Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov, who is one of the co-leaders of the nationalist United Patriots minority partner in the coalition government, pledged on August 3 that the police presence would be stepped up in the Shekler Mahala neighbourhood of Plovdiv, an area where Roma people live.
Some of the illegal buildings in Shekler Mahala would be removed, Simeonov said after meeting residents of nearby areas who had complained about “24-hour noise from the neighbourhood”, Bulgarian National Radio reported.
Simeonov said that he was not concerned about a possible reaction from the residents of Shekler Mahala. “I’m not interested in the reactions of anyone. There will be immediate reactions to loud music, loud celebrations, which harass and disturb public order,” he said.
On August 3, he received a delegation from Plovdiv, to “discuss their problems with the Roma population in the Todor Kableshkov neighbourhood – illegal construction, unregulated noise and conventional crime,” a government media statement said.
The people he met had sent a complaint to the government, saying that there was inadequate enforcement of the law, which created not only social and domestic problems, but also economic ones, such as a drastic decline in property prices, the statement said.
Emil Vulkov, head of the department of public order and crisis management in the Sever municipality in Plovdiv, said that the municipality was constantly taking steps, but there were no visible results.
On August 7, Simeonov will meet the mayor of Plovdiv and the mayor of the Todor Kableshkov district to discuss the situation, BNR said.
For the United Patriots, Roma people were one of their signature campaign issues ahead of Bulgaria’s March 2017 early parliamentary elections that saw the coalition of far-right and ultra-nationalist parties propelled into government. The United Patriots pledged a crackdown on “gypsy crime” and an end to alleged widespread abuses of Bulgaria’s social security system.