EC Representatives in Bulgaria Legitimize Controversial Lawmaker

The Press Officer of the European Commission (EC) in Sofia, Nikola Miladinov, and the Head of the EC Representation, Ognyan Zlatev, have given the green light for the interview of EU Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos with Monitor, one of the newspapers owned by controversial lawmaker, media mogul and businessman, Delyan Peevski.

This emerges from the correspondence to coordinate the interview, published at the beginning of the Bulgarian presidency of the Council of the EU, which Bivol requested and received in part from the European Commission under the Regulation on Access to Information.

The media appearance of EU Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos in Peevski’s newspaper was actively advertised on the Representation’s profile on Twitter.

Ognyan Zlatev, himself, also advertised the interview by retweeting the link on his personal profile.

The newspaper Monitor, owned by Delyan Peevski, MP from the party Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS, largely representing the Bulgarian Muslim minority), is a consistent source of lies, slander and insults of his political opponents, government critics, and the few journalists who uphold the principles of independence and media quality.

As part of Peevski’s propaganda machine, Monitor has also attacked in an extremely dirty and slanderous manner, Joeri Buhrer Tavanier (see also here in English), an EU official and good governance expert, who recently completed his mandate as the Resident Adviser of the EC in Bulgaria.

Green light from Sofia

One can conclude from the documents sent by Brussels that Nikola Miladinov has asked the EU Commissioner’s office to authorize the interview, motivating it with the approaching start of the European Presidency (see here and here).

The answer of Milica Petrovic from Avramopoulos’s office has been positive. This is not surprising because officials in Brussels rely on the expertise of the local representation to filter out media appearances and assess whether they will discredit the institution.

Obviously, Miladinov has started the process because he has been of the opinion that a request for an interview with a newspaper owned by Peevski that is insulting the Commission’s employees in a disgraceful way is something entirely normal and legitimate.

Asked for comment on how he will explain the approval of Monitor for this interview, Nikola Miladinov replied in the following way:

The role of the European Commission’s Representations in all EU Member States is to promote contacts between senior Commission officials and the media in an unbiased way.”

This answer, along with the paperwork for the preparation of the interview, reveal that the Bulgarian Representation of the EC sees Monitor as a media equivalent to information sources that respect the ethical standards of journalism.

For years, Bulgaria steadily ranks at the bottom of media freedom in the EU, while in its most recent annual report, the non-governmental organization “Reporters Without Borders” named one of the reasons for this – Delyan Peevski and his media empire that serve those in power and personal business interests.

Another reason for the decline is the European funds distributed by the government in a non-transparent manner to the media that spare criticism and glorify the country’s rulers. The EC has been informed and has been aware of the problem for years, but does nothing to change the methodology that allows the government to corrupt the media with European taxpayers’ money.

Apparently, this has not been enough and the process of legitimizing the media “bats” and accepting the poisonous propaganda as a norm is now in motion with the blessing of Brussels.

Against this background, the officially declared concern of the EC about the quality of the media environment in Bulgaria is nothing more than a phony pretense.


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