what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

100 years in Sofia

Nothing beats a good storm – when, that is, you are safely ensconced in an attic flat!
For spectacular rolling thunder, Sofia is almost as good as Sirnea, my old house in the Carpathian mountains. And this summer in Sofia has seen a lot of storms…..helped by the majestic Vitosha which towers over the city. Early afternoon, as we came back from some gallery viewings, the sky was beginning dark threats over the mountain but it took until 5pm to hit! Two and more hours later, the car alarms are still sounding... 

The British Embassy is celebrating its 100th anniversary here.
Amazing to imagine it opening in the aftermath of the two Balkan Wars - just as the First World War was starting. I’m no fan of such places – although I needed twice to register my presence within their stuffy walls. First in Uzbekistan 2001 when Al-Queeda gained mountain passes near its capital Tashkent (this was –sadly - before Craig Murray’s time); then in spring 2005 Kyrgyzstan (no Embassy) when there was a revolution and we were given special visas by the Embassy in Kazakhstan - then just across the border.
The encounters with the personnel of both places were very civilized – which is more than I can say for its representation in Bucharest!

But I have to say that the most impressive diplomat I ever met was Klaus Grewlich – then the German Ambassador in Bishkek. He had been the Ambassador in Baku between 2001-04 (I was there from 2002). I was planning a major Conference of its municipalities to mark the end of our 2-year project. He took a special interest in it as the Ambassador of the presiding EU Presidency of 2007 – inviting me first to his office to brief him; and then, on the day, catching me unawares by asking me to take over as Chair in the afternoon when he had to leave. He had demonstrated a superb grasp of the Road Map I was presenting to the Conference.
He became an active academic at various German institutions and wrote an interesting piece (in German) in 2010 on The New Great Game but died, very sadly, in June 2012 I have just discovered.....RIP

But back to the Brits - to mark its 100th anniversary (who knows – it could be the last!), the Sofia Embassy is inviting ex-pats and visitors to contribute to a special blog. I’m now working on my draft – which has to be more on Bulgaria than Sofia

The painting is one from the superb exhibition which the National Gallery of Sofia has put on this summer of Alexander Moutafov's paintings......Hurry - it closes next week........

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