1st Dec 2021

Ex-president tries to nudge Bulgaria onto pro-Russian path

  • Bulgaria's ex-president Georgi Parvanov (Photo: Greek Prime Ministry)

Ex-president Georgi Parvanov, whose small leftist party is a key part of Bulgaria’s four-way coalition, has emerged as the strongest pro-Moscow voice in Sofia and is trying to push his traditionally Russophile country off its pro-Western course.

After his recent re-election as head of the ABV party, Parvanov urged centre-right prime minister Boiko Borisov to replace ministers who backed EU and Nato positions on Russia and the cancellation of Russian energy projects in Bulgaria.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

While Parvanov did not threaten to immediately withdraw his member of the cabinet, deputy prime minister Ivailo Kalfin, he underlined ABV’s potential to destabilise Borisov’s alliance, which also includes the small pro-Western Reformist Bloc and the moderately nationalist and eurosceptic Patriotic Front.

“ABV’s limit for government compromises is being exhausted,” he told a party meeting last weekend in Sofia.

“We should not be looked upon as a fifth wheel.”

“I cannot say that the government is stable with so many gaps in it … That’s why we have a justification and the guts to demand a cabinet reshuffle,” he added.

There was no immediate reaction from Borisov, who is wary of political infighting undermining the balance of his coalition.

Parvanov also said defence minister Nikolai Nenchev is “weak” and that foreign minister Daniel Mitov is “harmful”.

Both ministers belong to the Reformist Bloc. He described energy minister Temenuzhka Petkova, a technocrat nominated by Borisov’s party Gerb, as “helpless”.

Nenchev, the defence chief, has pushed for declassification of the archives of former Communist military security services and has called for a re-arming of Bulgaria’s under-equipped military with Nato-standard weapons.

Bulgaria’s forces are still heavily reliant on Russia for maintenance of their Soviet-era hardware.

Foreign minister Mitov, for his part, has sharply criticised Russia’s role in the Ukraine crisis and backed related EU sanctions, even though Russia’s countermeasures have hit Bulgaria’s agriculture and tourism sectors.

Petkova is seen as an outsider by the Russian energy sector lobby in Bulgaria, whom Borisov has alienated by cancelling three large Russian energy projects - a second nuclear power plant, an oil pipeline linking Bulgaria’s Black Sea with Greece’s Aegean Coast, and the South Stream gas pipeline.

Petkova is also engaged in reforming Bulgaria’s Soviet-built energy sector along the lines of EU single market and energy rules, something which irks Russia, the dominant gas, oil, and nuclear fuel supplier of the Balkan country.

Parvanov served as president between 2002 and 2012 after leading the Socialist - formerly Communist - Party, which is known for historical Moscow ties.

He helped lead the Socialists out of their Stalinist past onto the path of European social democracy but he never abandoned his pro-Russia view, which sees Bulgaria as a “bridge” between Russia and the West.

His attitude to the EU and to Nato remained ambiguous, but grew to open hostility as the Ukraine conflict escalated.

Parvanov split from the Socialists and formed the ABV with a group of supporters in 2014 because of differences with their then Socialist leader Sergei Stanishev.

Stanishev, now a member of the European Parliament, served as prime minister between 2005 and 2009 and has headed the Party of European Socialists since 2012.

Bulgaria holds referendum on electronic voting

Bulgarians will vote Sunday on whether to introduce electronic voting, which the country’s reformist leaders hope can change its political landscape and advance their agenda.

Chemnitz neo-Nazis pose questions for Germany

UN human rights commissioner urged EU leaders to condemn violence that recalled the 1930s, but the local situation in former East Germany does not apply to the whole country.

Former Malta opposition leader fears for his life

Simon Busuttil spent 10 years as an MEP before returning to Malta to lead the opposition. He now fears for his life amid probes into high-level corruption in Malta's government.

News in Brief

  1. Ukraine eyes end of EU gas transit from 2024
  2. France says ready to talk about migrants if UK serious
  3. Latvia calls for permanent US troops to guard against Russia
  4. OPCW members urge Russia to come clean on Navalny
  5. Japan bars foreign arrivals as omicron spreads
  6. US to expel 54 more Russian diplomats, Moscow says
  7. Chinese president promises Africa one billion Covid vaccines
  8. Andersson elected as Swedish PM for second time in one week

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew report reveals bad environmental habits
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersImproving the integration of young refugees
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals

Latest News

  1. Frontex implicated 'to some extent' in violations, says officer
  2. Omicron shows need for pandemic global pact, WHO says
  3. Pesticides 'cost double the amount they yield', study finds
  4. Scholz's first job? Work with Poland on Belarus crisis
  5. Why Is Italy struggling to convert its anti-vaxxers?
  6. Consultancies pocketing EU millions prompts MEP grilling
  7. Russian mercenaries using EU-trained soldiers in Africa
  8. EUobserver wins right to keep VIP-jet story online

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us