Analysis 13 Feb 18

Bulgaria’s South-North Economic Divide Continues to Widen

With its poor infrastructure, brain drain and population loss, the north of Bulgaria is falling ever further behind the booming south, creating new social tensions in the country.

Martin Dimitrov
Dunav Most 2, as Bulgarians call the Calafat-Vidin Bridge over the river Danube connects two of Europe's poorest regions since 2013. Yet, it did not bring the prosperity people hoped for, as there are no higways that link it to the rest of Bulgaria. Photo: Nikolai Karaneschev/Wikimedia/ CC BY 3.0

In cold, windy winter weather, a small group of locals gathered in the centre of the Bulgarian towns of Berkovitsa, some 70 kilometres north of the capital, Sofia, on January 27 to protest against the poor local infrastructure that they say has slowed or even halted their region’s development. 

A couple of years ago, in the town that bestrides one of the most treacherous roads in the region, some 50,000 residents signed a petition demanding construction of a tunnel that would shorten the travel time to Sofia by half.

This initiative drew a limited response from the authorities, who told BIRN that this year they would launch a pre-investment study into construction of the tunnel. Whether or when the tunnel will ever be built remains unknown.

The economic situation is just as bad – or worse – in the small town of Montana, to the northwest, where some local residents recently publicly debated organizing a referendum to join Romania.

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