Boyko Borisov

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.