The Danube may be a busy river but it has also acted as a barrier between Bulgaria and Romania who have had, over the years, a rather strained relationship – not helped by the open conflict during the two Balkan Wars a hundred years ago and the absorption by Romania in 1918 for 22 years of a significant section of Bulgarian territory on the southern banks of the Danube (the Dobrogea area of the North-East).
Although I have visited the city of Dobrich in the heart of that area - and Balcik on the Black Sea which was a famous art colony then for the Bucharest glitterati, I have not yet managed the various settlements which scatter along the eastern Danube banks particularly Silistra (this is one of the paintings in my collection of that city – by one Hristo Danev from 1910)
I was therefore delighted to come across just now a post from a Romanian blogger I admire about Tutrakan and the museum and monument there which mark the battles; the role played by such outsiders as the Germans; and the eventual liberation of the area in 1940. What I particularly appreciated about the post (apart from the photographs and history) was the recognition of the dubious nature of the encroachment in the first place – the author admitting that the visit made him appreciate that this was a bit of Romanian imperialism
Although a lot of Romanians make the journey by road to Varna in the summer, there is, it seems to me, still little love lost between the nations. I do occasionally worry about my Romanian numberplates here!!
I was looking these days at some text about the characteristics of Bulgarians and those who are their neighbours. I was told (by When Cultures Collide) that -
Bulgarians differ considerably from other Slavs in their values and communication style, probably because of their origins. In general they are cooler and more pragmatic than many Slavs, particularly when compared with Serbs. Quiet and soberness are valued; you will see little of the hotheaded discussion or noisy public disputes that are only too common in Belgrade.They do, however, share with other Slavs a widespread feeling of pessimism about national helplessness. In general, Bulgarian values tend to be rural, with homespun virtues, as one might expect from people living in a predominantly agricultural society. Basic values are disciplined/sober; pragmatic/cautious; persistent/stubborn; good organizers; industrious/determined; steady/suspicious but tolerant of foreigners; inventive; highly literate/thorough
Before giving full expression to their feelings or opinions, Bulgarians engage in a series of preliminary encounters, during which they sound out and size up (albeit in a friendly manner) their conversation partners. During this period they are decidedly less flowery or rhetorical in their speech than the Yugoslavs, Romanians or Hungarians. At this stage, it is very difficult to extract opinions oreventual attitudes from them. When this exploratory period has passed, Bulgarians open up to display a modicum of quiet charm and make their requests in a circuitous manner, avoiding confrontation whenever they can. They enjoy conversation—an art for them—but are less prone to exaggeration than South Slavs or other Mediterranean people.
And here's an interesting report which makes the case for a different sort of leadership than that which the modern (and post-modern) world has inflicted on us.