Karadere controversy: Protests – and a pledge to change the law on offshores

Bulgaria’s national controversy over plans to build a large-scale hotel complex at Karadere on the Black Sea coast is continuing, with further protests against the project planned, with a pledge by an MP to propose changes to the law on offshore companies and with the investment planning minister complaining of an “unpleasant trend of chasing investors away”.

Thousands of Bulgarians have turned out in protests after the Bulgarian Socialist Party cabinet agreed on March 19 to give a “Class A” investor certificate to Madara Europe, the company that says it intends to begin building its holiday resort complex at Karadere in September.

The investor certificate provides for fast-track facilitated procedures for permits.

Protesters against the project not only want the cabinet to reverse its decision on the Karadere scheme but also want legislation to better defend protected nature areas from construction projects.

Environment minister Iskra Mihailova has said that the project could not go ahead in its current form because it involves two areas protected under the EU-wide Natura 2000 nature conservation network.

A further protest was planned for 2pm on March 27 in central Sofia, to coincide with a discussion by a parliamentary committee on amendments to the Black Sea Coast Act.

Environmental conservation groups have lodged a formal application at the economy ministry under access to information legislation to be given the documentation on the Karadere project.

Investment planning minister Ivan Danov said that artists’ impressions of the project were nothing more than “Photoshop previews” and said that the Karadere case showed an “unpleasant tendency – deterrring investors in the country”.

Georgi Kadiev, a member of Parliament for the BSP, told local media that he would propose changes to the law on offshore companies to require transparency about the ownership of companies applying for class A and B investor certificates.

Bulgaria’s new law on offshore companies was approved by Parliament at the end of 2013 after being proposed by Movement for Rights and Freedoms MPs Delyan Peevski and Yordan Tsonev.

The law requires clarity about the ownership of offshore companies in some sectors of the economy, including polling agencies, energy and water companies, radio and television broadcasters and organisers of games of chance.

Kadiev said earlier that the Karadere case showed that the law on offshore companies was not working. He said that it was the first of its kind in the EU and had not been copied from a “ready and working” document.

Asked in a Nova Televizia interview whether he had his amendments ready, he said that he did, but wanted to allow a few more days to consider further ideas before tabling them.

(Photo: Yvo Bojkov)



The Sofia Globe staff

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