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Bulgarian Labour Minister at Economist Demographic Summit in Athens

Bulgarian Labour and Social Policy Minister Ivanka Shalapatova Friday took part in the Economist’s Third Demographic Summit in Athens titled “Handling the Demographic Emergency – The Role of Science, Governments and Citizens”. She was joined by Greece’s Minister of Social Cohesion and Family Affairs Sofia Zacharaki and Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Domna Michailidou, and European Commission Vice-President for Democracy and Demography Dubravka Suica, among others.

“We, the countries in Southeastern Europe, have both similar and different historical paths. We are at different stages of our economic development, but we have similar indicators and identical processes taking place in our countries today. What sets us apart from many of the countries in Europe is the high mortality rate, the depopulation of large fertile areas, and the emigration of our working population,” Shalapatova said.

“In its demographic strategy, the Government will focus on a large-scale programme to prevent curable diseases, curb harmful habits leading to high mortality, and prevent early infertility,” the Minister added. Another measure envisaged is transforming the Bulgarian education system to make it adequate for the modern world and to help keep young and active people in Bulgaria. “It must meet the requirements of a labour market that will very soon be defined by artificial intelligence,” Shalapatova noted.

Another highlight in Bulgaria’s demographic strategy will be measures to attract young, educated and active people from the Bulgarian diasporas in Ukraine and Moldova, the EU, the US, among others. Other priorities include the creation of a housing policy aimed at young families and measures for rebooting some regions by creating transport, social and health infrastructure as well as by providing access to a variety of cultural and educational opportunities to make them attractive to young people with children.

During the summit, Shalapatova held a meeting with Greek Sofia Zacharaki confirming that Bulgaria will host a trilateral forum on deinstitutionalization in April together with Greece and Romania. The forum will kick off the concept of Bulgaria as a hub for sharing experience and expertise on the issue of removing children and adults from care homes, which is part of the Cabinet’s governance programme.