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Reflections in Europe's mirror

Date: 24.01.2007

Lyubomitr Levchev
Chaotic speculations

Bulgaria's EU accession as part of the latest cautious enlargement wave, caused explicable interest in the country. Through the curious eyes of our new allies and partners we look at ourselves as if seeing our image for the first time.

Only once before, in modern times, the world has shown a similar interest in the Bulgarians and Bulgaria, namely in the second half of the 19th century when after the Russo-Turkish War that was a liberation one for us, when the forgotten Bulgarian state rose from ashes and daringly united and announced independence.

Today, 130 years later, the world rediscovers us again as we emerge after two national catastrophes.

I was once asked in a TV show to comment on the opinion of foreign journalists saying that we, Bulgarians, looked a bit sad and not happy enough even on a historical date like January 1, 2007 when Bulgaria acceded to the EU.

Looking to the West, entering this community, the Bulgarian is not surrounded by old friends waiting for him with an array of sentimental memories.

After the collapse of the Iron Curtain, the Pole is embraced by the Catholic community, to which Poland inviolably belongs. The Pole returns as if from an exile, as a martyr and hero. The Czechs are welcomed in the good old German hostel and the Hungarians have deep-rooted traditions in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Romanians speak a Roman language and write in Latin alphabet.

The Bulgarian is a lonely Cyrillic-scripted, Orthodox Slav.

Today, if we have really destroyed the Iron Curtain, we, the Bulgarians should manage to also fill the historical crack that has been separating the European West and East - the line from the Baltic to the Adriatic, as Winston Churchill drew it in Fulton. This crack split the Roman Empire and gave birth to the Byzantine Empire. This crack separates Christendom into Catholicism and Orthodoxy. This crack stopped the Islamic hordes, Napoleon's great armies, the Third Reich's Wehrmacht and the legendary Red Army. No one can explain this mysterious and insuperable separation. We cannot say we will manage for sure to fill this crack because this crack runs through our souls. To overcome the limitedness of our souls, perhaps this is Bulgarians' contemporary mission.

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