Researchers: Bulgarian Govt Wants To Eat Archaeology, Have It Too

Society | November 1, 2011, Tuesday // 15:36|  views

Black flags and a "Budget 2012 Kills BAS" sign at the facade of the BAS main building in Bulgarian capital Sofia. Photo by BGNES

Bulgarian archaeologists have joined other researchers from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences protesting Tuesday the latest budget cuts for their institution, which they say will doom it to death.

The cabinet of Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov has announced 9% cuts for the Academy in the state budget for 2012, after the funding of Bulgaria's oldest research institution was reduced by 40% in 2011.

"We're pushed to the wall with this BGN 55 M budget for the Academy, as we won't be able to pay even the most trite of expenses," said the chair of the BAS Institute of Archaeology Lyudmil Vagalinski.

In Tuesday's protest researchers donned nooses and were carrying signs such as "You're Boasting to the World with our Labor while Insulting it at Home" and "By Killing Archaeology You're Boosting Treasure Hunting."

Researchers in particular criticized what they saw as a hypocritical tendency on the part of the Borisov cabinet to seek international acclaim with Bulgaria's important archaeological treasures, while at the same time severely cutting funding.

"It's obvious that Bulgaria's Minister of Finance Simeon Djankov thinks that we're not dying fast enough. His plan of financing for BAS dooms it to a quick death," said Nikola Malinovski, chair of the BAS Institute for Optical Materials and Technologies.

Senior Academy staff have warned that the severe budget reductions will likely force it to shut down key activities, such as the weather forecasting by the National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology and earthquake survey by the Geophysical Institute.

An additional candlelight vigil is scheduled for 6 pm Tuesday in front of the main BAS building right next to Parliament in downtown Sofia.

BAS has stated that if needed it will press its case in front of the relevant international institutions, including EU bodies and the Strasbourg Human Rights Court.

Over the past year, key international scientists have sent out letters to the Bulgarian cabinet in support of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

Senior representatives of Bulgarian industrialists and employers have also called for a significant commitment on the part of the state for research and a boosting of the BAS budget to at least BGN 95 M.

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Tags: Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, archaeology, archaeologists, BAS, cuts, budget, Boyko Borisov, Simeon Djankov, researchers, EU, Strasbourg, human rights court, employers, science


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