Balkans

Tony Barber

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov on June 4, 2012 (PEDRO NUNES/AFP/GettyImages)

After spending an hour today with Boyko Borisov, Bulgaria’s prime minister, I am more convinced than ever that a political career in the Balkans is not for the faint-hearted.

Borisov is a barrel-chested former police chief and bodyguard who holds a black belt in karate. The grip of his handshake is strong enough to convey the confidence of undisputed power and to make you realise that, if it were just a little tighter, you would experience measurable pain. Read more

Tony Barber

Cypriot and EU flags in the city of Nicosia. PATRICK BAZ/AFP/GettyImages

Cypriot and EU flags in the city of Nicosia. Patrick Baz /AFP/GettyImages

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that the Greek crisis is not just financial in nature. It has geopolitical implications that extend beyond whether or not Greece remains in the eurozone.

There is, for example, the potential impact on one of Europe’s longest-running territorial disputes: Cyprus. Whatever events unfold in Greece after next Sunday’s election, the Greek Cypriot-controlled state of Cyprus will continue to be vulnerable because of its financial system’s massive exposure to Greece and because of its decision last year to turn to Russia for a €2.5bn loan. Read more