Bulgaria’s meteorology institute and the Academy of Sciences signed an agreement on September 18, which was expected to prevent a work stoppage by weather forecasters and pave the way towards the institute’s exit from the academy.
The agreement was drafted by the higher education trade union. On September 14, the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS) leadership pulled out at the last minute, after the impending signing was announced to the media.
BAS chairperson Yulian Revalski said that the academy wanted some changes to the agreement. “Some editorial notes were brought up by us and by the meteorology institute, some new things were added regarding the future re-structuring, or rather the future creation of a new structure,” he said, as quoted by Bulgarian National Radio (BNR).
The agreement envisions that the weather forecasters would put forward two nominees for interim director of the meteorology institute, which has been without management since the sacking of its director Hristomir Branzov last month, when BAS accused him of “failure to follow the directives of BAS management and bringing into disrepute the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.”
Weather forecasters warned last week that the absence of any executive management would cause the institute would shut down since it had no one in a position of authority to sign off on basic spending, such as salaries and utility bills.
Regarding the main grievance of the institute’s staff, who have been demanding that it be spun off from BAS or given more funding to carry out its duties, the agreement signed on September 18 envisions that a new body would be set up by the Cabinet to take on the institute’s weather forecasting activities.
The Education and Science Ministry, which would act as guarantor of the agreement, will draft a government resolution on the creation of the new body by the end of October.
Any of the institute’s staff that wished to pursue purely research activities would be re-appointed to the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, BNR reported.
The agreement is also expected to clarify matters in the 2019 budgetary process, which has been delayed by hostilities between BAS and the meteorology institute, BNR quoted Lilyana Valcheva, head of the higher education trade union, as saying.
But the reports on September 18 made no mention of what is certain to be the main issue of contention in the future spin-off of the meteorology institute, namely dividing its assets and deciding which ones will remain under BAS management and which would be transferred to the new body.