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Re: ANALYSIS FOR COMMENT - BULGARIA/RUSSIA: Anti-Russian Bulgaria? Don't get your hopes up!

Released on 2012-02-27 11:00 GMT

Email-ID 1672788
Date 1970-01-01 01:00:00
I don't see why it would. Bulgaria certainly loves being the center of
attention and in the perfect scenario both South Stream and Nabucco would
happen and both go through Bulgaria. So if Turkey decides to do Nabucco,
Bulgaria is quite happy with that, as long as it is still the center of
both projects.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Reva Bhalla"
To: "Analyst List"
Sent: Monday, July 13, 2009 3:30:12 PM GMT -06:00 US/Canada Central
Bulgaria? Don't get your hopes up!

the timing of this statement is pretty interesting. same day that turkey
signs nabucco. even if nabucco is for show, does bulgaria feel it has more
options with TUrkey playing the field?
On Jul 13, 2009, at 3:02 PM, Karen Hooper wrote:

Marko Papic wrote:

I had to cut out a LOT of info we have on Borisov simply because I am
not sure which bits could get us into legal trouble. Nonetheless, a lot
of that stuff is also weedy, so I think a broader geopolitical
discussion is not out of place.

Newly elected Prime Minister of Bulgaria, Boyko Borisov, has in a letter
on July 13 asked the Economy and Energy Minister Petar Dimitrov to
temporarily freeze the construction of the Belene nuclear power plant
and the development of the South Stream natural gas pipeline project.
Borisov claimed in the letter that the Bulgarian state owned companies
involved in the two projects were not taking into account the economic
crisis in their operations, hinting at financial malfeasance. Both the
Belene nuclear power plant and the South Stream project are being
developed in cooperation with Russian state owned enterprises,
Atomstroyexport and Gazprom respectively.

Russian influence in Bulgaria has always been considered as robust and
the government of outgoing prime minister Sergei Stanishev did nothing
to dispel that notion, despite Sofiaa**s entry into the EU in 2007 under
his leadership and the fact that it had been a member of NATO since
2004 agree that it might be a good idea to explain the motivation to do
this while still remaining firmly in russia's pocket. Bulgariaa**s
relatively eager participation in the South Stream project a** Russian
alternative to the EUa**s Nabucco project a** has been lauded as an
example of the close collaboration between Moscow and Sofia and proof of
Bulgariaa**s a**Trojan Horsea** status within the Western Alliance.

Borisova**s actions, one of his first as incoming prime minister, to
freeze progress on the two major Russian projects within Bulgaria seem
to suggest that he will stick to his campaign promise to play by a**EU
rulesa** on energy policy and reverse his opponenta**s policies of
cozying up to Russia. He also campaigned on the idea that that he would
not be beholden to Moscow and that he would treat Russia just like any
other power, thus ending the special relationship enjoyed by Sofia and
Moscow under Stanisheva**s government.

However, the warm relations between Bulgaria and Russia are not a modern
phenomenon, nor are they beholden to any particular governmenta**s
policies. The relationship is rooted in geopolitics and has withstood
the test of time from the 19thCentury until today.

Bulgaria owes its independence from the Ottoman Empire in late
19th Century to Russia which fought the Russo-Turkish War with the
intent of creating a a**Greater Bulgariaa** with sea access in both the
Black Sea and the Aegean Sea. The Russian plan for an enlarged Bulgaria,
which would have given Russia friendly ports in the Mediterranean,
backfired by alarming Western powers who were forced to intervene,
albeit diplomatically, during the 1878 Berlin Congress and thus greatly
reduced Bulgariaa**s territory.

Russia and Bulgaria continued to have a strong relationship throughout
the 20th Century despite Bulgariaa**s decision to side with the Central
Powers in the First World War and subsequently the Axis in the Second.
As an example of its strong link to Moscow, Bulgaria refused to join the
attack against the Soviet Union despite being officially allied with
Nazi Germany. The subsequent communist period in Bulgaria, while not
remembered with nostalgia, does not elicit the same kind of knee jerk
anti-Russian feelings as in much the rest of Central and Eastern Europe.
Bulgaria was a loyal member of the Soviet Bloc with no uprisings against
Moscowa**s regional hegemony.

The oft stated reason for Bulgariaa**s affinity towards Russia are the
cultural and religious ties between the two countries and these
certainly work well to grease the wheels of the relationship. However,
in reality, Bulgariaa**s interests are rooted in its geopolitical
circumstances. Surrounded by entities who have historically been
stronger and sometimes outright aggressive towards it -- namely
Turkey/Ottoman Empire to the South, Romania to the north and
Yugoslavia/Serbia to the West, Bulgaria has often relied on Russia to
play the role of its protector and champion in the region. i would move
this paragraph up to above where you give examples of russia being a
protector Meanwhile, from the Russian perspective, Bulgaria affords it a
foothold in the Balkans, much more reliable than the often too
independently minded Serbia and Romania, both of which had plans of
their own to become regional hegemons. there must be some more concrete
ties between Bulgaria to Moscow, particularly with Stanishev's close
ties, Moscow must have a great deal in the way of economic levers. if
so, i owuld include that as evidence for why Borisov cannot possibly be
actually pulling away from Russia. Furthermore, Russia is in no mood to
have a satellite drift away, and you might want to piont out that even
if he were trying, the Russians would leverage much more than a history
of protectorship to bring bulgaria back into line.

Borisova**s initial moves against Russian projects in Bulgaria should
therefore not be taken to signal a fundamental shift in Bulgariaa**s
relations with Russia. Borisova**s government may temper some of the
overt signs of this strong relationship, but his move to freeze progress
on South Stream and the Belene power plant is more likely about rooting
out his predecessora**s control of those lucrative projects than about
fundamentally moving Bulgaria away from Russia. Once Borisov feels that
he and his power base are sufficiently in control of all aspects of the
Sofia-Moscow relationship, it is very likely that Bulgaria will continue
to be one of Russia's strongest allies within the EU and NATO.