Bulgaria takes EU's helm
The President of the European Council Donald Tusk chose a verse by one of Bulgaria's greatest poets, dedicated to the love for the fatherland, to start his speech during the official opening ceremony for the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU. Tusk gave his speech in Bulgarian, which brought to their feet the Bulgarian and EU political elite in attendance during the event held on 11 January at the National Theatre in Sofia. “As a Pole, I understand well how much work, courage and determination it cost you, Bulgarians, to achieve European success for your fatherland. No one gave you anything for free,” he said. “We would all like it if the present and future of the Balkans were less like dramatic screenplays.
Testing next long-term budget goals against EU added value
Maria Koleva, Brussels
The design of the next EU long-term budget post-2020 is one of the pressing topics in the Commission programme for this year. On Wednesday, at its first for 2018 meeting, the College of Commissioners held the first orientation debate on the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF).
UK risks tensions in appeal to Germany
Two top British ministers risked fresh tensions with Brussels last Wednesday by reaching out directly to Germany with a call for a new trade and economic model of cooperation with Berlin and the EU as Brexit talks enter a critical phase, news wires reported.
Faster progress in removing illegal content online eyed
Maria Koleva, Brussels
Online platforms have the responsibility to provide a secure environment for their users, and they have been removing more illegal content than ever before showing that self-regulation can work, but regulation remains an option, said EC Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip.
It's now or never
Giles Merritt, Shada Islam
This is the year when Jean-Claude Juncker's ‘Last Chance’ Commission must chalk up worthwhile achievements and shake off the sense of inertia that already risks turning into full retreat. The theatrics of Brexit overshadowed much of 2017, but with the UK-EU relationship hopefully relegated to the intricacies of behind-closed-doors trade negotiations, the Union should focus public attention on key topics that will determine the European elections of mid-2019. It may be tempting to hand over the keys to Europe’s future to French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Debunking the 'Peevski' myths
Lyubomira Budakova, Natalia Radoslavova
Oligarchs, members of a unique club because of ongoing court cases against them and ownership of struggling businesses, have been trying to undermine the state for the past several years. To facilitate their propaganda attacks, Ivo Prokopiev, Sasho Donchev, Ognyan Donev and Tsvetan Vassilev even created their very own Fake News Factory, whose members are spewing the same talking points and slandering statements as if produced on a conveyer belt.
Greece, Macedonia melt ice
Greece and Macedonia agreed last Tuesday to make a renewed effort to settle a dispute over the latter's name which has been dragging on for decades and holding up its aspirations of joining the EU, news wires reported. In the last years, Athens has repeatedly blocked the ex-Yugoslav republic's attempts to join NATO and has put obstacles to its EU membership bid, because it says the name Macedonia implies a territorial claim over Greece's own northerly region of that name.
Iran arrests dozens linked to protests
Iran says it has arrested dozens on suspicion of “terrorist activities” during a recent wave of protests. The official IRNA news agency on 10 January carried a statement from the Intelligence Ministry saying security forces confiscated arms and explosives from “safe houses” kept by the detainees.
Emerging markets to drive 2018 growth
The global economy is set to expand by 3.1% in 2018, slightly up from 3% last year and marking the first year since the 2008 Great Recession that it will near or achieve full growth potential, the World Bank said on 9 January. In an update of its twice-yearly economic report, the Bank however warned that the economic upswing this year was temporary, unless governments adopted policies that would focus on increasing workforce participation. The pace of world growth was expected to moderate to 3% in 2019 and 2.9% in 2020, it said.
France woos China amid concerns over its power
French President Emmanuel Macron crowned his visit to Beijing last week with several business deals but also pleaded for European unity in the face of China's growing economic power, news wires reported. The French leader launched last Monday his charm offensive in the Asian giant amid growing international concerns over Chinese expansionism.
CES 2018 bets on artificial intellect
A wide range of cool new products was presented last week at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2018 in Las Vegas, which ran from 9 to 12 January, in attempt to provide a taste of the future, news wires reported.
La Scala stars shine in Sofia
The legendary opera singer Katia Ricciarelli and tenor Francesco Zingariello are set to present a spectacular music show on 14 April in Hall 1 of the National Palace of Culture in Sofia. The concert is entitled With Music in the Heart and tickets are already available. The Sofia programme of the two La Scala superstars features about 20 emblematic and beloved opera arias and popular songs such as Lascia ch'io pianga - a famous soprano aria by George Handel, Ah la paterna mano - Macduff's aria in the opera Macbeth by Giuseppe Verdi.
We should love others as we love ourselves
Full of work. I travelled all around the country with my latest monodrama Black Chicken based on three “wild” stories by Nikolay Haytov. I received the Chudomir Award for it in Kazanlak.
Best art biennials
The year is shaping up to be interesting for art lovers and travellers. The 10th Liverpool Biennial: Beautiful World, Where Are You? will take place from 14 July until 28 October and its venues include Tate Liverpool.
New life for Iron Church
After six years of repairs, the end of 2017 saw the conclusion of the complete restoration of the Bulgarian Orthodox church St. Stephen in Istanbul, also known as the Iron Church.