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.
CEZ invested 65m levs in Bulgarian Power Pool
Czech energy company, CEZ Group, has invested a total of 65 million levs in the
three Bulgarian power distributors based in Sofia, Sofia region and Pleven
during the first year after acquiring 67 per cent stake in the electricity
distribution companies, New Europe reported.
The Czech state-run utility company's investments in Bulgaria's power
distributors were mostly targeted to increase the efficiency of the companies
and reducing losses of electricity. Power losses went down by over 10 per cent
on average for the three companies compared to 2004. The resource was spent on
the replacement of electric metres and prevention of power thefts. CEZ acquired
the three power distributors EDC Stolichno, EDC Sofia Oblast and EDC Pleven a
year ago, paying 281.5 million Euro. CEZ has replaced 222,615 electric metres so
far. The process should be completed by the end of 2006.
Bulgaria signs new SAPARD agreement
Bulgaria signed the eighth annual financial agreement under SAPARD for 2005 and
will receive 75.9 million Euro from the European Union for the development of
its agriculture sector, Sofia News Agency reported.
Bulgaria's Finance Minister, Plamen Oresharski, Agriculture Minister, Nihat
Kabil, and Dimitris Kourkoulas, head of the EC Delegation to Bulgaria, signed
Oresharski said that the agreement is "the greatest financial commitment
and the funds under it are exceptionally important for the implementation of the
national plan for the development of agriculture in Bulgaria."
He stressed that the experience on the application of SAPARD on a decentralised
basis is exceptionally important for Bulgaria's ability to absorb EU funds in
the future, after Bulgaria's accession to the Community.
Kabil added that the funds would be distributed to the agriculture sectors with
greatest need and specified that the funds under the agreement for 2005 will be
targeted at the sectors that need them most with a view to introducing European
However he noted that they would not be sufficient and called upon the
representatives of responsible institutions - the Agriculture ministry, the
Finance ministry and the delegation of the European Commission to make all
effort for the quick preparation and signing of the financial agreement for
The funds under it must be absorbed by the end of the year as this is the term
provided and the strategic goal of SAPARD must be reached which includes
preparation of Bulgarian agriculture, processing industry and rural
municipalities for the introduction of European standards and for the successful
incorporation of this country in the Common Agricultural Policy of the EU, Kabil
Estonia and Bulgaria discuss economy, ties
A meeting was held between Estonian Foreign Minister, Urmas Paet, and his
Bulgarian counterpart, Ivailo Kalfin, in Estonia when Kalfin was on an official
visit to Estonia, and Paet urged cooperation in the field of economy and
tourism, Sofia News Agency reported.
Bulgaria and Estonia believe that more active work needs to be done in the area
of tourism. The expected opening of charter flights between the two countries is
a step in this direction, Paet added, saying that Estonia is highly interested
in Bulgaria and the speedy conclusion of the already drafted agreement on
avoidance of double taxation will help to intensify the ties between the two
countries. Both ministers agreed that bilateral contacts would increase with the
opening of an Estonian Embassy in Sofia and of a Bulgarian one in Tallinn.
Kalfin said that Bulgaria is also interested in Estonia's experience as a
country that has achieved impressive economic development. He also assessed his
visit to Tallinn as an extremely productive one. Cooperation between Estonia and
Bulgaria in the field of ICT and tourism was high on the agenda of the talks
between Kalfin and Estonian Economics and Communications Minister, Edgar
Other issues discussed were energy efficiency, development of small and
medium-sized businesses and utilisation of EU funds. Kalfin told Savisaar that
the economic aspect of the visit was of extreme importance. He said that Estonia
is a country with a fast developing economy - growth of 10 per cent, income
growth of the same size, influx of foreign investment, low inflation and
decreasing unemployment. Estonia has immense experience in IT use in the work of
the government and in the provision of services to citizens, and according to
Kalfin Bulgaria can learn from the achievements of its Estonian friends.
He noted that Bulgaria and Estonia would cooperate actively in the area of IT
and tourism. During negotiations between Estonian Prime Minister, Andrus Ansip,
and Kalfin, the process of Bulgaria's accession to the EU and the country's
preparedness to join the EU were high on the agenda. Ansip expressed hope that
Bulgaria will fulfil the membership criteria and be ready to join the EU on
January 1st 2007. Asked about Estonia's position about the possible postponement
of Bulgaria's accession to the EU, Paet noted that Tallinn has a clear position
on Bulgaria's EU membership. Estonia was among the first countries to ratify
Bulgaria's Treaty of Accession to the EU, which is a clear expression of its
political will on Bulgaria's EU membership, added Paet.
Greek firms making big investments in Bulgaria
Several Greek firms are making big investments in Bulgaria. Greek dairy company
Kri Kri announced that it will enter and expand on the Bulgarian, Romanian and
Serbian markets. The company already exports yoghurt products to Bulgaria and is
interested in partnerships in order to start shipping ice cream to the country,
New Europe reported.
Kri Kri is focusing its production at native facilities and has no plans to
invest in production units abroad. Kri Kri business will invest 10 million Euro
in 2006-2008, aimed at increasing ice cream production and storage capacity,
expansion of the store network and the development and rollout of new products.
Another Greek firm, GEK-group construction holding is also implementing real
estate market investment in the countries of the Balkan region. The procedure
for the issue of the construction permits is underway. The GEK-group holding has
directed its interests to expanding abroad, in particular - in neighbouring
Balkan countries. Through its subsidiary company Icon the holding company owns
five real estate properties in Bulgaria including warehouses at a Danube port.
Another Greek wholesale and retail trader, Notos Com Holdings, plans to invest
five million Euro in the construction of a shopping mall in Sofia this year in
order to increase its market share in Bulgaria, Ognyan Mladenov, managing
director of the company's local unit, Notos Bulgaria, said. The outlet is
scheduled to open in 2007.