11 January 2018
The European Greens stand with the thousands across Bulgaria protesting to save the Pirin National Park
Co-chairs Monica Frassoni and Reinhard Bütikofer comment on today's protests against the expansion of the Bansko ski resort in Bulgaria:
"The Bulgarian government's plan to expand the Bansko ski resort is extremely worrying, as it will have a massive impact on the nature and biodiversity found within the Pirin National Park.
"Due to the devastation that construction and logging would have, we stand with the thousands of people across the country who have taken to the streets to protest.
"The park is a Unesco world heritage site of outstanding universal value and is protected by the EU's birds and habitats directive through the Natura 2000 network, offering a haven to Europe's most valuable and threatened species and habitats.
"Despite this, the site has long been subject to tourism pressure, largely caused by the development of ski facilities. This development is often a consequence of a breach in the rule of law in Bulgaria, which has fuelled nepotism and corruption. We support Zelenite, our member party in Bulgaria, which is calling for a sustainable approach to tourism in the region. This includes the preservation of nature and a national strategy for winter sports that can be enjoyed by all, and not just a few private oligarchs.
"The European Greens aim to develop a circumspect approach to tourism policy: boosting Europe's standing as a leading destination while at the same time protecting the nature that attracts visitors in the first place. We advocated for a change in policies, business practices and consumer behaviour towards a more ecological and sustainable tourism sector.
"As Bulgaria takes up its six-month presidency of the Council of the EU, we urge authorities to ensure that any activities in the area meet all EU rules. It is essential that legislation is rigorously enforced to protect the park against any impacts from inappropriate development."
T +32 2 626 07 20
European Green Party
Rue Wiertz 31,
1050 Brussels, Belgium
Nowadays, modern tourism is one of the factors that negatively impacts on the environment. At the same time, it plays an important role in the processes of socioeconomic development of particular countries and whole regions. Therefore, the implementation of environmentally friendly models of tourist activities ranges among the primary objectives of sustainable development.
Natural heritage and multiculturalism of the Black Sea region make it attractive for tourists. A considerable part of states entering into it experience vitally important transformations which are furthered by their participation in the European Union's Eastern Partnership program, directed at the adoption of European values and implementation of the respective experiences.
European Greens consider that any issues of environmentally friendly, sustainable tourism must take a rightful place on the agenda of the Eastern Partnership, in coordination with the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and the Balkan and Black Sea Cooperation, as several countries bordering the Black Sea were and still are not averse to military interventions in their neighbouring countries. This approach will facilitate dealing with common problems of environmental protection and international security, economic and social development of the region, employment, goods and capital mobility, cultural exchange activation and contribute to a better understanding, both at the regional and Pan-European level.
The need for supplementary political efforts within the context of extension of cooperation, directed at ensuring sustainable development of the region in general and well-balanced tourism in particular, arose not least because of the growing militarization of the region, conflicting with all-human values and interests of environmental and economic collaboration.
We call on the European Commission to regard the Black Sea region as a zone of the utmost importance for ensuring Pan-European interests, and consider the development of sustainable tourism as an important tool to achieve the objectives of the Eastern Partnership.
Special tourism development project should be elaborated in the Eastern Partnership frame with involvement both EU and non-EU states of the region for their common usefulness.
We call the European Union to make all the possible diplomatic efforts to avoid further militarization of the Black Sea region.