Sofia: Cleaning up for EU commissioners

Written by on January 8, 2018 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Sofia: Cleaning up for EU commissioners

A southeastern European city, which is the oldest capital in Europe, was preparing itself for guests during the weekend. That city carried a beautiful, melodic name, Sofia, which is also a nice first name for girls and women.

Just a few days before the first commissioners and delegates were expected to land at Sofia Airport, in order to attend meetings during Bulgaria’s EU Council Presidency, that same airport had trouble handling its high number of passengers on Sunday. People waiting in extreme long lines alarmed Bulgarian-language media, saying an insufficient number of check-in counters had been opened. This had led to a chaos. It wasn’t the first time.

Many of the EU officials expected to arrive this week might come to Sofia for the first time. Since the first impression usually lasts, the city was busy cleaning some of the parts the foreign guests will see. Trucks with special machines fixed to them were wiping off all the dust from crash barriers on Boulevard Bulgaria.

At the same time, mud and sand were cleaned away from curbs around the National Palace of Culture, where the main EU Council Presidency events will take place.

Sofia is partially very nice, but not clean. Photo by Imanuel Marcus.

There is a question some Sofia residents are asking themselves: Why are cleaning activities of this kind, and in this intensity, being started now, for the EU commissioners, and not before, for the residents of the city?

One thing is certain: Bulgaria’s EU Presidency guests will breathe the same air as everyone else, unless they bring oxygen tanks. And Sofia’s air is the exact opposite of clean. This last weekend, the air quality was simply terrible, especially in the mornings.

On early Monday morning, things looked only a little better. In most of the southern part of Sofia, the particulate matter concentration in the air was sort of acceptable, with values of 20 to 50µg/m³. But in the centre and many other quarters of the Bulgarian capital 200 to 500µg/m³ were measured. Those values are far too high, meaning breathing that kind of air is unhealthy.

The fact that the air quality improved to some extent in the southern part of Sofia has to do with the weather. The wind blew some of the toxic air out of there.

In the meantime, police in Sofia will start closing streets for traffic, with the exception of EU traffic, of course. From January 10 at 5:30pm to January 12, a section of General Gurko Street will be closed for Europeans, unless they are EU officials. The same applies to Cherni Vrah Boulevard, right in the very centre, Dospat Street and Baba Nedelya Street.

A huge traffic mess is a foregone conclusion.


Bulgaria: Bad air quality in Sofia on Saturday







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