Dear Europe, do you know why Bulgaria is protesting?
Last week Rumen Stoev and Petya Dzhongova from The Early Rising Students of Bulgaria (https://www.facebook.com/earlyrisingstudents) and Mihail-Ernesto Mihailov, Teodor Mihailov and me [Justine Toms] – representatives of the Bulgarian Protest Network (http://protestnamreja.bg/engl/) visited Brussels for a series of meetings with representatives of the European Parliament, the European Commission and various non-governmental organisations. We met people from the Offices of EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding and EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger. We were invariably received with great interest.
Here are my major impressions, in brief:
Amazing! The European Parliament is not guarded by three cordons of police, unlike the Bulgarian one. We didn’t see a single policeman in Brussels, even though there were protesters in front of both the parliament and the EC building every day. Smiling MEPs walked around freely and none of them waved their middle finger at us.
On a more serious note:
Bulgaria is under a regime of suspended democracy at present – it has already become clear to Europe. We had over 20 meetings and most MEPs and representatives of various European institutions proved to be (at least partially) aware of what is happening in our country. Total lack of media freedom is an alarming fact. Bonds between public institutions and certain economic circles, no matter how disguised, have become obvious to all. The EU has its mechanisms to counter that, slow as they might be. And it’s not indifferent to what is going on.
The future of Bulgaria is ultimately European. There are ways for us, ordinary people, to help democracy happen in our country – by taking an active civic stance (protest is one possible tool about it), by carefully reading the CVM Report for Bulgaria and demanding from public institutions that they do their job properly, by alerting Europe on each and every troubling fact, by staying watchful and active. And by voting. By voting as massively as we could.
Here are a few little steps to attract attention and press EU institutions to closely watch over what our politicians are doing:
• Tweet about every troubling fact in English, tagging particular MEPs, Commissioners, institutions;;
• Keep a blog in English or in both English and Bulgarian about what’s happening in our society;
• Send letters to members of parliament – Bulgarian and foreign ones, with particular details in them;
• Think of small-scale, loud and visible campaigns within the limits of law (wide as they are)
• Go out on the street to protest at least once a week;
• Don’t give up! Keep going!