Sofia Echo


The Ambassadors of Belgium and the Netherlands: The protests are about ideals and principles

For the first time since the country's accession to the EU, civil society raises its voice so clearly

Media: Dnevnik Date: Tue, Jul 16 2013 11 Comments, 1999 Views
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The Ambassadors of the Netherlands – Karel van Kesterel, and of Belgium – Annick van Calster, to Bulgaria gave interviews for "Capital" and "Capital Daily" within the past few days. In a common position earlier last week the Ambassadors of Germany and France – Matthias Hoepfner and Philippe Autie, urged Bulgaria to give up the oligarchic model of government, and the authorities to listen to the civil society. In their interviews for "Capital" their colleagues also comment on the situation in Bulgaria, which "Dnevnik" summarizes.

The Ambassador of the Netherlands Karel van Kesterel defines the protests in Bulgaria as "a sign of hope." According to him, for the first time since the country's accession to the EU, civil society raises its voice so clearly. It wants European values to be respected, and in Mr. Kesterel words those are – "transparent procedures, competent and honest people in high level positions, the rule of law, freedom of the media, instead of economic interests showing through the actions of the state and shady deals behind the scenes."

He agrees with his French and German counterparts who say that "it is up to the institutions and political parties to join forces in finding a way to achieve progress, taking into account the demands of the civil society." For him, democracy does not consist in just winning elections and then indulge in arbitrariness. It is, above all, taking responsibility for your actionsto society, and ongoing dialogue, the diplomat says.

When asked whether the ambassadors are coordinating their reactions to the events in Bulgaria, Karel van Kesteren answers in the negative, and adds that the ambassadors are expressing concerns based on common European values. He also says, "I would appreciate if, in the case that things in my country went off the wrong way, our partners would point that to us. It is not a matter in which we criticize, while nobody is criticizing us."

The Ambassador also commented the behaviour of "Ataka": "I do not think that "Ataka" should be a power that anyone should rely on, nor that it should have a say in anything. The threats of radicalism, and violence, and racism do not have a place within the EU. I feel sorry about this situation." He expressed his solidarity with the actions of President Rosen Plevneliev, who supports the demands of the citizens.

According to the Ambassador of Belgium – Annick van Calster, a government ought to meet two conditions in order to function fully. The first is related to mathematics – whether there is a sufficient number of MPs to form a quorum. The second is related to the spirit of democracy – whether the government feels legitimate. According to the Bulgarian government, it meets both conditions, but the protests question its legitimacy, the diplomat explains.

The Belgian Ambassador also says that "the best solution would be the one which is widely supported by the public." She believes that in times like ours political and economic stability should be sought, and elections do not exclude those. Mrs. Calster gives the example of Belgium, which had for a long time not been able to form a government. But she also points out that even at that time there was a caretaker cabinet which acted during the elections and adopted some very important laws.

Read more in Bulgarian here.

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