Иван Даракчиев и неговата книга за България
This book is meant to help fill in a huge void that exists in the minds of most Western people, some of whom I’ve met during my life and my travel throughout the world. During the 1980’s and 1990’s I have served as executive for a large US-based multinational and as such I came across many people from various nationalities, whether customers or colleagues and associates. It was always with a great amazement that I discovered, time after time, how little the West Europeans, the North Americans, and in general most people from the other nations as well, knew about my country of origin and my own native folk. Mind you, I have been mostly in touch with the well-educated, good mannered and in general enlightened people, throughout all that time. So, you can imagine my tremendous – and at times seemingly infinite – frustration, after a while, realizing that I had to spend a considerable effort, time and again, in lengthy explanations in order to either dispel some myths and misperceptions or just conduct a condensed course in history, geography, linguistics, arts, culture etc., concerning the Bulgarian nation. Because of the complexity of the Balkan psyche, and the tightly intertwined issues in each and every domain of human interest and activities, the other Balkan nations had to be addressed as well, and that wasn’t easy at all, with those many audiences I’ve had.
The sharply raised of late and now steadily growing interest in Bulgaria, manifested by the multitude of Western companies relocating their operations or just shopping for outsourcing, by the ever increasing tourist flows in the recent years, as well as by retirees – West Europeans and even some Japanese – seeking to relocate to a country with a better climate and a cleaner natural environment, added to the need I felt since more than 20 years now. In the process, the country’s pending ascendance to the European Union just attached a special flavor to it all; now a reality, there are 26 “brother nations” that should benefit from a brief introduction into their new kin’s world.
I do sincerely hope the book is the precise mixture of interdisciplinary information one should absorb in order to get updated without the risk to be overwhelmed by and ultimately lost in the data. In that regard, the information one can get access to from the tourist guides and brochures, encyclopedia, general purpose booklets with data about different countries, etc., is simply omitted here. The same goes for the photographs commonly featuring in above kind of publications. All of the above can be obtained elsewhere as it is readily available in travel guides and popular brochures, including on some web sites that are being supported by governments, small businesses and non-profit organizations. The purpose of this publication is to offer some concise and yet almost-in-depth explanation about the country, its people, its history and its present, even venturing to forecast the likely paths of its future evolution in the near- to mid-term. These are the answers to the most important questions you would ask yourself if willing to get a better understanding of the phenomenon Bulgaria, and implicitly the Balkans as a whole. Many of them will differ sharply from the orthodox views, which have been and are, as you can imagine, politically loaded. Here I just exercise my right of airing freely my opinion, so no restrictions apply; yet my view is typically based on a mountain of hard facts and published data, save for the cases clearly indicated as hypotheses.
In the quest for the truth, especially when judgments about prior views or theories are concerned, I have tried to be as objective as a single person can be; in addition, I have two more advantages compared to all those who wrote on these subjects before me: (i) I am not a specialist in any of the disciplines discussed here, so as an amateur I claim to have a better handle on summarizing things using logic, objectivity, reasonable skills for analysis and synthesis, and (ii) I have used the latest available information: hence, e.g. in the area of history, a multitude of recent archeological and bibliographic findings contributed to completing my views, which prior to that were formed more on the basis of indirect comparisons and intuition. You are welcome to disagree, of course; you can even call me judgmental, which is fine as long as you provide a better explanation of the facts: for the time being I will stick to my own analysis. Obviously, in the overall picture I have the luxury not to be restrained by the currently accepted theories of the official science – a heavy burden for the orderly specialists.
In the process, it became apparent to me that the part on the contemporary Bulgarian society, with its pitiful predicament in the claws of the former Security Services and their Communist Nomenklatura peers, would be even more important to reveal, given the ignorance on the part of the EU citizenry, including their Commissars in Brussels. Hence the relatively large proportion dedicated to that particular, and otherwise tiny, segment of the country’s history.
Finally, I hope you will enjoy the reading and will find it useful in terms of getting a better knowledge about Bulgaria and the Bulgarians. The thing is, if you really plunge into all the material without a prior bias you are bound to emerge with a more comprehensive understanding of most Balkan phenomena and problems. To that end, an extended analysis is being offered which goes beyond the typical Bulgarian exploits, as far as history, culture, collective psyche etc. With regard to the political developments of the recent past and the projection for the near term future, I hope the international observers will draw their conclusions – assuming someone pays attention – before rushing to condemn my reluctance to see any bright side of the prospect that the country would stay for good in the European Union.
While reflecting on the potential usefulness of this work it occurred to me that, sadly, there are young people out there who are of Bulgarian descent but have been raised, grown up and educated abroad hence either illiterate in the language of their predecessors or ignorant about their distant fatherland, or both. Not to mention those who have even been born abroad and perhaps never visited the country. Provided these individuals are conversant in English, the pages hereafter could offer them a condensed course in Bulgaria-related subjects, as a compensation for what they have been missing. Even though originally this did not cross my mind as an utility, it would give me a great pleasure if after going through the stories written here these people would feel a little bit closer to their native folk.
April 2009 Ivan Daraktchiev
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