Thursday 24 August 2017

One year later: Sketches of Europe's Northwest

Precisely one year ago I embarked upon one of the most exciting trips in my life. I called it "Sketches of Europe's Northwest" and published something between a photostory and a diary on Facebook, in the context of Brexit. At long last I found the time to compile all Facebook posts and Instagram pictures from the trip in one place and I'm offering them here. It was an unforgettable experience. Maybe it is even better that I am putting this together now, one year later, because it gave me the chance to go over these moments again. Captions are above each image. Click on image for larger version. Enjoy!

Travelling to Paris, France from Sofia International Airport.
19 August 2016 · Sofia

I am off to Paris, Belfast, Bristol and Cornwall on a ten-day trip which I am dubbing #SketchesOfEuropesNorthwest. I am going to cross from the hot, dry, yellow, azure, summery Southeast of the continent to the lush, green, grey, humid and refreshing Northwest. Two diametrically opposed but complementary faces of our cherished common European space - now rattled by a perfect storm of internal and external challenges.

The issue of Brexit cannot but be my silent companion along the way. After all, it is one of the secret reasons for which I chose to head northwest in the midst of an exuberant Balkan summer. Does Paris actually care about Brexit; is it simply gloating or it can’t wait to assume financial powers from London? What about the future of the Good Friday Agreement for Northern Ireland? Do unionists in the country regret voting to remain in the EU, now that there is renewed talk of a united island by nationalists? The Southwest of England: Bristol, home of some of my favourite musicians, massively elected to Remain (62%); nearby Cornwall saw a 56% Leave vote. Why so?

Apart from just exploring novel and long-yearned corners of Auld Europe, the restless type that I am, it is the simple, human answers to the above questions that I will be looking for, in word and in image. Stay tuned!

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.