Eng. Panov, let me first congratulate you, on behalf of the team of „Stroitel“ Newspaper, on your election as head of the National Association of Municipalities of the Republic of Bulgaria (NAMRB) for a second term of service. I would suggest that we start the conversation from this point – what were the problems within the local authorities’ scope of activities, for which you, as Chair of NAMRB in the period 2015 – 2019, did not have enough time to cope with? And how would you evaluate the activities of the Association during this period?
The most important fact, not only for the NAMRB as an organization, but also for all municipalities in Bulgaria, is that we are involved both in the implementation, and in the elaboration of all the relevant key documents for our country. Our association is the official representative of local authorities in 261 interdepartmental agencies – advisory councils, monitoring committees, commissions, working groups and more. More than 550 representatives from nearly 200 municipalities participate in the operational work of these agencies. Within the past year only, we have submitted motivated opinions on over 30 bills, me and my colleagues take part in committee meetings and working groups of the National Assembly. The conditions for a constructive dialogue are established and guaranteed by the prestige of the NAMRB, but we – the municipalities – should find the right approach and solid arguments in making our position even more weighty.
Within the framework of our regional delegates’ meetings this year, in each planning region, the NAMRB organises a working discussion with the Deputy Minister of Regional Development Denitsa Nikolova and with members of her team, that work on updating the National Spatial Development Concept. Such form of public discussion, specifically addressed to mayors, chairmen of municipal councils and councillors had not yet been organized. The Association has established conditions for a direct dialogue with the competent institutions and has involved some of the best specialists in the field of regional development. In each one of the regions presentations were made about the outcome from the analyses of the status, of the potential and of areas of priority, and discussions were held about the development opportunities and the specific mechanisms of work in the new programming period.
How would you evaluate the dialogue between the NAMRB and the BCC? What is the approach towards advantageous collaboration between the two organizations? How do you see development of our cooperation in future?
I believe we both made progress over the years. We have learned to plan with greater scope, to invest in promising projects, to think in the framework not only of a few years, but of one or two decades ahead. BCC members already got used to the projects time limits, became acquainted with the requirements not only of the investor but also of the Managing Authority, started thinking in a new way about the technologies, materials and solutions offered by them. We still lack a common mechanism of monitoring which to guarantee the level of quality that both mayors and builders would be proud of.
The opinion of the specialists in the restoration, rehabilitation and returning back to life of the old buildings will be especially important for me, being the mayor of the old Bulgarian capital. In our capacity of mayors, the way we could contribute is by lobbing for the necessary changes in legislation, but they would be groundless if we are not sure their impact would be positive. Together with the mayors of Burgas, Varna, Plovdiv, Elena, Karlovo and many other municipalities, which still make efforts to preserve the historical and the architectural values, we are especially concerned about the process of slow dying of what had been built in Bulgaria over the past times. Like an old photo that is gradually fading. I think this is our most important mission – together with specialists from other sectors, to create a clear and working mechanism for the preservation and revitalization of ancient buildings.