November 19, 2008
I read EurActiv’s interview with Mr. Geiger with great interest (‘Bulgaria wrongly portrayed as EU’s bogeyman‘, 18/11/2008). It seems that, as a result of his contact with the Bulgarian government, Mr. Geiger has caught a virus common to many Bulgarian politicians. The said virus leads Bulgarian politicians and, apparently, Mr. Geiger, to believe that the European Commission, and the EU as a whole, is after them for no good reason.
Mr. Geiger believes that Romania and Bulgaria suffer the same problems, but the Commission is harsher on Bulgaria. This statement could not be further from the truth. Yes, when it comes to corruption, both countries are at similar levels. However, Mr. Geiger fails to mention the levels of organised crime in Bulgaria, a problem that is almost non-existent in Romania. Organised crime in Bulgaria is so connected with the high corridors of the political system that the Cosa Nostra seems like an innocent conflict between first-graders in comparison.
Mr. Geiger states that in identical situations – the resignations of ministers “following accusations of corruption”, the Commission reacted differently. He is, once again, wrong! The Romanian minister of justice was dismissed due to such allegations and an investigation against him. The Bulgarian minister of interior resigned after a prolonged corruption scandal, with the official motive of “cabinet reshuffle”. To this day, no investigation has been started against him on the corruption charges, although it has been clear for some time now that much of the corruption was sheltered in his ministry and with his knowledge.
Mr. Geiger further argues that the prosecutor’s office in Sofia is active and has improved its work. In reality, the Bulgarian judicial system has been clinically dead since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Combined with corruption, this has led to the fact that not a single high-ranking political figure has been successfully prosecuted, and not a single one of more than 150 mafia-style executions has been solved.
If there was no corruption whatsoever, Einstein’s theory of probability shows us that at least a few of the murders would have been solved, even if Bulgaria had the most unprofessional police force in the world, which is not the case.
In fact, the judicial system in Bulgaria is so impotent, that corrupted politicians, businessmen, and outright criminals are not afraid to openly challenge it in the media. Just weeks ago Mr. Dogan, leader of the party under whose mandate the Socialists rule, stated in an interview that he found it normal to own a yacht and real estate worth millions of euro, and that he would buy a spaceship if he wanted to. Mind you, Mr. Dogan’s only legal income is his salary from Parliament, less that one thousand euro per month. In 2004, Mr. Dogan explained on national TV that his party was surrounded by “rings of companies” with whom he exchanges favours, and that this was the European practice of doing politics. The prosecutor’s office has not reacted.
There are no “major misunderstandings” between the Bulgarian government and the EU institutions, Mr. Geiger. The Commission has stated in multiple reports that the Bulgarian government must fight corruption and repair its judicial system. The Bulgarian government has simply refused to do so.
Brussels School of International StudiesAuthor : Letters to the EurActiv editor