Bulgarian Archaeology Scandal Grows as Minister Declines to Apologize

Society » ARCHAEOLOGY | August 9, 2010, Monday // 18:41
Bulgaria: Bulgarian Archaeology Scandal Grows as Minister Declines to Apologize Bulgarian Diaspora Minister Dimitrov (left) has made headlines with his statements after the discovery of the alleged relics of St. John the Baptist. Photo by BGNES

Bulgaria’s Diaspora Minister Bozhidar Dimitrov has made it clear he has no intention of apologizing for a recent statement made after the discover of St. John the Baptist relics in Sozopol that many archaeologists deemed insulting.

“Why, damn it, why, where is all this envy coming from?! This is what I cannot find an explanation with this fucking people, with these fucking colleagues,” the Diaspora Minister and a former Director of the Bulgarian National History Museum, said last week when expressing his indignation that some of the Bulgarian archaeologists had declared the media sensation over the finding of the relics of St. John the Baptist premature.

Later last week he explained he did not mean to insult the Bulgarian people or the Bulgarian archaeologists as a whole but that his words referred to “a group of people calling themselves archaeologists.“

"I am condemning several archaeologists, who had made anonymous statements in the press, and who did not express doubt but, rather, envy and hate for their colleague. I was just defending out colleague Popkonstantinov,” Minister Dimitrov stated last Friday.

His further pejorative statements about the culture of Ancient Thrace contributed to renewing his conflict with leading Bulgarian archaeologist, Prof. Nikolay Ovcharov.

Prof. Totko Stoyanov, head of the Bulgarian Archaeologists’ Association, also expressed indignation over Dimitrov’s comments.

“I have no intention of apologizing to anyone,” the Diaspora Minister told bTV on Monday explaining once again that the Bulgarian word for “fucking” or “damned” that he used did not actually have a pejorative connotation.

He attributed the blowing wide of the scandal with his statement by the media to the lack of news in August when the top state officials are usually on vacation.

“Your colleagues start calling me every year on August 1 and asking me to give them “something.” Everybody is on vacation, the government, the courts, the parliament; the Interior Minister is not chasing the bandits, etc,” Dimitrov stated in his live TV interview.

“I cannot issue an apology to anonymous people. The apologies must be personal. Do you understand. I need to be able to apologize to that man, and that man, and that man. None of them has shown up with specific arguments, and they aren’t able to do that. They are just repeating that we must carry out tests of the relics of St. John the Baptist. What kinds of tests exactly – they never explain!,” he declared attributing once again the criticism by archaeologists through media publications of the discovery of the relics in the town of Sozopol to the envious nature of certain individuals.

“I will cite here a 10th century Arab chronicle which says about the Bulgarians that whenever somebody among them rose above the others, they would come to him, and would say, “You surpassed us, we are not good enough for you, you are good enough only for God.” And they would then hang him,” says Dimitrov who is known as a renown historian.

Dimitrov has pointed out that with the discovery of the holy relics the Bulgarian Black Sea coast should be able to develop as a destination for pilgrims throughout the entire year, not just with the finds in Sozopol but also with the nearby town of Nessebar, which has remains of 44 churches.

Earlier on Monday, Ivaylo Dichev, a culture studies professor at Sofia University, declared that it was unacceptable for a “minister to swear like a trooper.” He went further by suggesting this was part of the style of the present government reminding of the statement of Finance Minister Simeon Djankov who called the members of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences “feudal elders”, and Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov who says the Bulgarian courts are corrupt.

Meanwhile, the MPs from the ruling GERB party from the Burgas District have declared themselves in support of Bozhidar Dimitrov and his statements. Before become a minister last summer, Dimitrov was first elected member of parliament from Burgas from the ruling party. He is a native of the town of Sozopol.

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Tags: Bozhidar Dimitrov, Diaspora Minister, Nikolay Ovcharov, St. John the Baptist, relics, Sozopol, Ancient Thrace, archaeology, archaeologists, Kazimir Popkonstantinov
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