July 15, 2009
I read Mr. Watkinson’s letter to you entitled ‘Settling in Bulgaria‘ and I think I can provide a reasonable insider’s explanation to the reported problem.
As a German who is married to a Bulgarian, I know very well of this problem, which arose shortly before the accession of Bulgaria to the EU and has persisted ever since. I am sorry to have to say that, but these problems are brought upon foreigners mostly by… the foreigners themselves.
Unfortunately, it is most often the case that foreigners who have bought property in Bulgaria (the main reason being to have a cheap holiday there) play the rich big shots in the country. From Mr. Watkinson’s letter, in which he writes, “my family […] are trying to have holidays in Bulgaria, and have bought property there” and “We come out twice per year and spend our money there,” I can deduce that his case falls exactly in this category.
Now, while I do not justify damage of property, my experience shows that incidents of this kind will happen in any country where a foreigner comes twice a year to play the big shot – even in a poor area of London, Liverpool or any other place in the world. Because that is the nature of man – to be jealous of nice things belonging to others. If someone can’t have what you have, they will destroy your property so you do not have it either.
The core of the problem is that there is no integration whatsoever of foreigners into local society where they have bought their property. Foreigners mostly keep to themselves and see the local people as inferior: not even trying to learn a couple of words to communicate with the local people (who were there first!), to understand their culture or to get involved in the local social life.
Naturally, if you do not show respect for others, they will pay you back with the same coin.
A foreigner, and I am speaking from experience, will have much fewer problems if he or she were befriended by the neighbors. This would show them that the foreigner is also interested in them and the village in which the property is owned.
I often ask myself why foreigners who have swimming pools and come to the country only for a week or two do not offer their neighbors the chance to use the pool while they are not there for a vacation, and maybe give the neighbors a little cash present in exchange for watching after the property and making sure everything is OK and stays like this.
Would this little gesture kill them?! Is it not worth making it and avoiding all this trouble and repair costs?
I have no intention to attack anybody personally but this – I would call it misunderstanding – is happening very often and all over the country and it is getting very upsetting that the locals are not being respected but mostly seen as a problem.
We should not forget that we ask foreigners moving to our countries to respect us, our culture, traditions and beliefs. So we should extend the same courtesy to other people, in this particular case the Bulgarian people. And a little respect, friendliness and generosity will go a long way.
Joshua Scheidel-ApostolovAuthor : Andreas