BMU in Karlukovo, Bulgaria

From 17 to 20 May at the National Cave House in Karlukovo was held another meeting of the Balkan mountaineering union (BMU). The meeting was to take stock of the current activities of the BMU and to seek constructive solutions for its future activity and development.
Kar 0We recall that BMU was established in 2009. The idea was to unite the efforts of Mountain Federations and Mountain Unions of the Balkan countries for the growth of mountaineering and mountain sports –hiking, mountain orientation, mountain climbing etc. Also to enable the exchange of experience and good practices related to their work and development of tourist services at the Balkan. Previous meeting was held in Montenegro.
This time the event was hosted by the Bulgarian Tourist Union. For the meeting was elected National Cave House in Karlukovo not only because of the wonderful opportunities it offers for the conduct of such events but because of the massive tourism potential that this region of Bulgaria has. Before the serious part, namely the implement of Plenary sessions, participants in the international meeting made a trip to the most interesting sights in the area. First day of the visit guests examined with great interest Troyan Monastery and Saeva Hole Cave – some of the emblematic tourist places in this region. The same day they had the opportunity to walk to the hotel “Zora” in Apriltsi, where they met our colleague Petko Staynov and treat them with Bulgarian national cuisine.
BMU official meeting took place on 19 May (Saturday), where delegates discussed the importance of the Balkan Mountaineering Union issues . Before lunch was given time to analyze the state of the UIAA, involving some of the member states of BMU.
Participants debated whether it is appropriate for UIAA to continue to be a bureaucratic and administrative unit, not practical and useful structure and what needs to be done for this purpose. During the afternoon session the focus was aimed on the BMU – state activity and prospects . Special attention was paid to the mountain roads of the Balkans and its marking and also the necessity of creating networks of several routes between two or more countries. Discussed were also issues related to the supply of tourism services from mountaineering federations and unions. The need to expand the activities of BMU and the inclusion of more participants in the events were highlighted, because the Balkans are an attractive tourist destination and their potential is great. Guests from Slovenia presented their experience in working on the projects fuded by the European Union.

At the meeting in Karlukovo one more country joined the Balkan Mountaneering Union. By voting, Republic of Croatia was admitted as a new member of MBU. The second day of the meeting the guests had the opportunity to see some of the most interesting places in the area around Karlukovo. During the road trip organized by the hosts of BTU they were acquainted with Provartenika phenomenon, perched on the top of a rocky table-land. The Prohodna cave with its beauty literally left them breathless and silent.

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Comment by President of BMU professor Jovica Ugrinovski, president of Macedonian Mountaineering Union for the meeting in Karlukovo:

Our union is unique and mutually beneficial

Balkan mountaineering union is unique in Europe . In my judgement the most important of the meeting in Karlukovo is that we completely set with the adoption of Croatian Mountaineering Union, so now all Balkan countries are covered. With the exception of Romania – we were unable to contact, maybe at the next meeting we will have it.
– What is the positive benefit to either party who has entered BMU, why should we be there? – As they say – one air we breathe. Our mountains are alike, we have the same problems but a different mentality. Naturally such neighbouring countries to make an association. After several years of discussions and preparation happened this what we present – a complete Balkan Mountaineering Union.
– And in concrete terms what is happening in the Union in relation to joint routes, to markings, give any specifics? – Now we negociate and we will probably do this in a nearby period – a uniform grid of all the Balkan alpin trails, which start from Turkey through Bulgaria, some in Greece or Serbia, third in Macedonia. We will try to make a common marking,common network and general map ot mountain trails.
– Will the membership in BMU give to its members some relief for organized tourists from the member states – on huts, on visa? – Now we must come to an agreement and sign a memorandum of reliefs – par example – all Bulgarian tourists in Macedonia, all Bulgarian mountaineers with membership cards to acquire all rights and beneficiaries, as tourists in Macedonia have.
– And reciprocally – all Balkan countries.
These are just intentions. We hope that with the time ideas and plans will be implemented. We are recognized factor already in international circles being the only regional organization covering 10 countries in one place.

– Otherwise in Europe no other similar organization with so many members?
– No, there isn`t. Austrian organization unites only 6 countries. Also membership in BMU bears no financial difficulties to its members – we do not pay dues, which is the only international example. If we start paying membership fees Union will become an administrative work which eats money.

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