Der Spiegel: Germany Fears Russia's Influence in Bulgaria

Views on BG | May 12, 2014, Monday // 13:21
Bulgaria: Der Spiegel: Germany Fears Russia's Influence in Bulgaria Der Spiegel claims Bulgarian politicians are highl influenced by Moscow, citing a first-reading approval in Parliament of amendments favouring Gazprom in the construction of the South Stream gas pipeline. Photo by BGNES

The original article is from German magazine Der Spiegel's website

Berlin is concerned over a growing influence of Russia on the government in Bulgaria, Germany's Der Spiegel has argued in an article.

It says Moscow is developing Sofia as a bridgehead into the EU. The relations are, according to information of [Der] Spiegel, so close that Russia directly influences the legislation.

Internal reports from the German government are warning that a third of the economic output in the country is directly controlled by Moscow.

The information, as the prominent magazine writes, comes from German intelligence sources.

The coalition forged by the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and the "party of the Turkish minority DPS" (Movement for Rights and Freedoms) "rates as a true helper of Moscow. In the government parties old communist party cadres, secret service collaborators and mega-rich oligarchs making business with Putin's minions are active", Der Spiegel also claims, citing the sources.

It reminds of recently emerged reports of strictly confidential letters from the Russian energy concern Gazprom to the Economy Ministry in Sofia, which proposed legislation versions regarding the construction of the South Stream pipeline.

Der Spiegel also reports that the government, however, has snubbed the European Commission, which warned against the move and has thus prompted a meeting between Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger and the Bulgarian Economy Minster Dragomir Stoynev in which the matter was discussed.

"If Bulgaria and really decides on the legal changes, we will respond appropriately and will take the legal steps to guarantee the compliance with EU rules," Oettinger was quoted by the magazine as saying.

Despite qualms over the growing Russian influence, Martin Schulz, the candidate of the Party of European Socialists (PES) for EU Commissioner, came to Sofia for an election even of the ruling Socialists in Sofia, the article concludes, arguing that the former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder will to the same at the beginning of next week to support the ruling party's campaign.

(Note: Lawmakers did vote in favour of amendments changing the South Stream section entering Bulgarian waters as part of the gas interconnection grid, thus barring access to it by third parties, a move that, as some suggest, could contravene EU law. Bulgaria's Reformist Bloc claimed last week it had obtained documents proving Gazprom's role in the legislation, but is yet to defend its allegations.)

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Tags: Russia, Bulgaria, Gazprom, Oettinger, Stoynev, Gazprom, intelligence, PES, Martin Schulz, Gerhard Schroeder
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