Hosting a meeting of European Capitals of Culture representatives, the Irish city of Galway has posted a photograph on Facebook of the group showing solidarity with Bulgaria’s Plovdiv, lately caught up in a row over the Balkan Pride event planned for July 2019.
The representatives of close to 40 cities are shown with three flags – that of Ireland, Bulgaria and the rainbow flag, the symbol of the LGBTI movement.
The photograph was accompanied with a message: “Missing our friends from Plovdiv 2019, sending love and support from your ECoC family in Galway”.
In Plovdiv, holder of the European Capital of Culture 2019 title, ultra-nationalists, backed by the socialists and a minority group in the city council, have targeted the Balkan Pride event, which earlier also was the subject of homophobic graffiti daubed on the Plovdiv 2019 Foundation headquarters.
Those opposed to the Balkan Pride event forced a special meeting of the council on April 8 to scrutinise the financial records of the Plovdiv 2019 Foundation, to criticise Balkan Pride and to demand the resignation of the foundation’s artistic director. The majority in the council defended the foundation, saying that councillors should not interfere in the cultural programme, and rejected the proposal to call for the artistic director’s resignation.
Plovdiv City Council was to hold a scheduled meeting on April 11, where it was expected that councillors would review the foundation’s report for the first quarter of 2019, a moment likely to see opponents of Balkan Pride renew their attack on it.
Ultra-nationalist opponents of Balkan Pride have seized on the issue in a year in which Bulgaria is scheduled to go to the polls twice, in European Parliament elections in May and mayoral and municipal elections in October.