Maxim Behar is in the show "Cross point" season 2 on Nova TV speaking to the host Mikhail Dyuzev on the topic, "The communications expert's point of view"

Maxim Behar is in the show "Cross point" season 2 on Nova TV speaking to the host Mikhail Dyuzev on the topic, "The communications expert's point of view"

Host: Hello Bulgaria, wherever you are you're watching “Cross point”, the show where the news gets its first commentary. Since morning, we've seen power struggles on all fronts. We will have a discussion on this topic in a few seconds. We're in the studio with our commentators this week - communications expert Maxim Behar, economist and journalist Mikhail Krastev, and lawyer and writer Alexander Shpatov. And so, in a last-minute the coalition of the political parties “We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria” will demand the resignation of the Denkov-Gabriel government if seven conditions are not met. This was announced by the co-chair of the “We Continue the Change” parliamentary group, Kiril Petkov, after a meeting of the group and the entire coalition. But let's see more.

Kiril Petkov: After the violations of the declaration of Academician Denkov and Maria-Gabriel from “GERB-SDS” in the last week, the parliamentary group of “We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria” decided to confirm the Denkov-Gabriel declaration and we have set seven clear conditions for its implementation. The parliamentary group decided that if these seven guarantees are not met, we will demand the resignation of the government. Bulgaria needs this reformist government to continue and not to get into a political crisis, but this cannot be done at the price of compromised regulators and pseudo-reform. We invite the representatives of the “GERB-SDS” party tomorrow to join a conversation to formalize these guarantees in a document titled "Mechanism for guaranteeing the reformist program" to be signed by Nikolay Denkov, Maria-Gabriel, and the presidents of the political groups “We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria” and “GERB-SDS”. The seven guarantees include:

  1. A general board for appointment of the regulators;
  2. Compliance with the already approved general legislative program;
  3. Roadmap for judicial and constitutional reform;
  4. Reform of the services;
  5. Agreed law on the anti-corruption commission;
  6. Revision of the electoral code;
  7. General position on the legality of the referendum initiated by the “Vazrazhdane” party.

Bulgarians needs peace, but it also needs real reform, not just replacement.

Host: Earlier today in the Parliament, over personnel appointments, over the change of the leadership of regulators, “GERB-SDS” and “We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria” disagreed again. Despite the criticism, Borisov said he had no intention of bringing down the government but added that it was unlikely that the cabinet would see rotation in eight months. “We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria” deputies refused to enter the plenary for the session. So, for the stability of the ruling majority, as of this minute, the first comment will be Maxim Behar’s. Mr. Behar, it is no coincidence that I say at this minute, because I see that the events are quite...unpredictable.

Maxim: I'm surprised that Kiril Petkov finds the time to watch "Cross point", because throughout this week all three of us have mentioned from time to time the surprising fact that there are no coalition agreements between these two coalitions that are in power. Now, seriously, this should have happened before the government was formed, people should have sat down, got on the same page, signed the relevant document, I trust they have consultants, because the famous German coalition with its hundred and I don’t know how many pages of agreements is a pretty good textbook in politics. On the other hand, I am sure that this government will not fall because there are two very important factors. Firstly, if it does fall, the President will come back on a white horse, and we have seen over the last week, while we have been here in this studio, what sharp arrows and what nervous, I would even say aggressive remarks, have been exchanged between the people who are in “power”, (I put “power” in big quotes), and the President. It won't go down, because it really means that all the power goes back to the President, and that will not go down well with many people, certainly the majority in the Parliament. And the second reason is that if this government falls and there are elections in 5-6 months, the results will be, give or take, the same. I don't believe anybody wants this, there is no new political player right now, there is nobody who is going to stand out so as to get the votes of all those who are disappointed with what is happening in Parliament these days. My astonishment is that in the seven points that Kiril Petkov read out, there was not a single one about the economy and business.

Host: Well, the first point was exactly what they were arguing about yesterday - who should take over the regulators, and that they were not coordinated.

Maxim: Well, these are the administrative positions, they are important, of course most of them have between five- and seven-year terms, it's very important, but it, except for the BNB, and maybe the Court of Audit, doesn't directly deal with investment, or the business environment, or incentives and motivation for new businesses, for start-ups. It seems to me that there should be three more points, to make it ten, it is easier to remember, and as a number ten sends a completely different message, and the three additional points should be for business. And something else that surprised me was that they continue to talk through the television screens and through press conferences. I believe they should sit down and talk, we had breakfast here yesterday, if they have to have dinner tonight, they should sit down and talk and then come up with a common position, not talk through press conferences, and with such anxious voices, as if we are in for a disaster, which we are not.

Host: What we saw on the screen was an invitation for tomorrow to the leaders of the “GERB-SDS” to sign this mechanism, as Kiril Petkov called it.

Maxim: But it is complete “nonsense” that this is happening through the TV. They have their phone numbers, they have their assistants, helpers, consultants, they can meet, they can solve their issues, and then they can go on TV and say, "Bulgaria will be better tomorrow".

Host: The first point of this proposed mechanism is perhaps the most specific of all - a general board for appointment.

Maxim: If there is a need for a common board, let them sit down, get along and get it done. I find it very surprising, to be a bit more diplomatic, all these operettas that are being played out on one side and the other, "but we want this, but we want that." Let them sit down and do it, people in Bulgaria are so busy, so frustrated with all that is going on, that they would not like to deal with declarations from one political side or another. The people of Bulgaria want to do their jobs, make money, live better, and as for who is going to appoint the board, let the politicians, who’s salary we all pay, sit down and figure it out, if they can't figure it out we’ll go to elections again. But I think this time they will be able to, and they can start doing their job too. It’s as simple as two and two.

Host: You're with “Cross point”, and more on the power tensions. The President criticized the government after the cabinet decided that the Prime Minister, and not Rumen Radev, would lead the delegation to the upcoming NATO meeting, and after the exchanged accusations over aid to Ukraine, the head of state told the media today, "The course of the new government is pushing Bulgaria towards the war" Let's hear more.

Rumen Radev: Anyone who has responsibilities and ambitions in the security and defense sphere must know well and adhere not only to the constitution, but also to the law on defense and arms forces and the decisions of the Constitutional Court, which categorically regulate that the president is commander-in-chief. One more thing I would like to urge the new government and the Ministry of Defense to take more care of the Bulgarian army and not foreign armies. It is obvious that the course of the new government is to push Bulgaria ever closer to war, and I do not think it is appropriate for politicians with modest electoral support to speak and take on such heavy commitments on behalf of Bulgaria.

Maxim: I think that this position of the president puts us in the war, but on the totally wrong side, because there are really 50 countries in the world, almost all European countries, except maybe two or three of them, support Ukraine in this way against an aggression. Ukraine in an absolutely just war to win their territories, to protect their people and to be an independent country that is not at war. And if we have such a position, and it is of official politicians, people who are supposed to lead Bulgaria, it means that we are in the war, but on the totally wrong side, unfortunately. I hope that this government, which I am convinced will survive at least a few more months, will be able to consolidate, I don't know if it is a Euro-Atlantic orientation or whatever, an orientation towards values, and towards defending the freedom and independence of every country in the world.

Host: So, according to Mr. Krastev’s thesis, Mr. Radev is using the foreign policy issue, the most trending one - Russia's war in Ukraine, for domestic political purposes. What could his domestic political goals be then, since he is president.

Maxim: I don't want to believe that the president can so cheaply use the Ukraine issue for any purposes because at the end of the day, what he says here, it's true that it's not heard in Tanzania or Burma, but it is heard in Europe. I have an awful lot of contacts - hundreds of people all the time in Europe, there is a lot of disappointment with what they hear President Radev saying in Bulgaria. I'm talking about the western part of Europe.

Host: There are just over 2,600,000 occupied homes in the country. That's according to national statistics, data processed after all the information gathered from September 2021. The data also shows that every Bulgarian household has a refrigerator, but 11% of homes do not have a toilet. More data from my colleague Eva Kostova:

Eva Kostova: It turns out that more and more Bulgarians have only one family generation living in their homes, this percentage is now more than 95%, while in cases where two or more generations, for example, share a home, are becoming fewer, their percentage is less than 5%. The most common item in Bulgarians' homes is the refrigerator. It is followed by the boiler. Almost all occupied households have these appliances. Next in popularity, as we have said, is the boiler. There, about 70% of homes have one. Regarding the mobile device, more than 60% of homes have it.

Host: What can this data be used for?

Maxim: The most important indicator was missing here in these statistics and that is that Bulgaria is the first in Europe in terms of home ownership. Over 70% of Bulgarians own their own homes. There is no such country in Europe. I mean, this is a very serious indicator. It is an indicator of ownership, and I find the 11% who do not have toilets a little strange. I don’t want to ask myself “what are they doing?”. However, in my opinion, this is some kind of statistical error. The fact is that Bulgaria has changed an awful lot in the last 30 years. We are all dissatisfied. Especially when we travel abroad, we go around Stockholm, Vienna, Paris, and especially Vienna, which is a clean and tidy city. There is no Bulgarian I have ever been with who hasn't said "look what the Austrians are doing, look how tidy they are, look how nice it is...but in Sofia there are broken tiles, Sofia...the roads, the holes in the road" and everything else. However, we forget that a century ago Vienna was {at a much higher level than Sofia, the difference now is, well Sofia is much closer to Vienna} in mentality, maybe social media, my favorite topic. But apart from anything else, the open borders, the fact that we can travel, that we can see experience, apply it here. And in Bulgaria we have maybe a million to a million and a half Bulgarians who are abroad, earning good money, and its mainly in Spain, UK, Germany, they invest here. But it is part of our nature to complain and to grumble, but I do think we are really living better, but we should live even better.

Host: Thank you for this week.

You can watch the whole interview here.