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Bulgaria Govt Grabs Hold of Botanical Garden

Source: Sofia News Agency (
Published Date: 16 May 2010

Bulgaria's government ignored the decision of a number of Bulgarian courts and has grabbed hold of the botanical garden in the Bulgarian coastal town of Balchik.

Despite the decision of the Bulgarian Supreme Administrative Court and the Supreme Court of Cessation that the garden stays under control of the Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski, the Cabinet announced Wednesday that the Ministry Culture will manage the larger part of the garden.

According to the Cabinet's decision 183 decares of the Balchik botanical garden will be managed by the State Cultural Institute Cultural Center 'Dvoretsa' which is under the auspice of Bulgaria's Ministry of Culture. This is practically the entire park area of the garden.

The Sofia University will have ownership of just 11 decares which is 84% less compared to its current 74 decares.

The motion was proposed by Bulgaria's Regional Development Minister Rosen Plevneliev and the Culture Minister Vezhdi Rashidov and is similar to the 2007 decision of the previous government that gave control of the garden to the Ministry of Culture while the university retained just 11 decares of the park's area.

According to manager of the Balchik botanical garden, Krasimir Kosev, the Cabinet's motion is unlawful.

The Biological department of the Sofia university was given management control of the garden back in 1955, explained Wednesday for Kosev. The Bulgarian Council of Ministers can take control of the park away only if it has not been properly taken care of, which is not the case at present, said Kosev.

According to Kosev the government's decision shows disrespect for the country's judicial system.

Last week the rector of the Sofia university Ivan Ilchev alarmed the public that Sofia University may lose all 74 decares that it owns in the botanical garden in Balchik, citing a draft decision of the government, signed by Culture Minister Vezhdi Rashidov and Regional Development Minister Rossen Plevneliev.

Thus, two years after Bulgaria's Ministry of Culture and Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski signed an agreement, which ended the old dispute between them over the ownership of the popular tourist site, the university, said Ilchev, "may be robbed of its plot."

The botanical garden in Balchik spreads over 190 decares, out of which 74 are owned by the university and the remainder by the culture ministry. According to the university a plot is underway to transfer the whole area under the management of the culture ministry to the benefit of private investors.

Bathing in sunlight most of the year, the botanical garden is home to more than 2000 plant species belonging to 85 families and 200 genera. One of the garden's main attractions is the collection of large-sized cactus species arranged outdoors on 1000 square meters, the second of its kind in Europe after the one in Monaco.