Sofia — Protesters in Bulgaria have continued their blockades into a third day in protest of government plans to shut down coal-fired power plants as part of a transition to more environmentally-friendly energy sources.
Demonstrators from the three coalfields in the south-east and south-west of the EU country did not accept an invitation from Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov to come to Sofia for talks on Sunday, according to union leader Dimitar Manolov.
Bulgaria aims to close its coal-fired power plants and mines by 2038. The demonstrators agree on the date, but not on the way the transition to cleaner energy is to be implemented.
Despite the protests, Denkov's government approved plans to close the three coal areas on Friday, to avoid losing money from EU funds for the transition to clean energy worth 4.4 billion levs ($2.3 billion).
The union says around 120,000 people out of a population of 6.5 million would be indirectly affected by the shuttering of the three coal hubs. Currently, about half of Bulgaria's electricity is generated by coal, and a further third comes from nuclear power.
Protesters have blocked the E79 road to Greece in south-west Bulgaria, the Trakia motorway leading to the Black Sea and Istanbul, and another east-to-west national road.
In addition, they blocked the Pass of the Republic through the Balkan Mountains, stalling traffic to Greece and Turkey and causing kilometre-long traffic jams.
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