Bulgarians expect Symeon to open the gates of the West

by Evangelos Kofos [*]

(“Ta Nea”, June 19, 2001)

I am not in the least surprised by Symeon’s victory in Sunday’s parliamentary elections.

A pro-monarchist tendency was already in existence in Bulgaria at the time of the first elections following the fall of the communist regime. Gradually, even representatives from the new political forces began to look favorably on the possible return of the king to Bulgaria. As people grew disillusioned with the two major parties they turned to Symeon like drowning men clutching at a straw— seeing him as a personality who was quite clearly European, one who, they believed, held for Bulgaria the key to the West.

The situation in Bulgaria today might be likened to that of the Greeks in both 1832, and in 1862, when they sought a replacement for King Otto. Like the Bulgarians today, our ancestors wished to find someone who would open up the door to the West. In the current instance, that of contemporary Bulgaria, the man who the Bulgarians hope will lead them into Europe is a Bulgarian, but with all sorts of family and political connections abroad, and a man who favours a western-style democratic system.

For the Greeks, Symeon represents something of an unknown. We very much hope he will not revive nationalistic attitudes. Only time will tell. Let us not forget, however, that Symeon is the son of Boris, who invaded Greece in 1941 and was an ally of Hitler.

* E. Kofos is a former ambassador and specialist on Balkan affairs.

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