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posle 6 godini clenstvo vo EU kade e Bugarija?
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montehristo Online
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Quote:Change Comes Slowly for Bulgaria, Even With E.U. Membership

Dmitry Kostyukov for The New York Times
Bulgarian students at a meeting at Sofia University on Dec. 6. The university is a center of the nation’s protest movement, which has already ousted one government.
Published: December 24, 2013

SOFIA, Bulgaria — As Ukrainian protesters camp out in their capital to demand closer ties to Europe, Boris Rangelov, a student protest leader in Bulgaria, has a sobering message from the cold capital of his country, another former Communist nation but one that, unlike Ukraine, joined the European Union years ago: Change takes a long time.

Dmitry Kostyukov for The New York Times
Boris Rangelov, a student protest leader in Bulgaria.
While the protesters in Ukraine have been out on the streets for just a few weeks demanding that a government they see as corrupt and discredited resign, Mr. Rangelov has been protesting on and off since February to get rid of his own country’s seemingly deeply corrupt political and economic masters.

“We should be in the Guinness Book of World Records,” said Mr. Rangelov, a first-year student at Sofia University, which has become the center of a rolling protest movement that first ousted a conservative government and now wants the same for its even more unpopular Socialist-led replacement.

Bulgaria’s demonstrators have discovered just how difficult it can be to bring change, even in a country that has been a member of the European Union for six years. Ukraine’s president, Viktor F. Yanukovich, snubbed the union in November in favor of deeper ties with Russia, setting off the protests by Ukrainians who see a brighter future through closer ties to Europe.

The endless political deadlock here has fueled deep disillusionment among frustrated Bulgarians who had hoped European membership would mean an open road toward a more prosperous, equitable and transparent system. And it has given them a more realistic sense of what membership in the union — an option not even on the table yet for Ukraine — can bring.

It has also underscored the seeming powerlessness of the European bloc, despite sharp rebukes from Brussels and its diplomats and the suspension of some aid, to leverage its influence in Bulgaria for change.

Meanwhile, Bulgarians and Romanians, whose nations both joined the union in 2007 and who gain the right to work anywhere in it as of Jan. 1, are abandoning their homelands for wealthier corners of the bloc in numbers so large they are provoking stirrings of regret among some member nations wary of the competition for jobs.

“I never thought my country would be in such a bad situation right now,” said Meglena Kuneva, who, as Bulgaria’s minister of European affairs from 2002 to 2005 and then as a senior official in Brussels, negotiated the nation’s entry into the European Union. “I thought we would go further, better and faster.”

Virtually nobody in Bulgaria thinks that the European Union membership has not brought many benefits or that it was a mistake. Roads, parks, water treatment plants and numerous other sites carry big signs emblazoned with the union’s 12-star blue flag and trumpeting the money Brussels has pumped in. Unlike in Western Europe, there are no noisy euroskeptics clamoring for exit. Without the European Union, Ms. Kuneva said, “Bulgaria would have been worse than Ukraine.”

But Bulgaria has consistently remained at the bottom of the European Union’s poverty tables. In December, Transparency International, a Berlin-based advocacy group that monitors corruption, ranked Bulgaria as Europe’s most corrupt country after Greece.

For too many members of Bulgaria’s political class, Ms. Kuneva said, membership “was just about European funds and how they could steal from them,” never about European values and the importance of accountability and the rule of law.

“I am ashamed and frustrated,” added Ms. Kuneva, who over the summer joined an alliance of six small Bulgarian parties to form the Reformist bloc, which supports protesters’ calls for a clean break. European Union officials, she added, have tried to bring change through aid and advice, “but they cannot come here and govern” to expunge the corruption that “is poisoning everything.”

Citizens of other former Communist nations tend to agree that their countries have made big strides since joining the European Union in 2004.

“Society is very disillusioned,” Nikolay Staykov, the boss of a small tech company in Sofia who has set up a website, noresharski.com, a reference to Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski, to help organize protests and provide an alternative source of information to pro-government news outlets. “There were lots of unrealistic expectations. We no longer expect that a magic European wand will change everything.”


This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: December 25, 2013

An earlier version of this article misspelled the given name of Bulgaria's former minister of European affairs. She is Meglena Kuneva, not Maglena.

An inch today is tomorrow’s mile.
25-12-2013, 11:42 PM
Valkanizater Offline
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Where are all the Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants?

When EU restrictions were lifted on 1 January 2014, some feared an influx of Romanians and Bulgarians into the UK.

Official figures on the number of new immigrants are expected to be published in May but some parts of the UK have reported very few arrivals so far.

Jeremy Cooke visited Peterborough, the UK's fastest-growing city, with a recent history of welcoming new immigrants, in search of new arrivals.
31-01-2014, 01:02 AM