To keep you posted on latest developments in Bulgaria, here is up-to-date news reported by Sofia News Agency.

BGN 1.6 billion will Cost the Construction of the Vidin-Sofia Highway

''BGN 1.6 billion will cost the construction of the Vidin-Sofia highway'', Vidin Mayor Ognian Tzenkov said at a press conference.

Tzenkov pointed out that the funds were pledged by a decision of the Council of Ministers approving the medium-term budget forecast for the period 2019-2021.

"Regular meetings with the Road Infrastructure Agency are taking place in connection with the procedures that are underway for the construction of the new route on the Vidin-Sofia highway," said Ognian Tzenkov. He added that if there were no appeals against the procedures and the extension of the time limits, the road Vidin - Sofia should be built by the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022.

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Municipality Officials Want to Pay a Fine Imposed on the Chief Architect of Sofia

213.11 leva - is the amount every municipal councilor should give in order to pay a fine imposed on the chief architect of the city Zdravko Zdravkov. The idea is from the chairman of the Sofia Municipal Council, Elena Gerdjikov, tells bTV.

The sanction imposed by the Supreme Administrative Court to Zdravko Zdravkov is because of a garden. Following a municipal council decision and protests, he refused to allow a construction of a 44-storey skyscraper in its place.

"He has been fined because he has complied with the law and a series of Sofia Council decisions," said Elena Gerdjikov.
Most municipal councilors tend to respond to Gerdjikova's idea and give 200 leva.

But the dispute over the garden is ongoing at the moment, although it is a green area under urban planning, now the place is fenced and can not really be used.

The construction company remind that they had bought the parcel with high-rise building in mind in 2007 and paid 4 million leva.

The Chief Architect was fined because he did not execute a court decision in 2016 in their favor, with which the Sofia Council's decision was declared null and void. 

The construction company is not giving up and whether the municipal councilors will pay the fine of architect Zdravkov in solidarity will be clear on Thursday.

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Film Shooting Changes Urban Mobility in Sofia

A temporary change of urban mobility organization is being introduced in connection with the filming of the film "Fall and Salvation".

This was announced by the press center of Sofia Municipality. It is forbidden to stay and park vehicles, except for the cars of the film crew and outside the paid parking facilities, as follows:

- From 10.00 to 22.00 today and from 10.00 to 13.00 hours 26 April 2018 on 33, Georgi Benkovski Str.

- From 16.00 to 19.00 on April 26, 2018 in front of bl. 1, Dianabad district.

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Ministers Vote on the Amount of University Fees

The government will vote on the amount of application and study fees at state universities for the next academic year.
 
17 universities will probably maintain their current fees. Among them are the medical universities in Sofia and Varna, NATFIZ, the National Sports Academy, UNWE.

16 other schools are subject to an increase in tuition fees. For example, the Sofia University will increase the price of education in the specialties of psychology, law and philology, and at the University of Plovdiv will increase the fees for the specialties Tourism, Economics, Mathematics and Informatics.
 
Fees for some specialties in Sofia University will actually decrease - from 200 to 550 leva will be reduced the amount paid for full-time and part-time training in Physics and specialty Nuclear Chemistry.
 
At today's meeting, the cabinet will also approve additional funds for the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Defense.

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Official Catalog of 2017 Bulgarian Archaeology Exhibition Released by Bulgaria's National Institute and Museum of Archaeology

archaeologyinbulgaria.com -  Bulgaria’s National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia has released the official print catalog for 11th annual “Bulgarian Archaeology" exhibition which has showcased for the first time some of the most intriguing artifacts discovered across the country during the 2017 archaeological season.
The 2017 Bulgarian Archaeology exhibition is open for visitors from February 17 until April 1, 2018, in the National Museum of Archaeology building near the Bulgarian Presidency in downtown Sofia.

The dating range of the archaeological artifacts presented in the exhibition is from the mid-Paleolithic ca. 40,000 BC until the Middle Ages.
The 2017 Bulgarian Archaeology exhibition features some 340 archaeological artifacts in total discovered in 22 archaeological sites across Bulgaria over the 2017 season.

The discoveries from dozens of other archaeological sites from across Bulgaria have been presented in the exhibition with posters.

The official catalog (ISNN 2367-8860; ISBN 978-954-9472-55-4.) of the 2017 Bulgarian Archaeology exhibition is available here.

In addition to the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology, which is a body of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, a total of 17 other museums of archaeology and history from across Bulgaria are co-organizers of the exhibition and have contributed artifacts for its displays.

These are the National Museum of History in Sofia, the Plovdiv Museum of Archaeology, the Blagoevgrad Regional Museum of History, the Veliko Tarnovo Regional Museum of History, the Vidin Regional Museum of History, the Pazardzhik Regional Museum of History, the Museum of Sofia History (Sofia Regional Museum of History), the Shumen Regional Museum of History, the Maritsa East Museum of Archaeology in Radnevo, the Old Nessebar Museum, the Sredets Museum of History, the Belogradchik Museum of History, the Dimitrovgrad Museum of History, the Dryanovo Museum of History, the Petrich Museum of History, the Svilengrad Museum of History, and the Sevlievo Museum of History.

Some of the artifacts on display in the 2017 Bulgarian Archaeology exhibition include:
The nephrite amulet buckle from 14th century China probably brought to Bulgaria by the Mongols (Tatars) which was discovered in the Kaliakra Fortress on the Kaliakra Cape on the Black Sea coast.

Artifacts from the Early Iron Age and Late Roman settlement with a bi-ritual necropolis found in rescue digs near Moshtanets in Southwest Bulgaria;

The marble statue of Egyptian goddess Isis and a satyr’s head discovered at the Roman villa with nymphaeum in Kasnakovo, Southern Bulgaria;

Artifacts from the excavations of the Ancient Roman city of Serdica in downtown Sofia, which include bronze figurines of Dyonisus, Eros, and Cupid;

A Roman Era gold necklace discovered in the ancient city of Heraclea Sintica near Petrich in Southwest Bulgaria;

Encrusted pottery from a Bronze Age necropolis found in Bulgaria’s Danube town of Baley;

Anthropomorphic figurines found in the huge Late Neolithic settlement near Damyanitsa in Southwest Bulgaria.

The 6,500-year-old gold amulet, which easily ranks among the world’s oldest gold artifacts, which has been found in Yunatsite Settlement Mound in Southern Bulgaria;

A well-preserved 5th century BC pottery krater from the Ancient Greek colony of Apollonia Pontica in Bulgaria’s Black Sea town of Sozopol depicting Oedipus and the Sphinx from the Greek mythology;

Paleolithic artifacts from the Bacho Kiro Cave near Dryanovo in Central Bulgaria;

The latests finds from the Nebet Tepe Fortress in the southern Bulgarian city of Plovdiv;

Artifacts from the Provadiya – Solnitsata (“The Salt Pit") prehistoric settlement in Northeast Bulgaria known as Europe’s oldest town.

Among the tens of archaeological research projects to be presented with posters will be the findings of the Black Sea M.A.P. underwater archaeology initiative which has discovered dozens of very well preserved ancient ships in the Bulgarian section of the Black Sea.

Another site to be presented with a poster is the Roman villa estate and ceramics factory where ancient mirror frames have been discovered.

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The New Tiles in front of the National Palace of Culture did not Last Until the End of the European Presidency

The new tiles in front of the National Palace of Culture, placed and repaired before the start of the Bulgarian EU Presidency, did not survive the warm weather and showed a defect that could have a use - they became mini ramps for skateboarders. The tiles have risen, and the reason for this is probably the time.

The pictures of the new "skate ramps" were published in the group "Spotted in Sofia".

"Repairing the repair of the previous repair ... it would have been funny if they did not spend 40 million in two years," wrote the uploader Mladen Manev. The square in front of the National Palace of Culture was repaired by GIP Group, and it was clear from their website that the renovation of the space was worth BGN 2.5 million. Tiles and infrastructure should be under warranty and their repair should be at the expense of the company.

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Over EUR 335 Million is the Export of Bulgarian Furniture in 2017

In 2017, furniture exports exceeded EUR 335 million. The growth trend has been steady over the years, and has grown nearly twice as much compared to 2008. This was announced by Deputy Minister of Economy Alexander Manolev during the biggest forum for the furniture industry in Bulgaria - the exhibitions "Technomebel" and "The World of Furniture".

"Some of the countries in the top 10 for Bulgarian exports are Germany, France, Italy, the United Kingdom and even China," said Alexander Manolev, adding that the Bulgarian business deserves congratulations on the high quality it offers. He also addressed some of the main problems of the sector with the shortage of qualified staff and the fight against the gray sector and emphasized the measures taken by the Ministry of Economy to solve these difficulties.

The production in the sector in 2017 exceeds BGN 919 million and the turnover of the companies is about BGN 1 billion, it became clear during the event. "My wish for you is to never stop updating and always look for new solutions. Just as you have shown that you can do it over the years. We, both through the Operational Program "Innovation and Competitiveness" and through other initiatives of the Ministry, will strive to support you, "Alexander Manolev said to the representatives of the branch.

Within the framework of the exhibitions, the awards were presented in the contest "Bulgarian Furniture of the Year". The International Exhibitions "Technomebel" and "The World of Furniture" are held at Inter Expo Center - Sofia from 24 to 28 April 2018. They enable the end user to see the whole production cycle of a product and the opportunity to participate in b2b meetings with experts from the country and abroad, demonstrations and presentation of new technologies and trends in the field of woodworking.

The last edition of the two exhibitions was attended by 11,000 people from Bulgaria and 30 other countries. There were 184 companies who presented their products and services on a total area of 14 500 sq.m.

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The Sofia District Heating Company Explained the High Heating Bills with the Colder March

There are ,ass complaints from the high heating bills in Sofia in March, reports Mediapool. 

Users are resentful that their invoices are for drastically higher sums than in the colder February and January, although the average temperature in the third month of the year was higher than the previous two. From Toplofikatsia - Sofia explained the higher bills with that March 2018 was colder than the same month in 2017.

The average monthly temperature last month was 6 degrees and in March 2017 - by three degrees higher.

"As a result of the lower temperature in March 2018, the invoiced heat for the month is 527,607 MWh, while in March 2017 368,790 MWh of thermal energy is invoiced to customers," the company said. 

Most heating bills are calculated on the basis of consumption in the same month of the previous year, which is adjusted by a fixed rate. It depends on the difference in monthly temperatures - the bigger it is, the higher the coefficient. This further led to an increase in the bills, explained from Toplofikatsia.

In addition, the price of heating jumped 23% in April last year, and this further increased the difference between the March 2018 and March 2017 bills. From there, they reminded that the actual energy consumed by the customers during the heating season will become clear after the heat meters and the formation of balancing accounts.

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The Bulgarian Euro-Presidency Disappoints the Young People from the EU

Sarantis Michalopoulos | EURACTIV.com

Representatives of the European Youth Forum have expressed outrage at the way the EU Bulgarian Presidency organised an EU-sponsored youth event in Sofia last week, pointing out a perfunctory approach, mismanagement and inappropriate behaviour on the part of government officials.

At the EU Youth Conference organised in Sofia by the Bulgarian EU Presidency on 17-19 April, young people and policymakers met to discuss how to improve the lives of young Europeans.

The EU Youth Conference is the flagship event of the sixth cycle of the Structured Dialogue on Youth, a mass consultative process that aims to bring young people closer to policymakers.

At these youth conferences, which that take place on the occasion of every EU Presidency, youth elected representatives, together with national governments and European Commission officials, discuss and debate youth-related issues and come up with conclusions, which are then submitted to the Council of Ministers – as a way of ensuring that young people can co-shape the policies which affect their lives.

“The future of young people in Europe is one of the priorities of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU,” the Bulgarian Presidency writes on its official website.

But according to Luis Alvarado, the President of the European Youth Forum, what happened in Sofia “was far from that reality, destroying the work of generations before us and disregarding young people at all cost”.

“This conference was an out-of-the-book example of what youth participation is not. Europe is a global example and inspiration for the rest of the world of what is possible when it comes to the empowerment of young people – because we have built it the hard way. And this conference has undermined and put in danger all of this,” Alvarado told EURACTIV.

“There were no young and European elected representatives on any panel of discussion of the conference […] Is this what they mean by fighting for youth empowerment?” Alvarado asked. He added that the Bulgarian government adopted a top-down, perfunctory and condescending approach.

The European Youth Forum chief said there were “plenty of UN officials” at this conference, who “are of course always welcome for inter-institutional coordination” but, in his words, “they don’t follow or contribute to the Structured Dialogue, EU youth policy and the processes currently at stake such as the upcoming new EU Youth Strategy and the progress of the ERASMUS+ budget negotiations”.

He also quoted government representatives from other member states who said that the UN presence was exorbitant for an EU conference and that there was frustration among other EU governments, researchers and youth leaders on how Bulgaria has managed this presidency.

Alvarado pointed out a number of shortcomings in the organisation of the conference, claiming that the Bulgarian Presidency wanted to change every process that was used in the past events of this type.

“The aim of these conferences is to reach out to groups of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. A key instrument to achieve that is to ensure they don’t have to put money from their own pockets to participate”, he said.

Alvarado explained that tor the first time in the history of this process, young people had to buy their flight tickets by themselves – in the past this was done by the relevant national government, given that this expense is covered by European Commission funds. “Young people are worried over their reimbursements and these new practices which put more obstacles”, he said.

Every six months, the EU executive provides the host member state a grant to organise the youth conferences.

“Why was this time different? There were young people who struggled to afford a ticket […] it’s a practical detail but showcases how ‘seriously’ young people are taken,” he added.

Free alcohol, half-naked women

Alvarado complained that free hard alcohol was offered at the conference and that the drinks prevented some of the participants from being in shape for the next morning working session.. More shockingly, he said that even though there was a session during the conference about gender equality and young women empowerment, at night there was a party at which “half-naked” women danced on tables, which he called “unacceptable” and “a clear indication of patriarchal stereotypes being promoted within our Union”. This clearly disturbed many of the young leaders and government representatives, he said.

“It’s outrageous that EU public money has been spent in this way. This is not the EU the young people I represent are fighting for”, Alvarado said.

Navracsics too busy

The President of the European Youth Forum also noted that Tibor Navracsics, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, left after the end of his speech without listening to the policy recommendations of young people.

“He was supposed to take these recommendations into account in terms of the ongoing shaping of the next EU Youth Strategy. Commissioner Navracsics needs to understand that young people of Europe expect much more from him and he needs to deliver. We expect the new EU Youth Goals to be reflected in the next EU Youth Strategy and we expect him to be ambitious and propose an instrumental increase of the ERASMUS+ budget as we have asked in our ERASMUSx10 campaign”.

“It is quite sad that member states are being more ambitious than EU institutions when it comes to the increase of the budget of the most successful EU program in history – we expect more leadership.”

EURACTIV contacted the European Commission for a comment on the issue as well as whether it exists a mechanism to monitor how the EU money is spent in these conferences.

No answer has been provided by the time of this article’s publication.

He also said that young people were frustrated with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, who according to them in his speech, urged young people not to forget their first duty of nature to procreate, using the example of a German minister who has 7 children. “Easy for him who is not part of the first generation that will be worst off than their parents”, commented Alvarado.

In addition, Alvarado noted that following the conference, Bulgarian government officials badmouthed youth representatives on social media, who “dared” to criticise the organisation of the conference. He added:

“They realised their mistake and started deleting their posts.”

Contacted by EURACTIV, Raycho Raychev, Vice-President of the Bulgarian Youth Council, confirmed Alvarado’s claims about the lack of youth participation in the panels, adding that there were also debates without any interaction with the participants.

He also complained that the flight tickets issue caused accessibility difficulties for participants.

Applauding Borissov

But he went a step further: “It is crucial to highlight that the Ministry forced the volunteers to stand up and applaud after our Prime Minister’s speech, also written questions were given by the Ministry to some of the participants for the Citizen dialogue with the Commissioner.”

He noted that the Bulgarian youth council faces the same attitude from the government in its everyday work, as the Ministry of Youth and Sports in Bulgaria excluded it from the planning, co-management and the evaluation process during the Presidency.

“Deaf people were included in the event but and no accessible and inclusive environment was provided to them for the whole time.”

“While the results were concluded till 3 am and the DGs from Estonia and Austria worked hard on them, the Ministry representatives were at the conference party, in a club with female go-go dancers. I could say that the Ministry is having a fancy way to promote our Youth Goal of gender equality.”

What the Bulgarian government says

EURACTIV contacted the Permanent Representation of Bulgaria to the EU for a comment on the issues that were raised.

Regarding the absence of young people in the panels, Spokesperson Elitsa Zlateva stressed that the European Youth Goals, which are the main outcome of the Conference were developed by 11 thematic working groups consisting of young people and representatives of the public authorities in charge of youth policy in EU, Western Balkan and Eastern Partnership countries.

“The President of the National Youth Forum of Bulgaria and the President of the European Youth Forum were actively participating in the entire process.”

“On the first day if the Conference a youth representative was included as speaker together with representatives of the European Commission, Ministry of Youth and Sports, UN in the high-level discussion panel.”

She also referred to a special format of the “Citizens’’ Dialogue” with the participation of the EU Commissioner for EYCS, the Minister of Youth and Sport of Bulgaria and the UNSG’s Special Envoy on Youth (aged 28).

Zlateva also played down the ticketing issues, explaining that there is no mandatory procedure to be followed. “Thus, to provide more flexibility to the youth delegates the Presidency decided to follow the model of reimbursement.”

‘Beyond strictly-EU format’

The Bulgarian Presidency has set up an “ambitious agenda” in the field of youth and decided to put a particular focus on cross-sectorial issues related to the European Youth Strategy priority “Youth and the World”, she said.

“In line with the UNSC Resolution 2250, one of the elements to be included in the draft Council Conclusions in the youth field will be linked to the role of youth in building a harmonious and peaceful society in Europe. With this objective in mind, the Youth Working Party in the Council of the EU established a unique cross-sectorial partnership with the UN Working Party of the Council and the initiative was highly welcomed.”

“The Presidency decided to further strengthen this approach by expanding the scope of the participation in the European Youth Conference thus providing an opportunity for further exchange and hopefully a source for inspiration beyond the strictly-EU format. Besides the UN, in the conference took part representatives of EURODESK, and of the Western Balkan and Eastern Partnership countries,” she concluded.

Young participants in the conference “suspect” that behind the UN focus there were personal motivations.

“The Structured Dialogue is a positive and powerful tool for young people to be co-shapers of policies at EU level. Even though it is far from perfect and needs reform, it’s unique in the world and inspiration and it must be protected from public officials trying to use it for personal gain undermining the efforts of an entire generation,” Alvarado commented.

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The Population in the Bulgarian Capital is Growing Steadily, with more than 1.2 Million People Living in Sofia

Five district centers have increased the number of their residents last year. Kardzhali joined Varna, Veliko Tarnovo, Plovdiv and Sofia, which increased their population in 2016. This shows a BTA survey of population data on cities of 31 December 2017 of the National Statistical Institute.
 
According to the report, out of a total of 257 Bulgarian cities, only 25 have increased their population in the past year, compared to 23 in the year before. In the remaining 232 cities the population decreases with a different number of people, the data show. Last year the Bulgarian cities, whose population is less than 1000 people, are increasing by one. In the group of Melnik, Madzharovo, Pliska, Kiten and Klisura is now also Brusarci.

According to data in 2017, the largest increase in population was registered in Sofia. The number of residents in the capital has increased by 2391 compared to the previous year and reached 1 238 438 people. After Sofia, the biggest increase in the population is in Plovdiv1789, with the town under the hills already having a population of 345 213.

 

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1st Plenary Session of the Informal Meeting of EU Health Ministers in Sofia is Under Way

The first plenary session of the informal meeting of EU Health Ministers in Sofia is under way. It will be dedicated to the healthy nutrition for children, one of the priorities of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU in the health sector.

 

Expect more details later.

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Restrictions on 'Struma' Motorway

Due to repair 46th kilometer from "Struma" motorway, will stop the traffic lane to ''Dupnitsa'' from "Dolna Dikanya" junction to "Dupnitsa-North".

The movement towards Sofia will take place without change.

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Warm and Sunny Today in Bulgaria – Maximum Temperatures at 25-30°C

Today the weather will remain warm and mostly sunny. Around noon and thereafter, cumulus clouds will develop over the northeastern and the mountainous regions in Southwestern Bulgaria, but it will rain only in some areas, possibly with thunder.

There will be light northwestern wind, in Eastern Bulgaria from east-southeast.

The maximum temperatures will mostly range between 25°C and 30°C, in Sofia about 26°C, the National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrologytold Focus News Agency.

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