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Bulgaria: President's Gift to Pope Provokes Questions

On May 24, the Day of Bulgarian Education and Culture, and Slavonic Literature Day, the Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev visited the Vatican. At a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI, President Plevneliev presented a huge Easter egg to him, the work of the Bulgarian sculptor Georgi Andreev.

The egg is made of inox steel and is gold-plated, studded with crystal stones (2,000 ruby-red crystals) in the colors of the rainbow, and consists of 11 sections in the form of diamonds, in the middle of which there is an inscribed cross. The egg is 2.3 meters high and weighs 200 kg – and is also engraved with the letters of the Bulgarian alphabet.

No one in the Bulgarian media wrote about the price of this precious gift. Bulgarian netizens, however, responded to the news with many questions.

On his blog, Bulgarian journalist Ivan Bedrov posted a picture of the Pope and the Bulgarian President standing next to the egg, and commented [bg]:

[...] At first glance, the thing is bigger than the President and the Pope combined. A golden cone? No, a Christmas tree? There was an egg, right? A huge “Fabergé” on the gear of an office chair, with an antenna stuck on top of it. But what is inside, will anyone reveal? [...]

In the social media, the gift has become an object of jokes and humor. Here's a small selection:

#Terribly tasteless…

#What does Bulgaria have in common with an egg or Fabergé? What's the message? Maybe that we roost with hens?

#Huge kitsch. Literally.

#Such grandiosity… Looks like the Pope was frightened by the size of the egg.

[...]

#Seriously! Who made it? How much does it cost? Who paid the bill?

[...]

The good news is that the great gift is not paid for with the public funds. The question is what it symbolizes and what exactly Bulgaria is saying to the world with this gift. Because there's no doubt the photo has made an impression around the world. My first association was with Bulgarian weddings where there it is always more impressive to give a huge washing machine as a gift rather than a small picture. In English, this is called “excessive” [...]. Such a gift would be a perfect fit for a visit of Georgi Parvanov [Rosen Plevneliev's predecessor at the President's post] to [Turkmenbashi]‘s successor [...].

Freelance journalist Martin Ivanov wrote this on his blog [bg]:

[...] In the past, the Vatican had tacitly refused to accept an ambassador sent by the [Bulgarian] President. If Plevneliev has decided to do diplomacy through such Kindersurprises, we can only speculate about what he would give to, say, [the German President Joachim Gauck], to [the U.S. President Barack Obama], or to the French President François Hollande. [...]

Journalist Ruslan Yordanov commented in his column [bg] in Pogled.info that the “Vatican ‘Fabergé’ amidst the [strongest earthquake] in our country is a sign that the president has completely lost.”

On Facebook, people are discussing another photo of the Bulgarian President, the Pope and the Egg:

Miguel Blank: I really do not understand why there is a giant fake Fabergé with letters?

Kockata Slavov:‎ I wonder where they got the money from to buy this “ovule”? From the Bulgarian people, no money for children and pensions – but we have money for such things. I can't stand these politicians……………

On the Facebook page “Kvartala.bg,” there was this criticism [bg] of the President's gift:

None of our business…. but Plevneliev gave the Pope a 200 kg egg, on the eve of May 24. The giant gift has been handcrafted for two years by 15 artists. Eheeee, that means that Plevneliev had planned and prepared his gifts before he became President, for the time when he would became President. How prescient, how profound.

In the comment section of the Dnes.bg's article [bg] about the President's gift, one reader commented:

Hopefully, there will remain some living space for the people in the Vatican after the installation of the egg…

On Twitter, there were reactions, too.

@bang_limited wrote [bg]:

Plevneliev – A Kindersurprise of the Bulgarian diplomacy: President Rosen Plevneliev gives a 200 kg egg [...]

@ssstto wrote [bg]:

Plevneliev has given the Pope a giant egg which will hatch Lady Gaga.

@PolinaPaunova wrote [bg]:

Kitsch as national policy. Plevneliev sharp like a school girl….

And a tweet [bg] from HBO Bulgaria:

Is President Plevneliev a fan of Game of Thrones, that he gave the Pope a dragon egg?

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