A place where Asiatics and Europeans crossed their paths along centuries.

10 10 2011

I have written a bit about borders in this blog. Most times as a resource for separating countries. But the frontiers have not existed always. As a reflection I would like to show a video of the Bosphorus River (Istanbul).  It may seem like an alien topic for this blog. However, for Bulgarians is time to think about what a border really is.

Long time ago rivers and mountains like for example the Bosphorus or the Alps, were not a barrier for humanity but rather a meeting point. The Bosphorus is a place where Asiatic and Europeans crossed their paths along centuries.

When you are sailing this wonderful river, it is impossible don´t remember “The song of the Pirate” from José Espronceda, obviously if you have heard it before. It was written in another epoch, when the current discussions about the borders would be meaningless. When they had not defined limits between Europe and Asia.

The world has changed a lot, and nevertheless, Bosphorus is still the same river.

Bosphorus from JaviFdezDiaz on Vimeo.


Blagoevgrad City Council has to create more tourist attractions

10 10 2011

In last days we are receiving a large amount of information about the Bulgarian borders problems. With the intention to know how these issues affects to Blagoevgrad economy I visited Fenix Hotel, where I could talk with the manager. He told me closed borders are a big problem for the tourism industry of the city, because it prevents the arrival of foreign tourists.

Since the entry of Bulgaria in the EU there are more customers coming to Fenix Hotel, but his manager recognizes that Blagoevgrad needs to be a little bit cleaner. He defends that the City Council has to create more tourist attractions and invest more money in media advertisements.

He would like to have open borders in Bulgaria but he actually knows that this can bring some problems, as exist with the African immigrants arriving from Greece.  However he thinks it is worth having open borders because it will be very beneficial for the city and his economy.

He doesn´t know too much about Schengen, but he thinks that any change to facilitate the movement of people would be great for the tourism industry in Blagoevgrad.

Listen the whole interview with the Fenix Hotel manager below:

Statement of UN about anti-Roma manifestations in Bulgaria

5 10 2011

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is deeply concerned about the anti-Roma demonstrations in Bulgaria since the 23 of September, when a Roma leader, called Kiril Rashkow was blamed of killing a 19 years old boy. Rupert Colville, the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has issued a statement in which he show concern about an entire community to be targeted for an offence allegedly committed by an individual. It is not the first time that there are problems with Roma community in UE. These kinds of situations, despite being rejected for the European Union institutions, are becoming more usual. For example, about one year ago, French government expelled the Romanian gypsy’s community of France. You can read the hole statement below:

4 October 2011

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville 

Location: Geneva 

Subject: Bulgaria



  We are deeply concerned about the anti-Roma demonstrations that  have  been occurring in Bulgaria  since 23 September, when an  ethnic Bulgarian  youth was run over and killed by a van reportedly  belonging to a local Roma.  The protests continued into this  past weekend, spreading to some 14  towns  across the country.  We regret the death of the young man in the village of Katunitsa. We  hope  that if the driver of the van is culpable, he will be brought to  justice in 
accordance with the law, and that through such a judicial  process, the facts  surrounding the young  man’s death will be clearly  established.
The hate speech that has been fuelling the anti-Roma  protests in Bulgaria is of great concern. It is unacceptable for an entire community to be targeted for  an offence allegedly committed by an individual. We call on Bulgarian authorities at the highest  political level to publicly restate this principle of individual criminal responsibility. The political leadership must take a strong stance against hate speech and ensure that police officers continue to be deployed in sufficient numbers to protect Roma neighbourhoods from threats of retribution and harassment. Recently, anti-Roma demonstrations have also taken place in Hungary and the Czech Republic. In all three countries, political parties with extreme nationalist views have reportedly seized the opportunity to stoke up anti-Roma prejudice. In such an atmosphere, inter-ethnic tensions rise, and Roma risk becoming scapegoats of broader dissatisfaction. Such hostility adds to the challenges which millions of Roma in Europe face in realisation of their economic, social and cultural rights, including education, health and, particularly, employment. We encourage the EU and European States to adopt and implement socially inclusive policies to end the long-standing discrimination against Roma communities in Europe.

Schengen will have to wait

3 10 2011

Finland and Netherlands blocked Sept. 22 the entry of Bulgaria and Romania into the passport-free Schengen area.  Thegoverments of Finland and Netherlands argue that for an efficient entry into Schengen, both countrie
s should improve the judiciary system, fighting corruption and organized crime. The blocked is not definitive; the issue will be discussed again at the EU summit to be held this month.

When Bulgaria and Romania joined to the European Union in 2007, the EU members promised them a place in Schengen. However, some members consider these two countries aren´t ready to open their borders to the rest EU. Jerzy Miller,

Interior Minister of Poland –whose country holds the EU´s rotating presidency,-  have declared that Bulgaria and Romania had made “huge progress”. But it seems there still are not enough improvements, at least that´s the opinion of Finland and Netherlands.

“Imagine you have a door with eight of the best locks in the world. But before that door is standing someone who lets everybody in, then you have a problem,” said Dutch Immigration Minister Gerd Leers.

Most of members support the integration in two phases without preset dates. A first step would involve the opening of air and sea borders. And second, open the land borders.

It´s not the first time European Union have had problems with Schengen area this year. France and Italy tried to limit the freedom to travel inside Europe at the beginning of the year, when a lot of immigrants from Tunisia arrived to the Italian coast.

In the image below you can check the current situation of Schengen area:

I was in one of Bulgarian´s borders last week. Especifically in the frontier with Turkey where you have to pass a lot of controls. It was a really annoying experience.

You can hear below the opinion of Andrej Hocevar, one of the persons who was travelling with me.

“Corruption problems have to be solved by Bulgarian people by themselves”

16 09 2011

Interview with a political science student from the American Univesity in Bulgaria (Blagoevgrad)

Victor is 19 years old and he has just started to study political science. He is optimistic about the entry of Bulgaria in the EU. He maintains that the European grants are properly invested. “Adopt the Euro will be good because it would improve the situation of Bulgaria. It will allow easier trades and travel to other European countries without change money.” he declared. However he is aware that the Euro would raise the prices, but he think it will not a problem if the salaries  also rise.

Victor says that:  “The crisis haven’t really hit Bulgaria, as much that is has hit wealthier countries in the West. Because there are so many investments here”

He says that the Bulgarian government is corrupt as the rest of governments around the world. But he trust in the ability of Bulgarian people to change their own country. “Corruption problems have to be solved by Bulgarian people by themselves, by good people who would stop the corruption” he said.

Finally he thinks thatBulgarianeeds at least 4 or 5 years to assume European government functions: “Bulgariais not trusted as a country without corruption and it would not be a benefit for Bulgaria and the EU”.

Listen the whole interview with Viktor:


2 09 2011

That’s a space to reflect about how the entrance in the EU  is changing Bulgaria. My work will be focused in Blagoevgrad, a small city in the south of the country. I’m going to analyze what are the benefits to enter in EU for Blagoevgrad people.

 My work is going to speak about prices, inflation, migration, roads, infrastructure, financial situation, political changes, improvements… One the most important issue that I want to discuss is how adoption of the Euro could affect the prices. Prices probably will rise. The inflation will also rise. And the living conditions of Blagoevgrad people will be worst. Overcoat if salaries remain equals.

I also want to know how they are investing European subsides, especially in roads and other transports because they will make the country more accessible and more attractive for foreigners.

 I’d like to do it trough of Blagoevgrad people. I want to give them the main voice on my blog. They are going to be my primary source, because nobody better than them can explain de improvements of the EU. They are experiencing these changes on their own.  Very often you would find in this blog their opinions and experiences.  “Blago” and its people will be the primary source

 I also would need to speak with European Union experts for this purpose. I will travel to Sofiaor I will contact experts from Brussels, or other cities which hold institutions in the UE, by e-mail or phone. They will be my secondary source.

As a third source I’ll use institutional information from international associations like NATO, World Trade Organization, United Nations I understand that these sources could be boring for the reader but they also would find the most interesting opinions about Bulgarian issues. They are the most influent associations around the world!

I invite everyone to follow my analysis. Welcome!