Politicians exploit Bulgarians’ fear of ·assimilation”
Svetoslav NIKOLOV New Europe Radio
he state came up with its own idea of a demographic crisis and started seeking solutions. The state made it clear that nothing would stop its efforts to find a solution to the crisis - not even the free choice of the individual. Those in power still continue to look at the people as subordinates, who need governance but not consideration, or recourse to power. It may turn out, however, that the state’s perception is wrong. When there is a problem with the demographic development of the nation, the use of the term ·demographic crisis” has implications - the old ·fear of assimilation of the nation”, from the years of communism, is revived with new force. Debate on the ·crisis” started after a meeting between President Georgi Parvanov and experts on the subject. After that meeting, one thing remained in the mind of the average media consumer. This was a warning by sociologist Mihail Mirchev that if the current pattern of demographic development continues, by 2050 the population of Bulgaria will have shrunk to 5.2 million people, of whom only 60 per cent will be of Bulgarian descent. Although the state so far has failed to determine the right number of ethnic Bulgarians in the country, we can see that beyond doubt there has been considerable progress in this direction. Parvanov made it clear that his position was politically correct: ·There is no basis for speculating about the ethnic theme”. In response, nationalist political organization IMRO immediately stated that ·the contraceptive culture of the minorities must be improved”. Miroslav Murdzov, MP from the Bulgarian People’s Union group and secretary-general of the IMRO, said in plain terms to New Europe Radio that ·the Bulgarian ethnos is in danger”. These are the messages behind which the real debates about the demographic ·crisis” are being conducted - that Bulgarians are being assimilated, that ethnic minorities have taken over our country. Messages like these will lead us to a real crisis. Such debates will be motivated by fear, and skillful politicians will be ready to take advantage with populist slogans, because any other kind of public discourse will not win you electoral support, and elections are not far away. Is it possible for the forthcoming presidential elections in November to be the reason for the thesis that ·the critical processes, which in all these years had characterized the demographic situation in Bulgaria, had become a problem of Bulgaria’s national security”. I want to ask where the head of state was, as he put it, ·in all those years”, allowing this problem to turn into a crisis. It is an old rule that when society feels the real threat of a crisis, no one looks for the most rational decisions, but looks for the easiest solutions. Given the rise of populism today, is it possible that organizations such as the nationalist Ataka party and the Bulgarian National Union led by Boyan Rassate, which promise to return Bulgaria back to Bulgarians and offer ·bulgareaucracy”, to trip up President Parvanov on his way to a second term, because of statements like this? I wonder how such organizations plan to solve the demographic crisis. The combination of Parvanov’s idea that ·the crisis is now a problem of national security” and Mirchev’s statement that there will be ·only 60 per cent Bulgarians after 45 years” not only creates the feeling of an enemy in the public mind, but also shapes the image of the enemy. The enemy will not be the state, which failed to create good living conditions, the state which also failed to provide prospects of implementation, the state which failed to take care of every child in school, the state, which has given up on the health culture of its people, and it will not be the state, which has failed to propose an effective social policy. The enemy will take the form of ethnic minorities and minorities in general. This is not a prognosis. What’s frightening is that this is already happening. Meanwhile all institutions are dealing with much more important things, such as writing a strategy for demographic development until 2020 and preparing for the next elections. The important debate on the demographic problem and human capital will have to wait.