Bulgaria - Back Where It Started?

By MILENA HRISTOVA

 

"Every nation chooses alone whether to crash or not."

 

Thus spoke Bulgaria's former Prime Minister Boyko Borisov right after he resigned on February 20, 2013 amid anti-poverty protests.

 

One year later, which saw two new governments taking office and a wave of new protests, the only change is that omerta, the code of silence, have been broken for the first time.

 

But not for good.

 

The protests released a pressure cooker of pent-up tension and gradually died down. What was planned as a storm turned out to be just a turbulence, which naturally passed and settled due to protesters' soft policy tactics, lack of clear goals and strong leaders.

 

On the other side of the fence, the seemingly technocratic cabinet led by Plamen Oresharski proved sufficiently thick-skinned to ignore both unrest at home and harsh criticism by Brussels against nepotism and lack of reforms.

 

The European Commission's latest report delivered a harsh verdict – Bulgaria is back where it started when it entered the European Union in 2007.

 

Does the country face a real risk of slipping back under the control of Kremlin and local mafia gangs like it was in the dark 90s when EU accession was just a dream?

 

We will know the answer in 2014.

 

Meanwhile, in order to survive, Bulgarians are opting for one of two options, which many see as the only choice available - the ostrich or migrant policy.