European Mail with messages of students to the EU; a debate between school teams on up-to-date subjects and issues in Europe; the creation of a huge martenitsa tassel “Pijo & Penda in Europe”– these are only some of the concrete events in a project of the Lukovit Municipality. It is named “The Advantage to be Part of Europe”. In fact Lukovit is only one of the 93 Bulgarian municipalities /out of 264/ which have developed and implemented different information campaigns for popularization of the Bulgarian Council of EU Presidency’s priorities.
“Some EUR 150,000 have been allocated for these initiatives and at the local level the municipalities will implement numerous events, aimed mostly at children and young people,” says Daniel Panov, chair of the board of the National Society of Municipalities in Bulgaria and a mayor of Veliko Tarnovo. “The events will be sports and folklore fests, public discussions, exhibitions, concerts, art-workshops, cultural competitions etc. By mid-2018 the municipalities will enter different events dedicated to the EU Presidency with over 2 mln. people taking part. The website of the National Society of Municipalities keeps a list with the concrete initiatives.”
Some EUR 143,000 have been allocated for target costs on municipal budgets for projects approved under the grant scheme named Support for Municipal Initiatives, Related to the Regional Dimension of the 2018 Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU. Thus the subject of the European values, the Presidency and Bulgaria’s participation in the decision making process at the European level should reach a larger circle of people.
76% of the Bulgarians state that the Council of EU Presidency is important for the country, as tourism is one of the spheres where they expect long-term positives. The old capital of Veliko Tarnovo is among those cities that rely mostly on tourism and over the next months it will try to attract more guests:
“We have two large events which will take place on the territory of Veliko Tarnovo during the Bulgarian EU Presidency,” Mayor Daniel Panov explains. “At the same time our efforts are not aimed only at the Presidency agenda. We have been constantly working here to develop the tourist potential of the Veliko Tarnovo Municipality by accentuating on cultural tourism. We held the first of its kind International Exhibition of Cultural Tourism some 15 years ago. It is essential to create new sites in terms of the city’s cultural development. Thus we present not only history, but offer to tourists a long-term policy for attracting them to Veliko Tarnovo, which for Bulgarians is the Old Capital. That is how they not only stay longer, but have more options to choose from in terms of sightseeing. In 2016 we opened the Trapesitsa fortress after many years of restoration archaeological activities. We owe to Azerbaijan, as they helped us fund and finish part of the project. A park with models of emblematic buildings from Bulgaria was created in the autumn of 2017 which were also monuments of culture – the place now attracts huge interest by both students and tourists.”
According to Daniel Panov the Bulgarian municipalities have already learnt to work well under European programs, implementing sustainable projects aimed at improvement of settlements’ living standard.
English version: Zhivko Stanchev