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Key Economic Data 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
Millions of US $ 19,859 15,608 13,600 69
GNI per capita
 US $ 2,130 1,790 1,650 106
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Bulgaria


Update No: 163 - (24/12/10)

Recall of former communist diplomats
In a move to improve its international standing, Bulgaria is recalling all its ambassadors and consuls who served as agents for the country's communist-era secret service, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov pledged on December 15th. "We must part ways with those people," he said a day after a commission concluded that nearly half of the current top diplomats abroad had collaborated with the former Darzhavna Sigurnost (State Security) before the 1989 fall of communism. "Imagine these agents in Western European countries. They once worked against them as ideological enemies and now they are representing our government there," Borisov noted.

The so-called Dossier Commission said on December 14 that a total of 218 individuals, or 47% of all 462 who have served as Bulgarian ambassadors, deputy mission chiefs and consuls during the past 21 years, were affiliated with the notorious secret service. Among them were 26 people who have already died and whose names could not be revealed under law.

The remaining 192 are identified as former agents, including more than 40 senior Bulgarian diplomats currently serving in Britain, Germany, Italy and ten other EU member states, in several Balkan countries, the UN and elsewhere in the world.

Foreign Minister Nickolay Mladenov said he was surprised to see that 45% of the current ambassadors are former secret agents, and that, instead of dropping, the number had actually increased in recent years. "This is totally unacceptable. Bulgaria is a member of the EU and NATO, and this situation undermines confidence with our allies," Mladenov said.

He also noted that the government would table new legislation on diplomatic appointments early next year to eliminate the possibility of former communist collaborators serving as the country's representatives abroad.

But the president rejects the approach
Borisov said the government asked President Georgi Parvanov, who approves all ambassadorial appointments, to recall all Bulgarian envoys abroad who have been involved with the former secret service.

By law, the foreign ministry nominates candidates for ambassador, but appointments, as well as dismissals, are subject to the president's approval.

Parvanov, whose second five-year term in office ends next year, rejects demands to recall the diplomats. Insisting that they contributed to the country's admission into NATO and the EU, he said he did not believe in "political purges". He did say that he was prepared to look at the diplomats' records to see if there was any grounds for reproach.

Former foreign minister Mladenov adamantly disagrees
Speaking in an interview with private national Nova Television channel on December 15, Mladenov stressed, however, that in the future, the government will not allow Bulgaria to be represented by ambassadors linked to the former secret service.

This practice must stop now, he said, warning that Bulgaria risks its reputation.

Erdogan in Sofia
Turkey's PM , Recep Erdogan, came to Sofia on October 4th at the invitation of his Bulgarian counterpart, Boyko Borisov.

The Turkish leader was accompanied by the country's chief negotiator with the EU, Egemen Bagis, as well as by State Minister Faruk Celik, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz and Transportation Minister Binali Yildirim.

In an interview with the Sofia-based mass circulation daily 24 Chasa on Monday, Erdogan listed regional and international developments, as well as political, trade and economic issues, as some of the items topping the agenda of his talks with Borisov.

Ways to strengthen the two countries' co-operation in specific sectors, including energy, transport and tourism would also be discussed during the visit, he indicated.

"We are allies and our multilateral co-operation, undoubtedly, contributes to regional stability in the Balkans," Erdogan told 24 Chasa.

The Nabucco natural gas pipeline, Bulgaria's possible inclusion in the Turkey-Greece-Italy gas interconnection project, or the construction of a separate direct pipeline between the two countries, were among the issues expected to be discussed in greater detail at Yildiz's meeting with Bulgarian Energy Minister Traicho Traikov.

Speaking upon his departure for Sofia, eight months after Borisov's trip to Ankara in late January, Erdogan voiced hope that a final decision on the construction of a dam in the border region between the two countries would be reached soon.

Erdogan criticises Bulgarian opponents of Turkey's EU membership
Erdogan also criticised circles in Bulgaria insisting that Sofia must block Turkey's EU bid unless it pays out billions of euros in compensation for the properties of ethic Bulgarians, who were expelled from the Ottoman Empire nearly a century ago. "Under the treaty of friendship between Turkey and Bulgaria, signed in Angora in 1925, the issue found its solution after the two parties withdrew their claims for the period 1912-1925," said Erdogan.

Recalling that Turkey backed its northern neighbour's admission into NATO in 2004, he said he expected reciprocal support from Sofia for his country's bid to join the Union, in line with the principles of solidarity within the Euro-Atlantic community.

Bulgaria's EU entry in 2007 prompted an increase in bilateral trade between the two countries -- peaking at more than 3.6 billion euros at the end of that year, before dropping to nearly 3 billion euros in 2008, according to Erdogan.

The decrease in the trade volume between the two countries in 2009 was due to the global financial and economic crisis, he said, adding that he expects the numbers to match the 2007 ones within months. "We will catch it by the end of this year," the Anadolu Agency quoted him as saying.

Erdogan also met with Ahmet Dogan, the leader of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, a party supported mainly by Bulgaria's ethnic Turkish community, and with the head mufti of Muslims in Bulgaria, Mustafa Alis Haci.

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