„7 YEARS IN BULGARIA: SOME REFLECTIONS” Farewell speech by H.E. Steve Williams, ambassador of the united kingdom to Bulgaria

(March 14th 2011, Sheraton Hotel Sofia)

The Atlantic Club of Bulgaria, with the cooperation of the Institute of Cultural Diplomacy of Berlin organized the farewell speech of H.E. Steve Williams, Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Bulgaria, entitled “7 Years in Bulgaria: Some reflections”. The lecture was to commemorate his successful second mandate as an ambassador. In his lecture H.E. Williams drew from his experience as a visiting diplomat during his first visit in 1984 and compared the work and progress Bulgaria has made in that time. The biggest difference between the two periods, in the words of the ambassador, was the fact that the social structure of Bulgarian society had become much more open. The persecution of the state authorities was a thing of the past. Social issues, such as LGBT rights, while still a difficult subject, are not the taboo they once were.

The ambassador outlined key areas in which a lot of work was still needed. The biggest problem that Bulgaria faces currently is the “mutri” culture and the ties organized crime had to the positions of power and authority. H.E. Williams remarked that the current measures of arrest and containment are a step in the right direction but convictions would still be required to convince both the Bulgarian people and foreign observers, that the process is irreversible.

At the conclusion of his speech, the ambassador expressed his desire to return to Bulgaria ten years in the future. In doing so, he painted an optimistic portrait of Bulgarian life in that time, with finished and functioning highways, a smoking ban in public places, cleaner streets and the halt of the construction on the Black Sea coast.

The ambassador finished his lecture with the words “You have a great and beautiful country: look after it carefully!”