Photo from open sources
Representatives of Bulgaria have become constant visitor something to Russia. Recently the visit of the Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borisov to the Russian Federation has ended. He has met the prime minister of the Russian Federation D. Medvedev and the Russian President Vladimir Putin. Borisov's visit has taken place all a week later after the visit of the president of Bulgaria Rumen Radev. Though still early to draw conclusions, however it is possible to tell that a certain progress concerning cooperation between both countries was outlined.
The main discussed subjects belong to a problem of gas deliveries and renewal of construction of the NPP "Belene". We will make the review of last events of these two main subjects.
All know that the South Stream gas pipeline (YuP) hasn't reached a stage of final realization. In most media the blame for a failure of this project is laid to Bulgaria. Undoubtedly, Bulgaria (in the person of Borisov) bears a part of fault, but with it not everything is so unambiguous. YuP wasn't the project only of Bulgaria and Russia. He had to pass across the territory of several countries and bring gas to Central Europe. Bulgaria was the first country on this way, and she had to accept all accompanying risks. As it was possible to expect, the USA and certain European institutes have opposed the project (and it is clear, why). However another is interesting: why Gazprom hasn't taken a measure for possible counteraction in advance?
Adoption of the restrictive decision from the European Commission on the basis of antimonopoly the legislation of the EU became the main reason for the termination of construction of YuP. In execution of decisions of EC Bulgaria, the member of the EU, in June, 2014 has temporarily suspended construction — before clarification of a situation. At that time Borisov was in resignation, and decisions were made by the technical government of Oresharsky. After Borisov's return still a year and a half the Bulgarian side continued work on the project.
Here it is necessary to give one very important explanation: Bulgaria never refused implementation of the project. There is no document confirming this subject exaggerated in media. The decision of the Bulgarian government provided only a temporary stop — before solution of the problems!
At the end of 2014 Vladimir Putin has said that the Russian Federation stops works on YuP. Bulgaria has almost received the formal notice from the Russian side one year later. The refusal of Russia of realization of YuP was influenced also by the factors which aren't connected with Bulgaria. In 2014 there were events in Ukraine which have led to sharp aggravation of an international situation. Gas prices have fallen, and at Gazprom the serious investment deficiency was outlined. The company has been forced to wind down some expensive projects that was recognized also as the management of Gazprom. Gazprom had also obvious miscalculations connected with logistics and ideology of YuP.
In fact, Bulgaria met terms of the contract especially as in any contract there are points providing force majeur circumstances. Therefore reaction of Gazprom workers has surprised the Bulgarian experts who have considered that Gazprom looks for a formal reason for withdrawal from the project and that Gazprom initiates information campaign against Bulgaria with the purpose to cover the misses and defects.
We will be realists and we will answer a question: whether Bulgaria could continue after all work without coordination her from the decision of EC? Answer: unambiguously not! Bulgaria — the member of the EU, and the legislation of the European Union has a priority over national. National economy is densely integrated in European, Bulgaria has received already 15 billion euros from eurofunds.
And the second. Without achievement of consent between the final parties of the project (the EU and the Russian Federation) YuP lost meaning for Bulgaria: the pipe "in" turned out anywhere! It would be unfair to reproach with all Bulgaria. As Vladimir Putin has said, Russia has lost 800 million dollars. And how many Bulgaria has lost? Even it is difficult to count.
We will return to a present situation. What has changed during this time?
First, for Russia Turkey is an unreliable partner. Laying of "The Turkish stream" still proceeded, and Turkey has already put forward claims for additional discounts and has sued out 10% of decrease in expenses. Though Russia and Turkey have large-scale economic cooperation, between them there are also many political problems. To Russia it is unprofitable to give in Erdogan's hands too many levers as there is no guarantee that eventually in front of Russia there will be no one more option of Ukraine. Therefore for Russia it is more preferable to diversify ways of supply of gas.
For the EU and the USA Turkey — too the problem partner. The EU has reconsidered the relation to gas problems on the southeast flank. B. Borisov has got support of the European institutes this time. Besides, Bulgaria — one of those few countries, with which at Turkey good relations.
In 2017 Borisov has put forward the idea of creation of a gas hub of the Balkans. It has to become that knot where all gas streams are going to the Balkans in one point. The European Commission has given green light to this project. Additional plus is the fact that at Bulgaria gas infrastructure is very well developed, and 80% of compressor stations of the region are in the Bulgarian territory. Bulgaria geographically holds strategic position and, it can be bypassed, but it will be expensive.
Quite recently also antimonopoly investigation of the European Union concerning Gazprom was complete. We won't enter details, but within the reached agreement Gazprom has undertaken to deliver gas to the EU and through territories of Bulgaria and Lithuania. It is remarkable that the European Commission has forced Gazprom to refuse material claims to Bulgaria concerning YuP.
Some more factors have influenced mitigation of a position of Russia. Bulgaria has agreed about supply of gas with Azerbaijan of 1 billion cubic meters a year on the design TANAP gas pipeline. The news encouraging for Bulgaria have come from the Black Sea shelf too. At the end of January from Royal Dutch Shell have declared, "that until the end of it or at the beginning of the next year Shell there will begin mining "Hang Asparukh" and, according to preliminary researches, in him is the oil field and natural gas".
For Bulgaria the favorable situation was created, and the country has hurried to use her, and Russia has pragmatically met halfway. The second main subject is a renewal of construction of the NPP "Belene". Recently the government and parliament of Bulgaria have defrozen also this project. As in Russia know about a situation with him a little too, I will give several explanations.
In Bulgaria since 1974 the NPP "Kozloduy" already works. Since 2004-2007 four of her six reactors have been taken out of service because of their insecurity, these are reactors of old type h440 MW. Has already happened to them eight critical accidents of the first level. In operation there are two more modern reactors h1000 MW, and their resource is prolonged till 2030, as much as possible — till 2040.
The project of construction of the second NPP was put in far 1980. Construction began and stopped, generally due to the lack of money. Initial project cost was 3,5-4 billion dollars, and over time it has increased almost three times. Bulgaria has already invested 3 bln. dollars, and building is far from end. I won't stop on all doubts and revelations connected with this project. By 2012 the situation has reached a deadlock. Continuation of construction would require some more billion dollars.
The initiative group of supporters of the NPP has decided to hold a referendum, and only 12% from having the right to vote have voted pro. Borisov's government and parliament have made the decision to freeze the project. The statement which is often met in media that the EU has forced Bulgaria to refuse implementation of this project, has under itself no reasons. In 2016 through the Geneva Arbitration court Atomeksportstroy has achieved payment of a penalty by Bulgaria of 620 million euros.
Meanwhile the Bulgarian government wasn't idle. In 2017. The Bulgarian Academy of Sciences has made the comprehensive analysis, and her conclusion was such is that the new NPP will be necessary to Bulgaria by 2030. A year ago Boyko Borisov has put forward the idea about transformation of the NPP "Belene" in all-Balkan, interest in this idea was shown by almost all Balkan countries.
May 6, 2018. The government of Bulgaria has defrozen construction of the NPP. The Deputy Prime Minister T. Donchev has explained that Bulgaria won't invest money in it, won't give state guarantees and to sign contracts for repayment of the made electric power. The state will participate only assets.
May 10, 2018. The Chinese national nuclear corporation (CNNC) confirms investment interest in the project of the NPP "Belene".
May 14, 2018. The French atomic company "Framatom" confirms investment interest in the project.
May 16, 2018. Rosatom states that it is ready to participate in construction of the NPP "Belene" in shape which will be defined by the government of Bulgaria.
In effect, positive signals of Russia from the Bulgarian side went long ago.
In 2015 Bulgaria has refused to accept active elements of the American missile defense in the territory, and they have been placed in Romania.
In 2016 Bulgaria has refused to participate in the anti-Russian Black Sea squadron together with Turkey, Romania, Ukraine and Georgia. The refusal of Bulgaria has buried all project.
In 2017 Bulgaria has signed the contract with RAC MiG for repair of the MiG-29, having caused "fair" anger from Washington.
At the beginning of 2018 Bulgaria was one of those countries which has refused to send the Russian diplomats because of Skripal's business.
It is necessary to tell that the general information tone in media doesn't capture the real essence of a situation. It is often possible to meet " headings to bow to Putin there has arrived Boyko Borisov", etc. We will remind that the initiative of a meeting proceeded from the Russian side! From all countries of Eastern Europe of Bulgaria remains to the most rusofilsky. Many parties of Bulgaria, including the partners entering into ruling coalition, the basic values announce friendship and cooperation with Russia.
Russia always had a strong influence in the Balkans, and Bulgaria is a key to this strategically important region. Russia and Bulgaria have much more common interests, than contradictions, and any of contradictions isn't unsolvable. On the contrary, there are all prerequisites of improvement of the relations between our brotherly countries.