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Bulgarian Academy of Sciences decides to partially let go of the meteorology institute

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Bulgarian Academy of Sciences decides to partially let go of the meteorology institute

The General Assembly of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS) voted Monday in favour of the partial removal from the BAS structure of the National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology (NIMH) and its transfer to a new structure created by the Council of Ministers. BAS President Julian Revalski told journalists that this decision gives the government a sign that it can take the necessary steps to completely remove the NIMH from the BAS structure. The decision concerns the Institute's entire operating activity and all the scientists who wish to join this new structure, he specified.

According to its text, the General Assembly's decision was prompted by the Government's stated intention to solve the problem with the NIMH.

Staff of the National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology have staged protests with demands that the NIMH leave the BAS. Meteorologists' key complaint is that the BAS budget is inadequately distributed by the BAS leadership and that they do not get enough money for their work.

Commenting on the General Assembly's decision, Revalski said that there had been many years during which the NIMH was not part of the BAS structure. In most countries the hydrometeorological service is separate, he added. Monday's decision will probably have an effect on the Academy's image, because the Meteorology Institute has always been associated with the BAS, he went on to say. According to him, the decision will not make other institutes within the Academy follow in NIMH's footsteps, because the Meteorology Institute is a very specific institute, where scientists on the payroll constitute one-seventh of its entire staff.

Asked what will happen with the material assets once part of the NIMH is removed from the BAS structure, Revalski said that this is up to the General Assembly, but initially the meteorologists will be allowed to use them so as to do their jobs; afterwards a joint working group will be set up to elaborate rules for the General Assembly to adopt.

With its number of scientists and workers, the NIMH is the biggest institute of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences; it has branches in the entire country and manages property provided to it by the Environment and Water Ministry for its hydrological activity, Revalsky explained. He once again stressed that the scientists at the NIMH are few.

Approached for comment, former NIMH Director Prof. Hristomir Brunzov said that the General Assembly's decision "is nothing and does nothing, because the decision lacks a text on the partial removal of the NIMH along with its assets and liabilities." Prof. Brunzov's mandate was terminated by the BAS leadership on August 30, a day after fresh protests by the Institute staff supported by him.
Prof. Brunzov went on to say that the NIMH cannot function without infrastructure - the stations, buildings and communications maintained by the National Hydrometeorological Service. Monday's decision of the BAS General Assembly does not fix a time for the establishment of a commission or working group to settle this matter, he added.

The NIMH has been without leadership for 12 days and there is no one to sign a single document, including financial obligations and payments, and the staff will remain without salaries, Prof. Brunzov warned.

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