It is precisely these „green“ protests in the City of Lindens which „force the hands“ of Stara Zagora citizens, exerting pressure and influencing the preservationAnother point of view: Green racketeering over Stara Zagora?
29 April 2017, 1:07 p.m.
of Bedechka Park. Almost all the citizens wish to have green areas and most act without reproach, but if we look more closely at the faces of the people involved in the protests for the preservation of Bedechka Park, we can see the same people cropping up, year after year. Mira, Lyubomira and two others. These are the protest faces of Stara Zagora. They walk around the streets and when they see a TV camera they stand in front of it and expain ways of stopping the construction in Bedechka Park.
Some of these faces can be seen at the other protests across the country, organised by the environmentalists .They know that they use their entire arsenal of non-governmental organisations in the non-governmental „environmental“ sector for personal benefit. They are involved with ecology only to line their own pockets, benefiting from the State and European environmental funds through both implementation of projects and environmental racketeering.
In July 2012, the Ministry of Environment and Water redirected BGN 141,703,640 from the Operational Programme Environment to the parks in Bulgaria. Only the former Minister Nona Karadzhova can confirm whether or not these funds were allocated due to the pressure of the green NGOs, says the Nature for People and Regions NGO. The transfer of BGN 141 million for sustainable park management in 2012 is, mildly speaking, inappropriate, because at that time Brussels had already pointed out our major environmental problems.
The Commission had, long ago, given an opinion that air in some parts of Bulgaria is among the most polluted in the EU and emergency measures needed to be taken. An amount of over BGN 60 million of the above BGN 141 million was allocated to the 11 Nature Parks which are directly subordinated to the Executive Forest Agency. Nine of the directorates of these parks participate in the Association of Parks in Bulgaria. This association was established on 28 January 2003 and was chaired by Toma Belev. This person was also an organiser of the protests for Bedechka Park.
The Bulgarian-Swiss Biodiversity Foundation also participated in the allocation of funds. On 25 November 2016, this foundation awarded funds to the Bedechka Park Conservation Campaign, organised by citizens’ group Save Bedechka. The main reason for this was that, in addition to the fact that it preserved successfully Bedechka Park during that year, the citizens’ group integrated into other civil organisations for the protection of green areas from Varna, Plovdiv, and Ruse and started to work on legislative changes for the protection of all urban green areas.
So what exactly connects the environmentalists of Toma Belev and the group of Stara Zagora? Apart from the fact that, several times, representatives of the party participated in the protests in Stara Zagora, they also made official statements in support of the citizens’ group, Preserve Bedechka, sent joint letters to various institutions and Prime Minister Borisov, signing them „Sincerely yours, the people from Save Bedechka, Borislav Sandov, Toma Belev and friends“ and also seemed to have something in common from a political point of view.
Since in the last election the environmentalists won only 0.7 percent of the vote and didn’t have their deposit returned, they have now decided to redirect their policy. In the early parliamentary elections in March, Toma Belev and several of his environmentalists were candidates for Members of Parliament for the party of Hristo Ivanov. And maybe by chance, two of the faces appearing at the protests – Milka Koldamova and Zhivka Aleksandrova – supported Yes, Bulgaria and agitated the environmental conservationists.
Apart from policy change, this affair also smells of money and unsavoury financial claims. At the end of 2013, the ladies from Save Bedechka registered the My e-Municipality Association. The names involved with this association are the same as those from the Bedechka protests. This association created an Electronic platform for communication between the citizens and institutions of Stara Zagora. On 16 January 2014, they signed a Cooperation Agreement with the Municipality of Stara Zagora.
Now we are coming to the most important part. The Municipality of Stara Zagora registered for participation in the competition for ideas of mayors of European cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants announced by the Foundation of the former mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg – Bloomberg Philanthropies. The award of EUR 9 million is distributed between 5 projects, with the best of them winning EUR 5 million. The competition rules also provide for four more prizes of EUR 1 million for the awarded projects.
The My e-Municipality Association insisted that the Municipality of Stara Zagora should apply for participation in the competition with their electronic platform. However, the Municipality team was developing another project. Then the usual disputes arose and dozens of complaints were brought, probably because the requirements for using their project were not met. Regarding Application No 10-21-11 of 6 February 2014, the My e-Municipality Association requested access to public information on „the full text of the project by which Stara Zagora participates in the initiative Challenge for Mayors of Bloomberg Philanthropies Foundation”.
The proceedings against the Municipality of Stara Zagora were initiated based on Application No. 10-21-11 of 6 February 2014, filed by the My e-Municipality Association, with its headquarters and registered office in the city of Stara Zagora. As point 1 thereof requested that the following information should be provided: „The full text of the project by which Stara Zagora participates in the initiative Challenge for Mayors and copies of all payment documents or reference information on the costs which the Municipality of Stara Zagora has made for services directly and indirectly related to the application“.
Accordingly, the provision of this information was denied by the mayor on the grounds that the project was currently being evaluated and such information could not be provided at the time of submission of the application. It was then that the ladies of the protests initiated legal proceedings to obtain the information. They basically put on trial the Municipality of Stara Zagora for which they care so much!
These are the protests for Bedechka Park. They are organised by 3-4 ladies with personal ambitions who wish to receive more attention. Unfortunately, the citizens of Stara Zagora will become their hostages. If the properties of the owners are expropriated, the Municipality of Stara Zagora will have to pay a minimum of BGN 40,000,000.