“There is a lot of money, but there is no time. Bulgaria does not want Swiss money yet,” Sara Novotny wrote at the beginning of an article published on the website of the Swiss public media SRF.
“Bulgaria has a strange problem: too much money. Billions will soon flow from the EU to compensate for the pandemic disaster. And to them are added almost 100 million Swiss francs (about 90 million euros) from the so-called Swiss Cohesion Fund. This is a great chance for Bulgaria, but also a great challenge: whether it will absorb the money on time. “
Bulgaria wants more time to absorb the money from Switzerland
SRF gives the floor to Ivan Ivanov, presented as “in charge of Swiss money for Bulgaria”. He says it is very important to invest these millions strategically in a smart way. The author of the article explains that with the money from Switzerland the Bulgarians intend to improve, for example, vocational training and to alleviate the fate of the refugees arriving in the country, Deutsche Welle reports.
The author of the article points out that the money has been blocked for years due to disputes between Bern and Brussels. According to current plans, Bulgaria should absorb Swiss money by 2024. However, the Bulgarian manager Ivan Ivanov thinks that this is not a good idea:
“It would be better to get two years more time to prepare. The more time we have, the higher the quality of the projects,” he explains. SRF reports that last week Bulgaria officially asked for an extension.
“There are indeed arguments for this. Switzerland has already paid one billion to Eastern Europe – the so-called first cohesion billion. At that time, some of the projects in Bulgaria could not be implemented. For example, because there are no people in the smaller Bulgarian cities who can In Bulgaria, everything was much more painful and lasted much longer than expected, but at the moment it will be even more difficult to spend Swiss money there. “Bulgaria still has to absorb a lot of money from the EU, and at the moment there is not even a regularly elected government,” Sarah Novotny wrote.
Bulgaria and corruption
The caretaker Prime Minister of Bulgaria Stefan Yanev a few weeks ago gave an interview to another Swiss media, “Blick”, which also talks about the Swiss cohesion millions. As an introduction to the interview, we read: “Bulgaria is the poorest and most corrupt country in the EU, its population is melting because many are looking for their luck abroad. Bulgaria is benefiting from the Swiss cohesion billion.”
The publication points out that the Bulgarian prime minister welcomed the Swiss journalists in his pompous office in the middle of Sofia – “the building that looks like a palace is a relic from the Soviet times”.
“Yanev was a brigadier general and led his country as a transitional prime minister until the next elections. He is a neutral, direct and precise – a real general,” Blick said. Asked why Bulgaria is the most corrupt country in the EU, Yanev told the publication: “Unfortunately, you are right. People realize that corruption has been a big problem for years. What is the reason? Many politicians do nothing against it. and even when the media reveal violations, the prosecution often remains inactive. In Bulgaria, neither politicians nor businessmen are imprisoned for corruption, although some deserve it. “
Stefan Yanev added to the Swiss media that the problem of corruption in Bulgaria cannot be solved by the EU – it must be solved by the Bulgarians themselves. The same is said in another SRF publication:
“If you ask the EU why it pays for pointless stadiums in Bulgaria, which, on top of that, raise suspicions of corruption, you will get the standard answer: Brussels is always careful to spend every euro wisely on taxpayers.”