An interview with the international relations expert, which deals with the Danish perspective on Southeastern Europe, on its insular mentality, on the possible initiatives for greater regional cooperation and on the Danish interests in this region
Cross-border Talks’ Vladimir Mitev speaks to Zlatko Jovanovic of the Democracy in Europe Organization, based in Denmark, about the Danish economic and security interests towards Romania and Bulgaria. Zlatko Jovanovic says that Denmark has interests in agriculture in Romania, but in recent times the Danish public attention has focused more on the Western Balkans as its countries could potentially join the EU.
Also, Zlatko Jovanovic reminds that strategically Denmark is interested in social progress, in modernization, cohesion “Denmark wants to empower people that want to take part in the democratic societies of the EU”, says the Danish expert. He adds that Denmark has a bit of a British perspective on the EU, and tends to see the EU as a market, as an economic community, and not as an organization moving towards a federal state. But after the Brexit, Denmark has been moving towards French understanding of the EU and thus social issues become more important.
What initiative or steps between Romanians and Bulgarians could promote trust between themselves? Zlatko Jovanovic underlines that the two countries remain somehow mysterious to Western Europe. He recalls the Open Balkans community, which is a mini-Schengen area in the Western Balkans. But with regards to Romania and Bulgaria such a mini-Schengen initiative could cause opposing effects and reactions. As for their joining the Schengen area, the two countries have a somewhat mysterious and maybe negative image in the Western Europe, as news is usually published about them, when something is not alright.
This article was published on 7 February 2021 at the English section of the site The Barricade.
The spat between the EU and the UK over the shortfall of deliveries of AstraZeneca vaccines revealed a European Commission with an ugly face. The threat to activate Article 16 of the Northern Ireland protocol, which stipulates that a customs border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK be established, so that no transfer of vaccines to the countries outside the EU takes place, was seen as the behaviour of a bully. The threat was withdrawn a few hours after it was made at the end of January, but it created the grounds for London and the British media to go on the offensive, with the EU depicted in the role of the abuser of the Brexit agreement and the post-Brexit arrangements, even though the possibility for customs border is part of those arrangements. The EU also introduced a ban on the export of vaccines until the end of March and had “hard talks” with the managers and representatives of the pharmaceutical companies which produce COVID-19 vaccines.
A Romanian student made an interview on the Bulgarian transition with the editor of the blog “The Bridge of Friendship” for his B.A. thesis
Vladimir Mitev (b. 1983) is a Bulgarian journalist and Romanian language speaker. He was born in the city of Rousse. He has degrees in Iranian Studies and International Relations from the University of Sofia. He has worked as an international desk journalist in the weekly magazine “Tema”. In September 2015 he founded the blog “The Bridge of Friendship”, which he develops in Romanian, Bulgarian and other languages on issues from the political, economic and cultural life in Romania, Bulgaria and the world. Starting from 2017 he is the editor-in-chief of the Romanian section of the site “The Barricade”, which is an international progressive platform that unites voices from Central, Southeastern and Eastern Europe. At this moment he is doing a Ph.D. research in Persian literature at the University of Sofia.
This interview is part of the B.A. research “Transition from communism towards democracy in Romania and Bulgaria. Successes, failures, expectations”, which was defended in July 2020 at the Western University in Timişoara by Devid-Raul Ciobanu.
Interview with the Romanian political scientist about his book with texts about the classical contradiction in the Romanian society between apolitical institutions/experts and parties/politicians
Florin Grecu is a professor at the University “Hyperion” in Bucharest. He teaches political sciences – political parties, electoral analysis, European governance, international governance. He has graduated from the Faculty of Political Sciences at the University of Bucharest. His doctorate is on the issue: “The construction of a unique party: The National Revival Front”. The blog “The Bridge of Friendship” has discussed with him on the occasion of the coming out of his book “Political/Apolitical”, where an interview with him from this blog is republished.
Political/Apolitical is the contradiction, which explains a lot in Romanian society in the last years. One one side stands the technocratic institutions, which are unelected, own specific knowledge and usually enjoy a good approval rating among the public. On the other side stand the parties and the politicians, who are not trusted a lot by the society, who are considered corrupt, but also represent the democratic vote and a chance for modification of the state policies, which otherwise serve too much the financial and judicial sector, the security, the middle classes and don’t take so much into consideration the interests of the poor people.
The Romanian foreign minister Teodor Meleşcanu (photo:
As president of the Council of the EU Bulgaria’s northern neighbour so far abstains from taking unequivocally side on the Venezuelan issue, upon which there is not common European consensus. It is a convenient motive to wait for the development of the ambiguous case
This article was published on 6th February 2019 on the site “The Barricade”.
Bulgarians, who used to see the neighbour Romania as a standard of Euroatlanticism have probably been surprised that even though Bucharest has taken over the presidency of the Council of the EU it hasn’t recognized yet the self-declared “temporary president” of Venezuela Juan Guaido – a recognition for which the USA has been insisting and which has already been made by a number of leading countries in the EU, including by the Bulgarian government. What does Bucharest think about the case “Venezuela”? A lot of Romanian media ask the same question.
The relations between Bucharest and Brussels are not so bad (photo: YouTube, channel of Romanian government)
Bulgarian media narrative on Romania changed significantly. The recent wave of romanoscepticism in Bulgaria on the occasion of the starting presidency of the EU simply follows the mainstream of Bruxelles, but doesn`t help for the better understanding of what is going on in the region
This article was published on 12 January 2019 on the Bulgarian section of the site “The Barricade”.
The days before the official start of the Romanian europresidency, which began on 10 January 2019, came together with a wave of negative evaluations and comments in Western European media about the government in Bucharest and the Romanian political elite. Leading Bulgarian media also gave tribune to a number of analysts, who expressed their scepticism towards Romania, similar to the Western European, given that literally until the middle of 2018 Romanians were given constantly as example for successful reform in justice, economy and loyality to the West. The experts now sowed doubts that Romanian presidency will be successful. The analysts also reduced Romania of 20 million people to the person of the strong man in the Social Democratic Party Liviu Dragnea, who is criticised strongly in Western Europe and to the ironised prime minister Viorica Dancila.
The parallel with the Bulgarian europresidency, lauded for its tractability by Jean-Claude Juncker, is natural to be made. Until recently Romania was the country of excellence in the region, because of ”anti-corruption” and its ”awaken civil society”, which ”opposes the thieves in politics”. Now Bulgarians were to live their small media moment of glory as most loyal and responsible representatives of the EU in the region. This change was taking place while Romania was transforming itself into a country, which, according to the interpretations, ”is not looked at with credibility” in European institutions and in the other country-members. A possibility arose that the government in Sofia shines before the European partners, pushing itself away from Romania, with which it had been in tandem for the last two decades. It is expected that Bulgaria will be admitted to the Schengen space until the end of the Juncker commission, while no such announcements have been given to Bucharest.
Liviu Dragnea and Klaus Iohannis (foto: CC BY-SA 2.0, CC BY-SA 3.0)
After Donald Trump entered the White House the northern neighbour is one of the territories of global fight between pro-German and anti-German powers
This article was published on 5 June 2018 on the site and in the paper ”Word”.
Has the end of the Romanian anti-corruption fight come? The question has probably passed through the head of many people, as the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) stipulated on 30 May 2018 that the urge of the minister of justice Tudorel Toader for resignation of the chief of the anti-corruption fight DNA is legitimate (because according to the court prosecutors are subordinated to its ministry). The CCR also defined the president Klaus Iohannis` rejection to sign the order for Laura Koveşi`s resignation as unconstitutional deed. In other words the Constitutional Court said that Iohannis, who is considered a pillar of anticorruption, must literally cut a part of his political body, signing the order for Koveşi`s resignation.
Mihai Tudose is no longer the prime minister of Romania (photo: gov.ro)
The prime minister Mihai Tudose resigned after a scandal with the internal minister Carmen Dan – a close ally of Social Democratic Party`s leader Liviu Dragnea, while tensions grew with the Hungarian minority. Echoes of the conflicts could be felt at the press conference that presented the Bulgarian priorities for leading the EU
This article was published on 17 January 2018 at the site “Baricada”.
„We`ll see each other exactly after a year again here for the presentation of the Romanian presidency of the EU“, said the Romanian foreign minister Teodor Meleşcanu at the end of a press conference in the representation office of the European Commission in Bucharest. The public laughed. The 76-old veteran of Romanian diplomacy expressed his expectations for the future, attempting to play a little bit with those present, only a moment after the director of the representation office of the EC in Romania Angela Cristea had closed the event. Apparently, Meleşcanu was happy with his meeting with almost 50 diplomats and journalists from 21 media. So he allowed himself to express confidence in the future.
At this moment no one in the conference room, even Meleşcanu (as it is witnessed by the quote) didn`t expect that only 11 hours later the premier Mihai Tudose will resign. There was an ongoing media scandal between Tudose and the internal minister Carmen Dan, who is a close ally of the Social Democrat Party`s leader Liviu Dragnea. The prime minister accused the internal minister in lying on the occasion of appointment of the chief of Romanian police and said that he can no longer work with her. However Dan refused to resign. Dragnea showed that he protects his ally. So Tudose had to resign.
The Romanian foreign minister Teodor Meleşcanu (at the microphone at the front) explains Bucharest`s vision for the Black Sea regional cooperation (photo: Baricada)
The Romanian foreign minister answered a question of the blog ”Bridge of Friendship” at a joint press conference with the Bulgairan ambassador in Bucharest
This article was published on 16 January 2018 at the site “Baricada”.
”The problems of Danubean and Black Sea regions should occupy a higher place on the EU’s agenda”, said the Romanian foreign minister Teodor Meleşcanu during a press conference in the representative office of the European Commission in Bucharest. The press conference took place on 15 January 2018. Hours after it the prime minister Mihai Tudose resigned as a result of a political crisis within the government`s ranks and a conflict with the strong man in the Social Democratic Party Liviu Dragnea. However press conference`s topic was not the political crisis, but the priorities of the Bulgarian presidency of the EU, which has just started. They were presented by the Bulgarian ambassador in Romania Todor Churov. The event was visited by almost 50 diplomats and journalists from 21 media, including the blog ”Bridge of Friendship”.
The former adviser to the European Commission of Jacques Delors, activist for the definition of water as a common good, instead of a commodity, university professor and left intellectual speaks with Baricada, telling the story of the transformation of welfare inspired societies into the main sources of a ”global disorder” and violence – a story of subjugation to a new world generation of greed technocratic elites and their push to commodification of life
Riccardo Petrella is an Italian economist who has been a scientific and technology policy analyst to the European Commission between 1979 and 1995, becoming witness and a voice of dissent over the EC’s definition of Europe as a union of competition. He is the main force behind the report “Limits to Competition” by the Group of Lisbon that has criticised the neoliberal reforms undertaken by the Commission of Jacque Delors, that serve the capital and markets, but undermine the achievements of Post-War Europe. Petrella has worked between 1967 and 1975 as a scientific secretary, and then the director, of The European Coordination Center for Research and Documentation in Social Sciences in Vienna – an organisation that has brought about scientific exchanges between the West and the East in the times of the divided Europe. The Italian university professor teached between 1982 and 2005 in the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium) courses such as „Scientific and technologic politics” and „Economic globalisation” and was a lecturer in other universities and countries too. Between 2005 and 2006 he was the president of the Water Company of Puglia (Italy). In 1997 he founded the International Committee on the World Water Contract, which has the former Portuguese president Mario Soares as a president. In 1998 Petrella published „The Water Manifesto” (first in French and in 2001 in English), where he uncovers his vision for water as a „common good”.