Yordan Yordanov: Without EU assistance, no municipality in Bulgaria can cope
We talk to the mayor of Dobrich about the problems, projects, realities and well-kept secrets of the city-municipality
- 19 febbraio 2020 10:30
- Plamen Petrov
Yordan Yordanov graduated from the University of National and World Economy with a major in Economics and Schiller International University, USA with a major in MBA-International Business. He went on to work as Credit specialist at Hippo-Leasing, Business and Investment Specialist at MID-Atlantic Finance and Bank of America, USA and Financial Analyst at JPMorgan & Chase, USA. Subsequently, he entered politics, serving as Deputy Regional Governor of Dobrich District before being elected Mayor of Dobrich Municipality in 2015 and reelected in 2019.
Dobrich, bird-eye view. Photo by Dobrich Municipality
Mr Yordanov, congratulations on winning a second term as mayor of Dobrich! What have been your achievements and what are the new highlights of the Municipality's development program?
Undoubtedly, the biggest success of the previous mandate for me and my team is the open dialogue with the people. I strongly believe that it is of utmost importance for the local authority to be part of the everyday life of its city. Moreover, being an active part of the life of the city is not only to focus on the solving of its problems.
The mayor and his team should enjoy the confidence of society not only in everyday life but also during non-working days and holidays. Maintaining a constructive dialogue with our citizens will be again the main aim of our work for the four years of the new mandate.
Improvement of the city infrastructure remains our top priority. The good infrastructure is important for both the business and the citizens. My personal opinion is that a city could not persuade young people and investors to stay without reliable and modern underground communications, without good infrastructure, without maintained schools and children’s premises. The above-mentioned features and the desire for improving the living conditions in Dobrich are the main reason for actively using the whole city resource such as own income, EU and national funded programmes.
Dobrich is one of the ten largest Bulgarian cities, an attractive economic and transport hub, but at the same time the area is famous for its nature reserves - Cape Kaliakra, Yailata and Bolata… How do you balance development bids with nature conservation?
Dobrich is one of the few municipalities in Bulgaria, which consists of only one human settlement and is only a city, not a district. Dobrich has been designated as Eco-friendly municipality and Green city more than once. We strongly appreciate these awards because all our efforts have been harnessed to this end. In less than two years, 85 km of the water supply network of the city have been optimized. According to the most recent data, there is a reduction in the waste of water by 30%.
Dobrich Municipality was a beneficiary of different programmes of energy efficiency such as the Energy Efficiency of Multi-Family Residential Buildings National Programme and an EU funded programme, which resulted in the energy renovation of 50 residential buildings.
We are proud that we succeeded in energy renovating the building of the local Fire department, and the buildings of three schools and one kindergarten. We continue replacing the heating systems of public buildings. We organize afforestation every year. Dobrich municipality is gradually replacing the street lighting system with LED lights, which are energy efficient.
One of the main problems of the city is air pollution, which is caused by vehicle exhaust fumes and the burning of fossil fuels. We are planning to buy four electric buses for the needs of our municipal transport company.
What are the other problems Dobrich faces and what measures do you take to overcome them?
If you are asking me about the infrastructure, I would say that the city’s major problem is the lack of maintenance of the street network and its amortization.
We solve this problem by winning project bids for European and national funding. Without EU assistance, no municipality in Bulgaria can cope.
If you are asking me personally, the main problem of the city is the emigration of young people who leave their places of birth to search for better career opportunities in bigger cities and abroad. That is the reason why I strongly believe that local authorities are obliged to create a good standard of living and doing business, as well as to make our cities attractive for living in them. These are the aims of all activities and projects, which we are undertaking.
Which European projects do you find most useful for the residents of Dobrich Municipality?
Within only two years, Dobrich Municipality succeeded in realizing the most important project in the history of the city, the optimization and modernization of the water supply network. I consider that project as one of the most useful projects ever because the waste of water was over 80%.
Using EU funds, we managed to change nearly 85 km of the whole water supply network as well as 6 km of drainage pipes and collectors. We are reconstructing three pumping stations. We managed to optimize and modernize the whole water purification station for sewage wastewater, which serves to more than 90 000 residents of the city.
We are also working on smaller projects but we strive to select ones that have an added value for Dobrich citizens. Thanks to the current programme framework of the Operational Programme 'Regional Development', we are improving the infrastructure in the economic areas of the city. Moreover, we are renovating public buildings such as schools and concert halls, and also, we will build a shelter for homeless people.
Do you implement partnership programs with other municipalities in Bulgaria and the EU?
Currently, we are maintaining a collaborative partnership with the Romanian Municipality of Medgidia for improving the connection to the TEN-T network in the cross-border area Medgidia – Dobrich. Moreover, as a result of the support of our sister city Schaffhausen, Switzerland we continue the development of Nature and Animals Protection Centre, which is unique for Bulgaria.
Currently, we are applying for a project together with the Municipality of Kópavogur, Iceland within the framework of the programmes funded by the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area and the Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2014-2021. The project aims to improve the social and economic development of the society and it is focused on young people between 15 and 29 years and teenagers between 12 and 13 years.
The cultural life in Dobrich hardly ends with the art gallery and the Yordan Yovkov Drama Theater.
I would say that our municipality has one of the richest and most valuable cultural calendars within the country. Our municipality funds the Dobrudzha Professional Folklore Ensemble, the Brass Orchestra and the Chamber orchestra. I am proud to say that not many municipalities do that.
Furthermore, we support the organizing of pop and rock music festivals of national importance. Annually, the municipality organizes workshops targeting children of all ages to create different pieces of art. We put efforts to make Dobrich a scene for all kinds of art.
What is your favourite place in the city? And in the vicinity?
If you ask me where I would bring a guest of mine, who has never been in Dobrich, undoubtedly this would be the park area around the “Khan Asparuh” Memorial complex. We are proud to say that Dobrich is home to one of the biggest monuments dedicated to the founder of our country. The place is quiet and calm which make it ideal for family relaxation. The memorial complex sends to the visitors the strong historical message „Bulgaria will be here” which is maybe the most powerful messages for all Bulgarians.
However, if you ask me personally which is my favourite place in the city, I would say that it is the place where my kids are. Although it is not a part of our municipality, I have one more favourite place and it is the Suha river Canyon.
Dobrich surely has its well-kept secrets…
Unfortunately, it is not a well-known fact that the Regional Historical Museum in Dobrich houses the world’s oldest processed gold from the Stone-Copper Age. The jewellery is more than 6000 years old. However, I strongly believe that the true wealth of Dobrich is the people who live in it with their distinctive character, their strong bond with the family and their faith in the future.
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