule of the Statesman is. The Statesman can go wrong, but can never flee from responsibility. This is the first rule. Anyone can make mistakes; no one is immune from mistakes, but they must not flee, not hide from responsibility and transfer it to someone else. The second important thing is that we should have realized from a while now that this person thinks one thing in the early morning, another before noon, third at noon, and fourth afternoon and in the evening, he says he has never heard of such thing and has nothing to do with this. And if at first this made us laugh, we should have become aware a long time ago that we pay a too high of a price for this laughter.
In the case of ACTA, the worst is that people believed that they influenced the Prime Minister in some way. And the truth is that he was influenced by Europe's attitude towards ACTA. And we should not forget that he repeatedly told us to not protest and to not go to rallies, because he will do just the opposite of what people want. Borisov cast the ACTA problem on MEPs, but mostly on the media. Even though they defend him and take care of his media image. This is an example of how Borisov rewards people who have extended a hand to him. He destroys them. The only way one can be cruelly hurt is to have somehow been helpful to this individual. This will be the fate not only of Alexey Petrov, of Misho The Beer; this will be the fate of Tsvetan Vassilev, who is attending to the Prime Minister's non-disturbance by the media and of everyone who has tried to show humanity for a man, who does not deserve it. Watching him, I understand why some animals eat their young.
You mentioned Tsvetan Vassilev and I want to ask you what is your opinion of the other media group owner – Lyubomir Pavlov? Do you think that Pavlov represents opposition media because he criticizes Tsvetan Vassilev and Corporate Commercial Bank?
Luybomir Pavlov could not be any opposition over the simple reason that he currently leads a private war, which is related to his desire to please the Prime Minister and replace Corporate Commercial Bank. His interests are a solely financial, rather than principle ones. If they were real, he would provide a platform for people who condemn errors, criticize the government and call things by their real names, and would not only concentrate on his economic enemy. He has no principled position, and is jealous of the closeness of Tsvetan Vassilev with Borisov. He is angry with him and jealous of the fact that Vassilev holds the media of those in power, not he.
You are saying that Borisov is using this for his own benefit?
Yes. It must be crystal clear that this individual is using the ruling of Bulgaria as his own retirement fund. In a populist way he is squishing the business, but conveniently forgets the fact that the business of his girlfriend skyrocketed after he became Chief Secretary of the Interior Ministry.
Dogan's barbecue is demolished, while 700 decares are donated to the company Yulen. Corporate Commercial Bank continues to control most of the State money, for which, of course, it pays back through its media holding. Dundee Precious Metals, who earn billions in Bulgaria, continue to give back to the Treasury only pennies, but no one openly questions this. Important and famous people told the media that a particular company has helped them because it was recommended by Borisov. And what more evidence does one need that there is trading influence and that Borisov advises people with whom to get in touch so that they can refresh their somewhat tarnished image? These huge monopolies that feed this selfishness, this arrogance, this complacency for which we pay, must come to an end. And you'll see, soon Europe will ask us to explain about Tseko Minev, and Tsvetan Vassilev and CEZ and E.ON and the corrupt deal with Dundee Precious Metals - all monopolies. But mostly, about the monopoly on the truth that is held solely by Boyko Borisov.
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