Bulgaria’s new president: What happens next?

On 13 November Bulgarians elected a new president – general Rumen Radev, the ex-commander-in-chief of the Balkan country’s air force, supported by the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP). In a runoff election the 53-year old Mr Radev secured almost 60% of the vote, 23 percentage points ahead of Tsetska Tsatcheva, the runner-up nominated by the ruling center-right GERB[1] party. The landslide defeat triggered prime minister … Read more…

Bulgaria goes to Warsaw Summit with Black Sea in mind

The 2016 summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, the Alliance) will begin in Warsaw on 8 July. The meeting of NATO heads of state is expected to address issues, which are seen as essential for the security environment in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) in view of Russia’s perceived aggressive posture in the region. Some of those will include eastward force deployment in … Read more…

Russia’s nuclear energy expansion – a geopolitical footprint?

For all Russia-watchers, oil and natural gas usually dominate the media discourse on Russia’s energy policies and the role they play in the country’s foreign policy deliberations. From the European perspective, this is entirely understandable, keeping in mind the paramount importance of Russia as a supplier of the blue fuel for a major part of the continent. I have myself many times written on the … Read more…

Bulgaria on course to diversify gas supply sources

Bulgaria has recently moved ever closer to diversifying its sources of natural gas supply. This time, it seems it may be happening with less geopolitical grandeur and fanfare. After years of flirting with Russia over its monster pipeline projects on the Balkans, a 182km long gas interconnector link with Greece may do the trick. The source? Most probably Azeri gas. On 17 May in the … Read more…

Bulgaria and Poland – an episode in Warsaw’s push toward the Black Sea?

It is common knowledge that more than two decades ago the European continent was mainly divided between two rival geopolitical blocs – “Western”, mostly the EU and the North-Atlantic club, and “Eastern”, dominated militarily and economically by the USSR. This Eastern Bloc occupied a geographical space spreading from the flatland of the Great East European Plain along the Baltic coast in the north to the Black … Read more…

What is really at stake for Ukraine after the Dutch referendum?

Preliminary results from yesterday’s referendum in the Netherlands on the final ratification of an EU-Ukraine association agreement showed that nearly two thirds of participants said “no” to the deal. Many experts and observers were quick to express their doubts over the practical consequences of the plebiscite, due to its non-binding nature and the EU Council’s decision making rules with respect to foreign policy treaties. As … Read more…

Bulgaria’s Turkish minority party: What went wrong?

News from Bulgaria’s domestic political scene seldom make it to the European mainstream. On one such rare occasion, in December 2015 Reuters reported the sacking of Lyutvi Mestan, the leader of Bulgaria’s Turkish minority party – the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF, or DPS as transliterated in Bulgarian). The general reader could have dismissed the event as trivial but such a view would have … Read more…

Is South Stream making a silent return?

There is no official document that shows the South Stream gas pipeline project has been cancelled, it has been “frozen” and could be re-activated if such need would arise, Pavel Zavalny, chairman of the energy policy commission in the Russian Duma, said in an interview for the Bulgarian National Radio on Monday. The Ukrainian gas transit infrastructure is will be getting more and more unreliable in … Read more…

Bulgaria vs Nord Stream 2: Set the priorities right

Bulgaria will not be signing a letter of opposition to the Nord Stream 2 project, a planned expansion of the existing Nord Stream gas pipeline between Russia and Germany through the Baltic Sea, the country’s prime minister Boiko Borissov told reporters on 29 November. A few days earlier, media reports announced that ten EU member states from Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) – Czech Republic, … Read more…

A change in Warsaw: Where is Poland headed for?

The recent parliamentary election in Poland, held on 25 October, delivered two historical results. For the first time on the country’s post-communist political scene there will be a single party to rule by a full majority. The conservative Law and Justice party (Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc, PiS), led by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, managed to secure 235 seats in the 460-seat Polish Sejm, the national parliament’s lower chamber, … Read more…