– Mr. Stoev, how do you feel as regional governor for the second time?
– I have already said that the post of regional governor is not my childhood dream. I have undertaken this commitment as a fulfillment of my duty to Bulgaria. That’s how I was brought up, that’s how I’ve worked all my life. I am aware of the responsibility I bear in this place. I have declared the principles that guide me in my work – professionalism, transparency and integrity – and I stick to them. It is always important to work in a team, and I thank the team of the District Administration, which shows respect for me and a desire to work in the same direction.
The river in the city limits is extremely overgrown, it has not been cleaned for nearly 15 years
The water supply of Plovdiv from the “Dospat-Vacha” cascade will permanently solve the drinking water problem
The roads will be cleaned during the winter and citizens should not worry
– Mr. Stoev, you manage the Plovdiv region in a second office and you know well the problems that need to be solved. The rainy season is approaching. Have the rivers been cleaned and what are your recommendations to the mayors of the municipalities?
– Fortunately for us, in 2022 there were no disaster situations in terms of high water in the rivers, but this should not reassure us, because the state of the riverbeds in the district is not good.
No cleaning has been done at all since last year and this is worrying. Therefore, one of the first tasks that I, as the regional governor, have been dealing with for three weeks is to prepare the cleaning of the dangerous areas that are outside the borders of the settlements and are a commitment of the state.
In this regard, I requested a report on the available contracts and their implementation. I want to see how far the actual activity has come and accelerate this process.
– Karlovo suffered a water disaster. What help will the state provide?
– The disaster in Karlovo had a local character. Within two days, there was heavy rainfall, which caused an unfortified and unclean canal to overflow and led to flooding in the area of the station and the Railway High School.
The municipality had the intention of strengthening it along its entire length, because its bed is concreted in one part, but in any case, the funds for strengthening activities along the entire channel did not reach. I visited the disaster area to see first-hand what the state could do to help. The biggest damage was in the Professional High School for Railway Transport, where over 300 children from the city and the region study. All efforts are currently being made to reopen the school on September 15.
The Ministry of Education promised me full assistance, we have already received the documentation from the high school principal and it has been forwarded immediately to the Ministry of Education and Science. I am personally making sure that the funds are transferred as quickly as possible to repair the affected premises. I am convinced that the school will be ready for the first day of school because other organizations and citizens are also helping to restore and clean the building.
– Which settlements in the district are most at risk of flooding?
– There are more or less problems in all municipalities, but the risk is highest in Plovdiv, because the river within the city limits is extremely overgrown, as it has not been cleaned for nearly 15 years. That’s why one of my first meetings, when I took office, was with the mayor of the city, Zdravko Dimitrov, to learn about the measures being taken to prevent the risk of floods.
The municipality has already announced a public order for the design and preparation of an investment project. But then comes the big question of funding it. Within reason, I will assist in securing co-financing from the state – either from the Interdepartmental Commission for Recovery and Assistance, or directly from the budget, so that Plovdiv has money. But there must also be municipal participation, because the Municipality has a considerable budget and once every 5-10 years it must be able to afford to clean the river bed.
– The water supply of Plovdiv and the neighboring villages from the “Dospat-Vacha” cascade has been talked about for years. How far has the feasibility study gone?
– As a citizen, I carefully follow the development of this project, because I have always believed that the water supply of Plovdiv from the “Dospat-Vacha” cascade will permanently solve the drinking water problem. If it is implemented, clean water will be available for the next century not only for Plovdiv, but also for 29 neighboring settlements, it will also be able to go to the Haskovo region.
There, in some villages, the water has a high natural uranium content and is not suitable for drinking. This is a project of national importance. Last year, when I assumed the post of regional governor, I found him at the stage of a public procurement for the preparation of feasibility studies in 2019. It was won by the Israeli company “Ash Industries” OOD, whose representatives I have met. The first Interdepartmental Expert Council had already passed, at which many criticisms were made of the company’s development, and it was returned for revision.
In this situation, the only thing I could do was to convene a second Interdepartmental Council with the participation of a total of 32 departments – almost all of them from Sofia. We conducted it according to the requirements of the law, but unfortunately, two-thirds of the participants voted against the acceptance of the pre-investment studies.
– How will you comment on this second water supply failure? A study was again commissioned years ago, but it too failed.
– My assessment is that to some extent the state has not done its job well on the water project from the Dospat-Vacha cascade. If a state coordinator or a small team of experts had been appointed to work on the project as a priority, we would not have reached this negative result. That’s the lesson.
The Israeli company has been paid, the documentation remains with us and if a study is done again, all the data can be used. According to preliminary calculations, the implementation of the project is approximately BGN 500 million, and it is yet to be decided how it will be provided – by the state, through a public-private partnership or through a concession.
I am a big supporter of starting the procedure from the beginning, but with a better organization – to have a person or unit to coordinate the work, so that the gaps can be fixed as the work goes on, not after two years, when the project tabled for discussion.
– Is the winter maintenance of the roads in the Plovdiv region ensured?
– I’m convinced that we won’t have any problems, because even after taking office, the caretaker government was aware of the problems it would face and that one of them is winter maintenance. Talks are currently being held with the companies, the funds for the winter duty have already been secured.
The companies have claims that for a previous period they were not paid for work already done. The negotiation process is currently underway, which will be completed in the next 10-15 days.
We have held a meeting with the management of the Regional Road Administration, which maintains contacts with the Ministry of Transport and Communications, API and the companies. We are confident that the roads will be cleaned during the winter and citizens should not worry.
– In your opinion, what explains the extremely slow coordination of important projects with state institutions and ministries? One of the examples is the project of the Waterworks – Plovdiv for the Southern bypass collector, which has been going around departments for almost a year? Are we so unconcerned about BGN 80 million investments?
– When I came to this office at the beginning of August, I asked what was going on with the Southern bypass collector, because I worked on this topic in the last months of my first mandate at the end of 2021.
Then we solved the problem that had arisen between the Ministry of Agriculture and the MRRD. The reasons for the slow procedures are different and we should not forget that this process is related to the movement of a huge volume of documents, gathering of expert opinions, work of committees that must be convened. Objectively, this takes time, but regardless of this, I believe that the conciliation procedures can be accelerated.
Finally, the project has been submitted to the Municipality of Plovdiv, and we have the assurance of the competent deputy mayor, Plamen Raichev, that a building permit will be issued within two weeks, after which the real work on the collector will begin.
– In a short time, you managed to hold a series of meetings for the upcoming parliamentary elections. How is the preparation of the vote going?
– So far so good. Most importantly, we have been able to provide adequate halls to process the election results. Two halls in the International Fair, which always housed the 16th and 17th RICs, have been rented again. The electricity supply is provided there, the necessary equipment is available.
Options for other locations would have created many difficulties, so everyone felt great satisfaction when the Fair administration renegotiated the terms with the tenants for the Fall Exhibition, which ends on September 26, and according to the contracts, the premises were to be vacated 15 days after that date. We are grateful to the administration of the Fair for doing everything possible to secure two halls for election night.
We continue to have meetings that have to do with ensuring the safety of critical infrastructure. We would like the elections to be held in a normal environment so that people can vote peacefully and freely cast their vote as they choose.
– What measures are taken against vote buying?
– This is within the competence of the bodies of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the State Security Service and the Prosecutor’s Office. My task is to make sure that these institutions have the attitude, the desire and the will to work hard against vote buying, because the most important thing is to have fair and transparent elections. Let no one doubt their result and let’s create such an environment that people can calmly go to the polls and exercise their free right to vote.
Dr. Angel Stoev holds a Master’s degree in “International Economic Relations” from UNSS, a doctorate in philosophy from the Academy of the Ministry of the Interior-Sofia. A long-time employee of NSS and DANS, having held the position of director of the Regional Directorate of DANS-Plovdiv. He also worked in senior management positions in the private sector.
Angel Stoev specializes in crisis management, counter-terrorism and strategic management. He speaks German, English and Russian.
Angel Stoev was the regional governor of Plovdiv in the period 2021-2022.