Part of this disorganisation comes from the fact that there is still a strong feeling among the country’s 8

9 million inhabitants that the state can and should look after unwanted children in state-run homes – a legacy of communist times. Unwanted children proved to be a loose and open category. In the past, such homes led to horrific media reports on the conditions inside – they are often tucked away from society’s eye and little or no contact with the outside world. Officials in the justice ministry admit that there are still homes where government inspectors have had little access. But as with the rest of Bulgaria – change is coming, albeit slowly, here too. In another high-rise part of the city, the Soviet title Nadezhda («Hope») is not altogether misplaced. Assen Zlatarov, a home to some 100 children from 7-18 years is an open and friendly place using modern psychology methods. It is quite obviously a ‘showcase’ home – but the pragmatic woman who runs the place feels that societal changes in Bulgaria will lead to this being the norm throughout the country. Certainly the children are no different from anywhere else – their biggest dreams are to have a house, own a car, be rich. They ask us about our countries, Europe. This slowly-but-surely attitude is reflected by Bulgaria’s prime minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg. «Society cannot change overnight», he adds that to have joined the EU in 2004 with the other ten mainly central and eastern European countries «would have been very wrong». Source: EU Observer LINK

Tuesday,

These days I often listen to this song from Lonesome Bob – a famous country singer in the USA. Probably because the Bulgarian media keep telling us:

In 2002 in Bulgaria there were 67,038 children born. As a comparison, in 1990, there were 105,180 new born kids. Infant mortality in 2002 was 887 (13.3 per 1 000). Death rates for 2002 – 112,617 (14.3 per 1000). In the year 2002 we have lost 43 000 people because of emigration (official figures, the reality is certainly a lot more). The id coeficient of natural population growth is therfore minus 5.8. Life expectance is . 2002 is the worse year in our modern history they say. You can find the official data here , in Bulgarian of course!

Friday,

I’ve just returned from an extended holiday in the UK with my family. In the middle of it I spent a week visiting my company’s software development partners in Hungary and Bulgaria. Both groups of course mentioned the depreciation of their currencies against the dollar. I agree with your comments about the wisdom of Hungary’s approach, but was most interested by your comments about Bulgaria. I spent three days there earlier this month and did find it significantly more expensive than last year, while still of course quite cheap compared to the West.

I wrote back explaining that he was pleased to see the observation about Hungary, but that he had misunderstood the situation in Bulgaria. The Bulgarian leva is pegged to the euro, and is inevtably rising. Hence the ‘expensive’ comment. What is even more preoccupying is the fact that this peg is being sponsored by the IMF and encouraged by the EU. All this sounds awfully reminiscent of Argentina to me. Why cannot they learn the simple message that it is not appropriate for a relatively small economy to have a fixed peg with a much larger neighbour (and this of course also applies to Spain Greece and Portugal who are inside the euro), especially when that neigbours currency may be subject to relatively violent fluctuations which will reflect no underlying fundamentals in the small best title loans in DE neighbour. Now back to John’s second mail:

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