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Posts tagged ‘Cyrillic Land of Bulgaria’

Bulgarian PM resigning after his party loses presidency

November 13, 2016

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov announced his resignation after exit polls showed his party losing badly in Sunday’s runoff presidential election. Surveys by several polling organizations showed Gen. Rumen Radev, 53, a former non-partisan chief of Bulgarian Air Force, taking about 58 percent of the vote.

“We accept the will of the people and we congratulate those who have the support of the majority of the voters,” Borisov said. Tsetska Tsacheva, a 58-year-old lawyer and member of Borisov’s center-right party, had about 36 percent.

Initial results from the official vote count were expected later on Sunday. The new president will face a possible rise in migrants from neighboring Turkey and growing tensions between Russia and the West.

In the first round of voting, Radev surprisingly finished first with 25 percent of the vote, followed by Tsacheva with 22 percent. Bulgaria, which joined the European Union a decade ago, remains the poorest member of the 28-nation bloc. Its 7.2 million people are very much divided in its loyalties.

Bulgaria belongs to NATO and the EU, but many Bulgarians still feel a cultural and historical affinity with Russia, and the country’s heavily dependence on Russian energy supplies leaves it vulnerable to political pressure by the Kremlin.

Borisov, whose party has triumphed in all national elections in the last decade, has said he will resign if Tsacheva loses the runoff, opening the way to an early parliamentary election. Halfway into its four-year term, Borisov’s coalition government has managed to restore political stability after months of anti-corruption protests, but its popularity has faded due to the slow pace of reforms to eliminate graft and overhaul the judicial system.

A political rookie, Radev has attracted many Bulgarians who are fed up with corrupt politicians. The former NATO fighter pilot who once studied at the U.S. Air War College in Alabama, has pledged to maintain Bulgaria’s place in NATO but also says “being pro-European does not mean being anti-Russian.”

Tsacheva, seeking to become Bulgaria’s first female president, was expected to continue her party’s pro-Europe foreign policy. She has tried to rally other right-wing parties behind her, urging them not to allow “Bulgaria to return to the dark past” of being under Russia’s thumb.

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Economy, Russia top issues as Bulgarians pick new president

November 13, 2016

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Bulgarians are choosing their new president in a hotly contested runoff Sunday that may also determine the fate of the country’s center-right government. The new president will face a possible rise in migrants from neighboring Turkey and growing tensions between Russia and the West.

The choice is between Gen. Rumen Radev, 53, a former non-partisan chief of Bulgarian Air Force, backed by the opposition Socialist party, and the speaker of Parliament, Tsetska Tsacheva, a 58-year-old lawyer and member of Prime Minister Boiko Borisov’s center-right party.

In the first round of voting, Radev surprisingly came in first with 25 percent of the vote, followed by Tsacheva with 22 percent. Bulgaria, which joined the European Union a decade ago, remains the poorest member of the 28-nation bloc. The Balkan country of 7.2 million people is very much divided in its loyalties. It belongs to NATO and the EU, but many Bulgarians still feel a cultural and historical affinity with Russia, and the country’s heavily dependence on Russian energy supplies leaves it vulnerable to political meddling by the Kremlin.

Borisov, whose party has trumped in all national elections in the last decade, says he will resign if Tsacheva loses the runoff, opening the way to an early parliamentary election. Halfway into its four-year term, Borisov’s coalition government has managed to restore political stability after months of anti-corruption protests, but its popularity has faded due to the slow pace of reforms to eliminate graft and overhaul the judicial system.

A political rookie, Radev has attracted many Bulgarians who are fed up with corrupt politicians. The former NATO fighter pilot who once studied at the U.S. Air War College in Alabama has pledged to maintain Bulgaria’s place in NATO but also says “being pro-European does not mean being anti-Russian.”

Tsacheva, seeking to become Bulgaria’s first female president, is expected to continue her party’s pro-Europe foreign policy. She has tried to rally other right-wing parties behind her, urging them not to allow “Bulgaria to return to the dark past” of being under Russia’s thumb.

Bulgarian presidential runoff a test of center-right govt

November 11, 2016

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) —  Bulgarians vote Sunday to choose their new president in a contested runoff that has become a referendum on the fate of the country’s center-right government. Here is a look at the vote and the issues:

WHERE IN THE WORLD?

Bulgaria is a nation of 7.2 million in southeastern Europe, bordered by Romania, Turkey, Serbia, Greece and Macedonia. It’s one of the poorest members of the 28-nation European Union and joined NATO in 2004. Still many in this Black Sea nation still share deep historical and cultural ties with Moscow and the energy-strapped country is heavily reliant on Russian energy supplies.

WHO IS RUNNING?

In a surprise in the first round of voting, Gen. Rumen Radev, 53, a former non-partisan chief of Bulgarian Air Force came in first with 25 percent of the vote. He was followed by the speaker of Parliament, Tsetska Tsacheva, a 58-year-old lawyer and member of Prime Minister Borisov’s center-right party with 22 percent. For the first time, voting is compulsory for Bulgaria’s 6.8 million voters.

WHAT ARE THE STAKES?

Borisov, whose party has trumped in all national elections in the last decade, says he will resign if Tsacheva loses the runoff, opening the way to an early parliamentary election. The coalition government’s popularity has faded due to the slow pace of reforms to eliminate graft and overhaul the judicial system

WHAT DOES RADEV WANT?

Radev, a former NATO fighter pilot who is a rookie in politics, has attracted many Bulgarians who are fed up with politicians they see as corrupt and distanced from the people. He has pledged to comply with Bulgaria’s European obligations, if he is elected. But he also says “being pro-European does not mean being anti-Russian” and insists that sanctions on Moscow need to be lifted.

WHAT DOES TSACHEVA PROMISE TO DO?

If she becomes Bulgaria’s first female president, Tsacheva is expected to continue her party’s pro-Europe foreign policy. But unlike her party leader, Tsacheva is not very charismatic. She has tried to rally other right-wing parties behind her, urging them not to allow “Bulgaria to return to the dark past” of being under Russia’s thumb.

WHY IT MATTERS

The new Bulgarian president will face a possible rise in migrant inflows from neighboring Turkey and growing tensions between Russia and the West, but the post carried little real authority. A Radev victory, however, could trigger political instability and produce an early parliamentary election — the country’s third in five years.

Runoff expected as pro-Russia candidate tops Bulgaria race

November 06, 2016

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — A former Bulgarian Air Force officer who has called on the European Union to lift its sanctions against Russia was the likely winner of the country’s presidential election Sunday, but he did not secure enough votes to avoid a runoff, exit polls showed.

The exit polls gave opposition Socialist candidate Rumen Radev a narrow lead over the candidate of the ruling center-right party, Parliament Speaker Tsetska Tsacheva, who was seen as the race’s front-runner ahead of Sunday’s voting.

The Balkan nation’s relations with Russia, the future of the European Union and increasing immigration since neighboring countries closed their borders to refugees and migrants fleeing Africa and the Middle East dominated the election campaign.

Bulgaria, which joined the European Union a decade ago, remains the poorest member of the bloc. The slow pace of reforms to eliminate graft and poverty has fueled disillusionment, while over 1 million young people in the nation of 7.2 million have emigrated in search of better futures abroad.

Radev, 53, and Tsacheva, 58, were two of 21 candidates seeking the largely ceremonial presidency in an election that for the first time made voting for the position compulsory for Bulgaria’s 6.8 million voters.

If officials uphold the election results, the two will go head-to-head in a runoff election on Nov. 13. Most political analysts said Radev’s likely victory in the runoff poses a threat for Prime Minister Borisov and his ruling GERB party, possibly prompting early general elections next spring that could shake up Bulgaria’s political scene.

Radev, a former fighter pilot, has pledged to comply with Bulgaria’s European obligations, if he is elected. But he also has said that “being pro-European does not mean being anti-Russian” and insisted that sanctions on Moscow need to be lifted.

Bulgaria joined NATO in 2004, but many in this Black Sea country still share deep historical and cultural ties with Moscow. Energy-strapped Bulgaria is also heavily reliant on Russian supplies. If she becomes Bulgaria’s first female president, Tsacheva is widely expected to continue the pro-Europe foreign policy of incumbent Rosen Plevneliev.

“I voted for a stable and secure Bulgaria with educated and prospering people living there,” she said while casting her ballot. Although the head of state has no executive powers, and all major policies must be approved by Parliament, the popular election imbues the post with a fair amount of political influence.

The president also leads the armed forces, can veto legislation and signs international treaties. A poll conducted by the Alpha Research agency had Radev receiving 24.8 percent of the vote on Sunday, Tsacheva 23.5 percent.

Another poll by the Gallup International agency gave Radev 26.7 percent and Tsacheva 22.5 percent. Although official results are not expected before Tuesday, they are not expected to change the need for or makeup of the runoff context.

Bulgarians to choose a new president from 21 candidates

November 06, 2016

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Bulgarians on Sunday were choosing a new president who will have to face both a possible rise in migrants from neighboring Turkey and growing tensions between Russia and the West.

For the first time, voting in the presidential election is compulsory for the Balkan nation’s 6.8 million voters. Also on the ballot is a referendum on electoral process issues. Opinion polls suggest that none of Bulgaria’s 21 presidential candidates are likely to win in the first round by getting more than the required 50 percent of the vote, and that a presidential runoff will be held on Nov. 13.

The front-runner is the Parliament speaker, Tsetska Tsacheva, a 58-year-old lawyer and member of the governing center-right GERB party of Prime Minister Boiko Borisov. Unlike her party leader, however, she is not a charismatic figure.

To become the first female president of the country of 7.2 million people, Tsacheva must defeat the opposition Socialist contender Rumen Radev, 53, a former fighter pilot and Bulgarian air force chief.

If Tsacheva is elected, she is widely expected to continue the pro-Europe foreign policy of incumbent Rosen Plevneliev, while her main opponent is seen as more sympathetic to Russia. Radev has repeatedly said he would comply with Bulgaria’s European obligations but has called for better relations with Russia and called for lifting sanctions against Russia, arguing that “being pro-European does not mean being anti-Russian.”

A recent poll by Gallup International Balkan suggests the presidential election will go to a second round, with Tsacheva facing Radev. The poll conducted Oct. 24-31 among 820 Bulgarians found Tsacheva supported by 27.2 percent and Radev by 23.1 percent. The margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Polling stations will close at 8 p.m. (1800 GMT) and preliminary results will be available 90 minutes later. Final results will be announced Tuesday.

Bulgaria to pay Russia 600 mn euros for dropped nuclear plant

Sofia (AFP)

Oct 26, 2016

Bulgaria said Wednesday it had agreed to pay Russia over 600 million euros ($655 million) in compensation after cancelling plans to build a nuclear plant on the Danube.

Bulgaria’s national electricity company, NEK, will make “full payment” to the Russian nuclear giant Atomstroyexport by December 25, the energy ministry said in a statement.

The Geneva-based International Court of Arbitration ruled in June that NEK should pay Atomstroyexport 601 million euros plus interest for equipment ordered for a planned 2,000-megawatt twin-reactor plant at Belene on the Danube.

Bulgaria and Russia also agreed on Wednesday that Atomstroyexport will waive part of the interest of 130,000 euros per day if NEK repays it ahead of the December 25 deadline, the ministry added.

The Belene scheme was scrapped in 2012, with Bulgaria blaming ever-rising costs.

However, the government is mulling whether to revive it using a private investor, and is in early talks with Atomstroyexport about a possible procurement deal that would reduce the compensation payout.

After joining the EU in 2007, the country — a former top electricity exporter on the Balkans — was left with only two operational 1,000-megawatt nuclear reactors at its sole nuclear power plant in Kozloduy, also on the Danube.

On Tuesday, the energy ministry announced that a consortium of the Russian Rosenergoatom and French EDF will study options for extending the operational life of one of the Kozloduy reactors by as much as 30 years — until 2047. The plant’s other reactor has a lifetime that is scheduled to expire in 2021.

Source: Nuclear Power Daily.

Link: http://www.nuclearpowerdaily.com/reports/Bulgaria_to_pay_Russia_600_mn_euros_for_dropped_nuclear_plant_999.html.

Bulgaria replaces candidate for the United Nations’ top job

September 28, 2016

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov announced Wednesday that the government is nominating its European commissioner, Kristalina Georgieva, as a candidate to be United Nations Secretary-General, replacing its previous candidate, UNESCO chief Irina Bokova.

The decision came two days after Bokova, came in sixth of nine candidates in the Security Council’s latest informal poll to succeed Ban Ki-moon on Jan 1. Earlier this month, Borisov said his government would continue backing Bokova’s candidacy only if she was among the top two candidates in the fifth “straw” poll on Sept. 26.

“We made huge efforts, not only the government, but also the president, the foreign ministry and Irina Bokova herself, but you see the result,” Borisov said at the government meeting. In order to be replaced, however, Bokova would need to file a letter announcing her withdrawal. She said she sees no reason to do that.

“None of the other candidates, even those with worse results, is doing it because the real race is still ahead,” Bokova said in an interview for the daily 24 chasa on Wednesday, before the prime minister’s announcement.

Under the U.N. Charter, the secretary-general is elected by the U.N. General Assembly on the recommendation of the Security Council. In practice, this means the votes of the five veto-wielding permanent members of the U.N.’s most powerful body — the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France — are critical.

By tradition, the job of secretary-general has rotated among regions. Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe have all held the post. East European nations, including Russia, argue that they have never had a secretary-general and it is their turn.

There has also never been a woman secretary-general and more than 50 nations are campaigning to elect the first female U.N. chief, along with many organizations. In Monday’s informal poll, Portugal’s former Prime Minister Antonio Guterres retained first place and was the only candidate to get the minimum nine required “yes” votes.

The key question for Guterres is whether one of the permanent members opposes his candidacy. That should become clear in the sixth straw poll expected next week which will be the first to distinguish the votes of the permanent and non-permanent council members.

One of the big question marks is who Russia will support. Borisov spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, before he announced the government’s support for Georgieva. Bokova said in the interview that calls for her to leave the race are undignified. She added that “with a second candidate, Bulgaria will become a laughing stock.”

Since entering the race, Bokova has been a controversial candidate in Bulgaria because of her communist past. “It appears that my successful start was not liked by certain circles in Bulgaria and outside Bulgaria. They saw that I have a chance to win and launched a negative campaign against me,” she said.

“Regretfully, I am the only candidate facing a hysterical campaign of name-calling and slander in my own country.” In Brussels, Georgieva’s boss, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, has granted her an unpaid leave of absence for the month of October to stand for the U.N.’s top post.

Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said the EU’s executive arm will “ensure a strict separation between activities relating to her candidacy and her work” at the commission, where she has the portfolio in charge of budgetary affairs and human resources.

Bulgarian Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov said the government will be seeking support for Georgieva from neighboring countries. “I want to thank Ms Bokova, but we must transfer our support to Kristalina Georgieva,” Mitov said.

Associated Press writer Edith M. Lederer at the U.N. contributed to this report.

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