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May 22, 2019


We are a group of concerned citizens standing together in defence of liberal democratic values and human rights.
In the run-up to 24 May, the National Day of Culture and Education in Bulgaria, and the European election that will take place on 26 May, we call on our fellow citizens to firmly support the principles of democracy and liberal values embedded in the founding treaties of the European Union such as freedom, equality, respect for human rights, pluralism, solidarity, environmental protection and care for all members of society.

We are deeply concerned about growing social polarisation both in Bulgaria and globally, the rise of ultra-nationalism that exploits and reinforces existing social divides, and the active attempts by certain interest groups to blur the line between the secular state and religious dogma. We are also concerned that such ultraconservative and populist forces receive a solid financial backing in their attempts to roll back on human rights and democratic freedoms gained over the last decades: academic and scientific research is being rejected and substituted by propaganda messages; NGOs, university professors, journalists, human rights defenders and other civil society representatives are under attack; international human rights treaties which Bulgaria ratified years ago are being challenged.
Social media is being used to manipulate public opinion, spread fake news, stir emotions and instil fears. Armies of trolls and bots promote extreme positions online, disguised as civil society voices. Trust in public institutions and traditional sources of information are being undermined. Public space is flooded with disinformation campaigns designed to foment panic, chaos and disorientation on a massive scale.
Public discourse is being radicalised. Calm and rational voices are being constantly stifled by blatant and sensationalist statements, appealing to people’s deepest fears and emotions. The free flow of hate speech on air remains unchallenged, a tiny step away from incitement of hatred to actual violence.
Bulgaria has been gradually drifting away from its civilizational choice of the last decades, its democratic path to development and pro-European orientation. It is ironic that those who most vehemently attack public trust in common European values also occupy top positions in the party lists of candidates to the European election, posing an insidious threat to our common European home.
These trends fit into a global pattern outlined in an open letter signed by 30 prominent intellectuals from all corners of Europe. They raise an alarm that the continent is currently facing the biggest threat to its existence since 1930’s and call on its citizens to stand up for the principles of liberal democracy and European values.
We would like to join these intellectuals in calling on our fellow citizens to be active, to seek to be well informed and vote for parties and candidates who robustly support European, democratic and liberal values. Our European identity complements and enriches our national identity — it does not undermine it. Bulgarian culture has always flourished in periods of openness and active engagement with European and world culture. The European Union is the strongest safeguard for the preservation of our national culture and language and their lasting mark as part of both European and world cultural heritage.
We would like to remind our prospective representatives in the next European Parliament that the European Union is a community grounded in common values such as respect for human dignity, human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law. These values also require defending and upholding the principles of pluralism, non-discrimination, justice and solidarity on which our societies are built.

Text and signatures : OPEN LETTER



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