Getting linked: Burgas, the New Silk Road, and the Fight for Identity

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Mariya Krastanova

Getting Linked Bargas

Eastern European countries are often branded as developing countries due to their recent rapid political changes. In Bulgaria, in particular, the switch to democracy was a crucial point in its development. Opinions on its merits are polarized. Starting from scratch, in the context of a rapidly evolving economy in a globalized world, is giving an opportunity to follow the successful examples of others, but it is also setting a much higher bar – one on a metropolitan scale. Burgas is one of the biggest and most rapidly developing cities in Bulgaria and has the advantages of its history, connectivity, and tourism, but it is also threatened by an excessively strong dream for a utopia.

This paper is following Burgas’ recent transformation and its woes, by comparing them to extreme examples from history. London, New York, and Tokyo are objects of this research, as three of the leading cities in the world. The additional example of Astana (Azerbaijan) is considered, which represents more recent drastic changes and the phenomenon of Dubaization. Taking into account such examples of serious political changes through the years permits us to objectively evaluate the efficiency of the strategic plan of young cities, such as Burgas.

The first section is introducing the historical framework of Bulgaria during the fall of the Soviet Union, while the second delves in the history of Burgas in particular. Following the historical cases in the third section and observing the recent politics in the Municipality of Burgas, we can comment on the probable upcoming events in Burgas’ urban development.

The paper aims to synthesize the strategies of a city with ambitious goals in its development. It is observing the plans and their effects on the urban spaces and it tries to elucidate the criteria for future actions.