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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

Russia and Turkey, a story of hard love?

The relationship between Turkey and Russia has an extensive, rich, and tumultuous history. Successors of two powerful empires which defined for centuries the geopolitics of Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and the Middle East, the two countries speak of each other as of “partners” today. However, with the exception of the most recent 15 years of improving ties, the overall bilateral relationship has been marked by … Read more…

What Putin told us? – brief summary of the annual “Direct Line” address

Yesterday 16 April the Russian president Vladimir Putin had his annual “Direct Line” teleconference whereby he replied to questions asked by the Russian citizens. The show lasted almost 4 hours and in total 3 million questions were asked (this year’s record), 70 of which were addressed. The idea of the event is to answer selected questions and reassure the population that they are in good … Read more…

Pipeline puzzles on the Balkans – “South Stream” is dead, long live “Turkish Stream”

On 7 April the foreign ministers of Greece, Turkey, Serbia, Macedonia, and Hungary met in Budapest to discuss plans for cooperation in the energy sector. A common declaration was signed whereby the first diplomats of the five states agreed upon the need to improve energy security and develop an alternative gas supply route through South-East Europe and Turkey thus enhancing the friendly relations in the … Read more…

Why change of regime in Russia will not come from the opposition?

The ongoing crisis in Eastern Ukraine reinvigorated the discussions about the nature of Putin’s regime in Russia. The debate has been simmering for decades.  Increasingly, however, many critics and dissidents both in Russia and the West are trying to predict the collapse of Putin’s autocracy as a direct result from his policies towards its weaker neighbor. A strong boost to these speculation came after Boris … Read more…

Are we forgetting why it all started in Ukraine?

More than a year has passed since the dramatic events on the Maydan in Kiev. President Yanukovich was ousted by the crowd and the events that followed are now part of history. What still remains is an ongoing separatist crisis in Eastern Ukraine and a serious stand-off between the West and Russia. All media report daily on the situation of the frontline or the likelihood … Read more…