Sergey Stanishev: European rightist formations have shown much less commitment to Bulgaria’s problems than socialists12 April 2014 | 19:36 | Darik Radio
Host: Leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and President of the Party of European Socialists (PES) , Sergey Stanishev, who also tops the BSP ticket for the forthcoming European elections, speaking for The Week on Darik Radio. Hello, Mr Stanishev.
Sergey Stanishev: Hello.
Host: Which are the three most important things the left-wing MEPs did during this mandate of the European Parliament (EP), which is nearing its end?
Sergey Stanishev: The things they did are many. It is difficult to summarise them but one of the things the MEPs with the Coalition for Bulgaria [in which the BSP has a leading role] worked a lot [to achieve] is the attitude towards the Schengen [Area] as it is clear Bulgaria complied with its obligations, which were formulated in a certain way, and Bulgaria should be member of the Schengen [Area] by now, for which by the way, there is a position on the part of the EP thanks to the votes of the socialists. It was achieved with our very active participation. The second topic [a lot of work was done on] is the topic connected with the EU funds. All our MEPs worked so that Bulgaria could achieve more real and easier access to these EU resources which so many expectations are connected with. And the third common topic is fighting for a just place for Bulgaria in the EU as we all feel Bulgaria is pointed at, it is treated like [it was] a second-hand country, in particular, by rightist formations. There are many speculations and many ill-meaning attitudes towards our country which emerge especially in periods of time before elections as a lot of European rightist parties use certain topics to misuse it. I will give you a concrete example. You know what a wave of media publications and political statements there was in the United Kingdom at the end of last year and earlier as well in connection with the fact all restrictions on the free movement of Bulgarian citizens and the possibilities for their finding a job there and in several other countries with [similar] restrictions came to an end on January 1. There was a very bitter campaign. It was rebutted by our MEPs – [MEPs] with the socialists’ group and with the member parties through very clear arguments. For example, do you know how many Bulgarians are on social welfare [i.e., unemployment benefits and others] in the United Kingdom, the population of which is some 60 million people?
Host: How many?
Sergey Stanishev: Only [about] 1,000 people. From this perspective Bulgaria and Bulgarian people maybe take up the 30th position among a number of other countries, mostly from the former British Empire, which clearly shows this topic is used for political speculations against Bulgaria. This was clearly opposed.
Host: Your thesis is that rightist formations in Europe [work] against Bulgaria, is that right?
Sergey Stanishev: My thesis is that rightist formations have shown much less commitment to Bulgaria’s problems and have not proved [they] behave in a fair way. This has been proven a lot of times as a lot of rightist formations, even when Bulgaria was becoming an EU member state, created obstacles and laid down additional terms in contrast to the socialists, who have also been fair-minded and have treated Bulgaria as an equal-in-rights partner. I will again give you an example. President of the EP, Martin Schulz, who is a joint nomination of us, of all European socialists, for the post of President of the European Commission, presented before the European Council, before all the Prime Ministers in a very clear, well-grounded and firm way a position on the Schengen [Area]. He said: ”After Bulgaria and Romania complied with all their obligations it is unacceptable that the EU lays down any additional terms, political and other ones which are related to other topics”, i.e., the EU should observe its share of obligations.
Host: But the European Commission says the same thing and so does its President [José Manuel] Barroso.
Sergey Stanishev: What is clear is that many more attacks against Bulgaria come from rightist formations and this can be easily proved. On top of that, a big part of them concern speculations.
Host: Which, in your opinion, will be the main topic concerning Bulgaria being an EU member state in the next EP? Also – what should the main debate in Bulgaria be regarding these [European] elections?
Sergey Stanishev: The biggest debate concerning the whole of Europe – it concerns in a direct way Bulgaria, is about the overcoming of the economic and social crisis, the opening of jobs and about Europe not losing its social aspect. We have a situation in which the European institutions – the EP, the [European] Commission, to a great extent the European Court of Justice – have been dominated by the European People’s Party (EPP) for some 10 years. This is a fact. The rightist formations in the course of 5 years since of the beginning of the crisis have been imposing a model of economic policy which has brought Europe to a dead-end. They say: public expenses are the main problem, they need to be cut and a growth will automatically follow, jobs will be automatically created. This did not work. On the contrary – more and more people grow seriously disappointed in the EU and this policy, which is imposed by Brussels as you can see the results and how they affect people. For this reason the European socialists fight for a deep change in the EU – [a change in its] economic policy, [for] a restoration of social commitments. This has direct impact on Bulgaria. As it must be clear – of the wind of ”freezing”, of ”social freezing” blows in from Brussels, a policy is conducted with much more difficulty, [a policy] which puts in the centre of problems not only a macro-frame and budget balances but the way of living of ordinary people. I will give you the following example. Compare the political manifestos of the European socialists and the EPP. The EPP practically does not touch upon the most serious problem of unemployment. It is all put down to the automatism of market forces. There is nothing [there] about the responsibility of the sector of finances for this crisis Europe is in. And I can give a number of other concrete examples. Therefore this is not the first question we can have debates on in the campaign, [it is] a number-one question in Europe. We are for a new and social Europe. The second topic directly connected with Bulgaria – we must be aware that if we do not want Bulgaria to be in periphery of the EU, if we do not want to be treated on an unequal basis, as not having the same rights, the best guarantee the European socialists, their attitude and the position of Martin Shultz as our candidate for President of the European Commission. And the third topic is, of course, connected with the EU resources absorption as we know we faced huge risks of losses last year. There were overcome to a great extent through hard work on a daily basis on the part of the government of Mr [Plamen] Oresharski and this whole process has to now continue so that we sooner come to a good agreement with the [European] Commission regarding the priorities of Bulgaria being in line with the European ones and we start absorbing resources in the next financial period.
The interview has been abridged. The full version is available on focus-news.net
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