Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Quiz Time on Uncles Website

Ok its quiztime on the website tonight.It will be a five stage quiz question, anyone Bulgarian will automatically know these questions so please dont attempt please:

1.Which Bulgarian Independence hero's martyrdom was very recently celebrated ?.

2. Which province united with the Principality to form what is most of modern Bulgaria ?.

3. Which Bulgarian anti-Communist journalist was murdered on a bridge in London in the 1980's.

4. Which part of modern Bulgaria did the slave Spartacus come from ?.

5. What was the first capitol of modern Bulgaria ?.

Answers to info@gobg.co.uk by 28th February, the winner will be immortalised on this website and, a beer if in Varna this summer !.

From little acorns...

Its been difficult to print much interesting news lately.The Russians are working with the Bulgarians on the new Belene nuclear power plant, but the Russians energy ambitions are well known and I cant get worked up about that !.Gordon Brown appears to be playing Flashman the School Bully with colleagues, but that has been well known for ages.

The one thing that did get me going was the new that property searches are picking up markedly which means that, in a small way, peoples expectations are picking up.Our BG wonderland is no. 3, so lets see what happens.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Funny old world 2

Catatouille Anyone ?.

Among other things, Giuseppe "Beppe" Bigazzi is known for his prize-winning cookbook La cucina semplice dei sapori d'Italia ("The simple cuisine of the flavours of Italy"). But as of this week, the flavour with which the TV gastronome is likely to be most closely associated is that of stewed cat.
Bigazzi is familiar to millions of viewers of the publicly-owned RAI network as the white-haired co-presenter of a popular pre-lunchtime programme, La prova del cuoco ("The proof of the cook"). But today he was experiencing his first day without television commitments in 10 years after being axed for expressing his enthusiasm for the flesh of felines.
His remarks came after mentioning how, in the desperate conditions of post-war Italy, some people had taken to boiling stray mogs.
As his fellow-presenter, Elisa Isoardi, looked on aghast, the 77-year-old Bigazzi told viewers that, far from being a last resort in times of near-famine, gatto in umido was "one of the great dishes of the Valdarno [in Tuscany]".
The secret, he disclosed, was to leave the cat in a fast-running stream for three days. "What comes out is a delicacy", he enthused. "Many a time I've eaten its white meat."
Isoardi, herself a cat owner, tried to interrupt, but to no avail. Cat in a thick sauce was "better than chicken, rabbit or pigeon", he said.
During a commercial break, the producers unsuccessfully attempted to persuade the celebrity gourmet that he should apologise when the programme resumed. Soon afterwards, RAI's switchboard was jammed with calls from appalled viewers.
Bigazzi was today quoted by the newspaper Corriere della Sera as saying he had been referring to events in the past, adding: "You can't judge things from 70 years ago".
But that was not enough for Italy's National Animal Protection Board, whose president, Carla Rocchi, announced she had instructed its lawyers to begin proceedings against Bigazzi for inciting cruelty to animals.
A junior minister in Silvio Berlusconi's government, Francesca Martini, said what had happened was "of the utmost gravity".
Not everyone agreed, however. The blogosphere was today buzzing with comments, some in Bigazzi's favour. One maintained that it was "truly astonishing" that Bigazzi had been dropped by RAI "for having recollected a recipe from his native region, albeit one not acceptable to most people".

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Property Update

Well readers one of the great advantages of blog ownership is that you get to blatantly plug pet topics or projects.
Todays blatant plug is for my property website www.gobg.co.uk .I am in the process of tweaking it at the moment, but it is full of some great offers on the Black Sea and contains a picture gallery, amongst other things.

I hope you find it enjoyable and interesting, and for those of you looking for Bulgarian property I hope you see something you want.The direct link is in the headline !.You can contact us direct by e mail info@gobg.co.uk

New Features on this Blog

Readers will by now have noticed that there have recently been some changes to this blog.The first major change is that the blog template has completely changed.This has,I hope, resulted in the blog gaining more symmetry in terms of rationality of layout and colouration (ie it looks less like an accident in a paint factory).

The second change is the addition of extra (helpful) widgets, towit: a visitor counter, music,a calender and a currency converter.Obviously after only a few days the visitor counter is low, but the real figures for visitors are well into the thousands.For those of you who prefer to read my musings in silence press the 'pause' button on the music widget.

As usual I would value any feedback on the blogsite so that I can keep improving it.Remember my ambition for this blog is to turn it into a major english language forum about Bulgaria, and my usual eclectic mixture of other things !.

Shattered Greek Urn Fallout

The ramifications of the Greek financial crisis continue.It appears that the EU members already in the Eurozone are reluctant to admit Bulgaria into the Euro in 2013, because of the pressure the currency is under currently.
This crisis will get far worse before it gets better.

On another note Sofia airport has been voted the worlds 10th ugliest.If you have been there you will know why.
London Heathrow came in a deserved 4th.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Its a funny old world

One of the strange but true things about Bulgaria is the fascination that Japanese people have with the place.Apparently it looks just like Japan !.It is also helps that the Japanese Sumo champion is a Bulgarian called Kaloyan.There are two villages in Bulgaria with a cluster of Japanese families living.

On BTV tonight two appeared dressed in Bulgarian peasant costumes and announced to a startled viewing public that they had changed their names to Ivan and Marika !.

You just couldn't invent it could you ?.

Bulgarian 'take' on February 14th

Bulgaria has been marking two holidays on February 14 since the fall of communism in the late eighties, when the day of the sweethearts came to the country. This year a trick of the calendar has added one more holiday to this day – Sirni Zagovezni.
Previously completely ignored by lovebirds in Bulgaria, St. Valentine's Day enjoyed escalating popularity over the years of the country's transition to Western-like lifestyle.
Gradually, February 14 became the date for exchanging love messages across catholic countries and St. Valentine became the patron saint of lovers.
The date is now marked by sending poems and simple gifts such as flowers, hearts and teddy bears.
As lovers celebrate St Valentine's Day, many Bulgarians insist February 14 should be reserved for a traditional Bulgarian celebration - the feast of St. Trifon Zarezan, the patron of vine growing and wine producing.
The St. Trifon Zarezan day offers a nice alternative to those who don't have a loved one to share the holiday with, but can still find a reason to celebrate.
The professional holiday of vine-growers and wine-makers has been officially celebrated since 1962. When the Gregorian Calendar was officially introduced by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in 1968, the church services moved to February 1, but the Day of Vine and Wine is still commemorated on February 14.
According to old traditions, the culmination is the moment of choosing the "king of the vines" - usually a diligent vine-grower, who is thus said to sweep all good luck.
Bulgarians have one more reason to celebrate on February 14 this year - "Sirni Zagovezni", a popular Christian Orthodox holiday in Bulgaria, which takes place seven weeks before Easter and marks the beginning of the Great Lent, the longest period of fasting throughout the year.
According to the ancient Christian tradition on that day people beg each other forgiveness for their wrong-doings during the year. Usually the younger ask the older for forgiveness and are also asked to forgive on the part of their parents, relatives, friends or just the people they live or work with.
In the past a special custom was being performed in the evening. A piece of halvah was tied on a long thread, hanging from the ceiling (a hard-boiled egg or some coal is an alternative). The thread is swayed around in a circle and the participants keep on trying to catch the lump in their mouth.
The Bulgarian villages have preserved the "Kukeri" ritual, in which the masked Kukeri dance in the last days of the winter, just before nature comes back to life. The participants in this ritual are male only, dressed in sheepskin garments and wearing scary masks and chanove (copper bells) on their belts, dancing and singing songs and chants, with the intention to scare away the evil spirits or ghosts which people believed came back to the living ones in winter.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Golf Update

Just a brief note on the Bulgarian Golf situation.There are at least three really good courses here St Sofia in the capitol, and the Lighthouse and Blacksearama in Balchik/Topola.The courses in Pravets and Thracina Cliffs (Topola) will also be classy.

The problem is that there is hardly anybody playing themMaybe 300 people play golf in Bulgaria plus some tourists in the summer.This is far too few and it is about time the Emperor was told he had no clothes.These courses, some including indoor pools, spa's etc, are white elephants.They will take years, if ever, to make money.The thinking or lack of it, behind these golf projects betrays the boom town logic of so called Bulgarian entrepreneurs.This simply revoves around the idea that if we build something big and nice and shiny and Western then it will be an instant success and evryone will flock to it, especially the rich foreigners.

This is of course playground economics.Bulgaria will take maybe 60 years to even approach western levels of embourgeoisment and there simply isn't the internal market to be interested in the luxury end.For the foreigners, if they want to play in an upmarket golf course they go to Spain or dozens of other destinations that provid decent infrastructure and an all year round warm climate.

I now hear stories that all the golf courses here are in dire financial straits.It is only to be expected.

Friday, 12 February 2010

A salutary tale

UK Plumber's Pipe Dream for Bulgarian Justice?

Duncan Banbury, from St Albans near the UK capital London, came to Bulgaria with his partner in 2004, with plans for the future and fond memories of a long and well appreciated career as an expert plumber and heating engineer.

They picked Bulgaria as a place to relax and for healthy living with the long hot summers in a villa in the village of Bliznatsi near the Black Sea capital Varna. However, things didn’t quite work out as planned as Banbury eventually found himself going from court room to court room and from mafia threats to being on the verge of losing his BGN 500 000 dream home.

Banbury comes from a strong family background in the UK, with his mother one of the first police women in the UK and his father a metropolitan policeman and heavy-weight police boxing champion.

The highlight of his own career as a top-class plumber was being noted as one of the most-trustworthy plumbers in the UK after an investigation by the once popular That's Life! - a magazine-style television series on BBC One between 1973 and 1994, presented by Esther Rantzen.

Banbury first came to the Bulgarian public’s attention as a founder of the Foreigners Association in Bulgaria, which campaigned for justice in the case of UK expat Bryan Talbot who won a property fraud trial in Bulgaria in December 2009 that drew the attention of Vice President of the EC, Jacques Barrot, and the UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, David Miliband. (This case has now been appealed in the Supreme High Court.)

This is when Banbury first informed Novinite.com of his own personal Bulgarian tragedy that “seems to have lasted forever”.

His problems allegedly started with his first builder who was renovating his villa and who Banbury accused of emptying money from his bank account and stealing after being given power of attorney. The case against his builder was thrown out due to lack of evidence, with Banbury also accusing his ex-lawyer of double dealing in the case.

The case ended, Banbury went back to his normal daily routine, and after a short time he decided with English friends to concentrate on starting a small rent-a-car business in early 2007, with 7 cars and a mini-bus, which he bought in 2007. Sadly, rather than leading to the planned quiet money-making scheme the business never started and led to a court case that is set to ruin his life.

After never being able to start up the rent-a-car business due to two of his cars “going missing” and his Mercedes mini-bus being stolen after an argument with neighbors, Banbury was informed that unbeknown to him a civil case had started accusing him of not paying back a BGN 500 000 loan to a man he says he has never met. The case was started without him knowing after his ex-lawyer allegedly failed to change his mailing address, it was later frozen.

After Banbury was informed of the case he found out that the man accusing him, Zdravko Borislavov, had produced a promissory note to the civil court.

Borislavov later claimed to the police that in late 2007 he had given BGN 500 000 to Ban in a plastic bag to buy cars with for his rent-a-car business at a meeting in the Golden Sands resort, money which Borislavov stated was never returned.

Banbury refuted these claims saying he had never met Borislavov and that his signature was a forgery.

During the long criminal investigation initiated by Ban from 2008-2009 it became clear that after 3 hand-writing tests that Banbury’s signature could have been forged.

However, the police failed to investigate who had done the possible forgery and threw out the criminal case.

Meanwhile, along with the police, Banbury contacted the Bulgarian tax office who made a full means test into Borislavov allegedly showing that he had made less than BGN 200 000 in his entire life and had no reported income from 2004-2008 as he was living on a disability benefit.

Banbury alleges that Borislavov is a front man for the local mafia, who are friends with the builder who he earlier took to court, and claims to have received threats along those lines. His lawyer, Nikolay Tachev, also questioned why the police did not fully investigate the case and blamed them for causing Duncan extra problems.

Borislavov in turn alleges that whatever Banbury reported to Novinite.com is not true. He stated that he claims the exact opposite and that he may well turn out to be the victim. He added that he is leaving everything in the hands of the lawyers and the courts who will rule on the case. Borislavov also said that he is currently very ill.

After the criminal case Banbury took a short sigh of relief before being thrown back into the courts after it was announced that Borislavov had re-started the civil case against him, accusing him of the same charges.

In Borislavov’s request to the court he states that he will accept Duncan’s villa as compensation rather than the BGN 500 000 that he is owed. Borislavov had also come up with another BGN 20 000 from seemingly thin air to pay the new court taxes.

Due to some evidence from the criminal case not being allowed to be used in the civil case Banbury now faces a trial on March 4 that is set to decide whether his life will be devastated and his dream house confiscated from him after a three-year battle that has taken him to the edge.

Banbury summarized his situation in one final call for Bulgarian justice; “Bad people pick on me, while I try to help others.”

Uncles Comment: This is an horrific tale,but it is far from a typical one.The Mafia are not normally interested in foreigners because the money involved is too small (compared to drugs and prostitution for instance).

However, it is when they are running a business with large interfaces with the general public (like a bar), that they get interested.It also doesn't help that he met 'the wrong people'  ie the builder etc.It is important that any foreigner coming new to Bulgaria has a reasonable Bulgarian factotum who can be relied upon.

The experience of most foreigners who live and/or work here is a positive one.I am aware that if you go to websites such as 'My Bulgaria' there are plenty of threads entitled 'Ripped off by Bulgarians' or suchlike.The simple fact is that in many cases 'A fool and his money are easily parted'.If you find out later that you paid too much money for something then that is capitalism for you.You made what you thought was an acceptable deal with somebody and they made a big profit, that is the free market I'm afraid.

A short word of advice on the Bulgarian legal system.A Bulgaria friend once said to me:

'Entering the Bulgarian legal system is like opening a door into the desert'

It is expensive, and your chances of getting anything approaching justice aren't good.The victory of the British guy in the court in Dobrich the other day (he got his house back) was due in part to the attention paid to the case by the EU and the UK Foreign Office.There are many many others who are not so lucky, they don't have powerful 'friends'.

If anybody out there is considering relocating to Bulgaria and requires a relocation service then they can e mail me at info@gobg.co.uk and I can outline the services that can be offered.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Accentuate the Positive..

Well readers, as promised but a short while ago, here is my 'reasons to be cheerful' article about Bulgaria:

Bulgaria is a generally beautiful country with a rich and diverse history and culture.It affords a massive Black Sea coast,with miles of sandy beaches for the hot summers and ski resorts for the winter sports.Away from these area it has beautiful scenery especially mountains and lakes aplenty.There are historic monasteries and castles dotted everywhere.

For the foreigner looking for a holiday home, or to live here, it still offers excellent value for money.It has the cheapest property in the EU, apartments of a decent size can be picked up from 40000 Euros, Villas from 75000 Euros.

Living here is very cheap with the exception of petrol, a beer is about 0.65p for half a litre and a restaurant three course meal with wine is likely to be around £12 or just under 11 Euros.

Electricity bills will aggregate at about £40 a month (it is relatively expensive here).White goods and computers/tvs are more expensive here than in the UK and its best to bring them over with you if you can.

Quality of life is the big seller in Bulgaria, the country is politically stable and will join the Euro in 2013.Generally foreigners can afford things here they never could at home, such as swimming pools (prices start from 16000 Euros for a good standard).

The cities are full of nightlife, some great restaurants and cultural activities.Village life for those enjoying the quiet can be full of charm.If you live in a village near the coast as I do, you can have both !

The major thing I noticed in the first few months here is the comparative lack of stress.Life is quite laid back.Sure western lifestyles will come eventually but I hope and pray that they do not encroach too much on traditions here.

Thats all from me for now, your opinions and questions are valued though !.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Relocation, Relocation, Relocation

I am often asked, and indeed often see on the innumerable UK property programmes, what should one think about when considering relocating to another property.
So here are my considered opinions on the matter:

Anyone considering moving abroad should get a piece of A4 paper and slowly but surely answer the following:

What am I relocating for ?.Is it because the sun is always brighter on the other side of the street, it often is not.Just because you have been for a weeks holiday there, or it was a particularly good episode of 'A place in the sun',it is no reason for decamping across the globe.Dreams of idyllic existences can easily turn into nightmares.

Living somewhere permanently is very different from visiting especially if there are wide variations in the seasons.For instance winter in Bulgaria bears no recognition to the summer, not just in climate, but in the level of human activity.Winters here can be lonely soul destroying experiences.Those looking for 12 month hedonism should look elsewhere.

For the retired looking to make their pensions go further and buy better property with their uk equity the questions should also include distance from children/grandchildren and access to quality medical facilities.These are hit and miss in countries like Bulgaria.Doctors are nowhere near as qualified as the UK and hospitals, well they aren't good !.In the event of serious illness Bulgaria can be a very isolating and frightening place.

For those under retirement age (who need work) then self-employment may seem attractive, but in most places your great business idea has already been done by half a dozen other people, if they are still doing it you have competitors in a sometimes small market (ie British goods etc), if they are no longer doing it it means your idea was a loser anyway.

For those with children getting them a quality education with recognised qualifications can be difficult.Bulgarian education is fairly poor and a Bulgarian university degree is only equivalent to a British 'A' Level.The only real way to ensure good education is to go privately, such as the American Academy in Veliko Turnovo which is a secondary school.At least in schools like this they can take the Bacclaurette, which can get you into any European University.The bottom line to think of is, is wrenching your child out of settled education and life in the UK not an act of monumental selfishness on your part ?.If you can honestly answer 'no' then proceed.

General homesickness is to be considered.If you come from a close knit family or have a close network of friends think of the effect of not having them around.Relocation can destroy relationships, marriages and even lives.Its not a decision to be taken lightly.

Lastly but not least is the Language which is obviously not a problem in America etc, but in Bulgaria if you dont bother to try to learn it then you live in a small english speaking ghetto.

Buena Vista Social Club

Brilliant Music !. Click the headline !.


Going up in smoke !

An Indonesian tobacco company has agreed to pay the medical expenses of a man who lost six teeth when a cigarette he was smoking exploded. 
The cigarette blew up in Andi Susanto's mouth while he was riding his motorcycle in Bekasi, near Jakarta.
He lost six teeth and received 51 stitches.
Mr Susanto told Metro TV in an interview from his hospital bed that cigarette producer PT Nojorono Tobacco Indonesia was paying for his medical treatment.
"The company's officials have talked to my family and we agreed to settle it amicably, as an out-of-court settlement," he said through bandaged lips.
"They will pay all the medical expenses."
The cause of the explosion remains unknown.
Mr Susanto said he wasn't chewing anything when he lit the Clas Mild cigarette, and didn't notice anything strange about its odour, colour or taste.
The victim, who has been smoking since primary school, said he was shocked by the incident.
"It had been always fine. The incident was all so unexpected," said the 31-year-old, who works as a security guard.
He admitted that he was traumatised by the incident and would try to quit smoking.
Tulus Abadi, from the Indonesian Consumer Protection Foundation, said there was only a small chance the explosion was triggered by the ingredients of the cigarette.
"From around 4,000 chemical substances found in a cigarette, there is one substance that is identical to a substance used to formulate rocket fuel," Tulus told The Jakarta Post, referring to methanol.
"But although it exists in cigarettes, I think the amount is too small to trigger an explosion."
Muhammad Warsianto, NTI's senior adviser, confirmed that its products, branded as Clas Mild, did not contain any explosive materials.
Mr Warsianto said the company assisted with the medical bill as a form of sympathy to "a loyal customer".

Uncles Comment: Let that be a lesson to you stay off those 'high tar' ciggies !

Gold Palted !

A dinner plate taken along to the Antiques Roadshow as an after-thought has turned out to be a £100,000 record-breaker.
Wendy Jones took the 22-inch meat dish from an old Tesco carrier bag and placed it before a stunned expert on the BBC show.
It was then identified as one part of a 100-piece service commissioned for Frederick the Great of Prussia 260 years ago.

Uncles Comment: Don't throw your grannys tea set away !.

'We're gonna rock down to Electric Avenue...'

One bizarre piece of news from Borissovs London visit was the news that something called the Corus Investment Consortium is planning to invest 100 million Euros in building electric, yes electric, cars in Stara Zagora of all places.

Exactly why anyone would want to do this is quite beyond me, and more details on the backers of this venture need to come to light.Corus is the multi-national steel giant, but I cannot imagine that they are behind the deal.Allegedly these contraptions can travel 600km before recharge and can reach the dizzy heights of 110km.

One little problem is that there is virtually nowhere where these machines can be recharged.There are only about a dozen places in the UK alone !.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Boyko in London

Not quite Nixon in China but....

Well readers as promised news of the Prime Minsiters meeting with the er..Prime Minister.

Fresh from watching Chelsea beat Arsenal 2-0 at Stamford Bridge (Boyko is a Chelsea fan, someone has to follow West Londons Prima Donna's I suppose) our hero attended a 400 strong dinner at the Bulgarian Embassy during which the abolition of dual nationality for Bulgarians was ruled out (that went down well with the audience), the ex Tsars son apparently praised GERB's economic policies, and Borissov alluded to the fact that Western European/Nato intelligence agencies are now semi-willing to talk to their Bulgarian counterparts, after a long period when the Bulgarian security services gave a whole new meaning to 'dodgy'.

In his tete a tete with our beloved one eyed Scottish person, Boyko apparently raised tourism and trade as major areas for cooperation.He appeared to secure some commitment that immigration would not become an issue in the UK general election (dont know how that is achievable !). Support was also apparently forthcoming for Bulgaria's below 3% budget deficit (so thats why there are buggar all public works projects and the EU money has not been spent because it might get stolen).Since Prudence has become imprudent, rightly, to stop the banking system collapsing, its difficult to justify such fiscal rectitude in the Balkans, though contrasted with the insane 12% Greek deficit it looks good.

So all in all great PR opportunity for Boiko in the Bulgarian media, coverage in the UK media virtually zero.Actual relevance to prevailing problem solving lower than a snakes belly.

Thats politics folks !.

Bulgaria and GM Food

Or 'Confused you will be...'.The passed few weeks have seen protests in Sofia against the introduction of pilot GM crop trials in Bulgaria.At first the government stood its ground despite the overwhelming body of evidence against this pernicious bio-project.

GM foods are environmentally dangerous as, when grown, they cross polinate with 'normal' crops to creat hybrids and so on.What you get in the end is GM food by the back door.There is no evidence that such food is safe in the food chain, and indeed the mysterious collapse in the bee population may have something to do with GM crops spread across the world.If the bees die off then the effect on mankind is potentially catastrophic ie no bees no polination, no polination no food, no food no people.

The Bulgarian government has actually listened to this and a 5 year ban is proposed.This is a great victory for environmental campaigners.Let us hope that Monsanto does not open its big fat cheque book...

Monday, 8 February 2010

When Gordon met Boyko

Today the Bulgarian PM Boiko Borissov is paying a state visit to the UK and will be meeting Gordon Brown.A full report on this will be posted later.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Euro 2012 gets added spice

Breaking News today is that England and Wales have been drawn in the same qualifying groups as Bulgaria (the other members being Montenegro and Switzerland).The prospect of England playing in Sofia is quite exciting and I eagerly anticipate the date.I will post as soon as I find out.Apart from the Bulgarian angle the group is a pretty straightforward one.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Bulgarian Far Right Leader in Airplane Bother !

According to a media statement from the Frankfurt am Main police, "an apparently drunk 53-year-old Bulgarian" had prompted the captain of a Lufthansa flight flying from Sofia to Frankfurt to summon police assistance.

The Bulgarian was said to have refused instructions from the crew and rioted, according to the police media statement, released on February 4 2010.

The incident happened a day earlier, on February 3 at around 4pm local time.

Almost immediately after the incident happened, Bulgarian media reported that Volen Siderov, leader of the ultra-nationalist Ataka party, had briefly been arrested at Frankfurt airport.

The incident and Siderov's involvement were initially confirmed by a spokesperson of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, quoted by Bulgarian news agency BTA.

The Ataka party denied Siderov had been arrested, calling media reports "disinformation" and threatening any publication that carried the story with legal action.

The deputy-chair of the party's parliamentary group, Desislav Choukolov, said the spokesperson for the ministry would "suffer the legal consequences".

Later on February 3 Siderov released a statement, admitting he had had an "exchange of words" with crew during the flight, but he denied he had been arrested, calling such accusations "a conspiracy" against his party.

Siderov said someone on the flight had overheard his conversation with the crew and had decided to "create some sensation".

Yet according to the media statement released by German police, the 53-year-old Bulgarian had refused to buckle his seat-belt at take-off and landing. Allegedly, he had also entered - and then refused to leave - the on-board kitchen and had failed to retake his seat. The Bulgarian was said to have thrown food he was given onto the floor. He also allegedly hindered the crew's work and uttered racial insults.

During the police investigation, the man was said to have insulted a police officer.

Bulgarian-language daily Dnevnik quoted police spokesperson André Sturmeit as saying that the man had not taken an alcohol test because he had shown a diplomatic passport and left the plane.

German police said complaints had been filed for insults and breaches of the Aviation Security Act. Dnevnik quoted Choukolov as saying that Siderov was in Germany for medical reasons.

Attempts to reach Siderov for comment had failed because he did not answer his mobile, Dnevnik said.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Well it's a funny old world !

Well this heap of junk, the plane not the laptop, has just been sold for £460 by a friend of mine in the UK.When he told me that he had sold a plane to a dealer I instantly thought model aeroplane !.
Which only goes to show 'where there's muck there's brass' !.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Glug Glug ?? Not Not !

Bulgaria’s beer sales watered down by 11% in 2009

Bulgaria’s domestic beer consumption shrank by 11% to 4.87 million hectolitres in 2009 from the eyar before, shows data of the Union of Bulgarian Brewers.
Beer served in bars and restaurants have suffered the steepest drop while home drinkers have trimmed beer budgets the least.
The industry group unites five of the six breweries operating on the Bulgarian market including Boliarka BT, Zagorka, Kamenitza, Carlsberg Bulgaria and Lomsko Pivo. Counting volumes sold by Ledenika MM takes the total to slightly over 5 million hectolitres.
“The downturn has hit most severely immediate beer consumption in the highest price ranges”, said Kamen Aleksov, marketing director of Carlsberg Bulgaria, the local unit of the Danish brewery group.
“This means consumption of glass-bottled beer is increasingly dwindling as these are sold mostly in bars and restaurants, which have borne the brunt”, added Dragan Radivoevic, Kamenitza’s general manager for Bulgaria.
Breweries are bracing themselves for an extension of the downtrend into 2010, when the slump is seen in the 3-5% range.
In 2009, most consumers opted for plastic-bottle beer, which sliced 48% off the market. Glass-bottled beer grabbed a 42.5%share, while draft had only 5.5%. Canned beer accounted for an even slimmer 4%.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Focus...On North East Bulgaria

  Area and geography: an area of 19,966.6 sq. km (18.0% of the national territory). The Northeastern Region is situated in the northeastern part of Bulgaria. It ranks on the third place in terms of territorial scope and population size among the six planning regions in the Republic of Bulgaria. It comprises six administrative districts – Varna, Dobrich, Razgrad, Silistra, Targovishte, and Shumen. The main regional centres are Varna, followed by Dobrich and Shumen. To the north the region borders on Romania. The connection across the river Danube is effected via the Silistra-Kalarach ferry line. The surface connections are via one railway and three road passes at the border-crossing points Kardam, Yovkovo, Silistra, and Durankulak. To the east the region is broadly opened to the Black Sea via the ports of Varna, Devnya, Balchik, and the ferry complex at Beloslav. The area of the Northeastern Region is traversed by three Pan-European transport corridors. Via the port complex it connects the country to Asia and the Black Sea region.

   Climate: Mild seaside climate. While the North-East region's climate is mainly influenced by the moderate continental belt, the climate in the region's eastern parts is mainly determined by the impact of the Black Sea. The low annual precipitation here, below 500 mm, has led to artificial irrigation of agricultural areas. The average annual temperature is around 11- 12 C, being higher along the Black Sea coast and in the areas close to the Danube River.

   History: The North-East is a region with a long history. The remnants of the necropolis at Varna confirm that this territory was at one time inhabited by one of the most ancient civilisations in the world. Between the 5th and 4th centuries B.C. the Hellenistic civilisation founded many settlements along the Black Sea coast, such as Odesos (today Varna) and Kronos (today Balchik). In 681 the first Bulgarian State was established here. The remains of its first capital, Pliska, and the second one, Veliki Preslav, reveal the richness of cultural life at the dawn of the Bulgarian state. Veliki Preslav was the nations's spiritual and cultural centre. The monasteries, churches, and buildings from that time reveal the extent to which large scale building and construction took place.

   Population: The population size of the region is 1,290,025 people or 16.48% of the total population. For the period between the last two population censuses (1992-2001) the average annual population growth was –0.68%, i.e. below the national average. The population in the region is characterized generally by a high educational level. However, an unfavorable trend of growing rate of early school-leavers and emigration of the highly-educated population from the districts, with the exception of Varna, has been observed. The share of inhabitants with university education in the Northeastern Region is 7.62%. Bulgarian ethnos predominates in the region as a whole (69.2% of the total population). The population of the Turkish ethnic group represents 22.8% of the total and the Roma population accounts for 5.8%.

   Employment rate: At 48.4%, the activity rate in the region is equal to the national average (in 2002). Some 14.4% of the country's labour force is resident in this region. Overall, the region’s main indicators are close to average. The employment rate demonstrates a trend towards permanent slight increase for the region as a whole for the period after 2000. But generally it is lower than the national average (40.2% in 2003). The highest employment rate has been recorded for Varna District (46%), which is above the national average (42.4%) and above the regional average. The values for the employment rate of all the other districts are below the national and the regional average.

   Unemployment rate: The unemployment rate, 22.7% in 2002, is higher than the national average of 16.8%. It has followed the national tendency to increase since 1995, as during the transition period many workers were laid off from the industrial sector. The decrease in employment in market services also contributes to this negative trend. The long-term unemployment rate has also followed a downward trend since 1995, reaching 49.8% in 1998. Although this figure is the lowest among the regions, its high level reveals the lack of job opportunities both in the region and in Bulgaria as a whole.

   Distribution of employment: Agriculture plays an important role in terms of the employment structure, employing 33% of the labour force (in 2000) against 26% nationally. Furthermore, the number of employees in agriculture is substantially greater than that in industry. A peculiarity of the employment structure here and in the neighbouring South-East region is the low level of employment in industry. There is a high employment rate in market services, mainly due to the strong tourist sector along the Black Sea coast. The number of those employed in the enterprises from the non-financial sector is 15.4% of the national total.

   Industry: Industry in the Northeastern Region is a mixture of big and small companies, operating on a broad (diversified) base. Foodstuffs production, beverages, tobacco products, chemicals, and fibre are of predominant importance. Machine-tools engineering, including vehicles manufacture, textile and clothing industries, and the construction sector are other important directions in the development of the region. The industrial sector as a whole is characterized by a high degree of concentration in the district centers and in the Varna-Devnya-Beloslav industrial agglomeration.

   GDP: The region ranks second in terms of contribution to the national GDP. During the period 1999-2003 the rates of growth of the regional GDP were close to the national average. Above all, the region’s contribution to the national GDP is a relatively constant value (between 14 and 15%).

   Development of the regional economy: A strongly developed agricultural sector is the region's major advantage. In particular, the crop production flourishes due to the favourable climate and the region's vast plains. Gross value added (GVA) from the region's agricultural sector to the national economy is second highest after the South-Central region (in 2002, it was equal to 21.8% of national GVA of the agricultural sector). Overall, the output from crop production has turned the region into the country's breadbasket. Black soil in Ludogorie and the Dobrudja plain is the most fertile soil in the region, as large quantities of crops are grown here. In addition, the region has the largest share of arable land amongst the six regions, accounting for 51.1% of its total area in 2002.

   Infrastructure and urban development: The region's geographic location is one of the major assets, reflecting its good transport links and the opportunities it offers for future economic growth. With access to both the Danube River and the Black Sea, this should strengthen the region's role as a geopolitical centre connecting the country with central Asia and with countries in the Black Sea region. Furthermore, parts of the 7th European traffic corridor cross the region along the Danube River, which is an important link to North-eastern Europe. The advantages of the Northeastern Region are clearly evident at the background of the prospects for an ever more intensive use of water transport as a more energy-efficient and especially environmentally-friendly transport mode. The Northeastern Region also has a well-established road network. The relative share of highways and Class A roads accounts for 20% of the national total. The best values for the indicators related to development of the communications system are those of Varna and Dobrich districts. The region has limited water resources. The rivers in Ludogorie and Dobrudja, used for household water supply, frequently dry up in the summer. That is why the Fishek, Ticha, and Konevo artificial lakes, built on the Kamchia River, are very important for the water supply in the region. The shortage of water is also compensated for by underground water deposits. The mineral water, pumped at the thermal springs at Provadia and Devnya, is also an important natural resource.

   Environment: One of the region's major drawbacks is the substantial environmental damage that has been caused. The situation in the region of Varna is of particular concern due to the concentration of chemical enterprises here. The active tourist season also has a negative impact on ecological conditions. However, a tangible reduction of harmful emission in the atmospheric air has been observed in recent years. This is due mainly to the reduced production activities and as a result of the undertaken actions for mitigating pollution.

   Protected territories and landmarks: The archeological relics, such as the Thracian tomb at Sveshtari (in the region of Targovishte), the Madara horseman (Shumen), and the necropolis in Varna are UNESCO world heritage sites. On the territory of the region are situated still operating churches of the 17th – 18th century with unique murals. The cultural and historical heritage of the region possesses good opportunities for socialization and active incorporation in the modern life of the population. One of these opportunities is connected with the intensive development of tourism in the region. Especially advantageous are the resorts situated on the Black Sea.

The region ranks on the second place in the country in terms of volume of accumulated direct foreign investments (12.8%). This volume demonstrates significant increase during the recent several years. The predominant share of direct foreign investments (above 65%) has been effected on the area of Varna District. The rest of the districts lag significantly behind. The absence of key investments (although such investments are beginning to emerge and Targovishte Municipality is one example to that effect) is an important challenge in the development of the region.

Uncles Comment: Unemployment figures are set to hit 65% in this region this month.This reflects not just the world recession but also the totally seasonal nature of employment on the coast.The tourist trade takes the lions share of the economy here and November till April are bleak months employment wise.

A bit of Bulgarian History for you


Bulgaria marks over the weekend the 156 anniversary since the birth of one of the country’s most important political figures, Stefan Stambolov.
Wreaths were laid at Stambolov’s monuments in his native city of Veliko Tarnovo and in the capital Sofia. Bulgaria’s new Defense Minister, Anyu Angelov, the Director of the History Institute at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Prof. Georgi Markov, other scholars and many citizens attended Saturday the ceremony in Sofia.
Bulgarian politician Stefan Stambolov is considered one of the most important statesmen in the country’s history, and one of the "Founders of Modern Bulgaria" often referred to as "the Bulgarian Bismarck".
Stambolov was born on January 31, 1854 in Veliko Turnovo. His education began there, but in 1870 he left for Odessa to study at the Odessa Seminary. He was expelled in 1872 for ties with Russian revolutionaries.
Stambolov's father took part in the plotting of an uprising against the Ottoman rule, known as "Velchova Zavera" (1835), so he grew up among revolutionaries like Hristo Ivanov "Knigovezetza", father Mathei Preobrazhenski - Mitkaloto, Hristo Karaminkov "Buneto". Stambolov took part in all activities aimed at political independence in the 1870s such as joining the Bulgarian Revolutionary Central Committee (BRCC). After the death of the founder of the BRCC Vassil Levski, Stambolov was chosen as his successor. He was the leader of the unsuccessful uprising in Stara Zagora (1875) and the Turnovo revolutionary committee in the Great Uprising of April (1876).
In 1875, together with one of Bulgaria’s greatest poets, Hristo Botev, Stambolov published the poetry book known as “Songs and Poems.” He married Piloxena Stancheva in 1888 and they had four children.
Stambolov was a prime figure during the political discussions between Liberals and Conservatives at the time of the first Bulgarian parliament - "The Founding Great Assembly" in 1879. In 1880 he became the Deputy Speaker and later Speaker of the Bulgarian Parliament.
From 1887 until 1894, Stambolov was Prime Minister of Bulgaria and by supporting the “Plovdiv Coup” he helped the 1885 Union of the Principality of Bulgaria and Eastern Rumelia.
In 1886, when pro-Russian officers staged a coup d'état against Prince Alexander Battenberg, Stambolov firmly opposed the move and was instrumental in ousting its organizers. Battenberg, however, could not remain on the throne without the approval of the Russian Emperor and had to leave the country.
Stambolov was known for his anti-Russian leaning and counteracted Russia's numerous attempts to overthrow the Bulgarian government. He confronted Battenberg’s successor Ferdinand Prince Saxe-Coburg Gotha, who wanted to secure his power by Russia’s diplomatic support.
Stefan Stambolov was Chief Regent for the Bulgarian throne twice - during the self-imposed exile of Battenberg between August 28, 1886 and September 3, 1886, and during the vacancy of the throne between September 7, 1886 and August 14, 1887 following Battenberg’s abdication.
Stambolov's style of governing during the period of his regency was observed as being increasingly authoritative while his efforts to preserve Bulgaria's independence against Russian influence earned him many political enemies such a Russophiles and Ferdinand himself, who saw the PM as an obstacle to his power. As a result, Stambolov was put under a tremendous amount of stress, which led to his becoming overly suspicious of his surroundings and distant from his allies, and to his resignation as PM in 1894.
In July 1895, Stambolov’s carriage, where he traveled along with his bodyguard and a friend, was stopped by three Macedonians, hired to kill the politician as revenge for the death of Kosta Panitsa – a former friend and follower of Stambolov, who, reportedly on directions from Russia, attempted unsuccessfully to assassinate Ferdinand and was later executed. Stambolov was savagely attacked with a gun and knifes and suffered many cuts on the head and hands and a fractured skull. He died at his home during that same night.
Stambolov’s rule and politics are marked by intense lawmaking and work to secure Bulgaria’s economic independence and to overcome Bulgaria’s delayed development in many sectors. Stambolov is credited as the father of the State’s protectionism of Bulgaria’s economy. During his cabinet term, he lays the foundations of the processes that turn Bulgaria in the most dynamically developing Balkan country.