Balkanalysis.com

Bulgaria

Capital Sofia
Time Zone EET (GMT+2)
Country Code 359
Mobile Codes 91,92,95,98,99
ccTLD .bg
Currency Lev (1EUR = 1.95BGN)
Land Area 110,993 sq km
Population 7.5 million
Language Bulgarian
Major Religions Orthodox Christianity, Islam

From England, Local Perceptions of the Balkans and the Brexit Vote

August 29, 2016

Balkanalysis.com editor’s note: while the migration crisis has focused European public discourse on the threat or perceived threat of migrants from Muslim countries, the perception of migrants from non-Muslim countries has been largely overlooked. However, in at least one important referendum on public opinion – the June 23, 2016 Brexit vote – antipathy to ‘Eastern […]

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The Development of International Terrorism, as Assessed by the Former Communist Bulgarian Secret Services: Interview with Professor Jordan Baev

January 7, 2011

In this exclusive new interview with Balkanalysis.com Bulgaria correspondent Christian Filipov, Professor Jordan Baev, a noted expert on Balkan security affairs, reveals several key findings gleaned from his in-depth examination of recently declassified files from the former Communist Bulgarian intelligence services. His assessments shed valuable new light on not only the forerunners of today’s global […]

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Key Data

Notable Public Figures

Rosen Plevneliev, President

Boyko Borissov, Prime Minister

Rumiana Bachvarova, Interior Minister

Vladislav Goranov, Finance Minister

Nikolay Nenchev, Defense Minister

Daniel Mitov, Minister of Foreign Affairs

Brands & Distinctions

rose petal oil,

Major Industries

Electricity production and other energy transit; agriculture and food processing; chemicals and metals; tourism

Key Trade Partners

Germany, Greece, Romania, Russia, Italy, Turkey

Main Airports

Sofia, Varna, Burgas

Issues and Insights

Overview

Enjoying both a long history and strategic location bordering Turkey and the Black Sea, Bulgaria is (along with neighboring Romania) the most recent member of the EU. After emerging from a transition period marked by occasional violent acts between mafia groups, the country has successfully repositioned itself as an emerging tourist destination and real estate market for Northern Europeans, though corruption and organized crime remain issues of concern.

Bulgaria takes pride in its history, having existed as a nation-state since the early Middle Ages and, before it, as part of the ancient Thracian kingdom. This legacy has left it with a robust sense of nationalism and a wealth of archeological and architectural riches. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church is the country’s major religious institution, though small minorities of Bulgarian Muslims exist, as do more substantial ethnic Turkish ones- holdovers from the Ottoman period.

Bulgaria today faces unique challenges, such as continuing poverty and a declining birthrate (something that may affect the ethnic make-up of the country and interrelations between ethnic Bulgarians, Turks and Roma). But the country can also count on unique opportunities: its maritime placement and historic relationship with Russia are balanced by NATO and EU membership, making it a coveted strategic partner. However, the aftershocks of the 2015 migrant crisis have maintained sentiment among some EU members to continue the country’s exclusion from Schengen Zone membership.

Although it was not on main Balkan Route during the migrant crisis, Bulgaria has seen a continuous trickle of migrants from Turkey and will continue to orient itself towards this threat in the upcoming period. Continued political pressure from both the West and Russia will be both a political challenge and point of leverage going forward.

Outstanding Issues

Relations with the EU and NATO concerning Russia and vice versa; dealing with new security challenges following the migrant crisis; instability in politics and business, new political parties and social movements; involvement in regional security matters during a time of pressure on Western Balkan neighbors.

Forward Planning: Points of Interest

  • Regional strategy, political ramifications and impact on the country’s role in the Western Balkans, following the coup attempt and ‘color revolution’ in Macedonia
  • Potential effects on Bulgarian of the European migrant crisis
  • Media and political discourse relating to the country’s perceived positioning vis-a-vis Russia and the West
  • The character of governmental foreign policy aspirations to play a role in the region, especially with issues involving Macedonia and its name dispute with Greece
  •  Social and equality issues that will be used by new political grassroots initiatives