Three counties belonging to northwestern Bulgaria want to organize a local referendum in order to gain independence from the country, Bulgarian TV station NOVA reports. The organizer of the referendum, Boris Kamenov, declared that after independence is obtained, the counties hope to be annexed to Romania.
According to NOVA, locals of the Vidin, Vratsa and Montana counties want to rid the region of the high levels of corruption in Bulgaria.
“The locals of the northwest are fighters. The population of this region organized the revolt against the Ottoman Empire, as well as the so-called revolt of September 1923,” Boris Kamenov stated. He also went on to say that “Bulgarians from this region will no longer partake in this corruption and will fight for a true democracy.”
When asked why they want to adhere to Romania, he answered: “Their judiciary system is more democratic, more reformed.”
Another supporter of this movement said that he sides with Boris because in Vidin, Vratsa and Montana there is no economic activity and locals are forced to commute to neighboring cities in order to find work: “We work in Kozloduy, in Plovdiv and other cities—there is nothing here.”
The man in charge of the movement, Boris Kamenov, said that once independence is gained, locals will address the Romanian government with the proposition of joining its territory.
Bulgaria is considered to be the most corrupt country in the European Union, which it has been a member of since 2007 and has been dealing with this problem since the 1990s. Transparency International’s 2016 Corruption Perception Index ranks the country 75th place out of 176 countries.
In 2015, the European Commission found that almost nothing had been done in Bulgaria to limit organized crime and corruption. It is considered that Bulgaria experiences “untrustworthy and badly-functioning public institutions like the police and judiciary” and ignored anti-corruption laws. “People frequently face situations of bribery and extortion, rely on basic services that have been undermined by the misappropriation of funds and confront official indifference when seeking redress from authorities that are on the take,” the Corruption Perceptions Index states.
Romania is considered the fifth most corrupt country in the European Union and the Corruption Perception Index ranks it 57th place out of 176 countries. Over the past few years, corruption has become a much bigger problem in Romania, having provoked the 2015 protests following the Colectiv nightclub fire and the 2017 protests that reached their peak in February, when over half a million people gathered in light of an attempt by the government to decriminalize corruption.