9 February 2018
The Bulgarian government coalition party National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria today (Friday 9 February) published a statement signed by the party leader and Bulgarian Vice Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov, calling for co-president of the Greens/EFA Group Ska Keller to be expelled from Bulgaria.
The statement came after Ska Keller gave a speech during yesterday's protests against the commercial exploitation of the Natura 2000 protected Pirin National Park. It says Keller should be declared “persona non grata” and calls for her to be “expelled by truck” to Kapıkule on the border with Turkey.
The Bulgarian government took over the European Council Presidency at the beginning of January.
Greens/EFA Group co-president Ska Keller commented:
"These words are shocking and inappropriate for a Vice Prime Minister. I have been an active politician for many years and I never heard anything like this before, neither inside the European Union nor outside. In a democracy, it is important to respect critical opinions. Obviously, the coalition partner in the Bulgarian government is very nervous about the Bulgarian people protesting against the government and standing up for their rights."
European Green Party co-chairs Reinhard Bütikofer and Monica Frassoni also condemned the statement:
"The European Green Party and its members fully support the efforts by co-president of the Greens/EFA Group Ska Keller, the Bulgarian Green party Zelenite, and other groups and NGOs to highlight the disregard of the Bulgarian authorities of its own natural heritage. The huge turnout to the ‘Save Pirin’ demonstrations in 20 cities in Bulgaria as well as across Europe show that people feel the government is not listening to their concerns. The statement by the government coalition party, which was signed by the Bulgarian Vice Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov, was wholly inappropriate and not worthy of someone in high office. We call on the Bulgarian authorities to respect the right of the Bulgarian people to demonstrate and also to guarantee the safety of all demonstrators."
Ska Keller joined yesterday's protests in Sofia and is visiting Pirin National Park and Kresna Gorge valley today (Friday 9 February). The Bulgarian government has amended a management plan which would allow further construction in Pirin and plans a motorway through the valley. Both sites are Natura 2000 protected. Today, Ska Keller meets locals protesting against both projects.
The whole text of the declaration was published on the website of the party (in Bulgarian): http://nfsb.bg/positions.php?action=show&art=2013
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