Issue 3 https://vagabond.bg/ en MY OWN CHOICE: EATERIES THAT STAND THE TEST OF TIME DESERVE FAITHFULNESS https://vagabond.bg/my-own-choice-eateries-stand-test-time-deserve-faithfulness-2061 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">MY OWN CHOICE: EATERIES THAT STAND THE TEST OF TIME DESERVE FAITHFULNESS</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Ivan Garelov</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Fri, 12/01/2006 - 18:18</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Ivan Garelov's favourite places to eat</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/sites/default/files/2020-07/Garelov_Dance.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2020-07/Garelov_Dance.jpg" width="753" height="1000" alt="Ivan Garelov" title="Ivan Garelov" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Restaurants are like women: I remain loyal to them unless they start cheating on me. There have been but a few restaurants that have. My first impressions may be excellent and I begin going there regularly, but after they catch on and have enough patrons, they change. The food is prepared with less and less care, portions shrink, waiters become either too offhand or too lazy. However, my love for the eateries I'm going to tell you about has stood the test of time, sometimes for decades.</p> <p>The <strong>Grozd </strong>(Bunch of Grapes) restaurant has been standing for dozens of years in the song-honoured Ruski Boulevard (at No. 21; phone: 944 3915). With time, it has undergone changes. From a classic pub, the haunt of poets, artists and students who fl ocked to enjoy its fresh green salad, grape rakiya and grilled lamb, it has become a refined and cosy restaurant. Besides screen stars from the nearby National Television headquarters, you can see a number of familiar faces from the world of politics, as well as the less-known mugs of captains of industry. The cuisine is always good, the selection of wines excellent and the service classy and refined. There is a separate list of vegetable dishes, which during Lent becomes the main menu.</p> <p>When in Varna, I always rush to Penka Mikhova's restaurant <strong>Paraklisa</strong> (The Chapel), as if for a long-awaited meeting with a dear friend (8 Ekzarh Yosif Street; phone: 052 639 735). So many famous people have expressed their admiration in its guest book that all I can add is that, in my view, Penka Mihova is to Bulgarian cuisine what Filip Kutev is to Bulgarian folklore. Having collected old recipes from across Bulgaria, this kindly woman creates dishes with such love that visitors feel not like customers, but dear guests with whom she shares her discoveries. The first few times I was there, I tried to taste everything, but after going through the salads and vegetable dishes, I had to stop because I was full. So the next time I began with the meat dishes straight away. And then there was the visit I devoted entirely to her desserts: bean cake, carrot sweets and similar dainties. Words fail me to describe Penka Mikhova's works of art. I've tried to persuade her to come to Sofia several times, I even found her a room for her restaurant, but she decided to stay in Varna. So I go there. Once I even took a plane - with the sole purpose of having dinner at Penka's.</p> <p>Roadside restaurants are now familiar to the travelling Bulgarian. When I am driving to or from Greece, I always stop by the smoking gridirons in <strong>Gradeshtnitsa</strong> (no phone), the last village before or after the border, depending on which way you are travelling. They make the best grilled meat there: meatballs, kebapche, homemade sausages, fillet wrapped in intestines, and so on - all locally prepared. For garnish they add lyutenitsa with leeks, grilled peppers and succulent tomatoes. The bread is soft and tasty, like a homemade loaf ought to be. For perfect bliss, they offer their delicate homemade wine. It all began with a mere brazier by the road, but now they have cosy wooden diners. The food has remained unchanged, however, and so have the prices, it is as cheap as it would have been 20 years ago. Though these are ordinary roadside eateries, you will see Maybachs, Bentleys, and Mercedes stopping in front of them too. Many affl uent people, having spent a gastronomic weekend in Thessaloniki, show a marked preference for our native grill on their way back.</p> <p>Another roadside establishment is the Turkish restaurant, <strong>Istanbul</strong>, on the motorway to Plovdiv, shortly before Ihtiman (phone: 0899 255 595). With its unassuming interior, it was built to cater for Turkish truck drivers. The food is, however, so tasty that well-informed Sofianites will gladly splash out on petrol and time to go there for lunch at the weekend. While arranging the skewered lamb, veal, chicken or mince over the charcoal fire in the modest room, the chef is also baking incredibly delicious bread in the wood-fired oven. Each loaf, about three feet long and sprinkled with sesame seeds, is baked fresh especially for you. You could hardly find better Turkish cuisine in Turkey itself and this is not just my opinion; the Turkish drivers eating at the next table will tell you the same.</p> <p>If you continue on along the motorway, just before Plovdiv you will reach the exit for Pamporovo. One of my favourite places in this winter resort is <strong>Petyo Kavarov's eatery</strong> (you have to ask). It is situated in the hollow right where the so-called Women's Piste ends. There are two or three benches outside where tourists bask in the sun and, inside, there are a few tables. Dried sausages hang from the ceiling and a fire blazes in the red-hot stove. The company is the same every winter. There is the Dutchman who doesn't leave the pub all winter, he has been there for years on end. He sings Bulgarian songs and welcomes the patrons. You feel completely at home there and the food is homemade too: sausage, pickles, lyutenitsa, blueberry or wild strawberry jam. It's open all year round.</p> <p>But let's get back to Sofia. <strong>The Russian Club</strong> <strong>Krim</strong> (Crimea) is the restaurant of my youth, my love and even my wedding party (17 Slavyanska Street; phone: 981 0666). Years ago, the pick of the artistic world made it their meeting place. The most beautiful girls would go there too. They walked slowly, very slowly down the stairs to the garden and we watched them eagerly, as though they were on the catwalk. The Russian Club has undergone many changes since then, but its menu still features Chicken Kiev, Moscow Cutlet, vodka and caviar. The unique atmosphere in the inner hall has been preserved. The people have changed, however, and you now come across entrepreneurs and politicians - though the beautiful models remain. But the new patrons do still reflect the spirit of the old Russian Club, the atmosphere remains artistic and bohemian, though they've made some more changes recently. I'll check them out soon, because the day when I'm going take my wife to the place where we got married, the Russian Club, is nigh.</p> <p>My mouth is watering - it's time to finish. If you enjoyed this, you'll get more next time. Just like in my favourite eateries.</p> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-3" hreflang="en">Issue 3</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/299" hreflang="en">Bulgarian food</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/338" hreflang="en">Eating out in Bulgaria</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/features" hreflang="en">VAGABOND FEATURES</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=2061&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="Fe94x5cjYc64VZAmhQyTKFfzkFhEjIXe90kAXw4YG1Q"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Fri, 01 Dec 2006 16:18:23 +0000 DimanaT 2061 at https://vagabond.bg https://vagabond.bg/my-own-choice-eateries-stand-test-time-deserve-faithfulness-2061#comments QUOTE OF THE MONTH https://vagabond.bg/quote-month-1653 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">QUOTE OF THE MONTH</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Fri, 12/01/2006 - 15:35</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><p>If you vote for me...</p> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Ahmed Dogan, the leader of the Turk-dominated DPS, or Movement for Rights and Freedoms, is rarely seen in public. In fact, he rarely goes to work. He did show up at an 18 November coalition meeting in the ski resort of Borovets, however. In response to a reporter's question about when he would visit the Bulgarian parliament in his capacity as an MP, Dogan shot back: "If you voted for me, I will answer you; if you didn't vote for me, I won't answer you".</p> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-3" hreflang="en">Issue 3</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/fun/quote-unquote" hreflang="en">QUOTE-UNQUOTE</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=1653&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="bo7TfViMmbCx0Jd2nd8-sy9jQeE8B-QUIDrylH0rU0o"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Fri, 01 Dec 2006 13:35:53 +0000 DimanaT 1653 at https://vagabond.bg https://vagabond.bg/quote-month-1653#comments GO PICK SOME SPEARMINT https://vagabond.bg/go-pick-some-spearmint-2062 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">GO PICK SOME SPEARMINT</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Stamen Manolov; illustration by Gergana Shkodrova</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Fri, 12/01/2006 - 15:31</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>French gift</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/sites/default/files/2020-07/misleading%20advice.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2020-07/misleading%20advice.jpg" width="1000" height="750" alt="misleading advice.jpg " typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>In 1546, a band of French travelers carrying a rare variety of spearmint from Persia to Western Europe stopped in the region of what is now the Bulgarian town of Chirpan. The locals welcomed the strangers with open arms, and before long the Frenchmen discovered that the wines, cheeses, and women in Bulgaria were a lot nicer than those they had grown accustomed to in Flanders. Their leader, Pierre de Lemanche, offered a Bulgarian maiden a whiff of crushed spearmint leaves, in an attempt to impress her.</p> <p>While the girl was indeed captivated, she stood firm as she was already betrothed to a local lad, Ivan. Still, the spearmint fragrance stayed with her for weeks, and she would implore her beloved: "Go pick some spearmint!" But there was none left as the Frenchmen had already departed for Lille.</p> <p>Spearmint failed to take root in the Chirpan region in the 16th Century, but 400 years later it unexpectedly reappeared in the fields around Sofia. The locals there spoke a dialect in which they habitually placed the stress on the first syllable of most words.</p> <p>Historians recalled the Chirpan episode, and thus the idiom "Go pick spearmint!" caught on, with dialect-specific stress on the first syllable of the first two words; over time the expression took on its presentday meaning: "Don't bother me with that nonsense!" or "Talk to the hand!"</p> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-3" hreflang="en">Issue 3</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/fun/misleading" hreflang="en">MISLEADING ADVICE</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=2062&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="FgAQ31D1MAW53voUDq6kxHn9ijIh7MGNmPHpL90i7CY"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Fri, 01 Dec 2006 13:31:30 +0000 DimanaT 2062 at https://vagabond.bg https://vagabond.bg/go-pick-some-spearmint-2062#comments THE COST OF LIVING https://vagabond.bg/cost-living-2070 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">THE COST OF LIVING</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Plamen Doudov</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Fri, 12/01/2006 - 15:29</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Bulgaria is becoming increasingly expensive, but is still the cheapest place in Europe</h3> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>How much would you pay for a room with a view in Sofia? How much for a pint? If you thought it was impossible these days to get a decent fl at for under 1,500,000 pounds, or to get a round in and still have change from a tenner, think again. It may be time to give Bulgaria a try.</p> <p>Over the past three years Bulgaria has become one of the most attractive places for real estate investments among EU citizens. Costs were low and expectations for profit high. However, it was not only the expectation of profit that drove these investment decisions. The low cost of living and the beautiful Bulgarian countryside influenced many people to seek retirement homes here, or simply a nice property in which to spend family winter or summer holidays. These developments have made the country a champion in attracting foreign investment.</p> <p>The Bulgarian Government's recent decision to set corporation tax at 10 percent will also boost investment trends and, as a result, more professionals will be transferred to Bulgaria to join the growing expatriate community.</p> <p>The general consensus is that Bulgaria is a "cheap" place to live. But in order to get a more accurate picture and to see what this means in day to day terms, we compare here the cost of living in Bulgaria with that elsewhere in Europe: in EU members France, Greece, Italy and the UK, and in Croatia, which closely resembles the average Bulgarian household's pattern of expenditure.</p> <p>Distribution of household income and expenditure varies across countries, but assuming relatively stable consumption habits and the absence of drastic price increases, it is possible to make a rough estimate of the household expenditure you can expect to incur when moving to Bulgaria. Everybody can easily transform their household budget into its Bulgarian version by observing the local household spending volumes.</p> <p><strong>Bulgarian Lifestyle</strong></p> <p>In its recent "Cost of Living Survey 2006" Mercer Human Resource Consulting measured the comparative cost of living in 144 cities across the world. Mercer's study ranks London in 3rd place, followed by Paris - 12th, and Rome -17th. Athens and Zagreb occupy respectively the more modest 41st and 48th positions, while Sofia comes behind in 81st place, towards the far end of the table. To put it in concrete terms, the average monthly rent for a luxury two bedroom unfurnished apartment in Sofia is 300 euros, which is eight times less than it would be in London. Coffee lovers will find coffee heaven in Sofia.</p> <p>An espresso at a local cafe only costs 0.60 euro, which is almost four times cheaper than in its homeland the Italian. However, its quality will probably be nowhere near that in Italy. For a good cup of espresso you will probably have to pay more than in Italy, provided you can find someone to make it for you.</p> <p>For those who like to keep up with the news from home, international daily newspapers are available in Bulgaria and cost almost the same as in the EU. Entertainment is readily available and easy to access. You can expect to pay six euros for two cinema tickets. Nightlife is cheap too, with entrance to a live music club costing less than five euros, and for the same amount inside you can get five beers.</p> <p><strong>Household Spending</strong></p> <p>It is important to understand how people allocate their household income to pay for necessities such as household utilities, food and transport, as well as life's little luxuries. We present how households across Europe distribute their expenditure. Our focus group of countries could be divided into EU members on one side and Bulgaria (set to join in 2007), together with Croatia, on the other. It is interesting to observe that certain types of expenditure such as health, education, alcohol and tobacco, communication, household equipment and maintenance, occupy equal amounts in household budgets across countries. However, the lower the GDP per capita, as in the case of Bulgaria, the higher the share of the household budget spent on food, while that allocated for "luxuries" like restaurants, recreation and culture decreases.</p> <p>Bulgarians and Croatians spend a third of their household budget on food and non-alcoholic beverages compared to an EU average of just 13 percent. Clothing and footwear appear to be a cultural phenomenon, as spending on clothes in Greece, Croatia and Italy is considerably higher as a share of their household budgets - nine percent. Apparently Mediterranean countries have a more distinctly developed fashion sense than their neighbours. Bulgaria spends considerably less on clothes both in real and percentage terms. This suggests that clothes and footwear rest on the cusp of necessity and luxury for the average Bulgarian. Recreation, culture and restaurants regrettably represent a luxury for most Bulgarians, with levels considerably lower than European ones.</p> <p><strong>When in Bulgaria, Do as the Bulgarians Do</strong></p> <p>The percentage shares above, expressed in monetary terms, show that the cost of living in Bulgaria is considerably lower than the EU average. The allocation of household expenditure varies across countries due to differences in living standards and sometimes, as in the case with entertainment and clothes, depends on cultural phenomena. Of course, we would not make comparisons concerning the quality of life or services behind these figures. However, a household that intends to move to Bulgaria will inevitably adjust the percentage shares in its total expenditure to local conditions and prices. The real movements are hard to predict. Still, a UK household will spend more or less the same amount of money on food and utilities as their new Bulgarian neighbours, which comprises half of the Bulgarian household's budget, but only a fifth of the expenditure on the same items back in England.</p> <p><strong>Sample Budget for Moving In</strong></p> <p>Let's suppose that our UK household has decided to settle in the city of Gorna Oryahovica, which is close to the small regional centre city of Veliko Tarnovo. Renting a furnished three-room apartment in the district would cost 100-200 euros depending on the quality of the dwelling. Buying a three-room apartment (approximately 100 sq m) would cost 35,000 euros on average. A house would be less expensive - around 26,000 euros, as the living conditions and general state of repair of the buildings are usually poorer. In fact, house sales could be negotiated for half the price depending on location and state of repair.</p> <p>Furnishing an apartment (kitchen appliances included) would cost approximately 4,000 euros to meet a family's needs. A second-hand car (about five years old) would cost another 4,000 euros. Utility bills for a three or four person household (parents and two adolescents) would be less than 100 euros per month. Expenditure on food would be about 100-150 euros per month, as prices in provincial towns tend to be about 30 percent lower than in the big cities.</p> <p><strong>The EU Perspective</strong></p> <p>With its entrance to the EU, the year 2007 will be a historic one for the Bulgarian economy, and there is currently much speculation as to what effect this will have on the cost of living here. The experiences of the countries that joined the EU in 2004 clearly demonstrate that food and beverage prices did not drastically increase, and that expectations of a 30 percent jump in prices were pure speculation. In fact, prices in the 10 new members quickly returned to their normal levels through the self-regulating mechanisms of the market. This is the most likely scenario for Bulgaria on its EU membership. There will be a definite increase in prices, but this will happen gradually over time.</p> <p>Common taxes and excise on goods and services is the first main factor for a real increase in prices. The Common Agricultural Policy in the EU guarantees minimum prices for producers and stricter quality control regulations, which will result in the opening of the EU markets to Bulgarian producers, who will inevitably increase their prices. Another important factor is EU customs tariffs. Tariffs inside the union will considerably decrease or disappear, while those in relation to third countries will see a definite rise. Here the effect on prices will be mixed and harder to predict.</p> <p>Food and beverage prices are expected to increase by about 10 percent on average. The price of Bulgarian alcohol and tobacco will remain the same, while the price of international brands will go down due to the disappearance of customs tariffs. At present, a pack of Bulgarian cigarettes costs an average of 1.10 euros, while you can expect to pay about 2.25 euros for Marlboro, for example. Housing utilities will register a definite increase of 10-15 percent after current state regulation is lifted. At the moment Bulgaria has the lowest priced electricity in Europe. Global increases in the price of fuels will alone contribute a five percent increase to the cost of utilities. However, the cost of transport in Bulgaria is not expected to change dramatically. In fact, it is even becoming cheaper and easier to travel within the EU, as more low-cost airline companies start flying to Bulgaria.</p> <p>The boom in real estate investments since 2003 has already attracted a large number of private investors to Bulgaria and the market has reached its European equilibrium levels. All future price increases will reflect the economic growth of the country. This will result in gradually increasing prices in the large cities and declining levels in the smaller non-industrial ones. The average price per square metre of real estate is 500-600 euros for the big cities (Sofia, Varna, Burgas, Plovdiv) and just 250-350 euros in the smaller regional centres. Only the price of agricultural land is expected to increase considerably, as agriculture is among the few sectors that will benefit lavishly from EU funds after 2007.</p> <p>There will be a marked decrease in the cost of telecommunication services due to the new regulations on the market and growing competition. This is probably the only service in Bulgaria which is currently more expensive than in the EU. The average price per minute for a mobile phone call is 0.15 euro. The same tendency will be seen in the second-hand car market, as VAT will be paid only once. At present VAT is charged twice for cars purchased in the EU, first in the country of origin and again in Bulgaria when imported. Unfortunately, this will not be the case with new cars. Car dealers expect prices to rise, catching up with those in Greece. A 10 percent increase is expected, so now is the time to buy a new car in Bulgaria.</p> <p>There is no room for pessimistic pronouncements about prices. Even inside the EU there are clear differences in the prices among member states. Prices in Spain, Portugal, Greece and the 10 new members are still considerably lower than those in the UK, France and the Nordic countries. The experience of previous entrants to the EU shows that prices in general rise with the increase in income levels. Bulgaria has the lowest income per household in the EU, which will create a tendency for growth that will be reflected in increasing price levels. However, this increase will be gradual and will depend on the economic policy and conditions after joining, and the dire warnings of drastic increases in the cost of living should prove to be unfounded.</p> <p>Bulgaria may not turn out to be a spending paradise on earth, but it offers the chance to live in a modern country on a low budget with great opportunities to travel and invest. Now is the time to stop building castles in the air, and buy your castle (or villa) in Bulgaria, it's likely to be a lot less costly than you thought.</p> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-3" hreflang="en">Issue 3</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/forum/economy" hreflang="en">BULGARIA ECONOMY</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=2070&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="apCydJ6JrtUgJpj6okur1BnDHvmRsReAyZJi6t18FFM"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Fri, 01 Dec 2006 13:29:19 +0000 DimanaT 2070 at https://vagabond.bg https://vagabond.bg/cost-living-2070#comments PELIN https://vagabond.bg/pelin-2063 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">PELIN</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Lyudmil Fotev </div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Fri, 12/01/2006 - 15:15</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>At Christmas the English down punch; the Germans sip Gluhwein, the Danes Quaff Glogg and, in Bulgaria, we drink pelin</h3> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>The saying "bitter like pelin" aptly describes the opinion of a large part of the drinking community, and probably of all teetotallers, in Bulgaria. They believe that this wormwood wine is definitely not to die for.</p> <p>But the strange drink - neither wine, nor sangria, nor aperitif a la Fernet - has enough fans among the rest of the population. So many, in fact, that the EU has agreed to accept it as a Bulgarian trademark denoting an aromatic wine-based drink.</p> <p>You can find pelin produced in any vine-growing region of Bulgaria, though the traditional areas are the village of Osmar, situated on the Shumen Plateau, which has been making the drink since 1898, and Sungurlare on the southern slopes of the Balkan Mountains.</p> <p>Production begins in October because the pelin-making process requires one-year-old dessert wine made from Bolgar and Hamburg Misket. There are two types of pelin. For the ordinary variety, the wine is infused with 12 different herbs and left to mature in oak casks. The total herb content should contain at least 20 percent wormwood (Artemisia absinthium).</p> <p>To make nalozhen pelin, which is the better and more expensive type, wine-makers add fresh grapes, apples and quince. After steeping them for some time, they add the necessary herbs, the exact components and proportions of which are a secret.</p> <p>The recipe might be a secret, but the history of pelin's arrival in Bulgaria is relatively well-known. According to the owners of the Osmar winery, its founder, Dyado Penyo, simply imitated the Russians who settled in the village after the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878. They used to put herbs in anything they drank.</p> <p>Taking into account the fact that the first Russian troops came to the area of Sungurlare as early as the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-1829, this theory may have more substance to it than just an old wives' tale.</p> <p>The last important factor in the making of the drink is the cold, because that stops the fermentation process. Winter normally freezes the plateau in mid-November and provides the ideal conditions.</p> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-3" hreflang="en">Issue 3</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/331" hreflang="en">Bulgarian drinks</a> <a href="/taxonomy/term/318" hreflang="en">Bulgarian wine</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/features" hreflang="en">VAGABOND FEATURES</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=2063&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="odpEo__M6aUC4p4ngq1TEmtAict82-ICr-VLTs1t9gU"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Fri, 01 Dec 2006 13:15:39 +0000 DimanaT 2063 at https://vagabond.bg https://vagabond.bg/pelin-2063#comments THE POLITICS OF SPITE https://vagabond.bg/politics-spite-2071 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">THE POLITICS OF SPITE</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Albena Shkodrova; photography by BTA</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Fri, 12/01/2006 - 15:04</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Ataka's views are a hodgepodge of Russian Orthodox fundamentalism, European anti-Semitism, and a local brand of venomous nationalism</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/sites/default/files/2020-07/Volen%20Siderov.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2020-07/Volen%20Siderov.jpg" width="993" height="1000" alt="Volen Siderov" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field uk-text-bold uk-margin-small-top uk-margin-medium-bottom field--name-field-image-credits field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">Volen Siderov</div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Is Volen Siderov a Bulgarian version of Haider or Zhirinovsky? Does his good showing in the first round of the residential election parallel the rise of Le Pen in France? Are all the 600,000 Bulgarians who voted for him racists and xenophobes?</p> <p>When Siderov came second in the Bulgarian presidential election on 22 October, local and international analysts gave worrying answers to these questions. Siderov and his far-right party Ataka were dubbed everything from "extremist", "anti-Semite", "anti-European" and "xenophobic" by the French newspaper Le Monde, to a "natural disaster" by Bulgarian daily Standart, and "fascist" by political scientist Andrey Raychev.</p> <p>Siderov and his cronies rebuffed all such categorisations. These ultra-nationalists reiterated their slogan "To return Bulgaria to the Bulgarians" and claimed that they were only trying to "awaken" the citizens. They fiercely resented being called fascist.</p> <p>On the night following the first round of the election, viewers of the Bulgarian National Television channel witnessed a pathetic verbal duel. Ataka's deputy chairman Pavel Shopov confronted a reporter for labelling his party "fascist". "Lots of the media say it is," was the reporter's lame response.</p> <p>Not that there isn't anything to support the reporter's view. Siderov is an advocate of the theory of a global Jewish conspiracy, as promulgated by the Nazis. He wants to curb minorities' rights and has been indicted by a court for incitement to racial hatred. He has been photographed with the leader of the Ku Klux Klan and is a passionate proponent of xenophobic views. In his "Bulgaria to the Bulgarians" policy, his opponents say that he implies that ethnic and sexual minorities are inferior.</p> <p>But the reporter's bewilderment was an expression of many Bulgarians' confusion. Unlike citizens in the developed democracies, Bulgarians had not had experience of far-right political extremism before the spring of last year, and they still have difficulty in identifying it clearly. As a German newspaper felicitously put it, Bulgaria is an old culture with new problems. To add to the confusion, not only does Siderov blatantly reject the labels the press bestow on him, he denies much of what he has been quoted as saying, in public interviews and in court.</p> <p><strong>The Rise</strong></p> <p>Volen Siderov appeared on the political stage in the early 1990s as the editor-in-chief of Demokratsiya, the newspaper of the democratic wing. He resigned in 1992, as the paper drifted away from its ideological position or, as some allege, because he was not satisfied with the extent of his power.</p> <p>In the following years, Siderov vented his spleen in several less influential national newspapers, but eventually his invective was no longer palatable even to the gutter press, and he could no longer find outlets for his views.</p> <p>This rift with the press brought Siderov to the decision in 2003 to launch his own talk show, Ataka on Bulgarian cable TV channel SKAT. He used the programme to expound on topics such as the "terror of Gypsies", "racial discrimination against Bulgarians in Bulgaria", and "US Negroes above Bulgarian law". The content of his presentations and studio discussions gradually became the foundation of his future party.</p> <p>At the beginning of 2005, Siderov announced his intention of taking part in the general election. This move was not taken seriously by most of the established parties - until the July elections, that is, when Ataka won 21 out of 240 seats in the Bulgarian parliament, resulting in widespread dismay.</p> <p>Ataka's task was not a difficult one. By the start of 2005, the forever-feuding Socialists and democrats had come to an agreement about what they considered to be the top national priorities: membership of NATO and the EU, with all the reforms these would entail.</p> <p>Since losing power in 2001, the democrats had not acted as a serious opposition, their main goals coinciding with those of the ruling centre-left coalition. Instead, they were doomed to squabble over matters of little political weight.</p> <p>At the same time, Siderov promoted goals that no one else in the country did. He proposed withdrawing from NATO and holding a national referendum on decommissioning the Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant reactors, even at the price of delaying EU membership.</p> <p>He promised to call a halt to, and even reverse, reforms on human rights and the integration of minorities and to punish the entire political establishment - for everything.</p> <p><strong>Support</strong></p> <p>"We are enraged!" was the customary opening of Siderov's presidential election campaign speeches. After the vote, many analysts concluded that Siderov's slightly softened language, combined with his attacks against everything and everyone, united not only racists from the far right, but many who felt disillusioned with the current social milieu. By dubbing the Siderov vote "anti-establishment", they tried to find comfort in the claim that there could not, in fact, be 600,000 fascists in Bulgaria.</p> <p>However, this could turn out to be wishful thinking. More than half a million Bulgarians found it acceptable to vote for a person who holds views in common with the Nazis, even if it was only out of some kind of social despair. Six hundred thousand Bulgarians either subscribe to Siderov's view that minorities are to blame for social misfortunes, or find in his rhetoric an expression of their own views.</p> <p>Perhaps some of them do not realise what their ideology is commonly known as, but that hardly changes its nature. Siderov's statements are often bolder than those of his European brothers, and contain as many elements of Nazi beliefs as those of Jorg Haider. They are more offensive to minorities than those of Le Pen. His xenophobia is as apparent as that expressed by the nationalistic Vlaams Blok in Belgium, which was dissolved after a court decision in 2004.</p> <p><strong>Anti-Semitism</strong></p> <p>So far, Siderov has published three books: The Boomerang of Evil, The Mammon's Power, and Bulgarophobia. One of these titles was published by the Zharava 2002 printing house, which also released on to the Bulgarian market the works of Hitler, Goebbels, Mussolini, and Jurgen Graf.</p> <p>In The Mammon's Power, Siderov speaks of a global Jewish conspiracy, implying that the Jewish race is responsible for most human misfortunes in the world. The text contains numerous offensive references to Judaism, such as that the "Talmud understanding of the world is enslaving", and that "Judaism is ...elitist, xenophobic, racist and in opposition to the philosophy of God."</p> <p>In 2002 Siderov reportedly took part in a Moscow conference denouncing the Holocaust, reminiscent of when Jorg Haider was attacked by his opponents for attending a large scale Waffen-SS remembrance ceremony. The Bulgarian media circulated a picture from the event showing Siderov with the leader of the Ku Klux Klan.</p> <p>Revisionism of history forms another link between Siderov and his European counterparts. Le Pen's remarks that the gas chambers of the concentration camps were just a detail in the history of the Second World War were condemned in court and are considered proof of his anti-Semitic views. Roeland Raes of Belgium's Vlaams Blok<br /> was forced to step down from his position as party leader in 2002 over similar claims and for casting doubt on the authenticity of Anne Frank's diary.</p> <p>Siderov did not discuss the Holocaust in his speech at the conference in Moscow, but stated that "mainly radical Jews, financed by other Jews - capitalists from the United States and Western Europe" had engineered "the fall of Communism in Russia and later in the East European countries".</p> <p><strong>Xenophobia</strong></p> <p>Mixed in with his prejudices against minorities, xenophobia forms an important part of Siderov's rhetoric. One of Le Pen's gravest offences is considered to be his remark earlier this year concerning the French World Cup squad, when he commented that it contained too many "coloured" players and therefore, was not an accurate refl ection of French society.</p> <p>But even this sounds relatively tame when compared to some of Siderov's statements. "In only five to 10 years, Bulgaria may turn into a territory commanded from outside. It would be populated by foreigners and Bulgarians will serve as servants and slaves," he said at a 2005 campaign rally. In a public speech, he stated that "Bulgaria should not become a Turkish province. It should not become a Gypsy state... it should not turn into a Jewish colony. Or anyone else's colony..."</p> <p>Siderov's anti-European views are mostly confined to criticism of EU economic pressure and minorities' protection policy. "... this big wave of external and internal factors, which aims to deprive Bulgaria of Bulgarians. They work to annihilate the Bulgarian nation. They work for its Gypsyisation and Turkisation. They work for anything but the Bulgarian nation to consist of Bulgarians," he said on his Ataka programme on SKAT TV in May 2005.</p> <p><strong>Other Minorities</strong></p> <p>While Siderov's anti-Semitism and xenophobia more or less match those of the European far right, his open hatred of local minorities often exceeds that of his counterparts. Ethnic Gypsies and Turks are systematically attacked in his speeches. He calls for limiting their rights, often stating that these two ethnic groups pose a threat to Bulgarians.</p> <p>An example of one of his softer statements; that his aim was never to turn Gypsies into soap, rather that he would buy soap and give it to them to use as intended, was in the style of Jorg Haider. Several years ago, the Austrian politician was accused of anti-Semitism for a comment made about Ariel Muzicant, a Jewish community leader. "I do not understand how someone named Ariel (a washing powder brand name) can catch so much fi lth," said Haider of Muzicant.</p> <p>But Siderov often talks tougher. He regularly opposes what he terms the "Turkisation" and "Gypsyisation" of the country. On a number of television programmes and in political statements, he has implied that minorities should not have any say in the running of Bulgaria.</p> <p>On the campaign trail in Burgas in June 2005, Siderov declared that there were municipalities, in which "only the Turkish language is spoken!". He said that, "This is a shame, today, in 2005, in sovereign Bulgaria."</p> <p>Opposing Turkish language broadcasts in Bulgaria, he commented on his TV programme that, "The state television of Bulgaria, with state money, broadcasts news in a language we do not understand. To many Bulgarians this language is unpleasant to hear, because it is related to the language of those who have murdered, and performed genocide on, the Bulgarian nation for many years".</p> <p>His attempt to soften his tone during the presidential campaign resulted in the explanation that he had nothing against any Roma who would recognise their Bulgarian national identity.</p> <p><strong>The Russian Connection</strong></p> <p>Something which connects Siderov to the numerous extreme right parties in Russia is the stress that he places on the nation's Orthodox beliefs. Eastern Orthodoxy is often defended with Nazi arguments, such as the threat posed by the global Jewish network, or with xenophobic ones: "In modern times the Papacy is in competition with the Cosa Nostra," Siderov wrote in The Boomerang of Evil. This associates Siderov not only with Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party, but with several other extreme right political organisations in Russia: among them the Union of Veneds and the Navi Church.</p> <p>Some analysts see the rise of Volen Siderov in Bulgaria as a wake-up call to the establishment. If a man of his views did well in an election in Britain or France, he would be regarded as a passing nuisance. But this is, after all, the Balkans - which makes Siderov's onslaught all the more sinister.</p> <p><strong>In the Dock</strong></p> <p>The Citizens Against Hatred Association have filed eight suits against Volen Siderov. So far, the Sofia District Court has found Siderov guilty on one charge and he was ordered to limit the invective in his public speeches. The remaining trials are pending. Siderov's tactics in court are to deny all accusations and to avoid giving direct answers to questions concerning his personal views.</p> <p><strong>Awarding Evil</strong></p> <p>One of the more bizarre facts in recent Bulgarian history is that six years ago Siderov received a professional award from the Union of Bulgarian Journalists. The organisation, inherited from Socialist times, has now lost much of its influence, but still numbers among its members many of the older generation of journalists.</p> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-3" hreflang="en">Issue 3</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/forum/politics" hreflang="en">BULGARIA POLITICS</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=2071&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="n5jeKvNzzwfN2SZtvY7ez9n9tc1ujJDwQ_dkJJlwvZU"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Fri, 01 Dec 2006 13:04:47 +0000 DimanaT 2071 at https://vagabond.bg https://vagabond.bg/politics-spite-2071#comments THE HEAT IS ON https://vagabond.bg/heat-2072 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">THE HEAT IS ON</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Christina Dimitrova</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Fri, 12/01/2006 - 14:51</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Central heating has become synomous with endless horror, confusion and crazy bills</h3> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Only yesterday, in a rare moment of revelation, did I discover the secret of the central heating system in Sofia: if you want to stay warm in winter, you don't switch it off. Ever. Forget about the hefty bills and crank it up!</p> <p>Just as in the good old days, before the advance of heating meters and evil companies who read them, heating had one mode, and it was "ON". All winter, no matter how cold or warm it was, the heating was ON - and it was affordable.</p> <p>Back then I was angry that I lived in an area of Sofia which was not connected to the heating system. Now I am happy. Not that I am ever warm in the winter, but at least I'm not actually freezing.</p> <p>Since the introduction of the mandatory heating meters a few years ago, central heating has become synonymous with endless horror, confusion and crazy bills. People, who were not that warm actually, received cryptic invoices, which they were unable to decipher, but which inevitably ended with huge sums to pay. Some stopped paying in protest, others contested the bills in court and, of course, lost.</p> <p>The greatest paradox is the fact that even if you have switched the heating off, or even removed the radiators from the walls, you still have to pay. The heating pipes that pass through your apartment apparently emit so much heat that they are deemed to have warmed your apartment. The logic of this is beyond me, but those who write the regulations are maybe smarter than I am.</p> <p>Living in an area with no central heating, I am a bit confused as to why we should be paying heating bills in July, and why I should pay for something which I don't use, but as I said, there are smarter people than me.</p> <p>This summer's big scandal concerned Valentin Dimitrov, the former head of Sofia district's heating company, the Toplofikatsiya. His millions in foreign banks and bank vaults, the Jacuzzi, the yacht, the French mineral water and the other luxury items which "Valyo Toploto", as Bulgarians christened him, bought while in office enraged everyone, but to no avail. Dimitrov is currently in police custody awaiting trial for tax evasion and money laundering, and every now and then appeals the court rulings.</p> <p>No one knows where or how he got the millions of euros and leva. His latest claims in court are that they are not his, he was only keeping them for someone else, but the speculation is that this is dirty money, gained through illegal activities. I suppose we'll just have to wait and see what comes out of all this. Meanwhile, winter is coming and the heating is on. The bills will start arriving and people will once more be confused as to why they have to pay so much when they hardly switched the radiators on.</p> <p>"The dogs keep on barking but the caravan moves on," as we like to say in Bulgaria. Toplofikatsiya will continue providing its service, of questionable quality, and people will continue to pay. Those who don't will again have their names put up in the apartment building entrances for everyone to see and reportedly laugh at. The only difference this time around is that someone will scrawl "Give us back the money Valyo Toploto stole from us" on those lists, as has already been done. And someone will go and pay their bill with a sack full of small coins, as too has been done before.</p> <p><strong>Central heating in Sofia</strong></p> <p>Sofia's Central Heating System is one of the biggest in Eastern Europe. Central heating in this context refers to a system that supplies heat to numerous buildings, rather than the kind of heating found in individual homes.</p> <p>In Sofia, the system supplies 900,000 citizens and about 5,900 companies, including almost all industrial enterprises. (Source: Sofia Municipality website, www.sofia.bg). After Toplofikatsiya was declared insolvent, the Bulgarian Privatisation Agency put it up for tender.</p> <p>Austrian company EVN, which already owns the heating utility in Plovdiv, won the bid. At the same time, Energy and Economy Minister Rumen Ovcharov launched an investigation into allegations that EVN had inflated clients electricity bills in Plovdiv and Stara Zagora (Source: derStandart.at).</p> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-3" hreflang="en">Issue 3</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/forum/economy" hreflang="en">BULGARIA ECONOMY</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=2072&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="-OfSj4DX87K2R2LLvomk6gOlMe9K3Yfbz5trggWgxJE"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Fri, 01 Dec 2006 12:51:01 +0000 DimanaT 2072 at https://vagabond.bg https://vagabond.bg/heat-2072#comments THE PLATE OF DISCORD https://vagabond.bg/plate-discord-2073 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">THE PLATE OF DISCORD</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Dimana Trankova</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Fri, 12/01/2006 - 14:45</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Bulgarians overestimate their cultural heritage, except when it comes to protecting it</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/sites/default/files/2020-07/medieval%20silver%20plate.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2020-07/medieval%20silver%20plate.jpg" width="512" height="454" alt="The disputed 12th Century Byzantine plate" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field uk-text-bold uk-margin-small-top uk-margin-medium-bottom field--name-field-image-credits field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">The disputed 12th Century Byzantine plate</div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>At the beginning of October, another spanner was thrown into the works in Bulgarian-British relations, already fraught with questions over immigration and British labour market policy. It came in the form of a rare 12th Century Byzantine plate. The ancient treasure was a source of consternation both for Christie's and for Bulgarians, who accused the auction house of trying to sell an artefact that had allegedly been smuggled out of the country.</p> <p>The explanation given by Bozhidar Dimitrov, head of Bulgaria's National Museum of History, that treasure hunter Nayden Blangev had unearthed the plate near the southern Bulgarian town of Pazardzhik in 1999, was accepted by both the authorities and the general public. The description in Christie's catalogue, which states that the plate was part of a larger set discovered in 1903 and acquired by the Stanford Place Collection of Antiquities in 1997 or 1998, was met with doubt.</p> <p>But collective national pride had another bitter pill to swallow. British magistrates overruled the official claims of the Supreme Court of Cassation sent to the British police, Interpol and the auction house demanding that the sale be suspended until the origin of the dish was clarified. The letter from Minister of Culture Stefan Danailov also went unheeded.</p> <p>The Bulgarians, being part of a nation with a rich and varied historical heritage, accepted the events as yet another example of the looting of cultural monuments from their lands. Nobody can deny that this has often been the case in the past. In 1837, for instance, King Ivan Alexander's richly-illustrated gospel of 1355 was given to Lord Robert Curzon by the abbot of St Paul's Monastery in Mount Athos. Later, it became part of the collection at the British Museum and is now known in Bulgaria as the London Gospel.</p> <p>More often than not, however, it is Bulgarians who are to blame for spiriting cultural treasures out of the country. Treasure hunting is a flourishing business and has already bulldozed whole Roman cities like Ratiaria, near the present-day village of Archar. It has stripped Roman villas, like the one near Ivaylovgrad, of their marbles, and left monstrous scars in Thracian burial mounds. Bulgarian treasure hunters have their own web sites where they exchange information and advertise metal detectors. They keep a careful eye on what archaeologists are doing and feel they can act with impunity, because only 80 law suits have been filed against treasure hunters since 1995. Of these, only five percent were for illegal exports. Reputedly, the annual earnings from the export of cultural treasures are close to those from drug dealing. Such activities are impossible without "high level" protection. Communist-era rumours that top-ranking officials close to Lyudmila Zhivkova traded Thracian gold treasures abroad, substituting them with replicas at home, may not be completely true, but they are indicative.</p> <p>After all, it is a fact that one of the richest collections of archaeological artefacts in Bulgaria belongs to Dimitar Ivanov, the last head of the notorious Section 6 of Department 6 of former State Security. Fellow antique collector Georgi Filchev is the brother of ex-chief prosecutor Ivan Filchev. That Bulgarians want to keep their archaeological treasures in Bulgaria is quite logical and understandable.</p> <p><img alt="Bozhidar Dimitrov told a popular Bulgarian talk show: “The Bulgarians have always been very cultured and civilised... whenever someone’s reached out to their plates, they’ve chopped their little hands and sometimes their little heads off.” Among Professor Dimitrov’s views is that the Macedonians are in fact Bulgarians" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/issues/03/Bozhidar%20Dimitrov.jpg" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Bozhidar Dimitrov</em></p> <p>This is what other countries, like Greece, Turkey and Egypt want too. But in the uproar ("They are selling our plate!"), we overlooked the simple fact that Bulgarian artefacts abroad can't compare with the likes of the friezes of the Parthenon in the British Museum, those of the Pergamon Altar in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, or Queen Nefertiti's head in Berlin's Egyptian Museum. The noteworthy exceptions, such as the world's first processed gold or the Vulchitrun Treasure, leave the country only for international exhibitions.</p> <p>Some may speculate that there may have been more valuable finds which have crossed the border and are now well hidden in private collections abroad. If this is the case, we can only hope that some day these hypothetical cultural and historical treasures will be brought to light. Then the National Museum of History or the government could buy them back, if they had been exported before the law for the protection of cultural monuments was enacted, or claim them back in court if they were removed from the country illegally.</p> <p>If something of the sort happens, we'd rather have the artefacts go to the British Museum or the Metropolitan. They would be safe there, available for scientific research and exhibited for people to see. Importantly, officials would not ban photography, as is notoriously the case in the institution Bozhidar Dimitrov runs. Every nation should be proud if its heritage goes to such an institution: this is proof of its worth. As far as the plate is concerned, Christie's could not sell it. Nobody was prepared to offer the sum they were asking for it.</p> <p>Bozhidar Dimitrov told a popular Bulgarian talk show: "The Bulgarians have always been very cultured and civilised... whenever someone's reached out to their plates, they've chopped their little hands and sometimes their little heads off." Among Professor Dimitrov's views is that the Macedonians are in fact Bulgarians.</p> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-3" hreflang="en">Issue 3</a> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=2073&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="A9VmTrhjIV0L79uq1G0jMmDfBcLEOOSJqV2RlbB2MBs"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Fri, 01 Dec 2006 12:45:52 +0000 DimanaT 2073 at https://vagabond.bg https://vagabond.bg/plate-discord-2073#comments MASTER AND SLAVE https://vagabond.bg/master-and-slave-2074 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">MASTER AND SLAVE</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Filipa Faustino Arenga; photography by Nadezhda Chipeva</div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Fri, 12/01/2006 - 14:38</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>Bulgaria deepens its dependence on Russia, but plays a key role in the Nabucco pipeline project</h3> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>The Russian company AtomStroyExport has won the tender to design, construct and commission Bulgaria's Belene Nuclear Power Plant. A month away from being a member of the EU, and only days after the release of the new European Green Book for Energy that calls for the diversification and security of supply, Bulgaria is increasing its energy dependence on Russia - a very delicate issue for the EU.</p> <p>Merely taking numbers into account, and assuming the result was based on the business plan only, the Russian bidder was the natural winner over Czech Skoda Alliance, the other main contender for the concession. But there is a lot more to energy than the price tag. In fact, since the 1972 oil crisis, energy resources have been perceived as political tools rather than mere commodities.</p> <p>The European energy market is second only to that of America - and Russia is its main supplier. Russia is an energy superpower and acts accordingly, adopting the bullyboy attitude characteristic of most big oil and natural gas producers.</p> <p>Vladimir Putin's government has exploited the potential of energy as a political bargaining tool and, some critics have argued, a political weapon. Although the Kremlin claims that it is motivated purely by business, the truth is that the 2005 Ukraine gas shortage, that also affected several EU countries, showed how dangerously dependent on Russia Europe is. Andrei Illianov, a former Kremlin advisor, recently told the BBC that, being energy reliant on Russia, "Europe could expect a dark and cold future".</p> <p>By giving the Belene project to a Russian contractor, Bulgaria, soon to join the EU, increased not only its own, but the whole of the European family's vulnerability towards Russia. Bulgaria is almost completely dependent on Russia for electricity generation, for both industrial and household consumption. Domestic natural gas production meets only about 10 percent of Bulgaria's needs, the rest coming from Russian imports. Bulgaria imports 100 percent of its oil, while hydro-electrical plants produce only eight percent of its electricity, and depend 70 percent on Russian and Ukrainian coal. Nuclear energy produces 44 percent of Bulgarian electricity, but depends solely on Russian nuclear fuel and technology, as well as Russian waste recycling and storage facilities. Renewable sources, which are highlighted as being crucial in the Green Book, are marginal.</p> <p>Liberals such as Georgi Ganev from the Centre for Liberal Strategies accuse the Bulgarian Government of having strong connections with the Russian nuclear lobby and even of persecuting critics, some of whom have allegedly had to move abroad as a result of political pressure. Russia also gives Bulgaria preferential gas rates in exchange for the use of its pipeline system to reach other European countries.</p> <p>Ahead of the G8 summit last summer, the EU and the United States drew up a list of priorities to confront Russia with. One of them was Russia's aggressive energy policy. However, rather than tempering its policy, Russia intensified it by giving, for instance, the gas export monopoly to state-controlled Gazprom, or by striking long-term deals with individual EU members in exchange for special relations.</p> <p>In October, when he presented the new Green Book, the President of the European Commission Durao Barroso spoke out against "energy coercion" and called for a coordinated energy policy. Nevertheless, countries see energy as an issue of national security and are not likely to hand it over to Brussels any time soon.</p> <p>Diversifying producers is a priority for the EU, and Bulgaria is strategically positioned in this respect. The Nabucco project is a 3,000 km pipeline that will transport natural gas from Azerbaijan through Turkey and Bulgaria to the heart of Europe, namely Hungary and Austria. Of course, this means that the southern Caucasus area needs be kept stable, through measures such as the NATO integration of Georgia and the European Neighbourhood Policy for Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Russia, however, appears to be bent on spoiling these efforts by fuelling the South Ossetia, Karabakh and Abkhazia conflicts.</p> <p>The "father" of the Nabucco project is Milko Kovachev, former minister of energy in Bulgaria and, along with the capacity to export electricity, the project was a key card for Bulgaria in accession talks. If construction of the pipeline starts in 2008, it should be fully operational by 2011. Just like the Babylonian king in Verdi's opera who frees the Hebrew slaves, the Nabucco pipeline intends to free Europe from Russian control over the gas sector.</p> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-3" hreflang="en">Issue 3</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/forum/economy" hreflang="en">BULGARIA ECONOMY</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=2074&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="gHPEjixpm_HPpVujNppT-Xw8e6pVK7YfmlWyXvYGgns"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Fri, 01 Dec 2006 12:38:35 +0000 DimanaT 2074 at https://vagabond.bg https://vagabond.bg/master-and-slave-2074#comments BULGARIA'S 'LOCOMOTIVE' SLACKENS OFF https://vagabond.bg/bulgarias-locomotive-slackens-2075 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">BULGARIA&#039;S &#039;LOCOMOTIVE&#039; SLACKENS OFF</span> <div class="field field--name-field-author-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">text and photography by Milen Radev </div> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/251" lang="" about="/user/251" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">DimanaT</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Fri, 12/01/2006 - 14:28</span> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-field-subtitle field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item"><h3>No confetti will rain in Germany on EU accession day</h3> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__items"> <div class="images-container clearfix"> <div class="image-preview clearfix"> <div class="image-wrapper clearfix"> <div class="field__item"> <div class="overlay-container"> <span class="overlay overlay--colored"> <span class="overlay-inner"> <span class="overlay-icon overlay-icon--button overlay-icon--white overlay-animated overlay-fade-top"> <i class="fa fa-plus"></i> </span> </span> <a class="overlay-target-link image-popup" href="/sites/default/files/2020-07/berlin.jpg"></a> </span> <img loading="lazy" src="/sites/default/files/2020-07/berlin.jpg" width="1000" height="750" alt="berlin.jpg" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Until recently, Germany was considered the "locomotive" of Bulgaria's accession to the EU. For years, it was seen as the most outspoken advocate of Bulgaria's membership. In 2006, however, an increasing number of warnings have been voiced in political circles in Berlin and especially in Munich, that neither Bulgaria nor the other candidate country, Romania, are ready to become full members of the exclusive European club.</p> <p>It is true that, in October, Germany's lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, ratified the accession treaty with an overwhelming majority and the upper house, the Bundesrat, is expected to finalise the procedure by Christmas. Most MPs from the large parliamentary groups insisted, however, that the government should enforce safeguard clauses in several areas, notably in those of internal and judicial policies, immediately upon the accession of the two countries on 1 January 2007. The rightwing Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) coalition is almost certain that the chancellor, Angela Merkel, will succeed in influencing the European Commission in Brussels and that it will adopt immediate restrictive measures for Bulgaria and Romania before the end of this year.</p> <p>What has happened in Germany to bring about this radical change, from complete and unconditional support for Bulgaria's European ambitions, to the present cautious and restrictive position? A number of politicians have voiced the opinion that Bulgaria literally caught the last train for the EU. They allege that it was a mistake to fix an accession date before all criteria had been met by the candidate countries, and that this should never happen again.</p> <p>In fact, politicians' views simply reflect public opinion as it now prevails in Germany. Whereas renowned economists constantly maintain that the first expansion in 2004 was beneficial for German business, most of the population believe that this growth was at their expense. Experts confirm that German companies have increased their competitive edge because they were able to get rid of some of their highly-paid staff, either by relocating their production activities to neighbouring countries, or by hiring cheap labour from the new member states. The liberalisation of the labour market mainly threatens low-skilled workers, especially in the eastern provinces, which still have a poor economic structure. Although, in May, Germany blocked its labour market to Polish and Czech workers for another three years, the fact is that several thousand of them already have a job in the country, using a fictitious self-employed status or by availing themselves of other gaps in the legislation.</p> <p>Berlin is only a one-and-a-half-hour drive from the Polish border. Every morning, even before daybreak, the trains and motorways to the city are crowded with Poles commuting to their more or less legal workplace. In an area where there are about 50,000 officially registered unemployed construction workers, the huge building sites in the capital resound with foreign voices. To have a Polish cleaner or housekeeper for the four or five euros an hour that no German woman would consider working for has become routine. At the same time, unemployment in the city remains steady at about 17 percent.</p> <p>This is why the announcement that the government will apply the same 2+3+2 formula to close the German labour market to Bulgaria and Romania for a period of seven years did not pour oil on troubled waters. The gutter press published figures, borrowed mainly from British editions, about hundreds of thousands of Bulgarians already packing their suitcases to set off for Western Europe in search of work. Some rightwing politicians, like Bavarian Prime Minister Edmund Stoiber, tried to make capital out of this situation by using populist rhetoric.</p> <p>In addition, the news coming from Bulgaria about the latest contract killing and the inability of the country to get such matters under control does not contribute to the jolliness of the party staged to welcome the new members. We have yet to see whether the new arrival's gifts, such as rose oil, red wine, tomatoes, sheep's cheese, asymmetrical metre folk dances and polyphonic singing, coupled with their new ideas, historical experience and ambition to succeed, will help overcome the newly-erected barriers.</p> </div> <a href="/archive/issue-3" hreflang="en">Issue 3</a> <div class="field field--name-field-mt-post-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--entity-reference-target-type-taxonomy-term clearfix field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/features" hreflang="en">VAGABOND FEATURES</a></div> </div> <section class="field field--name-comment field--type-comment field--label-above comment-wrapper"> <h2 class="title comment-form__title">Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=2075&amp;2=comment&amp;3=comment" token="fBB-bDis1EHfvQ02WIKgAQUJgC76zxTpyiZE9GqenH8"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Fri, 01 Dec 2006 12:28:57 +0000 DimanaT 2075 at https://vagabond.bg https://vagabond.bg/bulgarias-locomotive-slackens-2075#comments