Document reveals: “Lunching with Neno” or How Two Ministries Blatantly Lied about Lobbying in UNESCO against Bulgarian Nature

The invitation for the notorious luncheon with Environmental Minister Neno Dimov on June 18, 2018, that the Bulgarian Embassy in Paris sent to the ambassadors to UNESCO is for an informal lunch and there is not a single word in it about the European Presidency. Earlier, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Environment and Waters lied in writing that this had been a “working lunch” organized in connection with the end of Bulgaria’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Bivol has obtained a copy of the document which dozens of ambassadors have received by e-mail.

Photocopy of the invitation for lunch with Neno Dimov

The text of the invitation clearly reads that it was for an informal and not a working lunch, and the occasion was precisely the visit of Neno Dimov, Minister of Environment and Water, and not the end of the European Presidency.

The document undoubtedly reveals the disgraceful lie and how the Presidency had been actively used by Bulgarian institutions during the last six months to cover up outrages and shameful deeds.

On June 18, Bivol reported that on that same day, Neno Dimov had hosted the ambassadors (at the expense of the Bulgarian Embassy in Paris) and had lobbied for the mitigation of the UNESCO expert report on Pirin National Park, calling on the Bulgarian government to cancel its decision giving a green light to new construction of ski slopes and lifts on 48% of the territory of the Pirin mountain.

The next day, in a live TV broadcast, Dimov denied hosting such lunch with the ambassadors and labeled our publication “fake news”.

Two weeks later, Bivol received explanations under the under the Access to Public Information Act (APIA) about the lunch and the attendees from the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

A total of 25 people have attended the lunch organized by Bulgaria’s UNESCO Representation (see the list in our previous report here). Several of them are the representatives of the countries that sit on the World Heritage Conservation Committee that was responsible for adopting the expert report of the Organization, calling on the Bulgarian government to cancel its decision that, quite obviously, serves the interests of the oligarch Tseko Minev, owner (according to Prime Minister Boyko Borisov) of “Yulen” JSC, the concessionaire of the ski zone in Pirin. EUR 1,612.50 from the budget have been paid for this maneuver (see the invoice here).

Both answers by the ministries (see here and here, in Bulgarian) contain the explanation that the luncheon had been organized on the occasion of the end of the European Presidency, and Neno Dimov had been invited because he had been in Paris on the same day and by coincidence.

Document reveals:  “Lunching with Neno” or How Two Ministries Blatantly Lied about Lobbying in UNESCO against Bulgarian NatureDocument reveals:  “Lunching with Neno” or How Two Ministries Blatantly Lied about Lobbying in UNESCO against Bulgarian Nature

The truth, as shown by the invitation document, is quite different. The European Presidency had not been the occasion at all, and Neno Dimov had not been accidentally in Paris, but namely to meet the ambassadors.

Bivol’s comment:

Perhaps, in a well-established democracy, such a blunt lie, coming in sync from two institutions, would lead to resignations. In Bulgaria, where the ruling political junta mimics respect for democratic norms, it is actually a norm for the institutions to lie brazenly and to openly serve private oligarchic interests. For the few remaining free media like Bivol, there is only the satisfaction that internet search engines will index statements such as “Minister Neno Dimov is a liar” and “Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva is a liar” together with the documents that prove it.


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