Yordanka Fandakova: “We’ll Soon Show Sofia’s Real Visage”
She is beautiful, charming, energetic, workaholic. A woman of extraordinary charisma, a fascinating personality you can rarely come across. A woman you can admire even if you are not acquainted with. And, if you actually become acquainted with, she will positively stay in your heart. She is Yordanka Fandakova – thus far, the only woman-mayor in the 130 years of history of the Capital’s Municipality.
She is meeting us in her spacious office with smile, in spite of suffering from a severe cold. She apologizes for not being “up to photos”, and our conversation starts.
You are Sofia’s mayor since relatively short time ago. Did you already become accustomed to the new position, regardless that you formerly were a deputy-mayor?
As an institution, the municipality is not unfamiliar to me. During four years, I worked here within Mr. Borissov’s team, whose mayoral duties were known to me. Thus, I would not say that there were any surprises for me. Definitely, the dynamics are exceptional, there are lots of responsibilities, and the tension is relentless. On the other hand, the fact that I know the job, I know the team is helping me in motivating these people to work together and to achieve good results.
What are your work priorities for 2010?
Last week, we approved the Municipality’s 2010 budget. It contains very clearly articulated main priorities and, most importantly, the possibilities for their implementation. For me, however, it is very substantial to be able to continue all previously launched projects, which are of exceptional importance to the capital city. Among them are the construction of the subway, the domestic waste treatment plant, the [construction of] new kindergartens and others, for which financing is already secured. Important priorities are also environmental protection, education, and cultural and historical heritage – the latter being something that we could develop within the next few years and, with that, attract even more the interest of local and foreign tourists.
So, what specifically are you doing precisely with that aim – converting the Capital into an attractive travel destination?
This is one of my favourite themes. To begin with, we launched the implementation of a large project – the restoration of the so-called “Roman Avenue” – in the stretch between the [UniCredit] BulBank building and the National Assembly. As early as when the subway construction began, remarkable historical discoveries occurred in this zone, and we continue reinforcing and restoring them. With regard to that, we are applying for European [grant] financing of projects, in order to secure the means for the further conservation and exhibition of the artifacts. Archaeologist teams are going to take charge, and I am hopeful that within a relatively short period we will show Sofia’s real visage from the past. A small fraction of this historical treasure has been visible to all of us inside the underpass between the Presidency and the Council of Ministers. Imagine what will be uncovered once the ancient buildings and the excavation finds from the “Roman Avenue” emerge in the open! Meanwhile, along the subway construction in the sector from the ZUM building down the “Maria-Louisa” Boulevard some very interesting archaeology is also being discovered. It will surprise us, I hope, very pleasantly once the construction work ends. These sites are very important and it is not coincidentally that we drew the Ministry of Culture as a partner. The end of 2012 is the deadline for building this section of the subway. Another very interesting site that I should not omit – this is the project to expose the underground level (the tombs) of the “St. Sophia” church. The work is at an advanced stage and we will soon present the results in front of the media. We intend turning “St. Sophia” into a precious cultural tourism site.
Probably, there are plenty of problems in your work. Would you mention the most considerable ones?
Sofia is a huge city, which has drawn and continues drawing many people who live and accomplish themselves here. Many foreigners are also visiting the capital. In that sense, problems are a daily routine and they will always exist. I hope that we are solving them. The question is to have an adequate reaction to any of them, to seek also support from other institutions, from the state – and, indeed, that is my mission. There is a single objective – striving collectively to make our city lovelier and more attractive.
You have a little grandson. Do you find some time to cuddle him?
Actually, it is to him that I devote any free time. This is an incredible bliss, and when I am attending to him, it is not that much to help my daughter but rather to provide myself with an exceptional pleasure.
With that regard, how do you relax?
This is one of my favourite ways to relax. If I have any other free time left, I like going to the gym. Another prized occupation is to go with my family to our villa. We bought an old house out of Sofia, where I feel exceptionally at ease and agreeably. I also like a lot staying home, running the household or simply unwinding.
Do you like travelling? Which are your preferred destinations?
I like travelling. Unfortunately, at this time, I can only travel for business, which is linked to my engagements and has nothing to do with pleasurable travel. In what concerns a favourite destination – I have no clear-cut preferences. Every place is interesting to me. Every country, every city has its own specifics and I always showed curiosity and interest in becoming acquainted with them. I like architecture; it is with great pleasure that I go sightseeing historical monuments, temples, churches. Everywhere around the world, there are wonderful landmarks worth visiting. To me, however, the most wonderful ones are in Bulgaria, provided we could discover them… This is what I established after my numerous travels. We have to learn loving and appreciating our country more.
Your wishes for the citizens of Sofia, for all Bulgarians?
Let us be together and let us look ahead. Let us unite our efforts and develop our country and our cities, for there is no one to do it in our place. We cannot wait for somebody else to solve our problems and to do our job. We alone and only we, with common efforts and lots of work, we can contribute for the prosperity of Bulgaria and of our beloved capital.