Maxim Behar for Euronews: The Lost Battles of the Bulgarian 47th ParliamentAugust, 2022
The PR expert Maxim Behar took part in the morning block on Euronews TV with Diana Radeva hosting. He expressed his opinion about the missing communication strategy in the Bulgarian Government, Bulgaria's position in relation to Russia's conflict with Ukraine, as well as shared his predictions for the development of the politics during the next elections in Bulgaria.
Host: Welcome! In fact, how will we remember the 47th National Assembly, which turned out to be somewhat shorter-lived than we expected. Mr. Behar?
Maxim: With a lot of wasted time and the many lost battles. Unfortunately, what I can say about this time, since the National Assembly was elected, until Friday, when it was the last meeting, is only one word and it is "sorry". "Sorry" for all that happened, because there were many lost battles, we will talk about them, the most important of which was communication. This government, this coalition assembled from 4 mutually exclusive political forces, each one of them with insane ego, each one of them claiming that without it nothing can happen, that without it the state will almost collapse. No one could communicate normally with the people, with the citizens, with those who voted for them, with the media, what they wanted to do, if they will do it and how they will do it. That battle, the communication battle, was totally lost by everyone. In my opinion, even if someone advised them, no one listened to anyone. But this is the first, most important lost battle, which is a shame because it ended up leading to lost in time as well.
Host: Well, in the world of grown, educated and intelligent people, wouldn't the fact that the partners are different enrich a potential coalition. Maybe it sounds a bit naive to you, but still we think that these are politicians who are there with a certain goal, they come together in the name of something, to create this formation.
Maxim: These are dreams that we’ve all had, because we imagined that young, intelligent and pure minded people, who have not been through politics, would do the job. And some of them, of course, did. And I don't want to wave my hand and say: "They didn't do any work." But in the end, when you go to get your car fixed, and they don't fix it, or you get it with a flat tire, it doesn’t matter if the mechanic explains to you: "I had a misunderstanding with my boss, the parts were missing...", nobody cares about that. When it comes to a whole country, it is already disastrous. This coalition took over the state in the worst crisis that I remember in Bulgaria for maybe 50-60-70 years.
Host: Maybe it was just tough luck for them.
Maxim: Even more mobilizing.
Host: A few things: all the time, the more experienced parties, the status quo parties as they were called, seemed to juggle procedures, meetings, quorums, and managed, to literally reshape the entire project and pass what they have decided, even state budget as an example. Did the opposition, which was more parliamentary and politically prepared, overcome the new faces?
Maxim: Look, these parliamentary tactics, they are part of the game. When you go into the woods and you know there are bears in the woods, you must learn how to either run from them or deal with them. I believe that the opposition achieved success, purely procedurally, and I would say also purely in terms of communication. What we saw with the Prime Minister, with all the sympathy I and many people have for him, is that he was constantly making excuses for something. I'm picking up my communication topic again. He was constantly on the defensive; he was constantly left behind at the events dictated by the opposition. There were several people - Assen Vassilev, Daniel Lorer, maybe also Grozdan Karadzov, who was the only experienced minister of them all.
Host: But he was at the center of most of the scandals.
Maxim: Yes, but he behaved quite adequately. And I think they should behave a little better, they should have been a little more active, a little more proactive. And what they did, even 5-10%, they had to explain it well and adequately, so that the voters could say to themselves "Okay, let's see them again, let's give them a second chance."
Host: By the way, in this parliament there was quite often a danger of possible physical fights in the plenary hall, including on June 1st in front of children.
Maxim: Look, these people, elected by the Bulgarians, exchanged such lines, such messages, which 98-99% of Bulgarians would not allow themselves to say even in their families. This, by the way, is the most prominent feature of the Bulgarian parliament. We have never seen such an arrogant, vicious and aggressive speech, so much wasted time. It's very unfortunate, but at the end of the day, that's the picture, we elected these people. What I saw with Harvard, not to mention, I'm also a graduate, but that's not the only reason. I believe that these are people who should set the tone in society, have a professional attitude. For so long, there was no clear picture of whether and when we will adapt to the Euro as currency in Bulgaria. A totally lost battle, but the most important one for this and the next year in Bulgaria. The battle for the southern border, and not only Kapitan Andreevo. That is the external border of Bulgaria and Europe towards non-European countries. That’s the reason why we are not in Schengen. The battle for tourism and the promotion of Bulgaria - not one ad was released during all these months, and if it was released, they show spa centers, which every country has. The battle for the position towards Russia and towards the war. For the first three or four months, no one could take any permanent position. At one point they came to their senses, Assen Vassilev commented on what the president said, and at one point things turned around. And if I must go back to the car mechanic example, you don't care who the car mechanic deals with, you want to drive your car.
Host: In this regard, a photo to comment on, Stoil Stoilov and Iskren Mitev - "Last working day with this bully". This photo is from the social networks. By the way, docent Vladislav Milanov from the Sofia University is our next guest, and we will analyze in detail the speeches of the representatives. Gentlemen, what do you think about the role of the President, because he has come a long way – "We continue the change", BSP, all the parties with which he is currently in conflict? He is the key player from now on, because at the beginning of the week he will appoint a new cabinet, from which we expect key decisions.
Maxim: I believe that the role of the President is called "Caretaker government" and in my opinion this institution should have been excluded from the Bulgarian constitution a long time ago. In the end, 200-300-400, even 1000 people went through some of the governments, through some ministries. In my opinion, when a government is given a vote of no confidence, it should be left in charge until the next election to do its job. There is a parliament that controls it, there is a parliament that actually or hypothetically voted no confidence in it. However, now that new ministers appear... In my opinion, this should be the first job of the next National Assembly - to abolish this practice. A qualified majority will always be gathered, I can guarantee that.
Host: He was extremely sharp the other day at the return of the mandate. He said that the worst legacy of this government is the chaos in the energy sector. At the same time, do you expect relations with Gazprom to be reviewed during this cabinet - signals that the political party BSP and the President have been giving all along. Nikolay Pavlov, the former head of Bulgargaz, is expected to be acting Minister of Energy. Although this is speculation at this point.
Maxim: These are such insignificant moments.
Host: Do you expect a change in our position towards Russia?
Maxim: It's not possible. Purely politically it is not possible - Bulgaria is a member of NATO, Bulgaria is a member of the European Union. Of course, you know the famous saying of Tsar Boris the Third - "Always with Germany, never against Russia", which I have heard many times from Tsar Simeon, and of course, never against Russia, however...
Host: Please, Mr. Behar, as a PR specialist, comment on the statements of Mrs. Mitrofanova, Ambassador of Russia to Bulgaria, and Mrs. Zaharova, Director of the Information and Press Department of the Russian MFA, from yesterday.
Maxim: They are doing their job. I know Masha Zaharova very well, I have been to dozens of meetings with her, forums, we have talked and discussed many times. They are doing their job, the world is at war. Russia is at war with Ukraine, Russia is at war against Ukraine. Bulgaria must have a position and this position must be clear and precise. This position must be against the war and not an inch to the left or right.
Host: Time for closing remarks, sorry to interrupt you. Mr. Behar, what are your prediction for the elections, can you "see" the future?
Maxim: Over the years, you and I have often "foreseen" the future, especially before elections. I think there won't be any big differences.
Host: And who can form a coalition with whom, if so?
Maxim: History, the most recent history, shows that everyone can form a coalition of interests with anyone. But I don’t think there will be any new stars, politically we don't have time for new stars. Given that we don't have paper voting, we have electronic voting, the chances of the election being rigged are practically reduced to zero. I think the better one will succeed, the one who is able to communicate his messages better and speak more humanly. In my opinion, in the next parliament, everyone can form a coalition with anyone, without "Revival”, of course.
Host: Will "There are such people" enter the next National Assembly?
Maxim: I hope that everyone who participates in politics remembers well the words of the Dalai Lama - "If you lose, don't lose the lessons." And those people who until now, I hope they have learned their lessons well.
You can watch the full video here.