This article was published on 21 August 2021 at the Bulgarian section of the Barricade.
The heat waves in the past weeks have led to a sharp rise in the price of electricity on the free markets across the South East. While in Bulgaria this affected companies directly, in neighbouring Romania, where the consumer market has already been liberalised, the impact was felt by ordinary citizens. This led one of the country’s leading trade unions, the National Trade Union Bloc (BNS), to come out with a position criticising the state’s energy policy.
History of the efforts of Bulgaria and Romania for transport interconnection over the river
Institute of Balkan Studies with Center for Thracology – Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
An earlier version of this article was presented at the joint Bulgarian-Romanian historical commission, whose secretary from the Bulgarian side is the author. The text was given exclusively to the blog “The Bridge of Friendship” and will become a part of a digital book on Bulgarian-Romanian political relations from 1878 until today.
The idea of building a bridge over the Danube, connecting Bulgaria and Romania has a long history and, although with varying intensity, it has been permanently present in the bilateral relations from the end of the 19th to the present day. If we are not to go so much back to the time of Constantine the Great, when the first bridge over the Danube connecting the people on both sides of the river, but focus on more modern times, the issue was raised during the time of Ottoman rule and after the Crimean War (1853-56) it became an integral part of the diplomacy and politics in the Balkans and a number of European countries. The construction of a bridge over the Danube was associated with the first plans for railway construction in the Ottoman Empire and the implementation of a land connection between Western and Central Europe to the Balkan Peninsula with access to the Aegean Sea. In 1881, only three years after the Liberation of Bulgaria, the first contacts were established between the Bulgarian principality and Romania, where the possibility of building a bridge over the Danube was discussed. Since then, this issue has become one of the constant topics in the relations between the two neighboring countries, but it has turned out to be very difficult to solve and it takes more than seven decades for this idea to be realized in practice. Another six decades were to pass before a second bridge was built over the Danube, connecting the Bulgarian and Romanian riverbanks. Negotiations for the construction of new bridges between the two countries continue to this day, and the prospects for success are not very clear.
The government supports the business, but gradually eliminates the benefits of workers, explaining that austerity is a must
This article was published on 9th March 2021 on the Bulgarian section of the Barricade website.
The Romanian government started its operation in the days before Christmas 2020 and immediately took care of the application of its vision for change. This vision is based, on the one hand, on business support through public investments and EU funds and, on the other hand, on austerity for employees who were considered ”spoiled” or ”privileged” during the Social Democratic Party (which ruled until 2019).
Florin Cîţu’s government cuts social benefits but invests in infrastructure
By the end of the year, a new road from the Danube Bridge border crossing to the Giurgiu-Bucharest road will be completed. This was announced by Romanian Transport Minister Catalin Drula. “One project that makes me proud is the connection with the DN5 road from the entrance from Bulgaria at the customs in Giurgiu. This will be a 6 km long expressway that will bypass Giurgiu. There will be four lanes of concrete. The previous concrete road gave defects in the 90s, but now the technology is new. There is an Austrian company that has built concrete runways in Romania. This way we will get rid of the shameful situation the moment we leave the customs. It was like Mars”, the transport minister announced on Digi FM’s “Comfortable Man” show.
This article was published on 2 January 2021 at the English section of the site The Barricade.
The IT sector in Southeastern Europe might seem like a bit of an unconventional place for labour unionisation, as it offers usually well-paid jobs with high social status. But labour issues and possibility for improvement abounds there, too. On 19 December 2020 members of the Discord channel Workplaces of the Future, hosted by the Collective for Social Interventions (Bulgarian NGO dealing with various social issues), organised a discussion with the leader of the Romanian labour union for IT workers Florentin Iancu, as they wanted insight into the experience of Romanian labour unions in this domain.
This article was published on Baricada România on 12th December 2020.
As commenters have noted in recent days, the attractiveness of the AUR party (which is an abbreviaure of The Aliiance for Union of Romanians as well as means Gold) is based on a discursive mix that has the potential to mobilize various social categories. Because of this diversity, many people can find a message on the AUR agenda that might match their overwhelming feelings (including, as Cornel Ban pointed out in his article for FEPS – Foundation for European Progressive Studies: anti-vaccinists, football hooligans, Holocaust deniers, anti-Hungarian ultranationalists, the military, pious Christians and believers in New Age medicine).
Behind the diffused rhetoric shaped by the discursive mixture mentioned above, there is also an ideological amalgam that has the potential to attract people from different backgrounds, even from different social classes. At first glance, this mixture combines – on the one hand – cultural conservatism fueled by opposition to political correctness and revengeful hatred of all kinds of identity policies, and on the other hand populism based on the sense of dignity that people want to regain it from the various humiliations suffered by all major political parties (both old and new). Precisely for this reason, like any manifestation of nationalism, the AUR ideology has the potential to build a diffuse sense of belonging that transcends various social boundaries (age, profession, class). And, in addition, it has the potential to justify the strengthening of the police state and militarization, phenomena that we have seen manifesting itself more and more strongly in 2020…
A look at the different foreign policy positioning of Romania and Bulgaria in the second half of the XX century
This article was presented at the conference ”Bulgaria and the Balkans in the XX century: foreign policy and public diplomacy”, which took place on 26 October 2018 at the Sofia City Arty Gallery.
The Balkans are in the middle between the three continents, where civilisations, which form the outlook of contemporary world, were born. The importance of this region, just like any other region’s importance, changes together with Europe’s evolution, but all the time it retains its role of connecting element between Europe and Asia and its importance for the Great powers in the continent. By this more general affirmation I want to point your attention towards two of the Balkan states, which we could call Northern Balkans, in the way we call another part of the peninsula Western Balkans. These are Bulgaria and Romania, which enter after World War Two in the Soviet sphere of influence, having very different positions. Soon after the first international convulsions they became the only Balkan countries in the Eastern Bloc. However this didn’t draw them much closer. Neither equalises them. The relations between Bulgaria and Romania in the Eastern block are filled with tensions and contradictions, even though these are hidden behind numerous meetings at the highest level.
I will present those relations through a few characteristic examples.
Interview with Maria Cernat, made for the media emission “The Network” on the cultural programme of the Bulgarian national radio
For a third successive year Bulgara is at the unprestigious 111 place in the ranking of Reporters without Borders for media freedom in the world. This means that at the level of the EU Bulgarian journalism has the greatest problems. “Corruption and collusion between media, politicians and oligarchs is widespread in Bulgaria”, the report says, being quoted by the radio Free Europe.