Bulgaria’s EU Presidency: Twitter feeds, VIP presents and new realities

Written by on January 2, 2018 in Europe - Comments Off on Bulgaria’s EU Presidency: Twitter feeds, VIP presents and new realities

For several days now, both domestic and international media have been outperforming each other by publishing the same headline a million times. It reads “Bulgaria takes up EU Presidency”, and there are many variations. That headline has been repeated over and over, as if the media had to remind themselves that this is really happening. It is.

The actual “Opening Ceremony of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU” might be taking place sort of late, on January 11, but the very first cultural event connected to Bulgaria’s EU Council Presidency is already over.

“Spirit of Europe” was the title of a concert the Festival Symphony Orchestra performed last night. It included pieces by composers from all 28 EU member states. Conductor Emil Tabakov and the soloist, violin hero Svetlin Rusev, did impress ambassadors and other VIP guests at hall number 1 of the National Palace of Culture (NDK), which has become the zenith of the universe, the EU Presidency HQ, the centre of it all.

More concerts are coming up. The series “Music of Europe” will feature sounds from a different EU country every night.

So far, one single European head of government has congratulated Bulgaria on its EU Council Presidency: Sebastian Kurz, the new Chancellor of Austria, said he was “looking forward to working closely with Bulgaria in the coming 6 months”. Via Twitter, the 31-year-old reminded his followers that Austria is next, starting on July 1st.

In the meantime, folks in Sofia were busy too. The social media team for “EU2018BG” started twittering a lot, in two languages. The first post was a 38-second trailer for a fancy video showing the beauty of Bulgaria.

Conductor Emil Tabakov during the “Spirit of Europe” concert. Photo by EU2018BG.

Whoever produced that film, used some excellent drones. They were sent into the sky above a nice beach to the south of Sinemorets, a Black Sea coast resort, above old fortresses, snow-covered mountain ranges, motorways, villages and Sofia. Drones don’t breathe, which was an advantage for the shooting action above the capital.

The full drone video will be released later this week. The 343 Twitter users who had watched the trailer by Tuesday morning can probably hardly wait.

On the English-language Twitter account, the first 2018 tweet said the country had taken over the EU Presidency “with commitment and aspiration to work for a stronger, safer, more inclusive and digitally skilled EU, in the interest of every citizen”.

One thing is certain: Bulgaria’s EU Council Presidency guests will not go home empty-handed. They will receive bags with nice presents, including ties or scarves, depending on the gender, special coins issued by the Bulgarian National Bank, postage stamps with the Council Presidency logo, folders, pens and rose oil. Feta cheese will not be part of the gift bags.

The quality of the gifts depends on the job each visitor has. Prime ministers, ministers, deputy ministers and heads of delegations will receive ties or scarves made of silk, while non-VIP guests will get viscose products. This could be a joke, but it isn’t.

After transmitting Sofia’s public New Year’s Eve party into every living room in the country, Bulgarian National Television continued preparing residents in the capital for the new realities on site. Those will include traffic constraints, when security is tightened for visiting heads of government.

Sofia traffic sucks. During the Bulgarian EU Council Presidency, this will be the case even more. Public parking in two streets near the National Palace of Culture will be suspended for six months. On top of that, there will be temporary restrictions, and Big Brother will be watching everyone.

For the economy, the EU Presidency is a gift. Experts are expecting a positive impact on Sofia’s investment rating, and therefore more investments and jobs.

Photo at top of page by Imanuel Marcus.

 

What Bulgaria’s EU Presidency guests will not see

 

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