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Bilyana Raeva is seeking support for the preservation of the Bulgarian house of culture in Odessa

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The Association of the Bulgarians living in Ukraine has sent a letter to Bilyana Raeva, Member of the European Parliament (ALDE-NMSS), asking her to help them in solving the problem with the Bulgarian house of culture in Odessa. “We appeal to you as Member of the European Parliament from the Republic of Bulgaria, to intercede with the government of Ukraine on behalf of solving this precedent, artificially created by the Odessa regional powers in contradiction to the European democratic norms” has been written in the letter of Anton Kisse, Association Chairperson. He states that the Odessa local regional powers have in fact taken a tacit decision to deprive the Bulgarian community of the All-Ukrainian centre for Bulgarian culture. During the meeting with the Association representatives on 26 November 2007, the Chairman to the District council of Odessa has announced, that the Association should be paying, according to the rented building preliminary expertise, the sum of 100 t0 150 thousands Ukrainian Hryvnas monthly, which makes more than 20 to 30 thousands of US Dollars, making it tenths of thousands times larger than the sum fixed in the Protection Agreement, signed by the Association.

Last week Bilyana Raeva had a meeting, in the Bulgarian Embassy in Kiev, with the governing body of the Association. The vice-chairperson to the Association, Svetlana Dragneva, expressed her worries, that the probable reason for the attempt to deprive the Bulgarians of their house of culture is a matter of financial interests, but it will result in interrupting the Bulgarian Diaspora cultural and educational activities in Ukraine.

Bilyana Raeva committed herself to discuss upon the problem with her colleagues from the Alliance of Democrats and Liberals for Europe. She trusts that she will be also supported for this noble mission by the other Bulgarian Members of the European Parliament. According to her, the engagement of our country’s institutions will be playing, to a great extent, a decisive role, especially with the official position she hopes to receive from the Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev and of the Foreign Affairs Minister Ivailo Kalfin. The Chairperson to the Association of the Bulgarians living in Ukraine Anton Kisse visited Bulgaria during the last month and had a meeting with the Prime Minister and the Foreign Affairs Minister. His visit’s major purpose had been namely the problem with the house of culture in Odessa. The Association of the Bulgarians living in Ukraine is the most representative organization of the Bulgarian Diaspora, unifying over than 101 societies and affiliated organizations from the Crimean and the Bessarabian regions. It aims mainly to organize the cultural and educative activities among our compatriots and to preserve the Bulgarian consciousness. The house of culture has been given in disposition to the Association in 2005 with an order issued by the President Yushchenko, obliging the district council of Odessa to dispose buildings of cultural and historic value to the existing cultural and ethnic communities, to be used in public favor. The Bulgarian community is the third in size in Odessa region.
The house of culture’s building is a cultural monument itself and holds an outstanding historical significance for our compatriots. It is a symbol of the vitality of the Bulgarian spirit in the Bessarabians with Bulgarian origin. Preserving it as a house of culture for the Bulgarians in Odessa, endangered at present by the district council of Odessa, is an appeal not only to the Bulgarian consciousness, but also to the Bulgarian institutions, shared with Bilyana Raeva our compatriots during the meeting in Kiev. Participating in the meeting was also the Chairperson to the Crimean Republican Bulgarian Society “Paisii Hilendarski”, the Chairperson to the Zaporozhie District Bulgarian Society, the Director to the school with students of Bulgarian origin in the village of Chiishia, the region of Bolgrade, representatives of the Scientific Society of the specialists in Bulgarian studies in Odessa, the Chairperson to the Bulgarian Society “Patriot” in Kiev. Among the items discussed, has been the Bulgarian Diaspora in Ukraine educational program as well as the assistance to be offered by Bulgarian experts to update the school textbooks. Bulgarian universities’ scholarships and how to access them, as well as the possible exchange of students and lecturers from Bulgaria and Ukraine have been also commented. Our compatriots shared the idea of finding choreographers for the Bulgarian dancing groups in Ukraine. There are no Bulgarian media, no Bulgarian correspondents in Ukraine, and the information about what is happening in Bulgaria they are getting to know from the Internet. The Bulgarian diplomas are not recognized in Ukraine. It was mentioned also, that there does not exist a Bulgarian cultural centre in Kiev like the one in Odessa, and therefore its preservation is of such a great importance.


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