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Bulgarians Crossing the border to buy food June 8, 2010

Posted by Yilan in Bulgaria, Macedonia.
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The city of Strumica is going through a renaissance of sorts, business is booming, local businesses say things have not been this good in a long time. All of this thanks to Bulgaria becoming a member of the EU.

Vasko Petrov who is based in Strumica says ‘things have reversed by a magnitude of 100’ since Bulgaria became part of the EU.

“What do I mean ‘by a magnitude of 100’ is that for the 100’s of different things we Macedonians went to Bulgaria to buy because it was cheaper, now the Bulgarians are coming to us… for the same things. Their food was dirt cheap for years, I bought my food, clothing, even my car across the border. With the exception of cars who are still cheaper in Bulgaria, now the Bulgarians come to Strumica to buy everything: Food, Alcohol, Meat, Milk… you name it, they buy it.” says Vasko.

“I spoke to a Bulgarian in the market the other day, as a matter of fact when you do go to the market during the weekend, there are a lot more Bulgarians shopping than Macedonians. They all say ever since becoming part of the EU, their food has quadrupled in price and can no longer afford it. Statistically, Macedonians earn more than Bulgarians, so their situation has not improved at all, actually it went down hill. Indeed our neighbour has a better unemployment rate, because 1 million plus Bulgarians have left the country for Germany, Spain, France, Scotland etc.” says Vasko who communicates with Bulgarian shoppers on weekly basis.

“Undoubtedly, this is a great thing for Strumica. No one would have thought our neighbours would come to shop here because we are cheaper, but it happened.”

When we asked Vasko if Macedonians go to Bulgaria for anything other than cars, he admitted Bulgaria is still popular with the locals for their great and affordable dentistry and medicine in general.

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