Books on Bulgaria
% of GDP
Update No: 105 - (30/01/06)
The Russian angle
The New Year, 2006, opened with a bang. Gazprom assured that by cutting off gas
supplies to Ukraine for two days on January 1-2. Everybody began to reconsider
their energy options, the biggest winner being Kazakstan.
Many leaders of Eurasia headed for Astana for the re-inauguration of Kazak
President Nursultan Nazarbayev on January 10th, after his re-election in
December. Nazarbayev held a number of meetings on the same day in Astana. He
could not have been given a better send-off than by Gazprom.
Vice-President of Bulgaria, Angel Marin, said that he delivered the invitation
of the president of Bulgaria to Nursultan Nazarbayev to visit Bulgaria this
year. "Nazarbayev was in Bulgaria six years ago and we expect him to visit
Bulgaria this year as well," he added.
Actually, Bulgaria is one country that does not have too much to worry about as
regards Russian energy supplies. It is esteemed as one of the great
beneficiaries of Russian diplomacy, owing its very independence in 1878 to
Moscow's intervention. It is certainly the most pro-Russian country in Central
Europe, a fact very well known in the Kremlin.
Estonia rather than Russia the cynosure
Actually, another fact is that the Bulgarians are glad to be free of the
tutelage of the Russians. They are looking even further north to the Baltic
states as their role model, especially Estonia.
Estonia is doing brilliantly and is a member of the EU no less. After his
meeting with Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs
Ivaylo Kalfin in Tallin, the Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip announced that
the date of Bulgaria's accession to the EU depends on the state itself, billed
for 2007, which is coming up sooner than we all think, namely next year.
Estonia has an annual growth of GDP of 10% and a growth of exports of 27%, as of
2005. The level of unemployment in the country has drastically fallen twice, the
Estonian Prime Minister added. Wage levels may not be so high; but people are
employed and getting on with things.
In his turn Minister Kalfin expressed his gratitude for the ratification of the
agreement for EU accession and lead conversations for cooperation in the sphere
of the new technologies, information and communications. Minister Kalfin went on
to say that the Estonian economy could be an example for some economic decisions
in Bulgaria, especially connected with the work of public administration and the
transparent way of absorbing EU funds.
Bulgaria's President Confers with Erhard Busek
President Georgi Parvanov has conferred with Erhard Busek, the special
coordinator of the Stability Pact for South-East Europe.
Business Advisory Council (BAC) with the Stability Pact is assessing the
business climate in Bulgaria and the country's progress to EU entry. The
position of Bulgaria's business on the country's readiness to join the European
Union will be presented to the European Commission in Brussels from February
The former Vice-Chancellor of Austria has been at the helm of the Stability Pact
for South-East Europe since January 1, 2002.
Russian company buys power plant
Representatives of the Russian company RAO EES, selected as the buyer of the
Varna thermal power plant, arrived in Bulgaria recently to finalise the
privatisation deal. A month ago the Privatisation Agency endorsed the contract
and Bulgaria does not have any time to lose, Economy Minister, Roumen Ovcharov
said. Representatives of RAO said the deal will be concluded as soon as
possible. Ovcharov said the most serious issue in case the contract is not
signed is the return of a three million euro deposit that RAO has already made.
The economy ministry made several compromises including the cancellation of a
modernisation contract signed with Siemens, Ovcharov said. If the talks with RAO
fail, the ministry will initiate negotiations with the company ranked second in
the tender, the Czech CEZ. RAO offered 389 million Euro for the power plant.
CEZ's offer totals 335.5 million Euro, Dnevnik newspaper reported.
Foreign debt soars, national debt too
Bulgaria's net foreign debt by the end of October reached nearly 13.410 billion
Euro, the Bulgarian National Bank reported.
The sum is 888.2 million Euro higher than the debt at the end of 2004. It
represents 63.3 per cent of the country's GDP. Bulgaria's long-term obligations
total 9.995 billion Euro, while the short-term equal 3.415 billion Euro, Sega
The majority of national debts have increased. Trade banks owed 1.693 billion
Euro at the end of 2004. In October 2005 their debt reached 2.079 billion Euro.
National debts on direct investment credits have increased with 793.5 million
Euro compared to the previous year. Between January and October 2005 Bulgaria
received credits and deposits totalling 4.172 billion Euro. Trade banks alone
received credits for nearly 1.396 billion Euro, or 511.1 million Euro more
compared to the same period last year.
Austria is the largest investor in Bulgaria
Bulgarian Prime Minister, Sergey Stanishev, has said that Bulgaria expects the
strong support of Austria for its joining the EU on January 1st 2007. The
government's information service recently said that Austria, which now has the
presidency of the EU, is the top foreign investor in the country for the period
January-September 2005 with investments of 403.3 million Euro, followed by
Switzerland with 188.1 million Euro, the United Kingdom 182.7 million Euro and
Greece 125.4 million Euro, Sofia News Agency reported.
So far Austria has invested 18,563 million Euro in Bulgaria's economy. According
to figures of the Bulgarian National bank (BNB), foreign investment in Bulgaria
from January to October 2005 amount to 14,657 million Euro.
Austria is the largest foreign investor in Bulgaria and would gain from the
Bulgarian membership in the EU.
Commenting on the scepticism of the EU regarding the enlargement, Stanishev said
that discussion on further enlargement should be differentiated from the case of
Bulgaria. Bulgaria measures the investments volume and evaluates the investors
and their resource to set up business with high export potential, new jobs and
strong Bulgarian brands.
Stanishev recently visited Austria on official business. He was invited by the
Austrian Chancellor, Wolfgang Schuessel, at the EU informal meeting in October.
On December 29th, a meeting was held between the two government leaders.
Bulgaria's integration into Europe and opportunities to strengthen bilateral
economic cooperation were the issues discussed at the meeting, reported
Bulgarian news agency.
Siemens Business Services enters Bulgarian market
The new company Siemens Business Services EOOD is the outcome of a merger
between Bulgaria's Siemens Business Services and Applied international
Informatics, Sofia News Agency reported.
This new company is currently operating on the Bulgarian market. It aims to be
the leader on the IT market by unifying the efforts of both sides with their
expertise and knowledge accumulated with the implementation of many projects.
Siemens Business Services has provided services along the entire IT service
chain from a single source, covering everything from consulting and system
integration through to managing complete IT infrastructures. The major clients
of Siemens are the National Electricity Company, MobilTel, finance ministry,
justice ministry and Petrol.