Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Bulgaria's "Euronews PD"

Bulgaria - just like many of the countries in the region - has a very complex history and culture, which also reflect upon its current "state". Previously associated with the cradle of Slavonic culture and persistent resistance (whether against the Byzantines or the Ottomans), Bulgaria became the "fruit-&-veggie basket" as well as the top sea resort of the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War. (To be more precise, there were some issues involving shady nuclear projects, secret weapons production/sale, and myopic dictators, too; but for PD's sake, let's put that aside for the moment.)

The 1990s were marred by transition, chaos, and collapse. Yet, despite all the corruption and development-related problems, Bulgaria successfully made it to the EU in 2007. Now, desperately trying to balance out the persisting Russian influence with its primary pro-European (and obviously pro-NATO) orientation, Bulgaria seems to be trying to fall back upon its history as if to prove its European identity.

Here are two short features from Euronews (most probably funded by the government, at least partially) that I came across today, which are perfect examples of this public diplomacy effort: after all, tourism promotion is an integral part of it all. The first one focuses on the capital Sofia and some of the more modern issues that Bulgaria has to deal with:

The following one features Plovdiv, Bulgaria's cultural capital, and certainly focuses on history and culture:

(I strongly recommend watching this second video till the very end - absolutely beautiful!
How I miss the place...)

I can say, well done. After all, diversity and pluralism are at the core of the so-called "European" identity. Although it might take Bulgaria several more decades to reach its much-desired level of performance (be it economic or political), it has almost as much to add to European history and heritage, as it is currently "taking" from it.

And when it comes to public diplomacy - especially in terms of charming the European public - the themes of culture, history, and progress should certainly lead the way. Sofia and Plovdiv might be good places to start. But there are many other gorgeous and noteworthy spots to highlight. Looking forward to seeing more!

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