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…

Eastern Europe and Brexit: Avoiding an ‘ever looser union’

As the Bratislava summit of the other 27 EU member states nears, shuttle diplomacy has intensified. After Theresa May’s tour of European capitals in late July, Angela Merkel met with fellow leaders last week. Both have had to acknowledge the concerns of Central and Eastern European countries – Slovakia for example holds the current presidency of the Council of the EU, whereas around 800,000 Poles … 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…

War of Words: Why has the Russian Foreign Ministry recently scolded Bulgaria?

Moscow and Sofia have overnight exchanged rather acrimonious diplomatic statements over last week’s decision by the Bulgarian Parliament to set up a commission with the task to investigate alleged Russian and Turkish meddling in the country’s domestic affairs. It all began yesterday when Maria Zakharova, a Russian foreign ministry spokesperson, described Bulgaria’s decision as “absurd” and implied that it was reminiscent of “neo-McCarthyism”. Today, Bulgaria … Read more…

Polish-German relations: New challenges and old strategies

The new government in Poland and its attitude towards Germany and the European Union, the refugee crisis and the related decisions taken by the EU and Angela Merkel as well as the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Germany and Russia  are the current challenges for Polish-German relations. The relationship between the two countries has so deteriorated just 50 years after one … 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…

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…

Gazprom’s pipelines – dead end or stratagem?

For those who follow the saga of Gazprom’s pipeline projects the recent months certainly offered a decent spectacle. Ever since the cancellation of South Stream and the announcement of Turkish Stream in December 2014, the information puzzle around Gazprom’s actual intentions and capabilities has been growing in complexity. The lack of clarity and transparency allows for speculations by observers over occasional media reports or press … Read more…

Macedonia’s political impasse continues as summer steps in

Bad news came from the Macedonian capital Skopje yesterday July 8th. The opposition party leader Zoran Zaev declared that the snap election deal from June 2nd was now “dead” due to incumbent prime minister Gruevski’s reluctance to step down to a care-taker government which was to supervise the early vote. The announcement coincided with the publication of an opinion poll carried out by the International Republican Institute (IRI) which shows … Read more…

Vox Opinion: Why Russian officials see a color revolution in Armenia?

Yesterday’s reaction of some important Russian officials to the events in Yerevan shows us how paranoid the establishment in Moscow has become. Just three days of protests motivated by purely economic reasons were enough to spark these hasty comments “coloring” the protests in Armenia. Firstly, we should be aware that these messages are aimed mostly at the Russian society and serve largely for internal consumption. Such … Read more…