Key Issues
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"Key Internet Policy Issues" is a series of contributions from people living in countries new or relatively new to the Internet about what they consider to be key policy issues related to the deployment and use of the Internet in their country. Each text is published under the complete responsibility and with the permission of its author. These contributions were solicited by Alan McCluskey, guest editor, in preparation for a special issue of the Internet Society's magazine "OnTheInternet" entitled "Strategies for development: from thought to action" to be published in November 1997. For more information and comments on the preparation of this special edition see "Addressing Key Policy Issues".

Bulgaria
Overcoming isolation

When talking about the key policy issue for Bulgaria one has to bear in mind several historic events:

  • the Bulgarian government has never supported the development of the Internet;
  • the Internet developed right from the beginning as a commercial service;
  • for 2 years there was only 1 company providing Internet in the whole country, and for another 3 - only 2 such companies.
  • recently the Internet is being used by local 'shadow economy' companies and people.

After discussing all the different aspect of the Internet in Bulgaria with colleagues, friends and competitors, I've come to the conclusion that the key policy issues for Bulgaria is to provide high speed access to the net, at the same time uniting the ISPs via a national backbone.

Bulgaria is suffering from a post cold war syndrome - it's an isolated country in the Balkans, a region that has been considered dangerous for Europe and even the world the last 100 years. Since the country has not been accepted as a candidate for NATO or the EC, there might be strong, yet hidden, impulse towards isolation. This feeling of isolation is strengthened by the West with different difficulties when applying for a visa, travelling abroad, doing business (economic sanctions on agricultural product, e.g.), etc. The way to be part of the world, is to have access to the Internet, and to let the Internet have access to Bulgaria. What Bulgaria can give to the world is a 1300 year-old culture, the Cyrillic alphabet, history, nature, literature, software brains... What can Bulgaria get from the Internet? Jobs, culture, religion, entertainment, friends, colleagues, places of interest, ...

In order to make Bulgaria a "better place to live", Bulgaria needs to open up to the positive features of the global civilisation. If the West has reached the "end of the history", Bulgaria can learn the lessons, and try to find its unique way in history, accepting the good, denying the evil and making the country a better place to live in. Since 1989, 1,2 million out of a population of 8.7 million have migrated abroad. The population is getting older (most of the migrants are less than 35 years old) and desperate. The only way to help someone who's lonely is to bring them together with other people. The only legal way out of isolation is the Internet. There Bulgarians can find what they lack in their country, and the Internet can help other people find Bulgaria.

Veni Markovski, Bulgaria

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ISSN: 1664-834X Copyright © , Alan McCluskey, info@connected.org
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Created: September 5th, 1997 - Last up-dated: September 5th, 1997