Bulgarian Socialists Accuse Ruling Party of 'Social Fracturing'

Domestic | June 22, 2012, Friday // 15:22|  views

The controversial legislation resulted in several roadblocks staged by both proponents and opponents of the ski development laws. Photo by Sofia Photo Agency

Left-wing Coalition for Bulgaria has accused center-right party GERB of "social fracturing over a set of highly contested amendments to the Forestry Act.

The newly passed environmental legislation facilitating the construction of ski facilities without changing land use triggered several days of protests attended by thousands of Bulgarians, which eventually led to a presidential veto.

Meanwhile, a number of pro-ski-development counter-protests were also staged, allegedly under the aegis of center-right ruling party GERB and the "Nature for People and Regions" coalition funded by notorious businessman Tseko Minev.

Minev is widely believed to be the person behind the controversial legislation, as well as the man who stopped ski lifts in Vitosha for the entire winter season on grounds he was observing existing provisions of the Forestry Act.

"When ruling party GERB faced the opposition of active and conscientious citizens, it yet again resorted to "divide and conquer" tactics, pitting one social group against the other," socialist MP Penko Angelov stressed in a declaration read in Parliament on Friday.

"This must be some special kind of "social fracturing" because we all know too well that you are experts at fracturing," the MP stated, hinting at the highly divisive issue of the deployment of hydraulic fracturing for shale gas exploration and production.

Following mass protests, Bulgaria's Parliament adopted on January 18 an indefinite moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, which was alleviated on January 14 allegedly to clear obstructions before conventional gas drilling.

In his Friday statement, Atanasov noted that GERB had resorted to the same divisive tactics to pit grain producers against tobacco growers, doctors against patients and courts against prosecutor's offices.

He accused GERB of staging a political counter-protest against "the righteous anger of the people" and turning a deaf year to their demands.

He noted that GERB MPs had headed the counter-protest at the international E-79 road near Simitli, which had been held without prior permission.

The socialist MP argued that the ruling party had taken advantage of and manipulated the residents of Bansko, Razlog, Dobrinishte, Sapareva Banya, Dupnitsa, Samokov, Smolyan and Berkovitsa  into participating in the latest counter-protest held in Sofia.

Atanasov insisted that GERB had lied to these people that the demands of environmental activists and the presidential veto were a threat to their jobs and the development of infrastructure in the regions.

He stressed that the Forestry Act did not apply to infrastructure in residential areas regulated in the Protected Territories Act .

The representative of Coalition for Bulgaria further backed the protests of Bulgarian environmental activists against the Forestry Act amendments.

"We are also in favor of the development of winter tourism and sport," Atanasov noted, as cited by the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency (BTA), highlighting the importance of drafting a national program for the development of the sector taking into account the interests of the business sector and of Bulgarian municipalities.

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Tags: protests, environmental activists, environmentalists, Forestry Act, Coalition for Bulgaria, GERB, Bulgarian Socialist Party, hydraulic fracturing


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