The Municipal Councilors of Democratic Bulgaria sabotage the revival of the mountain as a tourist heaven for Sofia.

For more than a decade Vitosha has been a money-box for the “greens”. They appropriate millions for projects to allegedly protect the biodiversity in the mountain, attempting to turn it into a reserve. This is why they continue to oppose any attempts to revitalize the mountain as a tourist heaven for Sofia. Now the Rights are joining them, writes Trud. The formations Yes, Bulgaria, Green Movement and Democrats for Strong Bulgaria (DSB) in the coalition Democratic Bulgaria do not want the mountain to be transformed with renovated hotels, cabins, cable cars, ski slopes, paths and shelters because this would prove the unsoundness of their theses. It would become very obvious how, for years on end, they have deliberately obstructed the development of the Nature Park demonstrating false concern. Their hypocritical behavior continued during the pre-election campaign when Borislav Ignatov from Democratic Bulgaria, running for mayor, said that he “will return the mountain to the people.” Still many of the measures proposed by Ignatov are included in the new Management Plan of Vitosha that should have entered into force in 2015. The plan however is still on hold because of the meaningless protests of “the greens” as a part of Democratic Bulgaria. After the local vote the new Municipal Councilors from Democratic Bulgaria demonstrated that they do not want to revitalize Vitosha. Their position in the Municipal Council of Sofia showed that the Greens and the Rights have no intention to work for the revival of the park. And so, the line of behavior of Democratic Bulgaria is clear. They allegedly support the improvement of access to Vitosha and the development of the mountain, but in practice oppose any changes that could lead to that. “The Expert” Democratic Bulgaria introduces the forester Toma Belev as a main “expert” on Vitosha, regardless of his failure as a director of the Nature Park. For 13 years Belev has been pushing the mountain closer to disaster. During that time the insane Management Plan that is still effective today was adopted. The plan is deliberately filled with strict prohibitions that do not allow any development. Belev was assigned at the post in 1999, during the mandate of Ivan Kostov’s government, with the protection of the blue member of parliament Svobodka Stefanova. In 2009 Belev was fired due to “expenditure overruns for fuel”. Subsequently, with the personal support of Sergey Stanishev, he was reinstated. In 2012 a contest for a new director was organized and Toma Belev ranked third. During his long-lasting management nothing happened on Vitosha. Only money was appropriated, allegedly to preserve the biodiversity. One of the striking examples is a procurement contract for the protection of the false medlar and the Apollo butterfly amounting to 1 900 000 BGN. Thousands of levs were allocated to counting and resettling ground squirrels, while the effect of these actions was not demonstrated in any way. In other words, the park was used by Belev and “the ecologists” close to him only for the appropriation of money through activities with rather questionable effects. This is the reason why the Greens and the Rights want to stick to the existing situation. Vitosha must remain a money-box for projects enriching “the ecologists”. Destruction Belev is responsible for the destruction of a large part of the spruce forests for whose protection the park was created in 1934. The windthrow in 2001 fell 60 ha of spruce forest in Bistrishko Branishte. The refusal of Toma Belev and the people close to him to transport the fallen trees, regardless of the warnings of the specialists from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, led to the spread of bark beetles on 1200 ha. As a result, almost all spruce forests on Vitosha have been destroyed. Because of Belev’s management the entire mountain infrastructure – roads, paths, cabins, tea houses, shelters, hotels and cable cars – is ruined and continues to fall apart. Now Democratic Bulgaria has the cheek to present the person responsible for the current state of Vitosha as an expert in his role of Municipal Councilor. This means that the municipal councilors from the coalition will continue to sabotage any attempt for revival of the mountain. Policy The policy of Democratic Bulgaria is to keep the status quo of Vitosha instead of to turn it into a modern place for tourism. Only the formations from the coalition would benefit from the current state of the mountain. While the nature park is with limited access for people Yes, Bulgaria, DSB and the Green Movement will be able to blame someone else for the situation. They will also be able to promise the electorate that they will work hard for change, while they are actually opposing any changes. Meanwhile they will continue to make money from the projects funded with millions and implemented in the inaccessible mountain.