A recent Eurobarometer survey ranked Bulgarians last among EU citizens with the most depressed European self-awareness. Only 52 per cent of the polled Bulgarians, the lowest figure among all EU countries, felt positive as EU citizens. Further to that – a record 46% answered “no”. This gives a frightening picture of the failure in the transition period which was meant to help totalitarian Bulgarians convert into European citizens with self-esteem and self-determination. What are the reasons? Let’s divide them into two groups – objective and subjective. The first are locked in the objective metering of the degree of convergence between the Central European averages and the Bulgarian indicators for prosperity and security. The Bulgarian citizen does not feel sufficiently converged into the European space; he is
My favorite Russian diplomat is Ambassador Chizhov. He tops my rankings as the most outspoken Russian diplomat on a range of hot topics in EU-Russia relations. He is entrusted by the Kremlin to challenge the EU on its home turf each and every time the European Council, the European Commission or the European Parliament passes a motion that affects Moscow’s interests. One clear mark of President Putin’s personal trust in him is the fact that Vladimir Chizhov is spending his record 14th year in office as Russia’s Permanent Representative to the European Union. He did not waste time in reassuring Russians and Russia’s friends and partners that the amendments to the EU Gas Directive passed by the European Parliament on April 4th, amending key regulations for gas pipelines
Bulgartransgaz has been noticeably absent from the public debate around the fate of South Stream-turned-TurkStream-turned-Balkan Stream, a project than can be summed up with the lone common denominator, ‘Borissov’ Stream. Consider the arguments. We are told that the TSO, Bulgartransgaz, is facing an existential threat – bound to lose money as Gazexport dries up transit via Ukraine and consequently via Bulgaria. That is a valid argument insofar as there is no alternative or plan B, and the threat is imminent, credible and verifiable – i.e. gas transit cancellation via Ukraine is a given. Yet both hypotheses are speculative in varying degrees. Since January 21, 2019, Gazprom and Naftogaz have been negotiating, with the help of the European Commission, a new ten-year gas transit contract through Ukraine. The
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Electricity price hiccups over the last two months seemed timely to attest the required price assumptions for the financial model of the Belene NPP. These days, prices have returned to normal levels, but the idea of higher electricity prices, at par with revenue projections, gained some ground – ostensibly the free market at work. There is a lot in common between the procedural patterns behind the Belene NPP and the Balkan Gas Hub. Most of the activities only nominally happen in the open – formal tender procedure, the rite observed, the end – terms agreed in advance. There is no true competition, no market interplay, no real public scrutiny, just political expediency. Summarizing the main features of the applied policy line in pursuit of a lighter version
For the first time in more than 15 years, Ukrainian gas has been exported to the EU. On January 30 this year, a small private company, TAS Energia Krainy, managed to sell gas to Slovakia. Volumes are indicative of a test mode, but the fact of the transfer is of great importance. First, the story is clear proof that Ukraine has successfully resolved domestic gas challenges, due to growth in indigenous gas production and diversified imports, enough to ensure a strong liquidity base for market liberalization and export potential. Second, the transaction happened in high winter season, which suggests self-confidence and mature levels in capacity and the supply market. The cross-border sale is not referenced to the more common long-term, but to short trade that can track
An indirect benefit of a possible F-16 deal for the Bulgarian Air Force is that the Kremlin’s visible agents of influence will emerge on the surface – individuals like Rumen Petkov, Parvanov, Mareshki and Siderov. Borisov’s GERB will have to, at least temporarily, subdue their pro-Russian hedge. One of the largest problems of Bulgarian democracy has been that membership in the EU and NATO did not succeed debate over, or a search for, common ground on the costs and benefits and the risks and the challenges that the budget and the people will face. To a large extent, geopolitical arguments supersede an elaborate and discrete process that often ends in troubled waters. The rare instances when trying to engage in winning hearts and minds by the reborn nomenclature, motivated
The issue of why the EC imposed an unprecedented fine of 77 million euros on the Bulgaria Energy Holding (BEH) and its subsidiaries, Bulgartransgaz and Bulgargaz, is quite extensive, and a single angle of analysis could hardly tell the whole story. I will focus on a more holistic approach, answering questions about matters on which the audience has been kept in the dark or misled by “experts” serving the culprits consciously/for a reward/ or through incompetence or naivete. 1. Attempts to subdue the real issue, as stated in the EC’s investigation, and direct criticism to the complainant, Overgas, are irrelevant and decry nervousness. The benefits of the EC decision will be shared by all customers and players in the gas market, not just Overgas. Following this decision of the
This is the story of an Italian investor who closed his enterprise near Plovdiv. The story was shared with an acquaintance of mine, and it explains why the businessman is leaving the country. The Italian investor started his narrative with a rare admission that, as someone coming from the country that is home to the mafia, it is almost natural for every Italian to “honor” the traditions of oiling administrative and regulatory mechanisms. But back in Italy, says the Italian businessman, we estimate the price for working in our environment at a maximum of 10-11 percent of the business proceeds. Most of us never challenge this – we pay and go on with our lives and work. This is not a new tradition – it has been the
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