Bulgaria: Fawning to Russia

BY MILENA HRISTOVA   March 17, 2014

 

After days of beating around the bush over Ukraine debacle, Bulgaria's ruling Socialists did spit it out – Bulgaria will not be among the hawks in the European Union when it comes to punitive sanctions on Russia.

 

“Besides the common position of the European countries we have our national interests," Sergey Stanishev, leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party and president of the Party of European Socialists, said.

 

In what is no doubt the most perilous crisis in East-West relations since the end of the Cold War, Bulgaria's Socialists confirmed what many had suspected - Bulgaria acts as a backdoor for Russian interests, a Trojan horse in the EU.

 

Today this is a real problem.

 

As foreign ministers met in Brussels on Monday to finalize a deal on sanctions against Russia following the Crimea referendum, the required unanimity of all 28 EU members was threatened. Bulgaria's international image was rescued in the last minute by its foreign minister, who knew better than making scandalous headlines around the world by becoming the only one to boycott the measures.

 

“The Trojan horse phrase makes no sense, this is a nihilistic statement,” argued the Socialist party proponents shortly after Bulgaria joined the European Union in 2007.

 

Wrong.

 

To be independent and not nihilistic means to have a variety of choices. And this is exactly what Bulgaria, on the eve of its accession to the European Union, gave up by tying itself to Russian partners not in one, but three major energy projects.

 

No doubt, the timing was right. With the European Union still building its common energy policy, Russia offering lucrative offers and politicians giving solid and logical arguments, Bulgaria was more than tempted.

 

The temptation however doomed Bulgaria to energy slavery par excellence.

 

"Russian pressure has certainly overwhelmed certain people in Bulgaria,” exclaimed an outspoken Bulgarian minister, unnerved by an oily PR stunt over Lukoil licence in Bulgaria two years ago, only to get kicked out later.

 

His words ring even truer now.

 

With a legacy of strong Soviet dominance throughout its communist period and deep roots of friendship with Russia, Bulgaria was the biggest loser of Eastern Europe's catch-up with the Western countries in terms of living stands and mentality too.

 

Seven years after joining the European Union, Bulgarians are the poorest and least content with their life, while nostalgia for communism remains strong.

 

Bulgarian politicians, in their turn, are still living in a world where Moscow and Washington dictate global policies, paying only lip service to Brussels and other European capitals.

 

Today this is a real problem.