F-16, met with Bulgarian heavy fire in June

The Bulgarian Air Forces' fighter is the Soviet MiG-29. Source: Bulgarian Air Force's Facebook public page
The Bulgarian Air Forces’ fighter is the Soviet MiG-29. Source: Bulgarian Air Force’s Facebook public page

Although approved by the US, a F-16 purchase to be carried out by Bulgaria sparked controversy and countless debates. The Bulgarian president, Rumen Radev, campaigned against the deal and used his public arrangements during the month to confront both his government and the US.

In an interview for the Bulgarian National Television, the president Radev said that the US are offering jet fighters that lack the necessary equipment, not to mention the price for the deal, which is too high. The president also expressed his belief that the US wouldn’t finance the rest of the operations needed to complete the aircraft so the whole financial burden would be on Bulgarian budgetary expenses.

Rumen Radev has also talked negatively about the F-16 deal at a military show that took place at the Graf Ignatievo airport. In his view, the jets might not even be able to perform their minimal combat tasks given the equipment not being provided for the offered price.

“Gift” versus transaction

A similar thesis is also supported also by the leader of “Ataka” and coalition partner in the government, Volen Siderov. In an interview for Nova Television, he says that the F-16 deal is mainly a transaction meant to get the US strategical blessing, but it is harmful to Bulgaria. Siderov added that the US have simply given such aircrafts to Egypt and Indonesia as a “gift”, whereas Bulgaria would have to pay 3 billion dollars for the purchase. Therefor, concluded Siderov, the thing to do is to oppose the deal and to try to redirect this money for real public use.

There are also to be noticed different analyses that also criticize the deal with the US. The newspaper “Trud” publish a comment according to which the price is far too high. “Trud” argued that the assessment of the price was made by comparing the Bulgarian transaction to those carried out by countries such as Bahrain and Slovakia.

The newspaper “Duma.bg”, who is known to be supported by the opposition Bulgarian Socialists Party, has also pointed at the not so good parts of the F-16 deal. “Bulgaria will most likely fail to negotiate a deferred payment for F-16, according to the Financial Minister Vladislav Goranov”, says the media in an analysis. This may delay some other modernization needs of the military in Bulgaria and even the planned raise of the soldier’s salaries, it is also mentioned by the paper.

An analyst with the economic media outlet capital.bg, Vera Denizova, also beliefs that the deal for the F-16 fighter jets would increase the budget’s deficit. As a consequence, Denizova says that, in the event of the transaction being concluded, this year public budget should be adjusted.

When in doubt, go meet Putin

At the end of the month, the EU leaders have started negotiations for the top EU positions and this proved to be not exactly a walk in the park: disagreements and harsh arguments accompanied the whole process.

Dnevnik.bg published an analysis which says that the EU is urgently making a new attempt to pave the way for its highest positions. The media outlet underlines that, when it comes to the EU’s future, the sooner the better: finding names for the the 5 highest positions (Chief of the European Commission, Chief of the European Parliament, Chief of the European Council, Chief of the Central Bank and of the EU diplomacy) would be highly appreciated.

The Bulgarian president, Rumen Radev, had other ideas, though, about Bulgaria’s future in a complicated world: in a meeting in Saint Petersburg with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, Radev has called for the development of the bilateral relations with Russia rather that focusing only on EU membership.

The interim chief of the World Bank, Kristalina Georgieva, backed the Bulgarian president. In an interview for the Bulgarian National Radio, she said as follows: “Europe is too small, we should be more open to the world”. According to her, Bulgaria should revisit its competition notion and should try not to put all its eggs in EU’s basket.

The Bulgarian president also talked about the insecurities in the EU during his visit in Budapest and his meeting with the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orban. They agreed there is a huge need of reform concerning EU refugee policy. Radev said that the EU still has no crisis plan in case of sudden migratory pressure at the external borders of the alliance and this needs to be changed.

French president Emmanuel Macron has also spoken about the crisis in the EU. He thinks that the world may be in a military situation in the near future. Macron expressed his concern about the chaos in the EU and called for action against the populism in the Union.

Bulgarian vicepresident Iliyana Iotova also gave some negative feedback on the EU policies in an interview for the Bulgarian National Television: Brussels has made a big mistake by delaying for October the decision on the North Macedonia and Albania EU accession.

Trump the menace

A very popular person in the Bulgarian media in June was Donald Trump, the US president. His popularity, though, was in connection to his actions against Iran and China. As a result, both the economic and diplomatic actions Trump took were covered extensively.

The French Minister of Economy and Finance, Bruno le Maire, was quoted saying that the US – China trade war will lead to a crisis in Europe and, if this conflict escalates, this will cause global negative consequences.

“Trump has shown his teeth to Iran again” is the comment that fakti.bg publishes following the new sanctions that the US president has announced against Tehran.

China has also been affected by the Trump’s trade policy. The country has warned the US that is ready to react to Trump’s actions.

EU shown concern for Trump’s actions results and spoke with the French president’s voice Macron not only criticized the US leader, but also expressed his opposition to starting negotiations for a new US – EU deal.

The Bulgarian newspaper trud.bg has published an analysis entitled “Trump’s irrational policy”: the economy expert Nikola Filipov says that Trump’s biggest failure is keeping on imposingg sanctions on other countries that basically used to be US business partners. According to Filipov, this could affect Trump’s chances to get reelected.

In June, the authors of this study examined 24 Bulgarian media outlets, the most relevant in terms of readership.

Most of the articles (21) were provided by dnevnik.bg.

Fakti.bg is ranked second (17 articles).

On the third place – bnr.bg (14 articles).

65 of the collected articles could be classified as “neutral”. 21 of those are news, the other 41 – analyses.

50 articles are labeled “biased” (27 of them are news, 23 are analyses).

The leader of the biased articles in June is bnr.bg (7 news and analyses, both anti-EU and anti-US articles included). Right under bnr.bg comes dnevnik.bg (5 news and analyses, both anti-EU and anti-US articles included).

On third comes fakti.bg (5 news and analyses, all of the anti-US articles).

 

* The authors of this analysis/study divided the media articles into two categories (news and analysis), each classified as biased or neutral. A geographical criterion was also used to link the media articles to the EU and the US. According to this study, a piece of news is nothing more but a short article covering a fact or a statement whereas an “analysis” may be a column, an investigative piece or any other type of article that is based on several facts and statements that are premises for the conclusion that the author of the article wishes to make public. The neutral characteristic is attributed to those news and analyses that use actual quotes (and not made up or out of context ones), rely on fact checking and logical syllogisms, provide side relevant data (context) in order for the public to get the bigger picture. News and analyses are labelled as biased when, on the contrary, the journalist’s work is not compliant with all of the above: quotes are partial and/or manipulated/manipulative, there’s no vetting process, neutral context is not added (and when there’s some context provided, facts are selected to match the conclusion – which, in this sort of cases, is pre-set – and not the other way round).

 

Based on this report:

Покупката на изтребители F-16 - главна тема за коментари срещу САЩ и ЕС в медиите през юни
Bulgaria cumpără F-16 de ultimă generație, de trei ori mai scumpe decât cele cumpărate de România