FORUM

ASKING THE WRONG QUESTIONS

TV presenter: Talking about slander, let me ask you this. It may sound strange to you, but we have received emails saying that Mr Parvanov owns a $100,000 maisonette in a building on a downtown Sofia boulevard. I am reluctant to bring up something which, I admit, I have not checked myself, but if there is something in the rumour shouldn't it be verified? There seems to be a link to Mr Mandzhukov, who received a medal from the president.

M. Mirchev: Well, this is typical petty slander. Let's put it on the table and check the facts.*

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ESSENTIAL MAINTENANCE

Buying an off-plan apartment may seem like the easiest way to invest in Bulgaria: no company set-up required, resort-style amenities that come as part of the package and so on. But once you become the owner of No.1 Paradise Towers, you will be expected to pay your way.

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FEEBLY STITCHED

To stitch together patches of clashing colours, you will need a solid neutral thread. The result may not be aesthetically pleasing, but it will do, provided the thread doesn't break. The latest developments in the four new Central European EU members, however, have shown that this is inevitable. And Bulgaria, with a tri-partite coalition of clashing colours in power, and due to join the EU in January 2007, might get caught up in the same political game for years to come.

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BULGARIA VERSUS IRELAND

A Bulgarian friend told me an interesting story about Ireland today. There is a well known poster "The Doors of Dublin", showing the city's Georgian doors in all their colourful splendour.

On the internet she had found the explanation for this profusion of colour. An Irish tour guide had told a party of visitors that on the death of the English queen (unspecified) the citizens of Dublin had been ordered to paint their doors black as a sign of mourning. The rebellious Irish decided instead to paint them anything but.

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TO VEIL OR NOT TO VEIL

"She probably studies medicine," a young man says to his friend as their eyes appreciatively follow the pretty girl in a headscarf as she crosses Dzhumayata, Plovdiv's central square.

This presumption is probably correct as the Medical University in Plovdiv attracts students from Turkey who don't feel they can comply with the ban on wearing headscarves in educational establishments in their native country.

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DUSTBINS AND DOG FIGHTS

There are two things about Bulgaria that are so closely entwined that you rarely see one without the other: wild dogs and rubbish. The two are an integral part of Bulgarian life, although it's safe to assume that both their days are numbered.

Being kept awake during your first few weeks in Bulgaria is a rite of passage that only the luckiest of expats manages to avoid. Once you've become accustomed to the nightly dog fights and howling, your only reminder of the nuisance comes via bleary-eyed house guests who complain about the incessant racket.

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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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