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Boiko Borissov material

A conversation held on February 3 between Sofia mayor Boiko Borissov and Bulgarian expatriates in Chicago prompted his political opponents to accuse him of using hate speech, causing ethic tension and insulting his fellow Bulgarians ahead of this summer’s elections for Parliament

Known and loved by many Bulgarians for his open, often direct and aggressive way of expressing himself, this time Borissov’s frank language was used by the ruling parties to portray him as a politician with a twisted mind and attitude towards his fellow Bulgarians.

In a rush to condemn his statements, made in Chicago on February 3, political leaders in Bulgaria followed the line chosen by Bulgarian-language Sega daily, the first to report about Borissov’s statement, uploading a recording of it on its website.

Sega’s headline was more than sensational and memorable. It read: “Boiko Borissov: Bulgaria has been left only with bad material.”

Although Borissov did not use the word “bad”, his view on Bulgaria’s demographics was enough to label him as cynical.

He said: “What is the current situation with Bulgaria’s population? We have one million gypsies, about 700 000 or 800 000 Turks and 2.5 million pensioners. All these people are against GERB [Borissov’s party, the Citizens for the European Development of Bulgaria].”

On the basis of Sega’s headline, picked up by all Bulgarian media, Bulgarian parties rushed to their respective press offices and started issuing statements.

As one political analyst put it, it seemed as if Borissov had opened Pandora’s Box by saying something that every politician in the country thought but did not dare to say out loud.

By the time Borissov issued a statement from the US responding to the criticisms, the damage was done. He was labelled as someone who wanted to rule the country but despised it for not being good enough. His claims that he had been quoted out of context and misinterpreted were disregarded, and he had to pay the price for his breach of political correctness.

But then again, according to all political analysts, it was just this type of frank, aggressive and direct speech that had earned him the status of the most popular politician in Bulgaria.

On the same tape from Chicago, Borissov said, smiling: “You know, when I go back to Bulgaria, there will be at least hundred analysts going over what I have said here for at least a month.”

This is an edited version of Borissov’s words in Chicago:

What worries me is the notion that people wait for me to make things right. I know that it is important for a party to have a leader, but we cannot continue thinking that someone must come and fix things for us. You [expatriates] are one example. You have decided not to wait but to leave Bulgaria. The purpose of my visit here is to make it possible for you, for your children or for anybody else willing to come back to Bulgaria, to be able to do so. Otherwise we cannot change things and the structure of the country’s population: one million gypsies, 700 000 or 800 000 Turks and 2.5 million pensioners. They are all against GERB. Pensioners, silly as they could be, are led by nostalgia and memories about their youth, reminiscing about the things they have done back then, as if this time would come back. It would never come back, but they keep on voting for Sergei Stanishev [Prime Minister and leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party] no matter what. With you out of the country, the material that goes go to elections and from which we can pick professionals is not big.

It is easy to say, we are counting on you. If this is how things are, then after just one year I would fail too. We need to use the potential of the nation. You see that Americans are not that smarter than us but they elect people who can lead them and this is how they prosper.

On Ivan Kostov
I have differences with Kostov [leader of the right-wing party in opposition the Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria and the last right-wing prime minister].

Why did he not open the archives and dossiers of the former communist secret police when he was in power [1997\2001]? He had all the power to do it. His party had the prosecutor-general, the president, and parliament. This is my main difference with Kostov. Why did he not give us the names [of corrupt officials]? The first two years of his term were good, but when he had to remove some of his people he did it, but he did not say why. Now he says that he should have cut their heads off. In politics, however, when you don’t cut heads off they cut your head off. That’s why I get rid of any GERB official who has done something wrong. I just kick him out. This is the only way. People know that of all the people who come to me now there is a lot of trash. People would not understand if I keep such people on board when it is obvious that they have made mistakes. Now we have against us the ruling coalition, the ultra-nationalist Ataka party and very weak right-wing parties.

They are weak because they did not get rid of the people who became a symbol of corruption. Now they want to form a right-wing coalition but in politics, two and two does not make four but usually three or two and half. So I am very worried. At the same time, I am certain that if GERB fails to win a majority in Parliament to form its own Government, we will remain in opposition. There will be other elections. And at these next elections, people like you who now may doubt our promises, will come and vote for us because we have kept our word.

It is very difficult for me because I am up against several billions of stolen money. Everyone gets paid for everything. My people also have a price. I hope they will not let me down. What will happen if someone offers one of my young associates 10 or 20 million leva to leave the party at the right time? Do you think he would resist? I hope so.
One of my closest associates was called into a meeting and was offered 20 million euro. They gave him a piece of paper and asked him to name his price. They did this because they fear the moment when I would get my hands on them.

On corruption
What is the difference between left-wing and right-wing corruption and why did not he [Kostov] name those who were guilty? Why did not he put them in jail? That’s why they (the right-wing parties) went down to having one or two per cent of people’s support.

And now if we move closer to these right-wing parties, I will suffer some of their negatives, for which I am not to be blamed. Let’s take Sofia for example. If we can blame the communists for the poor state of the country, in the past 20 years Sofia has always been run by right-wing parties. The city has been savaged brutally. Sofiiski Imoti company [the city hall real estate company] alone has lost more them one billion. These are my differences.

Despite all this, and given that I so truly hate the reds [left-wing parties] I don’t let myself say anything against the right-wing parties. They (right-wing parties) attack us but we try not to answer back, if you have noticed.

At every election they come out and fight and vote against me, which benefits the BSP. Nine times they have lost. The only positive thing is that now with Mr Kostov we have found common ground. This is something the Bulgarian media don’t know yet but we have had a couple of meetings. The common enemy is clear. He is so powerful. I would not mention Simeon Saxe-Coburg [former king and prime minister and current partner in the ruling coalition with BSP and MRF] because he has a personal interest here.

If someone should feel betrayed then it should be me and people like you. When he made me chief secretary of Interior Ministry with Roumen Petkov [a high-ranking BSP official] as minister, I went to the king and told him: I can’t work with them. Now I joke when I say that the real founder of GERB is Petkov. If he wasn’t made a minister I would still probably be saluting at the ministry. [Borissov left the Interior Ministry to found GERB after Petkov was made Interior Minister in 2005 as part of the coalition agreement.]

The king sacrificed me. I went down to him, I begged him to give the defence ministry to Petkov so that I could remain at my post. That’s why I don’t count him [Saxe-Coburg] as opposition to the Government. The BSP and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms are extremely strong adversaries. Nothing has changed, nothing has been reformed in these two parties. They have replaced the ruble with dollars, the Warsaw Pact with Nato, the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance with the European Union. These are the same people. These are the facts.

On the BSP
Their supporters don’t like the current coalition and that’s why the BSP likes GERB so much. The fact that we don’t want them, makes them [BSP] so furious that they have people on TV, political analysts, professors, social scientists, to be honest I never knew we had that many specialists in this area, saying from dust till dawn that there might be a coalition between the BSP and GERB.

They keep repeating this for two reasons: the right-wing voters start having doubts about me if I am planning to join forces with the BSP; the left-wing voters also start thinking that GERB will join the BSP, so they [voters] will keep on voting for the BSP. This is being done deliberately. Every morning someone says that the BSP will form a coalition with GERB. And people start thinking that this might happen.

On Macedonia
I see here people from the media and I will try to be very diplomatic on the issue. I know that a month after I go back home, there will be a hundred analysts explaining what I have said here. In today’s world there are many ways with which we can influence Macedonia and its rulers. We have wasted time. Ten or 15 years ago when they were selling their state-owned Macpetrolum company, we should have bought it, because in today’s world it is the economy that dominates things. Through the economy we could have influenced Macedonia. Back then Bulgaria did not do anything about it and Greeks bought it. This happened to Macedonia’s telecommunications company too. If you control communications and oil you could make them [Macedonians] recognise the true history.

Another thing. They want to join Nato and the European Union. We should have used this desire of theirs and we would have had them as our best friend and neighbour. They would have loved us. If you like, to me their language is broken Bulgarian. With the economy, Nato and EU we could achieve our goals there. But we don’t have a national strategy.

On elections
I am personally against parties. I have always supported the idea of majoritarian elections. Unfortunately, history shows that countries with strong parties are successful and countries betting on the majority element sooner or later reach the stage of dictatorship. The party is what controls society and its leader. I may look very cool now, but imagine if I stay in power for 15 years. Only God knows what I might become.

My opinion is that the mixed electoral system is the best solution. You vote for a party but you also vote who you want to put on top of the party’s ballot papers. And if, for example, I am leading the ballot paper but people prefer someone else I would not become an MP. I like the German model. We can copy it well.
I have won two elections with no money and now I feel that these elections will be the last I can make on my own. The Turks and the gypsies are not to be blamed. If seven million of us go to the polling stations to vote they will get their eight or 10 per cent and will not be able to influence politics. If 30 per cent only go to vote they will keep on ruling us.

Reactions:
Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev: ‘Borissov’s words are maybe the most cynical statement regarding Bulgarians in the past 20 years. He has said what he really thinks. I advise him to have more control over his emotions. You cannot divide people into categories. He thinks that dark forces have risen against him.’

Kornelia Ninova, spokesperson for the BSP:
‘Borissov’s words are dangerous and fascist-like, cynical and an insult to the Bulgaria people. The BSP will send a message to the European Commission about Borissov’s discriminatory and racist behaviour.’

Kiril Dobrev, BSP:
‘Discrimination is the same no matter where you stand – Harmanli [a small Bulgarian town] or Harvard. To declare half of Bulgaria to be bad material is political suicide.’

Lyutfi Mestan, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF):
‘The statement of Borissov is not just a sign of looking down on Bulgarian people, but political cynicism. If GERB treats Bulgarian people on the basis of their age, religious and ethnic differences, then the statement shows a case of ethnic and religious intolerance mixed with xenophobia based on people’s age. Borissov is looking to justify his bad result at the upcoming elections when he would not be able to rule the country on his own.’

Macedonian president Branko Crvenkovski:
‘Boiko Borissov’s statements are damaging and illogical. They are politically dangerous because they create mistrust among countries. Greek companies have made the largest investments in Macedonia, but these investments have never affected our identity. We haven’t been scared by Greek business and we will not be scared by Bulgarian either, but we welcome any Bulgarian investment in Macedonia’s economy.’

Boiko Borissov:
‘There is nothing insulting in what I have said. Every human being is a result of a genetic material. Isn’t it? And then this human being becomes an electorate. I haven’t seen an electorate poorer and older than those of the BSP. And I haven’t seen an electorate more illiterate than that of the MRF.’

http://sofiaecho.com/2009/02/13/674159_boiko-borissov-material

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