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Opinion TUESDAY, 31 January 2012

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USA Puts Bulgaria in Turkey's Orbit

Boyan Chukpov, analysts

During the forthcoming visit of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Bulgaria will be broached the main issues of US foreign policy on the Balkans and Bulgaria in particular. I would like to note that in during all visits in the last few years - regardless of their level - energy has always been the main topic. In the beginning was Belene NPP project, followed by South Stream, Nabucco, Burgas-Alexandroupolis and now the probing of shale gas. I believe that one of the accents of the talks would be precisely the issue with the shale gas, because opinions are extremely polarized and not just in Bulgaria but in Europe as a whole. The Americans are interested in producing shale gas in Bulgaria and thus the connections between Bulgaria and Russia to be diminished gradually and to be reduced to minimum. On the other hand we shall not forget that we are living in a period experiencing the restructuring of the geopolitical architecture of the world. This is extremely important especially in the beginning of 2012 as presidential elections are soon to come in the USA, Russia and France. And we shall also bear in mind that although a couple of years ago the USA considered the world as single-poled, today the existence of local leaders is conspicuous. Besides we can also witness the formation of multiple centres in the EU itself. The Scandinavian and Baltic countries gather around one of these. We can also see how Germany methodically builds its German world in central Europe. The Mediterranean whirls around its own axis too. And the issue at hand is Eastern Europe, and Bulgaria as a part of it. Within the European Union Poland has the ambition to lead in Eastern Europe. And another very important factor is that the American plan for regional leaders reads Turkey as the country with greatest chances to stand out on the Balkans and,  roughly said, Bulgaria is ascribed to fall under the sphere of influence of Turkey. For the past two years Bulgaria has had one of the most pro-American foreign policies in the whole EU. In fact, the relations that Sofia maintains with Washington are in a far better shape than the ones with Paris or Berlin, for instance. And although it is not felt so clearly by the ordinary Bulgarians, the country is in international vacuum – the latest visit of PM Boyko Borissov to Berlin was a nothing but a pompous fiasco, not to mention that London's attitude to Sofia is one of well-bred indifference. In these circumstances Bulgaria's best chance is to try to secure some support from the USA, and the oncoming visit of US State Secretary Hillary Clinton to Sofia shows such support. Some American investments say, in the sector of high technologies will be gladly welcomed by the struggling Bulgarian economy.
However, such investments or cooperation with Washington is more of a good wish than a feasible perspective.
Most probably the US interests in Bulgaria involve installing the nuclear reactors meant for NPP Belene on the site of NPP Kozloduy, thus practically killing the project of Bulgaria's second nuclear power plant. In this case, however, Bulgaria will lose its positions as the biggest exporter of electricity on the Balkans.

Milena Mincheva


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