Greece in the eye of the (Balkan) Beholder 5Oct

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We proudly announce some of the key findings of our internal research project that monitors sentiment towards the events in Greece in the light of the referendum on accepting or rejecting the agreement with the country’s creditors. The full survey as well as additional economic information on the Southeast Europe region can be found in this year’s SEE Top 100 that’s due to come out on October 6, 2015.

Bulgaria1

Methodology

Social media comments, blog posts, forum discussions, and comments in news media outlets were analysed to outline public attitudes in eight countries in Southeast Europe (SEE). The report covers over 1200 online comments published during the period immediately prior to and after the July 6 referendum.

Bulgaria

In Bulgarian social media, sentiment towards developments in Greece was predominantly negative. Positive opinions and voices in support of Greece were outnumbered by negative comments almost 2 to 1. A general notion throughout online comments was that “debts ought to be paid” and that it was unfair for certain countries to be exempt from paying debts. Negative attitudes were especially prominent in regard to prime minister Alexis Tsipras and his government, as nearly a half of all mentions of him and his cabinet were negative. Greek people, however, attracted more sympathy, as commenters often noted that they had to endure a regime imposed on them by “thieves” and “failed Communists”.

Sentiment towards Greece’s creditors, on the other hand, was rather neutral. Only a few commenters blamed the Troika for the situation in Greece or hailed its actions. Bulgarians’ view of the EU and its leaders though was more nuanced, especially in regards to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, seen by most as a key player in the Greek crisis. Positive comments about the EU outnumbered those accusing the bloc of being too passive or of “trying to get rid” of Greece.

A number of Bulgarians noted Russia’s role in the crisis and its attempts to alienate Greece from Europe. Some 16% of commenters covered by this survey blamed the situation in Greece on Russia and its president Vladimir Putin. Conversely, about 4% were of the opinion that Moscow offers Greece the only escape from the “greedy creditors”.

The effects of a possible GrEXIT on Bulgaria were not a hot talking point for Bulgarians. Their comments were predominantly neutral and concerned mostly the state of Greek banks in Bulgaria.

Moldova is in the spotlight of our next post.

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