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Of them, 840,000 were aged under 29

Of them, 840,000 were aged under 29

Over 1,000,000 people emigrated from this country in the wake of 1989, the Bulgarian National Radio released, quoting data of the Generalia 21 Youth Organization. According to the statistics, young people living in Bulgaria are only 1,150,000. Their number is expected to fall down to 1 million in a decade, and in two decades it is expected to be reduced to 670,000. Young people are emigrating en masse for unemployment, dramatically low living standards americashpaydayloan.com/title-loans-ks/ and social instability. Soon the population of Bulgaria will be constituted of pensioners mostly, commented experts at the discussion on youth policy-making held in Borovets. The other reasons for the fall in population are the low birth rates and high death ones. Annually, Bulgaria’s population is decreasing by 45,000 to 50,000 people in average. Source: StandartNews LINK

Monday,

Despite the fact that most Bulgarians look with hope and a sometimes difficult to sustain optimism towards the 2007 horizon, the road is littered with problems. Interesting article from the EU observer today. Just one small quibble, I’m not sure it’s still true to say that Bulgaria’s population is 8.9 million.

In the optimistically named Mladost (“Youth”) area of Sophia, ugly high-rises and broken-down Ladas balefully remind of the small Eastern Balkan country’s time behind the Iron Curtain. It is here that the ‘Fatherland’ or ‘Rodina’ can be found – one of Bulgaria’s remaining state-owned companies where 15 of its newspapers are printed. In the sweltering heat on the factory floor, Lubteho Kotev (49), who has been working at Rodina for over 16 years, worries that he will be one of the victims of the wave privatisation that is coming to Bulgaria. “We don’t expect very positive changes” says Kotev, who oversees the smooth running of the printing plant. “It’s an open secret that the private companies in Bulgaria pay minimum salaries.”

Bulgaria Economy and Society Watch

He tells of another well-known state-owned company in Bulgaria that was recently bought by an outsider. Most of the workers and machines were replaced. “We are afraid the same things will happen here,” says Kotev shaking his head – his cross-shaped earring representing his favourite soccer player, former Bulgarian international Nasko Sirakov, jangles in sympathy. Upstairs, away from the printing machines, the deputy-editor of the Standard newspaper confirms the view on the factory floor. “Jobs will go”, she admits but it reluctant to guess how many. Factory workers are not the only ones who will be affected – the country side just outside Sophia is startlingly green and mountainous. Its fields are tended by small families – old women cut the grass with scythes, old men take hay by cart and donkey to the farm. Children also help. It is desperately poor and, of course, not particularly efficient.

But for Bulgaria’s small new class of entrepreneurs, free can only be positive. 150 kilometres south of Sophia in the heart of Thracia, Ivan Todoroff, former flautist, former construction worker, and now Wine-maker has made good. In 2001, he bought a wine cellar using money made in the construction business and with the help of loans from an EU rural development fund has built it up into a successful cellar producing high-quality red wine.

His neighbours in the village do not think such projects will work, he says, with an eloquent shrug to the tidy and well-off operation that he has built for himself.

Then he gets to the nub of the matter. They are afraid “of the eventual corruption they will meet.” He elaborates, “it happens that the guilty ones win against the one that is right.” And, indeed, corruption, the thin line between politics and business and the murky judicial system is one of the things that most worries the European Commission and member states. As usual this is reflected by the pragmatic business community: there is little foreign direct investment in Bulgaria. In a report in laying out the roadmap to Bulgaria’s EU membership the Commission notes “the judicial system remains weak and there has been little concrete change in its functioning” it draws particular attention to the question of immunity for politicians as well as the way investigations are carried out. While parliamentarians are keen to point out that a lot of progress is being made in reforming the legislation. Implementation is a lot slower. Part of the route to corruption lies with the fact that wages are so low. MPs, for example, earn around 500 euro gross a month, while judges get about 700 euro into their hands per month.

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