This is serious, “Arbeit Macht Frei,” stuff:
A wry smile crept across Steffan Stefanov’s face as he scanned the internet, digesting news of England’s now notorious football match against Bulgaria. It wasn’t that he was belittling the racist abuse that was directed against the black English players, but rather the use of two words littering media reports about it.
“Bulgaria and racism,” he proclaimed. “The two go hand-in-hand. It’s our reality, we live it every day. I’m sorry for the England players who were targeted but, in truth, this was pretty minor for us.”
The government of prime minister Boyko Borissov is propped up by a grouping of three small rightwing populist parties known collectively as the “United Patriots”. They are made up of the National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria (NFSB), the Bulgarian National Movement and the Attack party.
Krasimir Karakachanov, head of the Bulgarian National Movement, holds three portfolios – deputy prime minister, minister for defence and minister for public order and security. His “Roma integration strategy,” or “concept for the integration of the unsocialised Gypsy (Roma) ethnicity” to give it its formal name, is due to be presented to the Bulgarian parliament and could soon become law.
It defines Roma as “asocial Gypsies,” a term used by the Nazis, and calls for limits on the number of children some Roma women can have; the introduction of compulsory “labour education schools” for Roma children and forced work programmes for sections of the community. It also depicts the Roma as “non-native Europeans” left over from the Ottoman empire.
His party’s manifesto also calls for the creation of “reservations” for Roma based on the model used for Native Americans or Indigenous Australians, claiming that they could become “tourist attractions”.
Earlier this year, following violence between Bulgarian Roma and non-Roma, Karakachanov declared: “The truth is that we need to undertake a complete programme for a solution to the Gypsy problem.”
His predecessor as deputy prime minister Valeri Simeonov described the Roma as “arrogant, presumptuous and ferocious humanoids”. He was also chair of Bulgaria’s National Council for Cooperation on Ethnic and Integration Issues at the time.
Jonathan Lee, spokesman for the European Roma Rights Centre, said: “Unfortunately, racist chanting and offensive gestures from the terraces is not even close to as bad as it gets in Bulgaria. Last Monday night, Europe was confronted with what for most Roma in the country is the everyday. Rising anti-Gypsyism, decline of the rule of law, and increasingly fascist political rhetoric is nothing new – it just rarely gets such a public stage.”
Lee added: “This is an EU member state where violent race mobs are the norm, police violence is sudden and unpredictable, punitive demolitions of people’s homes are the appropriate government response, random murders of Romany citizens only a fleeting headline, and the rights and dignity of Romany citizens are routinely denied on a daily basis.”
So now we have two NATO allies (Turkey and Bulgaria) who have proposed credible attempts at genocide, Turkey against the Kurds, and Bulgaria against the Roma.
And then you have AfD in Germany, the NR in France, the LN in Italy, etc. on the rise.
Obviously, Turkey is not in the EU, but the rest of them are, and the promise of the whole, “European Project,” that it would prevent the horrors of the 20th century, seems increasingly remote.