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
Versed for decades in the mantras of eternal brotherhood and friendship with the Soviet Union, Bulgarians may find these lines bordering on heresy. Many would not sound the alarm even if the number of Russian speakers tops one million. Even though the immediate risk and threat profile of the rising Russian speaking minority is low, the impact on Bulgarian democracy, the political process, the national security and NATO-EU integration capacity can hardly be ignored or left unnoticed. It is not only the demographic and immigration footprints that are in question – the Bulgarian authorities should be well aware of the number of holders of Russian passports who have Permanent or Temporary Residence Status, as well as the numbers of tourists with extended holiday stay. The Bulgarian state
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Nesebar is an attractive tourist destination situated on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast. Its rich archaeology and history are well presented in the local archaeological museum which hosts fascinating collections from prehistory to the Middle Ages. The picturesque old town that has many well-preserved mediaeval churches with frescoes and 19th century houses was built over the remains of ancient Mesambria, which was one of the most important Greek colonies in the region. The Greek colony was situated on a small peninsula, about 40 hectares in size, with two harbors on its northern and southern shores. About one third of ancient Mesambria is currently submerged. Regular archaeological excavations have been carried out in the town from 1960 onwards. The peninsula was inhabited by the Thracians during the late 2nd
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
The ratification of the Macedonia name deal between Athens and Skopje on Friday capped a year in which the West renewed its focus on integrating the Western Balkans into the Euro-Atlantic community. Bulgaria factored into the renewed push to integrate the region into NATO and the EU because Sofia made Western Balkan integration a focal point of its European Council presidency that spanned the first half of 2018. Sofia capped its EU presidency by hosting the EU-Western Balkans summit last May. The summit was a high-level gathering of EU and Western Balkan leaders, the first of its kind in 15 years. Now that 2018 is complete and the Macedonia name dispute has been settled, one can have a clearer look at the fruits of Bulgaria’s push to
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 consequences of the choices the Bulgarian government makes on the scale and direction of the infrastructure upgrade to accommodate future flows it intends to service will be long-term. The issue at stake is whether the country will become a fully integrated member of the EU gas market, implementing key elements of the EU’s gas strategy and North-South – the Baltic to the Aegean Sea – interconnectedness, or replay the old adage of acting as proxy to Gazprom gas in the EU. The crisis in the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait, among other alerts and triggers, echoes a repetitive soundbite in Russian foreign policy – Ukraine should not be trusted as a transit country, thereby Russia’s circumvention ‘streams’ serve the EU’s best interest. There is little doubt