Bulgaria: What looks good to visiting EU commissioners and what doesn’t

Written by on January 10, 2018 in Bulgaria, Perspectives - Comments Off on Bulgaria: What looks good to visiting EU commissioners and what doesn’t

When EU Commissioners come to Sofia, because of Bulgaria’s EU Council Presidency, it does look good when that city actually has a proper road which they can use to get to their hotels and meeting halls from the airport. The fact that this approach road was inaugurated only hours before their arrival, and 11 years after the big airport terminal was built, is a little weird.

When EU Commissioners come to Sofia and they are being taken to an EU Presidency Opening Ceremony at the National Theatre Ivan Vazov, where they will be able to enjoy an impressive cultural programme with the Eva Quartet and the band Bulgara, after listening to the obligatiry speeches, this will give them a good impression of Sofia, of Bulgaria and its EU Council Presidency.

When EU Commissioners come to Sofia and they breathe air with a particulate matter concentration which is up to 20 times higher than recommended, this does not look or smell good at all. When the authorities try to downplay the catastrophic air pollution data and want to fight the problem by sweeping a few boulevards, this will probably not leave a very good impression.

When EU Commissioners come to Sofia and they know that the Prime Minister and the larger part of his government are pro-European, and when even the President, whose election was backed by the socialists, is pro-European, this will leave a positive impression too. But the presence of the radical right in the government will not.

When EU Commissioners come to Sofia and they know horse-drawn carriages have been banned from the city, in an attempt to keep the reality from them, the impression will be negative. EU Commissioners know how to read. And they know it is about keeping the Bulgarian Roma out of sight, rather than the horses or carriages. A negative point.

When EU Commissioners come to Sofia and they see how well the venues, the programme and the meetings have been prepared, they will most likely be impressed.

When EU Commissioners come to Sofia and they read that “an influential businessman” was shot dead in Sofia, in broad daylight, just days earlier, and when they learn that a tax official was also shot three weeks before, the impression this will leave will be rather negative.

When EU Commissioners come to Sofia and the country they are visiting has not managed to fight the corruption or the organised crime effectively, nor has it come up with a convincing anti-corruption bill, the impression is not good.

When EU Commissioners come to Sofia and the government supports the integration of the Western Balkan countries, and organises a big summit on the subject, this is a very positive aspect. So is the good-neighbourliness treaty with Macedonia, which will be ratified this month.

When EU Commissioners come to Sofia and the minimum wage in the country they are visiting was just increased to 255 euro, while the minimum pension is 102 euro, they will know this kind of situation is unacceptable, especially in an EU country.

The VIP visitors will likely feel that their hosts know how to welcome and host them. They will like the culture, the food and the part of Sofia they will see, provided the wind gets rid of the particulate matter, because nobody else will.

 

 

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