PRESIDENT BUSH IN THE CHANGED BULGARIA

MIlka Ivanova

 

On the eve of 24 of March 1999, when NATO was preparing the bombing of Yugoslavia, the President of the United States Bill Clinton urged the American audience: “Look at this map. Kosovo is a small state, but it is situated on the divide between Europe, Asia and the Middle East – a place, where the Islam meets the two branches of Christianity – Catholic and Orthodox. On the South lie our allies – Greece and Turkey, on the North – our new democratic allies from the Central Europe. Kosovo is also close to some other small states…………..”

 

Urging his fellow Americans to take a look on the map of the Southeast Europe, the American president actually picked up some very famous figures of speech and long dominating in the American foreign policy ideas in order to introduce not only the location of the “other small states” on the Balkan Peninsula, but also the American approach towards them. Using a seismologic metaphor consistent with the Hungtington ideas for the clash of the old and new lines of confrontation, he described the peninsula as a “divide” zone, where the collision between religion and civilizations takes place. The President’s address to his people in fact indicates the strategic choice, which lies in front of USA and which results in certain consequences. Divided between the global leadership and global dominance USA chose to make efforts patiently and for long in order to appease even the most explosive regions on Earth, those which give birth to the greatest part of the initiating violence hatred. That is why Kosovo and the close “small states” were presented in this president speech as inconveniently jammed between Europe, Asia and the Near East.

 

Thus, trough the concept “other small states”, the image of Bulgaria, which Clinton shall visit few months later, was introduced in the notion of the American public not from the point of view of its own identity, but as a small sized, unknown and situated in the dangerous “dividing“ space. Irrespective of this “Balkan” context, Bulgaria’s particular development could not remain unnoticed by the administration of the president, who visited Bulgaria in 1999, as well as of his successor in 2007. The Bulgarian transition is one of the few manifestations of peaceful transition from totalitarism to democratic state of the society and as such it could not be passed over by the state aimed to the global leadership. While the Czechs have their “Prague Summer”, the Poles have their “Solidarity”, and the Hungarians their rebellion in 1956, world leading power as USA could not leave unnoticed that in the context of the problems in the former Yugoslavia, Macedonia and Albania, in Bulgaria the transition was realized only through several brief protests and a long term of transition period.  The wise leadership suggests for constant pursuit to engage the most viable and friendly tuned parts of the world into mutual, even non formal structure for keeping the control and, as far as possible, elimination of the possible sources of thread. That is why the visit of the president Clinton in 1999 is in fact an acknowledgement that, although a small state, without any particular role in the foreign affairs of this par excellence  world power, Bulgaria has realized considerable changes, due to which the results achieved should be stressed and stimulated by naming the development as an example to the other states.

 

In fact external powers do not have substantial role in the Bulgarian transition, because in spite of the existence of the dissident formations likeEcoglasnostthe Bulgarian revolution from 1989 is a result of peaceful change of the power inside the Communist Party. During the first visit of an American president the changes are already in place. On 10.11.1989, Todor Jivkov, who has been the leader of the Communist Party for several decades was already replaces by the reformists. The name of the Bulgarian Communist Party has been changed into Bulgarian Socialist Party and the new formation has won the first democratic elections. Up to the same moment the liberal formations – liberals, social democrats and ecologist joined into the Union of the Democratic Forces and some years later many new political parties have appeared. Because of the internal tensions and the determination of the opposition represented by the working syndicate “Podkrepa”, the predominance of the Bulgarian Socialist Parity lasted only few months. In December 1990 the government of national consensus has been formed and on 1.08.1990 the National Assembly elects Jelu Jelev for Bulgarian president. His successor in 1996 Peter Stoyanov is a representative of the modern right movements, but real change in the political life at that stage due solely to the election did not happen. The mass protests in January 1997 resulted in preterm election and the government formed as a result of those elections came out with a declaration that it will realize a harsh but inevitable program, necessary to recover the states economy and social life – a program that with the efforts of the next two governments has let to the accession of Bulgaria to the European Union and NATO.  The foreign policy of the state of Bulgaria has also changed. It has divorced itself from the Russian sphere of influence and during the visit of Bill Clinton has been publicly proclaimed for an ally and partner of the United States, although without that strategic significance that has been detached to Greece and Turkey. As a result of this achievements, when American president has visited Bulgaria for the second time, Bulgaria has not been presented as “small state”, inconveniently jammed between Europe, Asia and the Near East, but as the small state, which is member of the European Union, NATO, UN and the Council of Europe, the same state, which in 1999 was presented to the world by Bill Clinton with the following words: “This is wonderful land! Come here and help this people built its future”.  

 

Probably it is too early to say what are the exact consequences of the visit of George Bush in Bulgaria. The 43rd president of the United States is one of the most disputable presidents. Or at list it appears so in the present moment. But even if it is too early to say what are the consequences probably now is the best time to say what the impressions are. During both presidents visits – the one of Clinton and the one of Bush, Bulgaria is the same small state without considerable role in the USA global leadership ambitions, but it has already realized, although very slowly, its transition to democratic society, it has established its democratic institutions, which ,even thought experiencing some problems, are mature enough to be acknowledged by the fact of European Union accession. Moreover the state has opened its boundaries and communication channels and has already experienced the influence of the American media moguls, that of Coca Cola”, “McDonalds”, and of the “colonels” of Disney, the same way as most other European countries do. Taking into account this, the visit of George Bush is slightly different compared to the visit of Clinton. The former American president visits Bulgarian in a situation when it has already supported USA during the few uncomfortable months of the Kosovo conflicts. Through the 1999 visit the American president  draws the world’s attention to the crucial importance of the mutually complementary, engaging both sides, although asymmetric American – European global partnership.  But the visit of George Bush is merely a protocol event, with no other impact on the peaceful end of the Bulgarian transition than the media coverage and the chance for political rhetoric. Due to the fact that the transition has already been realized, the time for the impressive scene entrances has been left in the past. That is why the visit of the president Bush will be remembered with the words “Mr. Clean”, which he used to name the Bulgarian president George Parvanov and with his claim that even if Bulgarian does not fall into the territory of the rocket shield, it will be protected, “because it is not fare some countries to have protection and others not” and because “American military bases are in fact a pledge for security”.

 

It is hard to say why this visit was not so glamorous as the one of the president Clinton and why for most of the Sofia citizens it was related only with the traffic problems due to the vast security measures. If it is due to the controversial personality of this president or because of the fact that on the background of the democratic transition already finalizes the role of the American Army Seventh Cavalry is not a leading role. In spite of the fact that in Bulgaria, which already has the conscious of a NATO and EU member, the visit of president Bush has not the same direct consequences as the visit of the president Clinton in 1999, it is true that the visit is height and very important acknowledgement for the Bulgarian efforts in its goal to sanction the democratic changes already accomplished. But this event presents something more – the influence of the global tendencies related to the fact that the national governments have to reconcile themselves with less and less support from its nationals. The issue lies in the fact that the representative democracy as a principle operates in spheres which do not have such relevance for the particular person, while on the issues which are of vast importance for personal life the representative democracy has worthless influence. These days, when due to the realized transition to democratic state of society the Bulgarian national have the right to leave and invest in any other country, they do not have anything to lose if they are not politically responsible or loyal to their own government, which has contributed to the visit of a world leader in their country. In the changed Bulgaria, simultaneously global, national and local the democracy functions better in those places where the vastly informed consumer of an institution is in a condition to bind his/hers own experience with the issues which do have direct impact on his/hers own life. That is why the limitations for Sofia citizens due to the security measures related to Bush visit had greater impact on the notion of the Bulgarians then the political or international reflection of the same event.

 

Пълната стенограма на Кръглата маса (1990) Защо преходът беше такъв? Идейната криза, властта на кликите и homo transcurrens ☼  Новите йерархии ☼  СРЕДНАТА КЛАСА☼  КАЧЕСТВОТО НА ЖИВОТ И ЩАСТИЕТО ☼ 

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