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."
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