Bulgarian Govt to Pressure Archaeologists Legally over Highways - Report

Archaeology | October 16, 2012, Tuesday // 17:40|  views

Bulgarian PM Borisov (right) in a verbal exchange with archaeologist Aneta Bakamska (middle) with Regional Devt Minister Pavlova looking on (left), on the route of the Struma HIghway in Jan 2012. Photo by BGNES

Bulgaria's Borisov Cabinet plans to introduce legal amendments in order to be able to pressure archaeologists legally over speedy highway construction, according to reports.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, who has treated archaeologists offensively in the past as their obligatory excavations have delayed his much beloved highway construction projects, and his party GERB have come up with Cultural Heritage Act amendments in order to either skip, or severely limit archaeological works.

Borisov has often been in conflict with archaeologists excavating the routes of highways under construction not only because of timing issues but also because delays technically could endanger the allocation of EU funding for Bulgaria's respective projects over their rigid funding schedules.

Delays in that respect are not unlikely because of Bulgaria's massive archaeological richness but there has not been an instance in which the European Commission called off EU money over archaeological excavation delays.

According to a report of the Dnevnik Daily, the draft amendments to the Cultural Heritage Act will allow the Culture Minister to personally determine which archaeological team will be appointed for rescue digs at the different highway routes.

What is more, whenever the government is the investor, the archaeological excavations will be treated as public procurement tenders, allow the state to define the deadlines for the digs.

In addition, the head of the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences will no longer be empowered to issue the permit for field work; instead, these permits will be under the jurisdiction of  the head of a council for digs on the spot who will be appointed by the Culture Minister.

The Dnevnik Daily notes in a commentary that these changes will allow the Borisov Cabinet to select "less problematic" and "more obedient" people for archaeological excavations on the routes of future highways.

Archaeologists have been quick to complain that the draft law talks about "rescue research" instead of "rescue excavations" when it comes to the need to explore and potentially dig up sites on designated highway routes.

A further controversial point of Bulgaria's new Cultural Heritage Act is the fact that the Cabinet will now have a more arbitrary and undefined power to determine what constitutes a cultural monument.

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Tags: archaeology, archaeologists, archaeologist, archaeological, archaeological excavations, excavations, excavation, highways, highway, Boyko Borisov, Prime Minister, National Archaeology Institute, Culture Minister, Culture Ministry, EU funds, EU funding, Cultural Heritage Act, cultural heritage, cultural monument


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