So another year is over and a new one has just begun. But what happened in Bulgaria during 2016? Which were the big headlines? Bulgaria participated in the Eurovision Song Contest as well as the Olympic Games in Brazil, had Presidential election, nominees for the Secretary General of UN and terrible accidents. I tried to sum up 2016´s Bulgaria.
The Counter-Blockade at the Boarder between Bulgaria and Greece
In February 2016 Bulgarian truck drivers sealed most off the crossings with Greece in response to a blockade, set up by disgruntled Greek farmers. Road haulage workers were resolved not to withdraw unless farmers ended their own strike action. The former PM, Boyko Borisov answered that Greece should take the consequences of “populism that brought Syriza to power, meanwhile Ivaylo Moskovski, the Minister of Transport, asked if bilateral ties should be cut and suggested to cut everything. Bulgaria got the blame for the blockade and the consequences of this was that both countries had a big financial lost.
The Death of Trifon Ivanov
On the 13th of February Bulgaria lost one of their biggest football stars Trifan Ivanov at the age of 50 years old. Ivanov goes under the nickname The Wolf and now he is also known as The Legend. For more information about Ivanov and his career go to Trifon Ivanov- A Bulgarian football legend.
The Ban of Burqa
As the migration continued it had several consequences for Bulgaria such nationalists was offering “a helping hand” to the boarder police. The so called ‘migrant hunters’ used violence toward the migrants they found and inspired nationalists in other European countries. Another consequence of the migration was some cities in Bulgaria banned women to carry burqa.
The Opening of Ancient Serdika in Sofia
On the 2oth of April the opening ceremony of the ancient town of Serdika took place in the capital Sofia. Sofia is built on ruins of an ancient town that was named Serdika and played an important role in the Roman Empire since it was situated close to Greece as well as Constantinople (today´s Istanbul). It was when they built the metro line in Sofia as they archaeological site was discovered and the project of restoring the remaining´s started and since April 2016 the site is an open-air museum where you can witness ruins of the ancient Serdika from the 4th and 6th century. The former PM Boyko Borisov, the Ministers of Culture and Regional Development, Vezhdi Rashidov and Lilyana Pavlova attended the opening (for more information about the history of Sofia and the ancient Serdika- An ancient settlement in the center of Sofia ).
The Eurovision Song Contest
On the 14th of May the Eurovision Song Contest took place in Stockholm, Sweden, and Poli Genova, the represent from Bulgaria ended up on 5th place with 307 points with her song If love was a crime. This is the best result Bulgaria has ever accomplished at the Eurovision Song Contest (read more about Poli and Bulgaria at the Eurovision here Eurovision Song Contest Bulgaria).
The Fire of the Tobacco Warehouse in Plovdiv
On the 20th of August the tobacco warehouse in Plovdiv catch a fire and couldn’t be saved. This building was a historical one and it has been abandoned for a long time, discussions on its future was debated (read more about it here The Industrial Heritage of Bulgaria). The homeless man, Lyubomir Danchev, are being accused by the Plovdiv District Court for starting the fire as he shall have slept in the building and accidentally have dropped a cigarette that started the fire. Danchev claims his innocence and say he was at a bar when the fire started. There are rumors that the Italian, Pietro Luigi Ghia, arranged this fire since he wanted to make a mall out of the building but were not allowed because of the culture status of the building and arranged the fire in order to get money.
Bulgaria in the Olympic Games
During the 5-21st of August the Olympic Games took place in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. 29 men and 22 woman participated from Bulgaria in 14 different sport games. It was the smallest delegation sent from Bulgaria to the Olympics since 1956. Bulgaria left the Olympic Games with 3 medals, 1 silver and 2 bronze. Mirela Dimireva won silver in Woman´s High Jump among the athletics. They also won bronze with the Gymnastic; Women´s rhythmic group all-around (Reneta Kamberova, Lyubomira Kazanova, Michaela Maevska-Velichkova, Tsvetelina Naydenova and Hristiana Todorova). The second bronze went to Elitsa Yankova in Wrestling; Women´s freestyle 48 kg. Many Bulgarians had their hopes high for Ivet Lalova-Collio, the sprinter, but she didnt make it all the way to the top 3.
Balkan Gas Hub
Balkan Gas Hub is a result of a project that aims for Bulgaria to be the distribute gas to the southeast Europe. One gas link at the Black Sea are now in a phase of being tested. However, Greece and Turkey also wants to be the one to distribute gas.
Bulgarians Running for the Position as UN Secretary General
As Ban Ki-moon decided to leave his post as the Secretary General for UN many people showed their interest for this post. Two of the representatives as the next Secretary General were the Bulgarians Irina Bokova and Kristalina Georgieva, however neither of them got the post and the new Secretary General of UN is the former PM of Portugal António Guterres.
Godless Wins Prizes All Over the World
The Bulgarian director Ralitza Petrova received a lot of prizes for her movie Godless during the autumn 2016. Petrova herself asks what prizes are good for since its not changing the countries situation. Her dark movie raises questions on how we are acting in different situations of crises and dealing with moral dilemmas.
The Presidential Election & its Outcome
The USA were not the only country to held a Presidential election in November 2016. On the 6th of November 2016 the first Presidential election wass being hold, and the second one took place on the 13th of November. Rumen Radev, the former chief of Air Force, got majority of the votes and became the new President of Bulgaria. Rudev is a member of the Bulgarian Socialist Party and his critics see him as a pro-Russian. As an outcome of the election the PM Boyko Borisov announced his dissatisfaction by resigning as the Prime Minister. The resignation caused political crises in Bulgaria that in the spring of 2017 will be forced to held an election were the Bulgarians are voting for the next ruling party and the next Prime Minister.
The Harmanli Riots
Around the 24th of November nearly 3000 migrants were locked up in the migrant camp in Harmanli in south of Bulgaria because of rumors that they carried diseases that could be widely spread unless the authorities didn’t take action. As a result of this many people started a riot since they felt like prisoners as they were not allowed to move outside the camp, hundreds of people were hurt as well as arrested.
The Tragedy of Hitrino
On the 10th of December Bulgaria was shaken by a terrible accident as a cargo train with dozen of thanks derailed and caused an explosion in the village of Hitrino in northeast of Bulgaria. 7 people died and 29 people got injured, and it incident raised questions of the high speed (which have been claimed as the main factor for this incident), infrastructure and the standards of private freight transport companies. The Bulgarians stood united with those families that had been affected and millions were raised through donations from across the country, and a silent minute was being hold already the next day in memory of those who lost their lives.
Sources for this article: