Analysis 11 Jan 18

Protesters Plan Noisy Start to Bulgaria’s EU Presidency

An array of demonstrations will cast their shadow over the opening ceremony of Bulgaria’s EU presidency – but beyond embarrassing the government, it is unclear what they will achieve.

Martin Dimitrov
Thousands of protesters gathered on January 4 in front of the Bulgarian governmental building to protest against planned development in Pirin mountain. Photo: Let Nature Remain in Bulgaria

Thousands of Bulgarians on Thursday are taking to the streets of Sofia and other Bulgarian towns and cities to express their anger on a whole range of topics – from environmental to low wages – on Day One of Bulgaria’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Guests at the opening ceremony of the presidency in Sofia, including European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and the Council head Donald Tusk, will be “welcomed” by protesting police unions demanding “dignified pay”, rallies both for and against planned developments in the Pirin National Park – and other demonstrations.

“Personally, I would rather not have the Presidency begin with protests, whatever their goal is …  it's just that all the international media will be here to see Bulgaria,” Lilyana Pavlova, Bulgaria’s minister for the EU Presidency, said last Friday.

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