5 questions with... Kostadinka Kuneva

Get to know Parliament's Buddhist MEP in 5 questions.

1. Which person you have worked with has most inspired you in your career, and how?
This might sound strange, but the one person who has influenced my career more than anyone else is my teacher of Buddhism. In this respect, the Dalai Lama may be the person who has had the most influence on me, more than anyone else. Through him, I learned how to find peace in difficult situations and how to offer love and compassion. My friend Lama Stamatis has also been a great

 

2. What is the smallest change you have made in your political career that has had the biggest positive result?
Perhaps the smallest change is the biggest, in the sense that, a "yes" or a "no" can change your life. Saying "yes" when SYRIZA asked me to run as a candidate for the European Parliament was the start of my political career. That "yes" - even though I had my doubts - mapped out my political route. Until then, I was only a trade unionist.

 

3. Is there anything you have personally achieved or done that would surprise people?
As a result of my commitment to defending workers’ rights, I was the victim of an acid attack in December 2008. No one believed I would survive, or that I would ever be able to speak or see again. But from the very start, I kept telling myself that I would survive, and I did - to the surprise of many.

 

4. What is the most humbling thing you have experienced in your career?
Incessant applause at a Podemos event in Spain. When Podemos Secretary-General Pablo Iglesias announced my name, to my surprise, I saw hundreds of people present, standing and cheering. It was then that I realised how important, in terms of symbolism, my election to the European Parliament was.

 

5. What was the most inspirational and influential book you have read, and why?
I have been hugely influenced by classic Bulgarian poets Chris Botev, Nikola Vaptsarov and Ivan Vazov. Later, I was deeply touched by the Tibetan book of life and death.

 

Want more 5Qs? Check out our chat with Captain Europe.

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