Sunday, December 22, 2013

Pot calling kettle black comes to mind

The president of Bulgaria Rosen Plevneliev called for Cameron not play on people's fears and that it was up to mainstream politicians to fight those who played on people's fears at a time of economic trouble rather than be led by them.  “Are we in Great Britain today writing a history of a switch to isolation, nationalism and short-term political approaches?...Politicians should be ready to say the inconvenient truth and fight for unpleasant but necessary decisions which, in the short term, will bring our ratings down but, in the long term, preserve our values ... Let's make sure that what was done in the 20th century, those old-fashioned politics of building walls and iron curtains, will remain in the 20th century. We should learn from the mistakes of this century and understand that every one of us, no matter whether Bulgaria or Great Britain, is weak when he is isolated. The 21st century is about not building walls, but bringing them down, linking peoples, cultures, economies, industry."

11,000 refugees have arrived in Bulgaria from war-torn countries in Africa and the Middle East in the last two years,  Plevneliev said, adding "We might even be able to give a lesson to Great Britain. As a country that is not so rich and not so powerful, we are trying to understand not so much how many could come to Bulgaria but how we can integrate them."

Despite the president of Bulgaria’s well-meaning words, the conditions of the Syrian refugees in Bulgaria are dire. In a small town in Bulgaria, a refugee camp over 1,000 Syrians are crammed into housing meant for just 400. Many of them without electricity or hot water for weeks and many facing winter in Bulgarian army tents.

This is still Fortress Europe and the presence of some 5,000 Syrian refugees has become one of the biggest political issue in the poorest country in Europe.  Support for Ataka, an ultra-nationalist party, which has 23 seats in parliament, has doubled in the past two months. And on November 9th a new nationalist party was founded, promising to “clean up the country of this scum, these immigrants”.

The Bulgarian government is also building a controversial 33km (21-mile), 3-metre tall fence in the mountainous region of Elhovo, near the border with Turkey, where about 85% of the illegal immigrants are crossing.  “Introducing barriers, like fences or other deterrents, may lead people to undertake more dangerous crossings and further place the refugees at the mercy of smugglers,” says Adrian Edwards of the UNHCR. (  Last year Greece built a 10.5km barbed-wire fence at its border with Turkey.)  Says Tihomir Bezlov at the Centre for the Study of Democracy, in Sofia. “The main problem, as the experience with other borders shows, is that a wall cannot stop people who are ready to do anything.”

It is the task of all workers regardless of their place of birth to unite and present one front to the common enemy in the common struggle — the fight against against capitalism. The Socialist Party counters xenophobic propaganda by endeavouring to convince workers they will only be able to secure a decent life, free of fear of war and discrimination by the overthrow of capitalism and the building of a classless, socialist society.

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