site.btaMedia Review: May 20

Media Review: May 20
Media Review: May 20
BTA Photo

No single topic dominates Monday's news media. 

HIGHLIGHTS

In its lead story, 24 Chasa takes stock of Bulgaria’s 17 years of membership in the European Union. The daily notes that salaries in this country have quadrupled and the home loan interest rate has gone down to 2.8% from 8%. Bulgaria has paid EUR 9 billion in contributions to Brussels and received EUR 30 billion for projects and funds, 24 Chasa adds.

Duma’s top story bears the headline "There Must Not Be Electricity Price Spikes". The daily quotes Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) leader Korneliya Ninova, who addressed her supporters at an election campaign event in Western Bulgaria on Sunday. She called for free medication for children under 15 and working youth under 26 to be exempt from taxation.

Trud leads on an article about Parvovirus B19 spreading in Bulgaria. A case of the virus, also known as slapped cheek syndrome, has been registered in the Black Sea city of Burgas, health expert Miroslava Kiselkova tells the daily. Parvovirus B19 is most common in children, with symptoms including a bright red facial rash, muscle and joint pain, and fever, among others. The infection is usually mild for children and adults, but it can cause health complications in people with anemia or weakened immune systems, as well as in pregnant women, Kiselkova adds. The daily notes that the infection has caused the death of a 3-year-old child in Greece, with 11 infected children hospitalized.

Another Trud story is headlined "Robert Fico’s Assassination Attempt: Is Such Thing Feasible in Bulgaria?" referring to Slovak Prime Minister Fico’s shooting on May 15. It rounds up comments by former deputy foreign minister Milen Keremedchiev and political scientist Krystian Szkwarek. Keremedchiev says that he does not rule out clashes between extreme factions, while Szkwarek argues that a case similar to Fico’s assassination attempt is unlikely to occur in Bulgaria because "liberals are only strong on social media".

On its front page, Telegraph quotes Institute for Analysis and Assessment in Tourism Director Rumen Draganov as saying that Bulgarians are expected to make some 280,000 domestic trips during the upcoming long weekend, including May 24, the Day of the Holy Brothers Cyril and Methodius, of the Bulgarian Alphabet, Education and Culture, and of Slav Letters. There will be as many as 70,000 trips abroad, the majority of which will be to Greece. Bulgarian nationals will also visit Turkiye, Romania, Serbia, and the Republic of North Macedonia, Draganov adds.

POLITICS 

Trud covers a survey by the Mediana polling agency, which shows that Continue the Change – Democratic Bulgaria (CC-DB) is likely to become the fourth political power after the snap parliamentary elections on June 9 with 13.7% of respondents’ votes. The coalition is preceded by the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), which would get 14.2%. GERB leads in the poll with 27.5%, followed by Vazrazhdane with 15.7%. Both the Bulgarian Socialist Party (9%) and There Is Such a People (6.2%) are expected to enter the next Parliament. The poll is also covered by Telegraph.

On two full inside pages, Telegraph has interviewed Central Election Commission (CEC) Spokesperson Rositsa Mateva, who comments on the organization of the national snap parliamentary and European elections, which will be held simultaneously.

Dnevnik.bg has a story about the way young people tend to vote, summing it all up in the following title: "Disloyal to Parties, Inclined to Experiment". The established parties do not enjoy broad support among the youth. Emerging political formations that seem to offer an alternative to the status quo are much more likely to win their favor. In all parliamentary elections held in the period 2021-2023, support for GERB among voters aged between 18 and 30 ranged between 13% and 18%, placing the party third in the July 2021 elections, following There is Such a People and DB. Support for BSP is almost nonexistent, ranging between 4% and 7% for the period 2021-2023.

Dnevnik notes that the youth’s vote is largely a protest vote against the status quo and is driven by hope for change. The majority of young people in Bulgaria are currently not ideologically motivated, as is the case in Germany, for instance. They do not relate to green ideas to the same extent, nor do they resonate with ideas such as those promoted by the Vazrazhdane party. These factors are prerequisites for easy demobilization and major electoral volatility, Dnevnik adds.

In an extensive 24 Chasa interview, caretaker Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Dimitar Glavchev says that his Cabinet is working towards Bulgaria’s full accession to Schengen and the euro area, adding that the country is expected to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in less than two years. Glavchev also comments on his priorities, recent appointments of deputy ministers and regional governors, checks at Lukoil warehouses, and the re-negotiating of a 2023 agreement between Bulgarian state-owed natural gas supplier Bulgargaz and Turkish energy company BOTAS, among others.

Speaking on Nova TV on Sunday, CC co-leader Assen Vassilev said that in a private conversation with Delyan Peevski, one of the MRF two leaders, he had been told of a plan involving GERB chief Boyko Borissov retiring from politics by taking the presidential seat and Peevski becoming a prime minister. In Vassilev’s words, the conversation took place in March, when it was already clear that "the cabinet of [former Prime Minister Nikolay] Denkov was collapsing and elections were imminent". The CC co-leader said that a major change in the way the country will be governed is being planned, adding that GERB and MRF have already taken control of much of the broadcast media and services. Vassilev’s interview is reproduced by Dnevnik.

ECONOMY

Citing Bulgarian National Bank data, Telegraph reports that Bulgarian expatriates have sent a record-breaking EUR 347 million in remittances to their relatives and friends in this country in the first quarter of 2024. This is equivalent to 1.7% of Bulgaria's GDP for the first three months of the year, which, according to the National Statistical Institute, stands at EUR 20.775 billion. The largest share of remittances came from Germany (EUR 71.1 million), the US (EUR 64 million), Spain (EUR 34.1 million), and the UK (EUR 33.4 million). For reference, in January 2007, when the statistics were first recorded, remittances amounted to just EUR 165 million, growing to EUR 634 million by the end of the year.

In 2023, Bulgarians working abroad sent EUR 1.32 billion to their loved ones in Bulgaria - a record amount following the impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on businesses.

EDUCATION 

Trud carries an article titled "Universities Protest Despite Promised Millions". The daily says that most state-run universities will protest on Monday despite a decision to cancel the event taken by its organizers, the Podkrepa Confederation of Labour (PCL) and the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria (CITUB), following Friday’s announcement by the Cabinet that funding will be allocated for higher education.

On Bulgarian National Television’s morning programme, PCL President Dimitar Manolov said that no protests will be organized by his organization for the time being because the authorities have fulfilled their commitments so far. He referred to BGN 39 million allocated to increase the salaries of academic staff in state-run higher education institutions, another BGN 40 million for the increase of scholarships, the salaries of non-teaching staff, and some senior academic positions. Manolov added that it has been agreed by political parties that measures will be taken by June 30 to make the appropriate legal changes to secure funding under the recently amended Higher Education Act that cannot be currently secured.

Speaking on the Bulgarian National Radio (BNR), Lillyana Valcheva, Chair of the Higher Education and Science Trade Union affiliated with CITUB, said that her organization supports the postponement of the protest, adding that they will nevertheless remain ready to protest until June 30. "One should not stage protests during successful negotiations," she added.

TRANSPORT 

BNR has an interview with Krasimir Tsvetkov, head of the national taxi trade union, which launched an indefinite protest on Monday. Tsvetkov demanded that deadlines be given for when and how the problem with the closure of taxi ranks will be solved. He said that 21 of a total of 68 taxi ranks in downtown Sofia have been closed, noting that taxi drivers are being deprived of access to places with a major flow of clients.

ANTIQUE ITEMS 

Mediapool.bg writes that Bulgarian authorities have handed a list of antique items, part of former gambling mogul Vassil Bojkov’s collection seized in 2020, to several neighboring countries at an operational meeting at Europol's headquarters in The Hague in early March. The aim of the operation, dubbed "Orpheus", is to establish whether the items have been unearthed on their territory. Responses have been received from Greece, Turkiye, Romania, Albania, and North Macedonia, who believe that certain items originate from them.

Bojkov is accused of illegal purchase and possession of antiquities, among a long list of other offences. The prosecution service alleges he has bought antique items in a number of countries, including Bulgaria, Greece, Germany, the UK, Switzerland, China, and the United Arab Emirates. Some 6,000 artefacts of Bojkov’s collection previously housed in a private museum have been seized, of which about 130 have been registered. The prosecuting magistracy considers the unregistered items illegally acquired.

Items worth more than EUR 2.4 million were bought from Greece in 2015-2016, Mediapool.bg reports. Prosecutors believe that Bojkov "concealed the origin, location, movement, and actual rights to that property, which rights belonged to the Greek state."

THE WAR IN UKRAINE

"Is a Russian victory in Ukraine feasible or not?", "Is a shift in the geopolitical landscape to be expected?", and "Will there be a new world order?" were among the questions discussed on the Nova TV morning programme by journalist and former BNR correspondent in Russia Chavdar Stefanov, former BNT and BNR correspondent in Russia Valery Todorov, Atlantic Council co-chair Momchil Doychev, and Ivaylo Ivanov of the Atlantic Association of the Officers in the Reserve.

/IV/

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By 04:43 on 23.06.2024 Today`s news

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