Please support the thousands of Bulgarians fighting to win back their country, their dignity, and their rights. Here is why you should.
#ДАНСwithme hastag on Twitter and #ДАНСwithme on Facebook. (A play on words. The hashtag sounds like ‘Dance with me.’)
This topic is a bit more somber than my previous post. As a Bulgarian American, I have been searching for ways to spread information about the protests that are rocking Bulgaria, and the struggle of ordinary, decent, hard-working people to win back their government. Bulgarians have had enough of the corrupt, oligarchic model of government, and are fighting to win their country back. And I believe they deserve our support.
There are a lot of events going on in the world currently. Protests in Turkey and Brazil, flooding in Canada, an economic slowdown in China, and the revelation of the NSA’s PRISM program are just a few of the topics that have commanded the most attention. Right on the edge of Europe, though, a small country is going through an identity crisis arguably larger than any other in its history.
Bulgaria isn’t a large country. A little over 7 million people live there, or, put another way; slightly more than the Philadelphia CSA. It doesn’t use the Euro, and is considered the poorest nation in the European Union. As a result, since the fall of Communism in Bulgaria, millions of Bulgarians have emigrated from the country.
Bulgarians protested earlier this year, causing early elections. Bulgarians have again taken to the streets, this time approaching the protests in a peaceful and fun manner. Here is an article that states the specific reason why these protests started, and how they have turned into a general protest against the corrupt political model in the country. So why should Americans care that Bulgarians are out on the street protesting? Why do these protests merit any attention at all, when there are clearly issues out there that dwarf Bulgaria?
Reasons why Americans should care about what happens in Bulgaria
First and foremost, Bulgarians want a responsible government, which takes the wishes and desires of its people into consideration and does not infringe upon their rights. The United States stands for transparent, democratic government, and even if the American government itself violates these rules, Americans should still support movement toward this ideal.
Second, Bulgaria is a member of NATO. NATO is the key military alliance the United States depends on to ensure a stable world. Not least, the alliance contributes to the safety of shipping lanes, enabling the global trade which has made the United States so prosperous. As a member of NATO, Bulgaria also contributed to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, helping its American ally.
Third, Bulgaria’s geographical location makes it a key transit hub. The Kapitan Andreevo border checkpoint is the second busiest land border crossing point in the world. The world. Bulgaria is a major vein of the world’s economy. Whether it is goods or people, legal or illegal, tremendous quantities cross through Bulgaria. A corrupt Bulgaria, which is what exists today, turns a blind eye to drug trafficking, human trafficking, and furthermore, is hard put to track the movement of extremists within its borders. America wants to eliminate all three of these scourges.
Bulgaria is poised to also become a major energy transit hub, with both the South Stream and Nabucco pipelines going through it. Energy diversification of America’s European allies is important. Russia has already shown that it is more than willing to use energy as leverage during negotiations. A corrupt Bulgaria is more likely to fall under undue Russian influence.
Last, but not least, Bulgaria has a recently played a key positive geopolitical role in the region. Financial stability, ethnic stability, and religious stability have been in short supply in the Balkans and in the Mediterranean in general. With tensions in Turkey flaring up, the United States cannot risk tempers flaring further within NATO, and further, in the European Union. A corrupt Bulgaria does not encourage unity; it encourages discord between its various groups.
A healthy, transparent, democratic Bulgaria with a growing economy is of great use to the United States. From keeping tight lid over potential drug and human trafficking, to being of further use in the war against terror, to continuing being a role model for other nations in the region. Slowly but surely, politicians in Bulgaria have become so enveloped in their own, oligarchic world that they have lost touch with the regular citizens. Bulgarians hoped that politicians would fight to root out corruption and organized crime, but every successive government only seemed to deepen the problem. Now they can’t wait anymore; Bulgarians want their country back, along with their dignity and rights.
The fact that these protests are not violent does not mean that they are not worthy of support. Bulgaria isn’t asking for American soldiers to lay down their lives, or for billions of dollars. All it is asking for is political support from the nations that it has chosen itself to ally with. Support that normal, everyday Bulgarians hope will help them win their country back.
How can Americans help Bulgaria? Echoing Slavo Ingilizov’s article asking Europe to help Bulgaria:
– Write about our protests. I know we’re not Turkey and things are not so glamorous and sensational, but they are happening. Helps us bring down the media curtain and let all Europe know that we want change.
– Criticize our government. They are doing things, which are so unethical, that it’s easy to take a stand against them. Say that you don’t approve it.
– Support the protests. All foreign opinions matter. Let us know that we’re not doing this for nothing.
Help us win the goodwill of all Bulgarians from all the demagogues who are trying to brainwash them. Help us become what you’ve always wanted us to be, and be vocal about it.