Issue 2

DISGRACE IN THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

Two days after it emerged that Bulgaria would become an EU member on 1 January 2007, one man managed single-handedly to smear the country's image in front of the entire European Parliament.

This man was 23-year-old MP Dimitar Stoyanov, from the ultra-nationalist party Ataka. By some sad twist of fate, he, along with several other Bulgarian MPs, was appointed to represent Bulgaria in the European Parliament.

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PROPERTY: TRICKS OF THE COWBOY TRADE

If you're planning a new build or a renovation, you need to choose your builder carefully. Hiring a cowboy, or rogue, builder who promises to do a job that they have neither the intention nor the ability to do well will make the project one big headache.

Bulgaria has plenty of reputable tradesmen, expats and Bulgarians alike, but along with the good come the bad, so make sure you can see them coming...

The personal touch
The cowboy builder will often use friends and family to plug their services.

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HOW MUCH WOULD YOU SELL YOUR BABY FOR?

For some, this is not an empty question. The going rate is about 16,000 pounds, if you're looking to buy. A mother can expect to see about 1,000 pound of this, according to an article published in The Sunday Times last month.

In "Revealed: Bulgaria's Baby Traffickers" a female journalist posing as a childless Western woman looking for a "fast and easy way" to adopt a child goes to Plovdiv, Bulgaria's second largest city. There, in a Roma neighbourhood, the baby's grandmother offers baby Kalinka: hers for 11,000 pounds.

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THE DISH THAT (DIS)UNITES CIVILIZATIONS

There is something that at the same time unites and disunites the Bulgarians to a much greater extent than politics, the economy, education, other people's wealth, public transport, football, international relations, or the former king's properties. It is nothing that is written about in books or featured in films; it is not the product of religion, ideology, or even of culture. I refer to a dish that a large group of Bulgarians swear by, but the very thought of which sickens others.

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NOT EXACTLY EXPATS

While the phrase "Peace Corps" might conjure up images of sun-tanned Americans teaching English, purifying water, or planting corn with villagers, the Peace Corps has evolved since JFK's initial proposal nearly half a century ago. In addition to those assignments, volunteers now help build organisational capacity, write grant proposals, teach English, bridge technological gaps, encourage entrepreneurship and improve health care.

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WE'VE GOT MAIL

DEAR VAGABOND,

It is wonderful that we now have an English-language magazine catering to the expat population of Bulgaria. I suspect that I will continue to read your periodical for many years - keeping up with what's going on in what has become my temporary home - even after I return to the United States.
I wish you much success.

Joel Froese,
Consultant, MBA Enterprise Corps
Sofia, Bulgaria

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