The Doner Kebab as the Pinnacle of Bulgarian Diplomacy
Bulgarian Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, accompanied by several cabinet members just concluded his first official visit to Japan, in a "serious" attempt to "polish" the tarnished image of Bulgarian diplomacy after recent revelations our Embassies are swarming with agents and collaborators of the former Communist State Security.
Several events highlighted the visit turning it into a mixture of the movie "Mission London" and the 19th century story of prominent Bulgarian writer Aleko Konstantinov about the travels abroad of his famous character Bay Ganyo - the petty rose oil dealer who later turned into a big-time politician.
On the first day of the trip, Borisov missed the scheduled visit to the statue of the Great Buddha in Karakura. The 3 ministers, included in the delegation, represented him.
In the aftermath, the PM nonchalantly explained this meddling with the official agenda by oversleeping due to jetlag, and assuaged inquiring reporters the skipped visit was not a big loss since "he had seen similar temples many times."
(US President Barack Obama recently paid an homage visit to this same statue, saying it brought back memories from his first trip to Kamakura and Japan when he was 6-years old.)
The second day of the visit ended with a karate demonstration. Enticed by the show, Borisov, who has a black belt in karate and is the chairman of the Bulgarian Karate Federation, decided to display his own skills by using Agriculture Minister, Miroslav Naydenov, as a sparring partner. On the backdrop of the stunned Japanese, the improvised karate face-off ended with the Minister sprawling on the floor with one less button on his jacket.
To this we might add Borisov's startling decision to announce from Japan a brand new deadline for the introduction of the full smoking ban in Bulgaria (obviously prompted by Tokyo's outdoors and indoors ban on cigarettes); his attempts to speak Japanese, and the smashing of Japanese sake kegs in the company of Bulgarian star sumo wrestler Kotooshu.
The crowning of Borisov's diplomatic skills came with his comments on the tragic events at the Moscow "Domodedovo" airport, where an explosion killed 35 people and injured 130.
When asked if, in the light of these events, security at Bulgarian airports has been upped, the PM declared that even in States with much stronger secret services such things happen and nothing can prevent them – a frank admission of Bulgarian authorities' forlorn of guaranteeing the safety and the security of the country's citizens.
"Bulgaria is under no threat of terrorist attacks over its balanced foreign policy and good relations with the Arab world. We maintain friendly relations with Palestine, with all Arab countries. The Arab world is doing business in Bulgaria; there is a doner kebab on every street corner," the PM said to assuage fears of an attack on Bulgaria.
The other blunders could be attributed by the reserved Japanese and the international community to the peculiarities of Bulgarian culture. This statement is a gaffe.
If this was joke, it was a cynical one, considering the Russian tragedy; if Borisov was serious, then one might conclude that for Bulgaria's leader:
1. Being Arab, (not even a radical Islamist), equals being a terrorist. No one had claimed responsibility for the attack, but he assumed it was the deed of people from the Middle East.
2. Russia has bad relations with the Arab world.
3. Other countries have no idea how to execute a balanced foreign policy.
4. Doner kebab kiosks on every street corner are a strong national security guarantee. (I don't know about Russia, but there are certainly plenty of such stands in the US.)
4. The doner kebab is the top achievement of Arab business and entrepreneurship.
Obviously Borisov has no idea about the meaning of racial profiling and political incorrectness.
On the other hand side, after the Formula 1 scandal with Abu Dhabi flare and this latest doner kebab discourse, it would be amazing to see a single, serious Middle East investor setting foot in Bulgaria.
Hopefully, they will never know. The Prime Minister's talk so far had not triggered much reaction abroad – could it be because our international partners have begun to dismiss what he says as irrelevant and worthless?
In Japan, Borisov not only surpassed himself, he truly reached the "height" of former American President George W. Bush. Nevertheless, the latter still served two terms in office in a country with a much stronger civil society than Bulgaria.
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