The signal for the leak was signed by representatives of the Bulgarian non-governmental sector that has been opposing the eco-racketeering in the country for years

Confidential correspondence between the Bulgarian government and the European Commission (EC) has leaked towards organizations from the coalition For Nature in Bulgaria. This is stated in a signal to the future European Public Prosecutor Laura Kövesi made available to the daily newspaper Trud. The “ecologists” are using the information in their campaign against the completion of the Struma Motorway. If our country fails to finish the motorway by 2024, it will have to return European funding amounting to 2 billion BGN. The signal for the leak of confidential information was signed by representatives of the Bulgarian non-governmental sector that have been combatting the eco-racketeering in our country for years. The reason for the letter is a press conference in Sofia held last Friday, September 27, by the association For the Earth and the Green Policy Institute (both organizations are part of the coalition For Nature in Bulgaria – author’s note). The Greens initiate another sabotage against the Struma Motorway During the briefing the only employee at the Institute, Petko Kovachev, announced that “the ecologists” have the application form for the European funding of the Struma Motorway section passing through the Kresna Gorge. Trud was the first to announce that the application form was submitted by the Road Infrastructure Agency on August 9. The EC has not yet officially confirmed if the construction of the last motorway section will be funded. There was a leak of confidential correspondence between the EC and the Bulgarian Government. The information has already been used by Bulgarian “ecologists” in their campaign against the construction of the Struma Motorway. “This is confidential communication between the Bulgarian Government and the EC that is not available to the public,” EC officers commented in front of Trud. They were confident that secret documents from Brussels have been leaking to For Nature in Bulgaria for quite some time. According to informal conversations between the officers, the representatives of the “environmental” association receive regular reports from Silviya Barova who holds an executive position at the Directorate-General for Environment. Before she was hired at this position, Barova headed the private non-governmental organization Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB), a member of the coalition For Nature in Bulgaria. This is how she is connected to people like Petko Kovachev, Andrey Kovachev, Borislav Sandov, Petko Tsvetkov and the Swiss offshore organization World Wildlife Fund (WWF). It is no secret that with the help of Silviya Barova and her husband Boris Barov, both participating in the allocation of funds under the LIFE program of the EC, the “ecologists” have continuous access to information from Brussels not intended for public use. In addition, Barova has assisted the organizations in the coalition For Nature in Bulgaria in obtaining project grants under LIFE in the field of biodiversity, more than 20 million Euros in total. So, the “ecologists” live on European money coming directly from Brussels and use the grants to promote political and lobby interests. Conflict of interest The BSPB connected to Barova is a major beneficiary or a partner in projects under the LIFE program. In 2016 Trud published the financing of all projects that was available to “the environmentalists”. For example, BSPB has received 1 331 254 Euros for a project titled Life for the Burgas Lake. The main activity in the project is the protection of the pelicans whose population has not increased until today. To protect and increase the population of the red-breasted goose, the society has received 1 990 635 Euros from DG Environment of the EC (where Silviya Barova works). For their work in support of the population of the Egyptian vulture BSPB has received 1 312 871 Euros, again under the LIFE program. There are many other projects that have reached the coalition For Nature in Bulgaria through BSPB. For example: The Bulgarian branch of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has access to financing of 2.5 million BGN for planting bushes in several nature parks. Another 2.8 million BGN are allocated to a project with the participation of Green Balkans for counting common kestrels. 800 000 BGN are available to the Fund for Wild Flora and Fauna for counting of lesser kestrels around Kresna. This information has also been included in the signal to the future European Public Prosecutor Laura Kövesi with a request for examination. The reason is a possible conflict of interest. Silviya Barova was director of the BSPB and after she was appointed at DG Environment of the EC millions of Euros were directed specifically to this NGO. Additionally, the signal raises suspicion that Barova provides the local “conservationists” with access to the correspondence between the EC and the Bulgarian authorities concerning the European funding of the Struma Motorway. The “ecologists” use the available data to manipulate the Bulgarian public. Their vilifying campaign has been going on for more than 10 years. The campaign The campaign of The Greens against the passing of the Struma Motorway through the Kresna Gorge intensified in 2017 when the Bulgarian institutions approved the so-called Eastern Variant. According to the project the highway shall pass through the gorge on its way to Greece, while the existing section of international road E-79 will be renovated and broadened. The route to Sofia will be from the east, through the Kresna Gorge. In this way the traffic through the gorge will be reduced by at least 50% and a significant reduction in accidents is expected. At the moment the route through Kresna gorge is among the most dangerous in Bulgaria. For the period 2012 – 2016, on the 15-kilometer stretch through the gorge, 270 serious incidents have occurred with 25 casualties and 119 injured persons. In Bulgaria “the ecologists” managed to postpone the final stage of the construction of Struma Motorway until 2018. Then the court definitively dismissed their appeals as ineffective. Subsequently they focused on dark PR against the project abroad, mainly in Brussels and international media. We remind the readers that the Eastern Variant was selected after the idea for a 16-kilometer tunnel was dismissed. The “ecologists” are lobbying for this mega tunnel but the idea was rejected by specialists. The arguments of the experts are that this is the most active seismic zone in the country. The strongest earthquake in Bulgarian history reaching 7.8 Richter magnitude occurred there in 1904. Another very serious argument against the construction of the tunnel is that the rocks in the region are with elevated natural radioactivity. More than 5 million cubic meters of radioactive rock mass would have to be dug out and deposited in proximity to the construction site, in the habitats of the species, allegedly protected by The Greens. The high cost of the facility is a substantial problem. Its construction requires more than 1 billion Euros, while its maintenance would cost 50 million Euros per year. The estimated construction period is between 6 and 8 years. Lobbying There is another important fact: for more than 10 years the “environmentalists” have been lobbying for the Swiss consortium Amberg to be included in the tunnel construction. It is probably not a coincidence that their leading organization WWF is registered as an offshore institution on the territory of the Swiss Confederation. All of this is described in the signal to Laura Kövesi. Its authors hope that the EC finally has the person who can stop the “eco-racketeering” that is blocking the economic development of Bulgaria.