Dr Bozhidar Dimitrov, Director of the National Museum of History, talks about the accusations made by archaeologists from the Association of Bulgarian Archaeologists, in an interview for Focus News Agency.
Focus: Archaeologists from the Association of Bulgarian Archaeologists accused you, during a press conference held yesterday, that the Bulgarian government had given you more than BGN 1.5 million for archaeological objects along the southern part of the Bulgarian Black Sea coastline. How would you comment their criticism?
Bozhidar Dimitrov: The so-called archaeologists from the Association of Bulgarian Archaeologists do not express the interest of the entire guild, like they are pretending to be, but of a very small circle of archaeologists. They just do not have enough information. They accuse me in receiving BGN 650,000 and BGN 900,000 from the Bulgarian government for archaeological sites along the southern Bulgarian Black Sea coastline. The only thing that is true is the fact that the Bulgarian government has provided the money. The money, however, was given to the local municipalities, who signed contracts with archaeologists. Only two people from the National Museum of History, i.e. people that are under my direct supervision, were among those archaeologists. The other people are from the National Institute of Archaeology and Museum with the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, among whom was one of the Vice-Directors of the institute. They were the people, who decided what the necessary funding for each archaeological site was. The press conference you mentioned was full of lies and desperate incompetence, ignorance, and the lack of any information of what is happening in the world. I was shocked. I did not expect that we had colleagues, who were so low.
It is not true that the BGN 900,000 was provided only for objects along the southern Bulgarian Black Sea coastline and that with the previous BGN 600,000, the total sum for the region was BGN 1.5 million. BGN 350,000 from the abovementioned BGN 900,000 was earmarked for the tombs in the Kazanlak Valley; part of the money was earmarked for the Kastritsi fortress near Varna – in the northern Bulgarian Black Sea coastline. The archaeological sites along the southern coastline have received the necessary funds for finishing the works on the sites, which are high-value objects – in towns like Sozopol, Ahtopol, and the Akra region near Chernomorest. How can one say that the archaeological sites in a town are not important is beyond me. There are no low-value objects in archaeology. Archaeology is not aimed at finding gold, silver, statues, and etc, but in order to receive information about the past. Even if an object does not have gold and silver, it carries information that it was inhabited by poorer people.
Focus: How are the funds for the objects along the southern Bulgarian Black Sea coastline distributed, and is there any transparency of the distribution process?
Bozhidar Dimitrov: There is transparency. The municipalities file their requests, which are being discussed and approved by archaeologists from the National Institute of Archaeology and Museum with the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and from the National Museum of History. The money is sent to the municipalities, who sign contracts with archaeologists. I suppose that this is the way it is done, as I do not have any access to that money. My archaeologists will work this autumn, because they cannot work in the summer, in the peak of the holiday season, in Sozopol.
Focus: What was the amount of money that the archaeologists from the National Museum of History, working along the southern Bulgarian Black Sea coastline, received?
Bozhidar Dimitrov: One of the projects received BGN 90,000, and the other one – BGN 40,000. This is all the National Museum of History received. Part of the money was spent, while the remaining would be spent in the autumn when the work on the site in Sozopol would resume.
Focus: How will you reply to the accusations that you stand behind the amendments to the Cultural Heritage Act, especially the part regarding the restoration works?
Bozhidar Dimitrov: I honestly do not know who is the author of the amendments. Neither I, nor anyone from the National Museum of History has anything to do with these amendments. The people that accused me in taking the money for archaeology also stated that I was in favour of restoration of fortresses, churches, monasteries, and pointed that this was outdated and no one used it in the 21st century. They obviously do not see that Italians are restoring their Coliseum, while the Greeks are restoring the Parthenon, and Turkey is restoring completely the wall of ancient Constantinople, which is long 29 kilometres. I have not seen such incompetent archaeologists, like the people from yesterday.