Bulgaria's Ex Tsar Rises in Defense of Nuclear Referendum

Business » ENERGY | January 24, 2013, Thursday // 15:26
Bulgaria: Bulgaria's Ex Tsar Rises in Defense of Nuclear Referendum Simeon Saxe-Coburg. Photo by Sofia Photo Agency

Simeon Saxe-Coburg, Bulgaria's ex Tsar (in 1943-1946) and ex Prime Minister (in 2001-2005) has issued a statement, calling on Bulgarians to vote in the upcoming referendum on nuclear power.

"On January 27 I will vote. Hopefully this is what the majority of Bulgarians will do because this is how we can prove that we responsible European citizens, able to decide their own future," he said in a statement.

According to Saxe-Coburg the exact wording of the question is not the most important thing, what really matters is the principle of participation.

On January 27, 2013, Bulgarians will have to answer in the referendum the following question: "Should nuclear energy be developed in Bulgaria through the construction of new nuclear power units?"

Polls show that the referendum will not be valid as between 1.6 million and 2.1 million people are expected to cast a ballot, far below the threshold of 4 million needed to validate the vote.

Earlier this month Saxe-Coburg defended the project for the construction of the 2000 MW Belene Nuclear Power Plant, which was terminated in March 2012 by the Borisov Cabinet.

According to Saxe-Coburg, the last few months have seen "the extreme politicizing of a topic that is strategic for out country connected with our capacity to build a vision for our development for many years to come".

"The construction of the Belene NPP is an extremely important matter for our energy and it is normal for it to have political dimensions but its turning into an instrument for the strengthening of party lines or election preparation is absurd to say the least. The long term development of energy in Bulgaria must be a common goal for all parties," the ex Prime Minister who revived the project back in 2002 stated Wednesday on his website.

"I am among the people who are convinced that in 20 years we will be sorry that we missed the chance to be energy independent, and did not take advantage of an energy source that is among the most environment-friendly one... The price of this energy is lower, it returns the investment quickly. It is already clear even to non-experts, that in 2050 Europe and the world will undergo a serious energy deficit," Saxe-Coburg argued.

The ex Tsar, whose own political party – National Movement for Stability and Prosperity – was in Bulgaria's coalition governments between 2001 and 2009 – recognized the difficulties before the completion of the Belene project – especially finding sufficient funding.

"It is a matter of being foresighted instead of changing the strategic decisions of every government. Many countries were resurrected economically on their own without having anybody pulling them from the outside, or dictating their development. What is more, how many other considerable economic project does Bulgaria have in order to do away with such an important one that has already taken in a BGN 1.3 B investment?" Saxe-Coburg asked.

"My government's decision to continue the construction of the NPP in 2002 was not a whim," he argued, adding that he personally visited the construction site in the Danube town of Belene only to find out two important things – that the Bulgarian state had invested massively in it since the project was conceived in 1981, and that it was in a remarkably good condition even though the construction was terminated between 1993 and 2002.

Saxe-Coburg further went for an outright criticism of the Cabinet of the GERB party and Prime Minister Boyko Borisov – who served as the Chief Secretary of the Interior Ministry in the Saxe Coburg government – by slamming their proposal to build a natural gas-powered thermal plant on the site of the Belene NPP.

The contract for the construction of the 2000-MW Belene NPP was signed in 2006 with Russian state company Atomstroyexport, a subsidiary of Rosatom, by the coalition Cabinet of PM Sergey Stanishev.

However, the construction made little congress because of constant price haggling between Bulgaria and Russia, and in 2009 German company RWE, which was supposed to provide EUR 2 B for the project as a strategic investor, pulled out.

The Borisov Cabinet, which took over in 2009, technically continued the search for strategic investors but in March 2012 it announced it was ending the Belene NPP, labeling it "economically unfeasible".

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Tags: Simeon Saxe-Coburg, NPP, Nuclear Power Plant, Belene NPP, NSMP, 2002, Atomstroyexport, Rosatom, Russia, former PM, Tsar, Romania, Cernavoda NPP, turkey, Sergey Stanishev, Boyko Borisov, Prime Minister, TPP, Belene, nuclear energy
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