Issue 83-84

BODRUM

The tourists wandering around the ruins of the tomb of King Mausolus, considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, look dispirited, and why wouldn't they? Suffering from the night before spent in Bodrum's bars and discos, they are now baking under the strong Mediterranean sun – and for what? A couple of stones and some scale-models of the long destroyed wonder.

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THRACIAN BULGARIA, PART 2

For many, Thracian culture's most alluring side are the gold treasures. They are the star exhibits in the national museums and travel the world to enthusiastic reception. Every pair of gold earrings found in Thracian graves make headlines.

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TIME FOR RAKIYA

If you have at least one Bulgarian friend and they have still not treated you to home-made rakiya, there are two possible explanations. They are sick – too sick to drink. Else there must be something very wrong with your relationship.

Rakiya is one of the national beverages of Bulgaria and the home-made stuff is held in the highest esteem. In fact most Bulgarian only drink mass produced rakiya in restaurants or when their home-made variety runs out.

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PARADISE OR HELL?

The precipitous stone cliffs of the Trigrad Gorge, in the western Rhodope, constrict the tiny Trigrad River, and the sound of rushing water blends with the buzz of tourists. Gathered around the entrance of the Devil's Throat Cave, they are waiting for the guide to come and lead them to the highest cave waterfall in Bulgaria.

"That's the real thing," our guide says and points at the opposite side of the gorge. There is a plain stone wall, high and impenetrable. "Inside, there is a cave, too, the Haramiyska Cave."

"What's interesting about that?," someone asks.

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BULGARIA AND THE HOLOCAUST

Seventy years after the Second World War the Bulgarian government is adamant in its denial that the Kingdom of Bulgaria did anything wrong in the territories – now in northern Greece, southern Serbia around the town of Pirot, and the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia – it occupied as part of its deal with its ally, Nazi Germany. With great pomp and circumstance and at a considerable taxpayers' expense earlier this year Bulgaria officially marked the non-deportation, in 1943, of about 43,000 Jews living in Bulgaria-proper.

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ANICK VAN CALSTER

A fragile woman, who is the mother of three, Anick Van Calster is unusually outspoken for an ambassador. She has been in Bulgaria for just a year, but that appears to have been sufficient for her to get to know not only the Bulgarian politics of the day – an achievement in itself having in mind how complicated, opaque and irrational this can be; but also to travel round the country and explore Bulgarian culture, heritage and cuisine.

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CATHERINE BARBER

Catherine Barber is deputy head of the British Embassy in Sofia. An economist by training, she has taught at Oxford and Harvard Universities, and as a researcher for Oxfam, the UK’s largest international development charity. As a civil servant she has worked for the Department of Business and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, where she focused on the economic issues of globalisation, trade and climate change.

How long have you lived in Sofia? Why did you come here in the first place?

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FOR A FEW STRETCHES OF ASPHALT

The current ruling coalition comprising the BSP, DPS and Ataka is busy digging into the GERB party sewers frantically shovelling wagonloads of slime to pour over Boyko Borisov's head – accusations of financial mismanagement, corrupt cronyism, gross intrusion into citizens’ privacy and so on and so forth - in the hope that the muck will be so sticky that its stink will remain in voters’ nostrils come the next election. So how will posterity assess the legacy of the "Greatest Living Bulgarian"?

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THE SUMMER OF THEIR DISCONTENT

Something has gone very wrong in the EU's poorest state. Because things are so complicated, in an inimitably Bulgarian way, politicians and pundits try to explain what's at the pith of the current crisis through drawing similes with civic turmoil unfolding in places the world knows more about.

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QUOTE-UNQUOTE

In the autumn the protest of the intelligent and the beautiful will morph into a march of the hungry and the ugly.

Trade union leader Konstantin Trenchev

On a quiet day you feel as if you are on holiday.

Mihail Mikov, speaker of parliament

The government is like a Scheherazade who is telling fairy tales for 1,001 nights to avoid death.

Ombudsman Konstantin Penchev

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WHO IS BEHIND THE PROTESTS?

The Hungarian-born billionaire who once forced the pound sterling out of what at the time was referred to as the European Monetary Mechanism is a well-known philanthropist who's spent millions of dollars on promoting democracy, education and free thought in the countries of the former Warsaw Pact. Through his network of Open Society foundations and institutes, Soros has contributed significantly to the development of civil societies in the region, including Bulgaria.

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DEAR VABABOND

I have read all the magazines that I was sent and I found them to be a wealth of information.

These were fascinating reading and a must for anyone with any interest in Bulgaria.

The articles both past and present were a great insight in the sometimes turbulent history and future that this country is facing, a little like my country with some of the comparisons.

Your team are doing an excellent job in reporting and in the research of the articles. This is evident in the beautiful layout of the magazine.

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