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 On April 15, 2021, following a short illness, Eng. Stilian Balasopulov, PhD, President of the National Union of Worker Producers’ Cooperatives in Bulgaria, passed away.

The name of Stilian Balasopulov is associated with an entire era in the cooperative movement in Bulgaria. His labour activity in the worker producers’ cooperatives started in 1978 in his hometown of Burgas, as president of the "Metallic" WPC. He made the most significant contribution to the Bulgarian cooperative movement in the period 1992 - 2021, as President of the National Union of Worker Producers’ Cooperatives (NUWPC).

Mr. Balasopulov contributed to the restoration of worker producers’ cooperatives after 1990, zealously defending the cooperative cause. He puts at the centre of the public debate the topic of the social economy in Bulgaria. On his initiative, the National Exhibition of Specialized Enterprises and Cooperatives for People with Disabilities (2002-2012) was organized. In 2012 - the International Year of Cooperatives - the exhibition grew into a European Forum on Social Entrepreneurship. Dr. Balasopulov managed to attract as co-organizers of the European Forum the European Commission, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, the Ministry of Economy, the Agency for People with Disabilities, national representative organizations of and for people with disabilities, and others. Partners of the Forum over the years are employers, trade unions, NGOs, municipalities, universities. At his initiative, a unique "Cooperative Cluster" was created, which aims to unite the efforts of WPCs and leading universities in the country with specialized cooperatives and enterprises for people with disabilities.

Stilian Balasopulov spoke English, German, Russian and Greek and actively participated in national and European cooperatives and other organizations. He was for many years Vice-President of CEKOP - the European Confederation of Industrial and Service Cooperatives. Mr. Balasopulov was a delegate to the European Economic and Social Committee'sConsultative Commission on Industrial Change (CCMI). Since 2008 he has been a member of the Bulgarian Economic and Social Council, long-term member of the National Council of People with Disabilities, member of the Board of the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce.

With his life, Eng. Stilian Balasopulov, PhD laid a solid foundation for the development of the cooperative movement, social economy, and the integration of people with disabilities in Bulgaria.

May he rest in peace!

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