Sunday, 20 November 2016

DiVino.Taste 2016: The "post-truth"

So it finally came - the sixth issue of the biggest and most admired exhibition of Bulgarian wines: DiVino.Taste. It is almost over now (due to end on Sunday) but I am eager to share impressions and recommendations from my Saturday afternoon visit.

I had a vague plan in my mind on how to approach this year's tasting, given the overwhelming number of wineries and wines to be shown (73 wineries, some 500 wines in total): go for favourite regions - Northwest, Struma Valley, Danube Plain; then go for favourite wineries in the remaining regions - Thracian Lowlands, Sakar, Black Sea. White wines and rosés first, reds on the second tour. Yes but the organisation of the stands was a bit messy, though regions had specific colours assigned to them, so I dived into stand No. 1 and went all the way through 72, skipping wineries (about one-third of them) which did not interest me.

Several conclusions (specific wines listed at the end):

Thursday, 20 October 2016

IRIS publishes second of its kind study on human security threats in Bulgaria

My organisation, the Institute for Regional and International Studies (IRIS), has published today a second of its kind study on human security threats in Bulgaria. It is authored by IRIS′s expert and Sofia University professor Stoycho P. Stoychev and is part of the efforts of the Citizens′ Network for Human Security (cn4hs) for the Balkans and Turkey as part of a project supported by the European Commission. I am author of the introductions in Bulgarian and the English summaries.

This year′s study comprises two parts: a novel, qualitative research component on prostitution and the sexual services market in Bulgaria and the existing threats to human security of the people involved in it, focusing among other things on the changes that have occurred after a similar such study conducted in 2010; and a quantitative research component on the impact which the so-called controlled vote phenomenon in Bulgaria has on human security, building upon a qualitative study on the issue which IRIS’s team implemented in the first phase of the current project (2014).

Please take a look at the announcement on the official IRIS website and find there links to the comprehensive texts in Bulgarian and the English summaries.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Protests and Plenums: Bosnia's Civic Awakening and Youth Participation

Image: Wikimedia Commons ( 

My paper on Bosnia's civil movements in 2012-14, the unique form of direct democracy that ensued - the plenums - and the role of the young in all that is available here. It was written for the book Good Governance and Youth, ed. Dr Melanie Sully, published by the Institute for Go-Governance in Vienna.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

The 4 shames of the Dutch referendum on Ukraine

The Netherlands on Wednesday voted in a consultative (but nevertheless significant and potentially disruptive) referendum on whether the European Union should ratify the Association Agreement with Ukraine. Turnout was 32%, and 64% of those who cast a ballot voted against the Ukraine deal. I have just four points on that:

1) It's not a shame that a 20% radicalised anti-European minority (of those having the right to vote) voted the way it did. It's their right. It's a shame a 80% majority was silent and sleepwalked through this important referendum, letting a weird coalition of populists, radicals and animal rights activists to beat them.

2) It's a shame that the same Association Agreement, for which the 130 of Euromaidan gave their lives in 2013-14, was crossed out with such a maddening levity by the Dutch, founders of the EU and among the greatest proponents of its values.

3) It's a shame that few people in the Netherlands on Wednesday remembered the Malaysian flight MH17 airplane crash over Ukraine on 17 July 2014 which sent hundreds of their kin to their deaths. The Russian BUK missile had been aimed back then, symbolically, at the same EU choice of Ukraine which the Dutch rejected lightheartedly yesterday.

4) And it's a shame that a trade-loving nation as the Netherlands, with a huge tradition of encouraging and exploiting free commerce with the rest of the world for centuries on end, voted against what is essentially a trade and cooperation deal with another European nation.

It's a shame.