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Elon Musk shocked Bulgaria with a simple tweet

Elon Musk lights up the whole of Bulgaria. Some, from ministers to Internet users, already imagine the richest man in the world stepping on the Bulgarian cliffs of Belogradchik, which overlook the poorest region of the EU. A photo of the impressive fortress under threatening clouds sparked a reaction from Tesla’s cranky boss, SpaceX, and now Twitter in November. “Pretty sure it was in Elden Ring,” he wrote, referring to one of his favorite video games. Unaware of the kind of shockwave he was about to cause in this eastern European country rarely in the limelight. “Dear Elon, this is in Bulgaria. I invite you to visit this place,” began Ilyin Dimitrov, the Minister of Tourism, who was quickly emulated by another member of the government. The politician even assured that he sent the American billionaire “through the Bulgarian” an official request, accompanied by a rhyton, an ancient drinking vessel, testifying to the Thracian civilization, which is the glory of the country.

The chef of an elite restaurant in the village of Stakovtsy, 20 km from Belogradchik, added fuel to the fire by publishing a so-called email from the SpaceX team in connection with the stay of Elon Musk in April 2023. On social media, rumors have awakened the creativity of Internet users. Collages immediately blossomed showing the billionaire in traditional Bulgarian dress or drinking rakia, a popular aperitif. Others worry: “He will come and buy our land,” the woman comments. A frenzy that pleases the author of a photo taken more than five years ago and recently republished. “It is rare that good news from Bulgaria generates such great interest,” says Vladislav Terzisky, welcoming the “wave of reactions, jokes, anecdotes, expressions of national pride.” Regarding Elon Musk’s visit, “I’m quite skeptical, but I have hope in my heart,” the photographer told AFP.

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The fortress is waiting for its “messiah”

Immersed in fog on a cold day at the end of November, the Belogradchik fortress is waiting for its “messiah,” analyst Dimitar Ganev quipped on television. Away from the hustle and bustle of the Internet, a small film crew and a handful of tourists roam the natural site, which stretches over 300 hectares. Sarcasm prevails among the 5500 inhabitants. Like Bulgaria, which was depopulated after the fall of communism, this pretty city has lost half of its inhabitants since 1991. Musk “does what he wants, why not come and see a beautiful place and a poor region,” blowing fifty. Svetoslav Zakhariev, a construction worker, on his return after 16 years of work abroad, is “very annoyed to have found the same misfortune.” More than 40% live below the poverty line in this part of Bulgaria, itself the poorest member of the European Union.

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At City Hall, we dream of real public policy, not ephemeral displays of interest. Already in 2007, the choice of stones in the controversial Seven New Wonders of Nature competition caused a sudden influx of visitors. “They left frustrated with the lack of infrastructure and capacity,” recalls Vice Mayor Rossen Mladenov. “What kind of state is this that is counting on Musk’s tweet in the development of tourism!”, he is outraged. Mayor Boris Nikolov also laments the “lack of a national strategy.” The entrepreneur’s visit “would only have been a three-day miracle had he not invested in tourism.” Elon Musk has so far ignored numerous tweets asking him to confirm his stay or not. But if he has to go to this abandoned region, be careful not to drive a Tesla, given the many potholes and inaccessibility, warns one of the Bulgarian dailies, advising to come instead … on a space shuttle.

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