Where is Bulgaria going? Is it moving back into Russian orbit? These are the questions asked by the authoritative “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, expressing concern that the country may be “backtracking” towards Russia.
Author Kathryn Calvait explains that the caretaker cabinet, which was only supposed to administer state affairs until the Oct. 2 election, actually began doing something quite different.
“On his head, he began to push a political program that, according to many experts, can be called a ‘ball back.’
The German edition emphasizes that the cabinet has reversed decisions of the previous government led by Kiril Petkov regarding possible negotiations with Gazprom for Russian gas supplies.
Back in Russia’s orbit of influence?
According to the publication, it is not yet clear whether negotiations with Moscow will be reached, but it is symptomatic that the Russian ambassador Mitrofanova immediately expressed the joyous confidence that Russia is ready for supplies, even without a new contract.
In this regard, the prestigious foreign policy magazine “Foreign Policy” notes with alarm that Bulgaria is being pushed back into the “Russian orbit”. Former Prime Minister Kiril Petkov warns that with such a reorientation, the official cabinet is practically returning the influence of Moscow, which he defines as undesirable, it is noted. Süddeutsche Zeitung, in turn, emphasizes that Brussels is following this development very closely and recalls that Bulgaria, where Russian influence is traditionally particularly strong, has been reeling in conflicts for years. It is also pointed out that Kiril Petkov, not by chance, named Moscow among the forces that overthrew his government, left by the people of the right-wing populist and showman Slavi Trifonov.
According to the head of the Center for Liberal Strategies in Sofia, Daniel Smilov, whom “Süddeutsche Zeitung” calls “one of the best experts on the political landscape in Bulgaria”, a central role in the overthrow of Petkov’s reformist government was played by President Radev, who had always been friendly towards Russia. According to the political scientist, the “open flirtation for a new rapprochement with the Kremlin” is due to the fact that the oligarchs and companies close to Russia wish to continue their business relations in the future. According to Smilov, “Radev does not want to fully reciprocate from the EU, but likes to play the role of a player who, like Viktor Orbán in Hungary, benefits both sides with an opportunistic double game between Brussels and Moscow.”
The Bulgarians are desperately trying to cut their umbilical cord with Moscow
If Bulgaria starts negotiations with Gazprom, it will be the second country after Hungary to break away from the European bloc against Putin, the German media commented and summarized:
“This does not bode well for Bulgarian society, which since 1989 has been trying with increasing desperation to cut its umbilical cord with Moscow and is fighting against the overpowered oligarchs and mafia structures in the country itself.”
The head of the Sofia office of the German “Friedrich Naumann” foundation, Martin Kotè, was quoted as saying that President Radev “torpedoed the efforts of Petkov’s reformist government as much as possible”, and that the constant elections bring “democracy fatigue” to the people.
Martin Kotè is not very optimistic about whether it will even be possible to conduct a constructive policy in Bulgaria after the elections on October 2. According to him, it is very likely that these elections will not produce a stable government, which would give Rumen Radev the opportunity to appoint the next cabinet to push the president’s program.