LEA COHEN PROMOTES BULGARIA THROUGH ART IN SWITZERLAND

Novinite Insider » INTERVIEW | June 7, 2002, Friday // 00:00| Views: | Comments: 0
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The art festival "Bulgarian Days," promoting the unique Bulgarian culture, took place from May 23 till June 4 in the Swiss town of La Chaux-de-Fonds. The association "Bulgarian seasons" organized the event. The President of the foundation Mrs. Lea Cohen-Augsburger, also former Bulgaria's ambassador to Belgium and Switzerland, was the main initiator of the event. A professional pianist,Mrs. Lea Cohen-Augsburger entered the Bulgarian political life in the early 80s. Currently Lea Cohen-Augsburger lives in the Swiss town but still devotes her time on work, aiming to promote Bulgaria.

Mrs. Lea Cohen-Augsburger answered questions of Martina Iovcheva.

Q: How did you decide to set up the association "Bulgarian seasons"?

A: I set up the association together with other Bulgarians and Swiss (one of them is Mrs. Boryana Statkova from Geneve) in the autumn of 2001 when Minister Mihaylova forcibly took my mandate away and later I did not receive a new proposal for appointment in the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry by Minister Passy. I decided that a person could work for one's country without an ambassador's mandate.

Q: Which was the event in the framework of the festival "Bulgarian days" that was of greatest interest?

A: The festival itself, organized by a private association with huge support of powerful Bulgarian media like the Bulgarian National Television, the daily "24 Hours" and the TV show "Oh, these muzzles"* attracted interest. Their participation was not only symbolic but quite a powerful one since they took part both in the selection and the realization of the project. Each night we offered a certain surprise or a new finding to the audience - we began with the exhibitions of two well-known artists - Nikolai Karanfilov and Boyko Mitkov, afterwards we had an exhibition of the avanguardist Pravdoliub Ivanov. We closed with an evening of the Bulgarian cuisine, for which our artists have prepared special "installations". There were a lot of delicious meals also.

Q: Do you plan to organize other similar events in the future?

A: We already received a proposal to realize a new Bulgarian cultural project, so the work continues. We think to improve the musical and theatre part of the festival. This year, we had an entirely Bulgarian performance of the Swiss choir "L'Avenir". This performance as well as the performance of four young virtuosos - Vanya Christova, Vladimir Tchinovsky, Droujeliub Yanakiev and Ivajlo Kovachev was of great interest.

Q: How would you assess the interest in the festival?

A: It wouldn't be modest if I make an assessment, the Swiss assessment is more important. It shows in the Swiss media reports- fourteen big materials (comments, articles, reviews) in the newspapers "Le Matin"; "L'Express", "Courier", etc., a report in the central news program, two reports of the television in Neuchatel, three radio reports were aired. We are pleased. As people said here, for a short period, it was talked more about Bulgaria than about clocks.

Q: What do Swiss people associate Bulgaria with?

Unfortunately, almost with nothing. I am glad that some events in the foreign policy like the Papal visit in Bulgaria had a positive response.

Q: How would you comment the situation in Bulgaria?

A: At the moment Bulgaria is a stable country with clear foreign policy priorities. Such a country is always ready to stand its ground and that is what Bulgaria does now.

Q: Is it difficult for you, who have devoted your life to Bulgaria, to live in another country? What do you miss most in Switzerland?

I am not an emigrant and I will never be. I am staying temporarily in Switzerland, the way I stayed in Belgium and earlier in the Netherlands. When there is a concrete need, I am ready to go immediately back to Bulgaria. Till then, I intend to work for the improvement of the Bulgarian image in Switzerland through culture and art.

* A popular show on the Bulgarian National Television, anchored by journalist Ekaterina Genova.
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