Minister Gagaouzov: Municipal Referendum Cannot Solve Interstate Problem

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Minister Gagaouzov: Municipal Referendum Cannot Solve Interstate Problem

"The people organizing a referendum know very well that a municipal referendum cannot solve an interstate problem, that is why it should not be called at all," Regional Development and Public Works Minister Asen Gagaouzov told reporters in the lobbies of Parliament Friday, commenting on the referendum on the Bourgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline scheduled to be held in Bourgas (Bulgaria's second biggest Black Sea port) on February 17.

In his words, the referendum is of no legal value, and yet it is an initiative that allows to get stakeholders' opinion who are interested in carrying out the project in the best possible way and without causing environmental problems.

"The referendum will take place, and our work after it will continue as we have to show people that we are a responsible government and we will do our utmost to guarantee that the
environmental situation will not be worsened but improved - because it [the environmental situation] is not good enough even now," Gagaouzov said.

Asked if the government will take into consideration the opinion of the residents of Bourgas if they say "no" to the project, Gagaouzov said Bulgaria will abide by the agreement and will take all necessary actiona to build a facility which guarantees the improvement of the ecological situation in the Bay of Bourgas, as well as all other parameters of the project.

The outcome of the referendum cannot be preclusive as to the choice of technology for realization of the project, Gagaouzov said taking another question. In his view, only few of the people who are going to vote in the referendum actually know the difference between this or that technology.

"In principle, we will make the best possible decision based on the best existing in the world," Gagaouzov said adding the decision on the technology would be made after a broad public debate, careful evaluation of the effects and approval by the expert council of the Environment and Waters Ministry.

"There is no other way but using tanker ships to transport the oil by sea, and how it will be unloanded is the other question which people are concerned about - by using maritime hoses to unload it at sea or in the port," Gagaouzov said.

The type of tankers to be used is yet to be specified. The tankers should be new, double-botomed, which would guarantee their safety.in orderto guarantee their safety.

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