Trump at trade war with many countries around the globe, migrants invading Europe and the Russian spy that was finally kicked out are the main topics that the Bulgarian media focused on in September when it comes to anti-Western speech.
Trump’s trade wars
It seems that the US president is not exactly praised for his pushy trade policies. His promises to China, for instance, were rather hypocritical, BNR thinks, that publishes the story of new tariffs being imposed on China.
Even Microsoft, an American company, is quoted with a statement that’s basically critical to US imposing sanctions on Huawei. Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president, believes the sanctions are illogical, unexplained and anti-American at the end of the day.
EU was also targeted by American financial policies. First, military expenditures were questioned by the US. State secretary Mike Pompeo said that “the US likes the idea that European partners will invest more in defense. But we want to make sure that European spending is synchronized with NATO. We don’t want them to spend money on military needs in areas that don’t meet the needs of the missions of NATO”.
Consumer goods followed. Pogled.info wrote that Trump finally made his move in the trade war with EU: tariffs on European goods such as “whiskey, wine, olive oil, champagne, bags and men’s suits”.
As one could expect, EU fought back and promised to over-tax US goods worth USD 4 billion.
Based on these facts, some articles focused on the consequences that the tariffs and sanctions battles might trigger. Dnevnik.bg published an analysis made by France-Presse which says that uncertainty following Trump’s trade war could lead to a loss of 1% of the US gross domestic product (GDP) by early 2020. These predictions are made based on a research conducted by the US Federal Reserve Office.
Other articles point out that countries targeted by US sanctions would help other countries in similar situations (my enemy’s enemy is my friend). Pogled.info published an article on the actions of China against the US: “Beijing will make, against all US embargoes, large-scale purchases of Iranian oil at guaranteed prices and in return is committed to invest 400 billion dollars in the Iranian economy.
More than that, pogled.info also shows, “More and more of the countries around the world, following Russia’s and China’s examples, are trying to get rid of the dollar dependency. There is a lack of trust in the US economy and the people are beginning to change their dollars in gold”, quoting “Die Welt”.
The Turkish blackmail
Turkey’s role in the EU was another catalyst for fierce debate inside the Union and the refugee population that Turkey accommodates is not meant to simplify things. As the expert and professor at the New Bulgarian University Anna Krysteva said in an interview for BNR, the refugee crisis was not addressed for a long time and that’s the reason it’s starting to escalate.
At the beginning of September, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu expressed his opinion on the role of Turkey in Europe and used the opportunity to disagree with Slovenian President Borut Pahor, who has requested Turkey “special status” within the EU.
Turkish President Recep Erdogan, though, was blunt and left nothing unclear. Essentially, what Erdogan said could be easily interpreted as blackmail: unless the EU helps Turkey financially to take care of the migrants camps, Turkey sends millions of migrants to Europe.
The warning was repeated in a different form in front of the world leaders at the UN, where Erdogan stated that unless an area in Syria is cleared and equipped to welcome migrants, Istanbul will take care of the problem according to its own rules.
Erdogan’s deputy, the Turkish vice-president Fuat Octay, insisted that Erdogan isn’t ever bluffing. “Turkey isn’t bluffing when claiming it will open its borders for the refugees to get into the EU”, said Octay, quoted by the Anadola news agency and Fakti.bg.
At the same time, some articles mention a growth of migrants population in the EU and this could mean that Turkey has already started to deliver what it promised: refugees to Europe. Nova.bg, for instances, says that “32% more illegal refugees came to Greece this year”.
Optimism lacks when it comes to solutions that could be found. Dnevnik.bg republished an analysis made by DPA which says that the EU is discussing an agreement on the distribution of the refugees but “The question is: will this lead to something helpful?”
The Russian spy scandal
In September, Bulgarian authorities realized some Russian spies and their entourage were freely moving around the country and decided to do something about it. As a result, the leader of the so called Russophiles National Movement, Nikolay Malinov, has been charged with espionage and the retired Russian Intelligence General Leonid Reshetnikov was banned from entering Bulgaria for ten years.
According to the Russian Television “Tsargrad”, Reshetnikov thinks that the “US launched the attack against the Russophiles in Bulgaria.”
Reshetnikov’s opinion was also quoted by 24chasa.bg: “The former KGB General Reshetnikov and resident of the Bulgarian pre-1989 service opened up last night on the espionage investigation for the benefit of another country that led to activists of the Russophiles movement and others in Sofia to be questioned”.
In an interview for BNR, General Leonid Reshetnikov said that “the spy scandal concerning Russia’s involvement in Bulgaria is part of a major plan which every NATO member must be a part of”.
Pogled.info has published an analysis under the signature of Vihra Pavlova which is entitled “Hunting Russophiles in Bulgaria won’t help you, Euroatlantic gentlemen!”. According to Pavlova, in many countries, people don’t trust either the EU, nor the US”.
Fakti.bg republished a commentary made by the Russian political analyst Kamran Gassanov, according to which the espionage allegations against the president of the Russophiles National Movement, Nikolay Malinov, may be related to the attempt to put pressure on the new Russian energy projects.
In an interview for the Russian Television “Tsargrad”, the orientalist Mihail Yakushev claims that “the Americans set Bulgaria up against Russia”. He predicts that there will be mode defiance acts against the Russophiles in the future.
Fakti.bg. has quoted some of the words that Nikolay Malinov wrote on the allegations on him: “Bulgaria is a colony of the United States”.
In August, the authors of this report examined 22 Bulgarian media outlets, the most relevant in terms of readership.
Most of the articles (36) were provided by pogled.info.
Fakti.bg is ranked second together with focus-news.net (18 articles each).
On the third place – bnr.bg (17 articles).
80 of the collected articles could be classified as “neutral”. 42 of those are news, the other 38 – analyses.
68 articles are labeled “biased” (30 of them are news, 38 are analyses).
It is worth mentioning that fakti.bg and pogled.info published almost entirely biased 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: