Bansko Residents Rally again for Resort Expansion
Residents of the Bulgarian mountain resort town of Bansko are staging Monday a new protest rally with demands to have permits to build a new ski lift and to expand the ski tracks.
The initiative committee vows to "be on the barricades in order to remind those in power they are expecting a quick solution to the problem with the ski area" in the mountain near their town.
The demonstrators stress the winter holidays are over, but the problems persist, adding the lines for the ski lifts were unprecedented once again during the last weekend. They insist for the very first time their resort is the leader in the sad statistics of having the longest lines of people trying to use the ski lifts and threaten to move the protests to the capital Sofia.
The initiative committee is accusing Bulgarian eco activists of lies and provocations.
The protest Monday is closing once again the road between the town of Razlog and Bansko.
In the last days of 2012, similar rallies closed the same road for three consecutive days. The protests were supported by the Speaker of the Parliament, Tsetska Tsacheva, Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, Deputy Economy Minister in Charge of Tourism, Ivo Marinov, and Lyuben Tatarski, Member of the Parliament from the ruling Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria, GERB, who appeared all in person at the demonstrations.
The proponents of new construction insist it would not cause any environmental harm because the construction will be done only within the now-existing limits of the ski zone. Such decision will lead to eliminating a text in the plan for management of the Pirin National Natural Park.
The Mayor of Bansko, Georgi Ikonomov, who supports the demonstrators, has declared he would not negotiate with the Greens party unless OLAF, the EU anti-fraud office, probes how the environmentalists are using resources and spending money.
Environmentalists have argued that Bansko is already overdeveloped, with excessive amounts of hotel beds and ski runs that have already harmed the nearby Pirin National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
They labeled the presence of senior officials at the rallies a "huge political gaffe." To them the protests are being staged by those in power in order to serve corporate interests.
Bansko's main ski and tourist operator, Yulen, is known to be held by Tseko Minev, who also owns Vitosha Ski and First Investment Bank, chairs the Bulgarian Ski Federation, and is said to be close to Bulgaria's PM Boyko Borisov.
The rallies caused long lines of vehicles during the winter holidays, outraging some of the guests arriving for the extended holiday weekend, while others have supported the demonstrators.
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