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Finance Minister Djankov Is Aggressively Ignorant

Date: 19.11.2009

Bulgaria's President, Georgi Parvanov, has slammed Finance Minister Simeon Djankov, over a controversy between the two regarding state funding for the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

In an article entitled “The Question Is Not Science or Economy but Science for the Benefit of Economy and Society”, which was published on the Presidency website, Parvanov expresses his hopes that the “administrative approach” for automatic shedding of units and science jobs will not be applied to the science and higher education sector, unlike other state-run sectors.

Parvanov’s article is a reaction to a Friday’s statement by Finance Minister Djankov after the President had said the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS) was not getting sufficient funding under the 2010 state budget.

At the end of last week, Djankov said that "the President's friends at the BAS are feudal elders" who did not generate scientific achievements but only sucked out budget funds through their salaries and subsidies. Djankov stressed thatin the developed states scientific research and development happened at universities.

“The statements of Finance Minister about the BAS in which he called it a Stalinist product and its scientists - “feudal elders” - demonstrate an aggressive ignorance. What is more, he argued that in a time of crisis, “science is not the major thing.” The Minister’s statement was generally supported by the Prime Minister. This is not the first time that the BAS was divided as it had been the target of political repressions after 1944 and in the Transition years. The moves to liquidate the BAS probably stem from materialistic aspirations about its numerous real estate properties,” the President’s article reads.

Parvanov even cites an April 2009 of US President Barack Obama that science and research must turn into prerequisites for overcoming the global economic crisis.

“Actually, the previous government, which could be criticized for many things, was the first one to almost triple the funding for science with the Scientific Research Fund growing from BGN 19 M to BGN 100 M, even though much of those funds have already been shed,” Parvanov states regarding the former government of his fellow Socialist Sergey Stanishev.

In his words, the GERB government has reduced the funding for science in 2010 by up to 35 % compared to the 2009 level, which left them at about 0,3 % of the GDP.

Parvanov is convinced that the science sector must not be funded solely based on market principle leaving scientists to struggle for their survival.

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