BTA News

EU’s Key Objective Is for Everyone on Its Territory to Live in Peace – BTA Director General

The European Union’s key objective is for everyone on its territory to live in peace, Bulgarian News Agency (BTA) Director General Kiril Valchev said Thursday at the opening of a regional conference of the “Europe in the Balkans: A Common Future” series in BTA’s National Press Club in Plovdiv (South Central Bulgaria). Valchev noted that Plovdiv is a perfect example of peaceful coexistence with its diversity of religions and ethnicities.

Valchev noted that there is hardly a more fitting place than Plovdiv on Europe Day to follow up on the discussions on the EU’s cohesion policy involving the Western Balkans, which BTA holds in its national press clubs in Bulgaria and abroad. In his words, Plovdiv has been an example of the motto “Unity in Diversity” long before the EU adopted it in 2000. Valchev recalled that Plovdiv was named the European Capital of Culture in 2019.

The “Europe in the Balkans: A Common Future” project is implemented by BTA with the support of the European Commission. It builds on a past project, “Europe in Bulgaria: A Common Future”, and aims to foster a better understanding of the role of cohesion policy in the Balkans, raise awareness of projects funded by the EU through the Cohesion Funds, promote dialogue on the results of the projects at the local level, and boost civic participation in issues related to cohesion policy.

The participants in the conference discussed new developments for the period 2021-2027 and the results achieved in the period 2014-2020.

Deputy Minister of Finance Martin Danovsky said that Bulgaria has used BGN 33 billion from the EU’s cohesion policy budget by the end of 2020, adding that this amounts to more than half of this country’s GDP in 2007.

Danovsky presented some of the achievements of the cohesion policy in Bulgaria since 2007. Almost 89,000 inactive and unemployed people over the age of 30 have been employed, and nearly 115,000 unemployed and inactive young people aged under 29 have been supported.

Nearly 75,000 children have been covered by the deinstitutionalization, prevention, and early childhood development support measures, and over 820 sheltered housing units have been renovated.

More than 205,000 disadvantaged people have gained access to improved social services, according to Finance Ministry data.

With over 1,100 schools across Bulgaria having been renovated, more than half a million students and young people can now enjoy an improved educational environment. More than 22,000 internships have been provided. 

The Ministry’s data shows that 16 high-tech science facilities have been built, attracting some 400 new researchers.

More than 550 projects for innovation introduction and development in companies have been implemented, and more than 2,600 enterprises have received support to expand their production capacity.

Thanks to the cohesion policy, 79 emergency medical centres in Bulgaria have been renovated, over 100 cultural sites have been upgraded, nearly 5 million square metres of urban green space have been renewed, and 1,600 hectares of new forests have been planted.

The amount of household waste landfilled has been reduced by over 288,000 tonnes per year.

Some 3.6 million people have been provided with access to improved water and sanitation infrastructure.

A total of 375 km of railway lines have been repaired, eight railway stations have been renovated, 380 km of new roads have been built and over 1,700 km have been renovated, over 450 km of public transport lines in Bulgarian cities have also been repaired, and over 640 environmentally friendly vehicles have been introduced. The Sofia metro network has been extended by 33 km of metro lines, and 32 metro stations have been built.

Galina Simeonova, Director General of the Environment Operational Programme Directorate General at the Environment and Water Ministry, said that the measures under the programme have sufficiently addressed the protection of habitats for endangered species across the country.

Plamen Panchev, founder and CEO of Trakia Economic Zone, Hisarya Municipality Mayor Iva Valcheva, and the Director of the Central Coordination Unit at the Finance Ministry, Ivan Ivanov, were also among the key speakers at the conference.