SOFIA (Reuters) – To reduce its dependence on Russia, Bulgaria is working to sign a contract with Poland as early as July to service Sofia’s Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets, maintained until now by Russia, Defence Minister Nikolay Nenchev said on Monday.
A standoff between the West and Russia over Ukraine has forced Bulgaria, part of the Soviet-dominated Warsaw Pact during the Cold War but a NATO member since 2004, to walk a tightrope over its military, energy and trade relations with Russia.
SOFIA/SKOPJE (Reuters) – Petar Bakhchevanov withdrew some cash from an ATM in Bulgaria’s capital on Monday as a test to make sure the deepening debt crisis in neighboring Greece had not spread to the Greek-owned bank where he keeps his savings.
Millions of people in ex-Communist Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Serbia and Romania have deposits in banks owned by Greek lenders, putting this corner of south-eastern Europe in the frontline if there is contagion from the Greek crisis.
SOFIA, June 23 (Reuters) – Bulgarian central bank Governor
Ivan Iskrov will resign on July 10, three months before the end
of his term, he said on Tuesday, paving the way for smooth
transition of power in a move welcomed by markets.
The search for a new governor is already under way in
Bulgaria following the 2014 collapse of Corporate Commercial
Bank (Corpbank), which triggered the biggest banking
crisis in the Balkan country since 1990s.
SOFIA/SKOPJE, June 22 (Reuters) – If Athens defaults on its
international debts, Greece’s ex-Communist neighbours will run a
risk of contagion transmitted via the Greek-owned lenders which
control large chunks of their banking sectors.
Officials in Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania and
Serbia say they have, in essence, quarantined the local banks by
cordoning off their capital so even if the Greek parent
collapses, the subsidiaries will survive.
SOFIA, June 22 (Reuters) – Bulgaria’s finance minister said
on Monday the governor of the central bank would step down this
week, but the bank itself could not confirm the announcement.
“We have a clearly voiced commitment of the Bulgarian
National Bank’s governor Ivan Iskrov that he will tender his
resignation this week,” Vladislav Goranov told reporters.
SOFIA (Reuters) – Bulgaria’s government on Wednesday approved the formation of a special unit to investigate high-level corruption, seeking to convince the European Union it is serious about tackling graft.
Brussels has repeatedly criticized the Balkan country for failing to jail corrupt officials or overhaul its inefficient judiciary. Bulgaria and neighboring Romania hope progress in these areas will lead to them being allowed to join the EU’s Schengen zone, in which passport-free travel is permitted.
BRATISLAVA/SOFIA (Reuters) – A European Union embargo on arms imports from Russia, imposed last year in response to a pro-Russian rebellion in Ukraine, is speeding the demise of central Europe’s remaining military ties to its former overlord.
The sanctions have also driven a limited regional market in locally-manufactured Russian spares to help tide central European armed forces over in an accelerated transition to Western weaponry.
SOFIA (Reuters) – Bulgaria’s president on Wednesday proposed a referendum on voting rules to try to restore public trust in the Balkan country’s politicians after years of instability and scandals.
The referendum, which if approved would be held alongside local elections in late October, would ask voters to choose whether they want to elect some lawmakers directly rather than from party lists, whether to make voting compulsory and whether to allow electronic voting.
SOFIA, May 11 (Reuters) – Bulgarian prosecutors have
launched an investigation into two central bank officials
suspected of deliberate mismanagement as they took over the
running of insolvent lender Corporate Commercial Bank (Corpbank)
The investigation is the latest in a string that opened in
the aftermath of Corpbank’s collapse last June, which also
include probes into the activities of top central bank
officials, the bank’s main shareholder and its auditors.
DOBRINISHTE, Bulgaria, May 10 (Reuters) – The narrow-gauge
train snaking its way through the valleys and gorges of
southwestern Bulgaria is a lifeline for surrounding villages,
but could face the axe as the government tries to modernise a
network mired in losses and debt.
Corruption and mismanagement have for years hobbled the
state railways, which are among the least efficient in Europe,
while workers have been caught stealing fuel from locomotives.
Many lines have barely changed since the fall of Communism in
1989, despite a sharp drop in population due to emigration and
an end to the planned economy.