Bulgaria today defended a promotional video launching its EU presidency, which has elicited furious calls that it be withdrawn in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault scandal. Titled "You can't help falling in love with her at first sight", the four-minute PR film tells the story of a chance encounter on train between a handsome young foreigner and a Bulgarian woman. "Bulgaria: when you first meet her, you might get the wrong message," the voiceover says as the pair get acquainted and proceed to a breathless tour of Bulgarian landscapes. "Remember here a no might mean yes.
Not that she is trying to confuse you, she is inviting you to get to know her yourself," it says. The video is referring to the west Balkan custom of shaking the head in a way that most of the world would interpret as a no, but in Bulgaria actually means yes. The local quirk is a guidebook staple, but takes a darker turn in the context of the Harvey Weinstein scandal that has made headlines around the world. That scandal had a seismic effect on attitudes toward sexual misconduct following a wave of allegations that movie mogul Weinstein used his powerful position to force sex on dozens of women. "We regret to hear that there has been some misunderstanding about the video," the Bulgarian presidency said on its Twitter account. "It clearly refers to the Bulgarian habit of head-shaking in agreement," it said. The Bulgarian presidency insisted it "is committed to equal opportunities and non-discrimination" and said "this important debate should not be trivialised". Bulgaria's tweet came in response to a call by Greens party MEP Karima Delli to delete the video after it became a source of shock and derision in EU circles. "A no never means yes!" Delli said in a tweet. "This is a basic principle of consent and respect for women. I demand its removal." Former Soviet bloc Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007 and took over its rotating six month presidency at the start of January.
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