Bulgarian Court Brings to End Botanical Garden Saga
Bulgaria's Supreme Cassation Court has conclusively ruled that the botanical garden in the coastal town of Balchik stays under the control of Sofia University, bringing to an end years of wrangles over its ownership.
The ruling comes a month after Bulgaria's government ignored the decision of a number of Bulgarian courts and grabbed hold of the garden.
Under the cabinet decision 183 decares of the Balchik botanical garden were to be managed by the State Cultural Institute, which practically accounts for the entire park area of the garden, while Sofia University will have ownership of just 11 decares, which is 84% less compared to its current 74 decares.
Tensions between the two institutions have been escalating over the years for more than a decade after the palace started to be used for commercial purposes.
The collection of revenues turned into the thorniest issue and at one point visitors were forced to pay two entry tickets - one for the palace and one for the botanical garden.
During the terms of the previous two governments – led by Socialist Sergey Stanishev and former king Simeon Saxe-Coburg - a huge villa project threatened to destroy the rare species in the garden, only to be checked by the efforts of the university botanists.
The botanical garden in Balchik spreads over 190 decares, out of which 74 are owned by the university and the remainder by the culture ministry. According to the university a plot is underway to transfer the whole area under the management of the culture ministry to the benefit of private investors.
Bathing in sunlight most of the year, the botanical garden is home to more than 2000 plant species belonging to 85 families and 200 genera. One of the garden's main attractions is the collection of large-sized cactus species arranged outdoors on 1000 square meters, the second of its kind in Europe after the one in Monaco.
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