by Stamen Manolov

Following is an excerpt from the transcript of a government session during which Prime Minister Boyko Borisov described his recent visit to France.

As usual when we quote the prime minister, we render his statements verbatim but with a few notes in square brackets introduced for clarity.

"The economy minister brings in. He is in Paris. Today there is a business forum there and some of our colleagues stayed for it. There is a huge lineup of French companies interested in investing in Bulgaria.

"We were received exceptionally well and amicably by the French president, a Socialist you know, and by Prime Minister Valls, and by the leader of the right wing Sarkozy, who won the local elections. Simply, in all directions Bulgaria enjoys a huge reputation at the moment as a government, for which I thank all of you, the parties that support us.

"Simply, as President Hollande said, you see, I didn't come to Bulgaria for a year because you were not there [in power], but now I will come because otherwise you would have been cross. The people were there and listened.

Boyko Borisov, magnoliaPrime Minister Boyko Borisov poses in front of a magnolia tree in his yard in Bankya, near Sofia. The prime minister posted the photo on his personal Facebook page

"The year-and-a-half that Bulgaria lost [referring to the previous government] was lethal, let me say. A lethal time for Bulgaria, but this way or the other, even with the gesture they [the French] made to Bulgaria, to open the Louvre for our exhibition, I have to tell you there are unique things and there is incredible coverage there.

"Only yesterday, all the biggest exhibitions and museums in the world sent in requests for the masks and the Thracian Treasure to go there, and the way the Louvre arranged it...

"In a perfect way, professor, the whole treasure is being displayed and shows in fact what great culture the Thracians had. Bulgaria as a state lies on three cultures. Four million people will see what is displayed there [at the Louvre]. Not to mention the brochures in Bulgarian, English and French, the books that are being distributed.

"The manager of the Louvre met us and acted as our guide, and said in front of their ministers, the French ministers, who had come for the opening: Look here, this is Mona Lisa, for example, this Thracian treasure is comparable and it cannot be said which is greater.

"At the time this was the dream of Lyudmila Zhivkova [daughter of Communist leader Todor Zhivkov and minister of culture before her death in 1981] – to enter the Louvre and put up an exhibition there, that state at the time, to enter the Louvre. Now this was done for Bulgaria."

"People like Kalfin [now deputy prime minister belonging to Georgi Parvanov's ABV party, a junior coalition partner] who were former foreign ministers and in diplomacy, know that such gestures are not made only because of the good treasure and whatever else they have. These are political decisions by a Socialist government, by the vorleiter of Europe's Socialists, what [German] Chancellor Merkel is for the European People's Party is what President Hollande is for the Socialists."


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