Valeri Simeonov said Ska Keller should be kicked out of Bulgaria for interfering in domestic affairs.
Bulgaria’s Vice Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov on Friday signed a statement ordering Ska Keller, the president of the Greens group in the European Parliament, to be expelled from the country after she participated in protests against the government’s plan to build ski infrastructures in a Unesco world heritage site.
The statement, which condemns Keller for her interference in domestic affairs, was drafted by Simeonov’s National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria party, a nationalist party that is part of the current government coalition.
The Bulgarian government is mulling plans to allow the construction of ski runs and lifts in Bulgaria’s Pirin National Park, a protected site for bears and wolves, in an effort to boost winter tourism. On Thursday, Keller denounced the development during public protests, giving a speech against the plans.
Simeonov responded with a statement calling Keller “delusional” and branding her a “green jihadist.” It called on the ministry of foreign affairs to declare Keller “persona non grata” in Bulgaria.
Several Parliament officials said the news of Keller’s potential eviction could tarnish the image of Bulgaria, which has held the presidency of the Council of the EU since the beginning of January.
“These words are shocking and inappropriate to a vice prime minister,” Keller said in a statement. “I have been an active politician for many years and I never heard anything like this before, neither inside the European Union nor outside.”
The government project has also drawn the ire of many NGOs, including the World Wildlife Federation. They observe the site is also listed in the EU’s Natura 2000, a network that protects the survival of endangered species and habitats in the EU.