Analysis 10 Jan 18

Corruption Rows Blight Start to Bulgaria’s EU Presidency

While Bulgaria sees the EU Presidency as a chance to transform the country’s image, a wave of critical foreign media reports – focusing on corruption – suggests this will be much harder than Sofia expected.

Mariya Cheresheva
Members of the Bulgarian government with prime minister Boyko Borissov at a meeting at the main venue of the Bulgarian EU Presidency. Photo: Bulgarian EU Presidency press service

“You can’t help falling in love with her at first sight,” a promotional video for Bulgaria’s first six-month presidency of the EU, which started on January 1, sighs, optimistically.

The four-minute clip features two young acting stars, Boyko Krastanov and Lorina Kamburova, who meet in a train and fall in love with each other – and with Bulgaria’s beautiful landscape and charming customs at the same time.This clip conveys a message to potential visitors, investors and world leaders alike – whose attention will hopefully be more focused on this Balkan state in the next half a year – that Bulgaria is Europe’s “hidden jewel” – an oasis of wild nature, good food, fast internet, political stability and fresh opportunities.

A day before the Bulgarian Presidency’s official launch in Sofia on Thursday, however, some foreign media seemed determined to view Bulgaria through less rosy spectacles.

A number of prominent European media outlets published detailed news reports focusing on Bulgaria’s problems with corruption, poverty and organized crime, rather than on its great landscapes, flower meadows, delicious food and culture.

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