Former ambassador with outrageous interference in EP elections in Bulgaria

Xavier de Caban calls for MRF to be ejected from ALDE, campaigns in favour of candidate supported by behind-the-scenes clique

A shameless interference in the run-up to the European Parliament elections in Bulgaria has been committed by former ambassador of France to Bulgaria Xavier Lapper de Caban. Contrary to every diplomatic, public and ethics norm of conduct there is, he posted an outrageous message on his Facebook page, in which he not only campaigns in favour of an MEP candidate representing a political coalition with ties to the oligarchy, but also calls for a party currently in the Bulgarian National Assembly to be ejected from the European alliance it is a member of.

The absurd situation transpired two and a half years after the sudden end of De Caban’s term in Bulgaria and his ensuing assignment to the west-African country of Burkina Faso. However, the Frenchman is apparently not yet done meddling in Bulgaria’s domestic affairs. This sort of impudence marked his entire stay in the country and now it is even more significant because he is involving not only our country (which was happy to see him leave) but its political system as well and an international political alliance – the Alliance of European Liberals and Democrats (ALDE).

De Caban’s Facebook post appeared on 24 April, when the EP elections campaign was kicked off, on a page featuring not only his name and profile picture but his current diplomatic position, identifying him as a representative of the French state. In the social media status itself he not only perpetuates one of the many fake news items being spewed by the same media circle (that of Ivo Prokopiev and the other oligarchic publishers) against Delyan Peevski, second on the list of MRF candidates for the EP, current lawmaker and Telegraph Media publisher, but openly calls for the MRF’s “ousting” from the ALDE so that Frenc president Emmanuel Macron’s MEPs should not have to sit beside Peevski. “Moreover, there is another party ready to take the vacated place in the Alliance in the event that it has an elected (MEP), as former ambassador to Paris Stefan Tafrov has the chance to be,” De Caban continues.

It is unclear what makes the diplomat believe he has the right to campaign for EP candidates in Bulgaria. However, his words are completely on brand for the way his persona is remembered in the country. De Caban was once accused by the now late head of the National History Museum Bozhidar Dimitrov of embezzling €500,000 in donations raised for the exhibition of Bulgarian artefacts in the Louvre and routinely made headlines with comments about “bad apples” that he directed towards different people depending on the Bulgarian oligarchs’ interests. An emblematic example is the infamous judge Rumyana Chenalova, whom De Caban described as a “bad apple” and then suddenly stopped talking about her the moment she started batting for the team of Ivo Prokopiev, Tsvetan Vassilev and the media funded by them.

This is hardly a coincidence. Especially considering the fact that the diplomat’s Facebook status was accompanied by a link to an article about the oligarchs’ sworn enemy Peevski written by one of the multitude of authors with direct ties to them – Georgi Gotev, who has turned the English-language website Euractiv into a megaphone for Prokopiev’s talking points in Brussels. Against this backdrop it is not surprising that the political organisation in favour of which De Caban is campaigning is linked to the abovementioned oligarchic circle. Democratic Bulgaria is a coalition composed of Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria (DSB); Yes, Bulgaria and The Greens, who are funded by the behind-the-scenes clique, while Stefan Tafrov is an old associate of the godfather of Bulgarian oligarchs, former PM Ivan Kostov. De Caban’s post was not only liked by Tafrov but quote-tweeted by journalist Veselin Dremdzhiev, whose TV show is viewed as a platform for people defending the positions of the indicted Tsvetan Vassilev and Ivo Prokopiev.

It is unclear whether the French foreign ministry knows about that Facebook status of its representative in Burkina Faso and whether it supports the idea of its diplomats interfering in the domestic affairs of other countries. All our efforts to contact the French embassy in Bulgaria have been to no avail; on two occasions the individual on the other side of the phone even hung up. The email we sent has also not been answered yet.

The Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs refrained from commenting on the scandal, arguing that De Caban is expressing his personal opinion. “It is absurd for us to comment this opinion expressed on social media as it clearly does not reflect the official positon of France. The individual cited by you is not accredited as a diplomat in Bulgaria and therefore does not represent his country here – i.e. he is not authorised to present official positions,” the public body said.

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