Bulgaria. The European Commission continued to criticize
Bulgaria for its lack of action against corruption and
organized crime. A new corruption legacy was unveiled in
March when the deputy chief of the Interior Ministry's
Department for Combating Organized Crime, Ivan Ivanov, was
arrested for suspected conspiracy with the mafia. Ivanov was
prosecuted for revealing secret investigations and for abuse
of power. Two senior police officers were also arrested in
In early April, two contract killings were carried out in
the course of a day. The victims were a writer who wrote
about the mafia and a highly regarded representative of the
business community. The European Commission issued a sharp
statement on immediate measures to combat organized crime.
Shortly thereafter, a Bulgarian parliamentary inquiry
accused members of the government of involvement in illegal
activities, including drug trafficking. A few days later,
Interior Minister Rumen Petkov resigned, admitting that he
had met with mafia leaders and that he had failed in the
task of combating organized crime.
Countryaah reports, Prime Minister Sergei Stanisev then fired three other
ministers, including the Minister of Defense. In addition,
Stanisev established a new Deputy Prime Minister's post
responsible for EU aid, a result of the EU Commission's
criticism of lack of transparency in how EU funds are used.
But in spite of the government's efforts, the European
Commission in July decided to freeze all EU support for the
country. This meant a loss of around EUR 500 million. The
basis was a report that corruption and crime increased,
rather than diminished, since Bulgaria became an EU member
in 2007. In November, the EU decided that Bulgaria finally
lost the right to EUR 220 million, as guarantees were
lacking that the money would not go wrong pockets. Such a
measure had never been taken before a Member State.
Bulgaria and Russia signed an agreement at the beginning
of the year on a new gas pipeline, South Stream, to allow
Russian gas exports directly to Europe. The 90-mile pipeline
- a joint project between Russian Gazprom and the Italian
energy group ENI - will be drawn under the Black Sea and in
B. divide into two branches, one north and one south.
According to the agreement, Russia and Bulgaria own half of
the part of the system that goes through Bulgaria.
The parties also signed an agreement for Russia to build
Bulgaria's second nuclear power plant, in Belene. This will
compensate for the failure of the Kozloduj nuclear power
plant, where Bulgaria, as a condition of EU membership, was
forced to shut down four of six reactors. Construction
started during the year.