Bulgaria Min Snubs Calls to Resign over Vulgar Expletive

Domestic | September 3, 2010, Friday // 14:42|  views

Bozhidar Dimitrov, who was born in Sozopol, has been loudly proclaiming the authenticity of the discovery, but in an interview for a local daily he described archaeologists of a more skeptical bent as "fucking colleagues". Photo by BGNES

Bulgaria's diaspora minister, Bozhidar Dimitrov, whose profane expletive at the critics of what are believed to be relics of John the Baptist prompted calls for his resignation, has made it clear he has no intention to quit.

"I will ask the prime minister to forgive me the moment I see him," Dimitrov said in an interview for 24 Hours daily, admitting that he does not plan to submit his resignation because he believes he can turn his ideas into reality.

Dimitrov, who was born in Sozopol, has been loudly proclaiming the authenticity of the discovery, but in an interview for a local daily he described archaeologists of a more skeptical bent as "fucking colleagues" who were simply jealous. He went on to complain that Bulgarians were full of doubt and malice.

"Who says that I don't talk with the prime minister when matters of duty are concerned? Most probably he meant that we don't discuss personal matters, because it is a public secret that we are friends," Dimitrov says further in the interview.

Asked whether the prime minister is not extraordinarily tolerant to his gaffes, Dimitrov answers:

"Well may be he is all too pleased with my work? Why didn't the Bulgarian journalists ask me something about my work, about my successes? Nobody did, although they had a good reason to do so."

In the interview Dimitrov, also a notable historian and director of Bulgaria's National Museum of History, discloses his plans to put a stop to his political career after his term as minister ends and has no ambitions to join another project if it turns out there is no room for him in this one.

"If I can I would go back to the National Museum of History where my post is vacant. I became a member of the government, because I wanted to do something for the Bulgarian citizens, for our fellows across the world."

The remains believed to be John the Baptist, including a skull fragment and a tooth, were uncovered at the end of July during the excavation of a fourth-century monastery on St. Ivan Island, off Bulgaria's Black Sea coast. They were in a sealed reliquary buried next to a tiny urn inscribed with St. John's name and his birth date.

According to excavation leader Professor Kazimir Popkonstantinov the Greek inscription on the tiny sandstone box is a very strong proof that the relics of John the Baptist are genuine, the key clue to their origin.

But the discovery on Sveti Ivan was greeted with strong skepticism by some within Bulgaria's archaeological community.

Much of the criticism has been directed at government minister Bozhidar Dimitrov, whose confident claims about the relics and the box-office draw of Sozopol as a center of religious tourism provoked criticism from leading archaeologists.

In response, Dimitrov appeared to direct an expletive at his critics in an interview with the Dnevnik newspaper, prompting calls for his resignation from opposition politicians. In a subsequent interview with Bulgarian television, Dimitrov denied the expletive had been intended as an insult.

This is the second time that the Bulgarian official has made a faux pas. At the beginning of the year Minister Dimitrov caused an uproar after threatening to block Turkey's application to join the European Union unless it pays out billions of euros in compensation for displaced people.

Prime Minister Boyko Borisov threatened to sack Dimitrov in an attempt to make good in the dispute, which had elicited a high-level rebuke from Turkey.

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Tags: Bozhidar Dimitrov, Sozopol, John the Baptist, Dimitrov


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