A Bulgarian Cultural Institute in Germany: Five Years of Nothing

Written by on January 26, 2017 in Bulgaria, Culture, Latest - No comments

Ellwangen is a picturesque little town in south-western Germany. The river Jagst, which is flowing by, and the hills around this place with 25,000 inhabitants, but also the ancient buildings and churches, make Ellwangen, located in the middle of the region of Swabia, one of the most beautiful spots in Germany.

Down here, people have a saying, in their distinctive dialect: “Schaffa, schaffe, Häusle Baue”, which basically means “Let’s work a lot and build homes”. Working hard and making things look neat is their main philosophy, apart from religion. This part of Germany is one of the most religious in the country, with hundreds of thousands of believing Lutherans and Catholics, who will actually fill their churches on Sundays.

The food in this region is too good to be true. “Käsespetzle”, German pasta with cheese and onions, and “Zwiebelkuchen”, a great tasting onion cake, are just two of the many specialities offered in Ellwangen and the entire region.

Another important aspect down here, in the German state of Baden-Württemberg, is the fact that things work, because people make sure they do. The inhabitants of Ellwangen are diligent, they are organized and they won’t give up. So, everything works, except for the Southeast-European Bulgarian Cultural Institute.

The story started in 2010, when Prof. Bojidar Dimitrov, a minister for special tasks and director of the Museum of National History in Sofia, visited Ellwangen. During that visit, the idea for a Bulgarian Cultural Institute was born. So far, so good. In 2011, decisions were taken to implement the idea. According to the deal, the town of Ellwangen would contribute the rooms needed and Bulgaria would send personnel. The cultural center was officially opened. It was in 2012, when Bulgaria’s Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Simeon Dyankov got involved. Cultural exchange, a good thing. The news was that the Bulgarian Cultural Institute, would be opening very soon.

The bell belonging to the Bulgarian Cultural Institute in Ellwangen. Photo by sab, Schwäbische Post.

So, what kind of cultural events haven taken place since? None. What has happened? Absolutely nothing. According to the local daily “Schwäbische Post”, Bulgaria kept on promising to actually open the center for several years. In their article entitled “The Bulgarian Comedy Continues”, the newspaper editors in Ellwangen just explained how nothing ever happened.

Five years after the official opening, on a sunny day in October of 2016, Iskra Ivanova, the head of the center, finally arrived. “The miracle happened”, the “Schwäbische Post” wrote. Nobody in Ellwangen actually believed it.

Since no announcements were ever received and no event programmes were ever released by the Bulgarian Cultural Institute months later, the colleagues at “Schwäbische Post” decided to visit Mrs. Ivanova at her office. During the first days of January of 2017, she was not there. The door was locked. Three visits later, on January 18th, City Hall gave Mrs. Ivanova’s cell phone number to the reporters. But she did not return any calls.

This week, City Hall finally announced that Mrs. Ivanova had sent a short e-mail to Karl Hilsenbek, the Mayor of Ellwangen, telling him she would not come back, but that Professor Emil Ivanov would arrive at the Bulgarian Cultural Institute soon, in order to start work.

The problem: After five years of nothing, absolutely nobody in Ellwangen believes anything anymore.

By Imanuel Marcus

 

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