Issue 189

VLADIMIR SPASOV: TURNING STEEL INTO MOTION

When talking about successful business stories in Bulgaria, M+S Hydraulic PLC is one of the best examples. Based in Kazanlak, in the Valley of Roses and Thracian Kings, it will soon celebrate 60 years on the market. In these years, it has constantly evolved and adapted its activities to stay relevant, both in the pre-1989 planned economy and in the free, globalised market of today as a manufacturer of hydraulic orbital motors and steering units used in wide variety of sectors.

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WHAT FEEDS BULGARIAN NOSTALGIA FOR COMMUNISM?

Some years ago the Pew Research Center in Washington DC produced a survey indicating the levels of nostalgia in Bulgaria surpassed by far longing for the past everywhere else in the former East bloc countries. How come? Why would the citizens of what today continues to be the European Union's poorest, most corrupt and least free state want to return to a nebulous and increasingly distant totalitarian past? What differs the modern Poles, Czechs and Romanians – not to mention the former East Germans – who have long forgotten about Communism from their peers in the southern Balkans?

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IS THERE A PILOT IN THE PLANE?

In early June a small plane flew into Bulgarian airspace from the northwest and landed at what used to be a commercial airport near Vidin. Apparently, the aircraft refuelled. It is unclear whether the pilot or pilots got any on-the-ground assistance from anyone or just poured fuel into the plane's tank from canisters. Guards from a private security company that was supposed to protect the ruins of Vidin Airport noticed the activity and alerted the local police. But the aircraft was quicker. It took off before the police arrived.

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RUSSIA BRINGS ON... VANGA

The future does not look bright according to Vanga, the notorious blind clairvoyant who died in 1996 but is still being a darling of tabloids internationally, especially in Russia. In 2022, virtual reality will take over, famine will ravage India and earthquakes, tsunamis and floods will hit Asia and Australia. Water shortages in megapolises will incur political upheaval while a virus released by the melting Siberian permafrost will start a new pandemic. Aliens will arrive on an asteroid.

What about the war in Ukraine?

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QUOTE-UNQUOTE

It's a spiral. They have entered a spiral. And it's very, very difficult to get out of that spiral.

Edi Rama, Prime Minister of Albania, on Bulgaria's stance on North Macedonia's EU membership application

GERB is a German shepherd that can do the job. Changes Continued are Chihuahuas. Everyone likes them, but they can't do the job.

Delyan Dobrev, MP for GERB

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DISCOVERING STRANDZHA'S COAST

The Strandzha mountains coast, roughly everything along the Black Sea south of Burgas, is about 100 km long as the crow flies. Yet it is very varied. You will discover smaller and bigger bays, old towns and purpose-built modern resorts, a campsite or two, a number of picturesque rivers, inlets and... islands. In fact all of Bulgaria's islands are along the Strandzha coast. You will probably be underwhelmed, however. There are just four of them, not counting the St Kirik Isle north of Sozopol which was appended to the mainland, in the 20th century, with a quay.

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BULGARIA'S COLD WAR PLANES

In the spring of 2022, Bulgarian military aircraft used during the Cold War suddenly became hot news. Should Bulgaria offer its old Soviet MiG- 29s to Ukraine, or shouldn't it? The debate went beyond the usual division between "hawks" and "doves." For some, sending the MiGs would help Ukraine to defend itself against an aggressor. For many more, including the Bulgarian president, himself a former fighter pilot, such a move would leave Bulgarian airspace unprotected, as some recently purchased US F-16s were yet to arrive.

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WHAT IS KARLOVO?

Great changes often spread from inconspicuous places, and Karlovo is a case in point. This town at the southern foot of the Stara Planina mountain range looks quiet and quaint now: some old, Revival Period houses huddled between newer construction lining a long street that funnels much of the traffic on the Sofia-Burgas road. You might think that nothing of importance has ever happened in Karlovo, but the first impression, as most first impressions, is wrong.

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THE REAL GREEN DEAL

Urban residents have craved nature's purity and living in close contact with it since urbanisation and industrialisation became a global phenomenon, as early as the times of philosopher Henry David Thoreau who self-isolated in a cabin far from the city noise.

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