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Catherine Barber » Deputy Head of Mission, Sofia

Affordable growth

Feature image for:  Affordable growth

Fiscal discipline is necessary. That much is clear from the Greek experience, and troubles elsewhere in the Eurozone.  But while the British and Bulgarian governments take tough decisions about public spending, they also need to promote growth.  How to do that with little money to spend? The British Minister for Europe, David Lidington, raised this theme in Sofia yesterday.  He discussed it with President Plevneliev and Foreign Minister Mladenov, and suggested … Read more »Affordable growth

Congratulations Ambassador!

Посланикът на Нейно Величество (БТА)

Many congratulations to Her Majesty’s Ambassador, Jonathan Allen, who presented his credentials to the President of Bulgaria today. It was very moving to hear the Bulgarian and British national anthems played by the ceremonial orchestra – and congratulations to them for doing so in heavy snow! It was an honour for the UK that Jonathan was the first Ambassador to be received by President Plevneliev, just two weeks after … Read more »Congratulations Ambassador!

Happy St Basil’s Day!

Visitors from Amalipe

Children from Amalipe school groups visited the Embassy today to wish us “Happy St Basil’s Day” and “Happy New Year”. You can read about the customs and stories of St Basil, protector and defender of the Roma people, here.      

Snow yes, electricity no

A day's snowfall!

Just back from a weekend in Borovets.  Amazing snowfall – at least 50cm in one day judging by my car! Great skiing on Friday evening, but a major power line came down on Saturday due to the heavy snow, and the electricity was still off when I left today.  Hotels and restaurants coped pretty well in the circumstances, but it was a shame that the lifts couldn’t be run on … Read more »Snow yes, electricity no

Looking back, looking forward

January is my favourite month.  Not just because my birthday falls in it, but because it has a fresh feel.  The excesses of Christmas are past.  Days are getting longer. One can reflect on the past and make good resolutions for the new year. This week there’ve been several interesting commentaries on Bulgaria’s five year anniversary as an EU member.  Congratulations Bulgaria!  Soon you will feel like “old hands” and be … Read more »Looking back, looking forward

Doing Business in Bulgaria

BBCC chairman Bill Drysdale introduces Borislav Stefanov

“Commercial diplomacy” is the mantra of British diplomats these days.  Embassies have always had busy trade and investment teams, but the current government expects all diplomats to promote UK plc.  Especially with today’s chilly climate, we have to do all we can for the British economy. This year I’ve been particularly keen to support the British-Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce.  It “relaunched” itself recently, bringing its centre of gravity back to Sofia … Read more »Doing Business in Bulgaria

Preventing meltdown

This week, world politicians meet to discuss a global economic crisis.  Their negotiations will be tense.  Bigger economies will be blamed for the crisis, and asked to sort it out.  The politicians will know the urgency of the problem, but will worry about taking measures that could be unpopular at home.  The prosperity of Europe and the world will depend on their decisions. This week the UK Met Office published … Read more »Preventing meltdown

The Future of Europe

“Members of Parliament – Government, Opposition – I would like to open today’s debate: ‘This House believes in the Future of Europe’”. With these words I opened Bulgaria’s national debating finals today.  Conducted in British parliamentary style, with speeches from the Government and Opposition, and many challenges from one side to the other, this student competition was very fittingly held in the British Residence. The “Government” launched the debate by … Read more »The Future of Europe

Bulgaria: financial stability

People often ask me what I really write about Bulgaria in my reports to London.  This is accompanied by a knowing look, and the implication that I say different things in public and in private.  Such a response is especially common if I say something positive about Bulgaria. In fact I am genuinely quite positive about Bulgaria’s prospects.  This month I’ve been asked frequently for my views on the financial … Read more »Bulgaria: financial stability

A week of defence

I read a biography of Ataturk and Balkan military history this weekend. This proved an appropriate start to a week dominated (for me) by defence-related issues. On 8 November, I spoke about NATO’s role in Libya at a conference organised by the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria. My panel included the new Libyan Ambassador and Bulgaria’s Chief of Defence, so I was in very expert company. Our conclusion was that NATO’s … Read more »A week of defence