AP: Bulgarian Elections Set to Influence South Stream’s Fate
Sunday’s vote for parliament will determine whether Bulgaria will continue to build the Moscow-backed South Stream gas pipeline - a project opposed by the EU, the AP has said.
Taking a look at the upcoming elections, in which centre-right GERB party is tipped by polling agencies to win most votes but remain short of absolute majority, the Associated Press highlighted on Friday that GERB leader Boyko Borisov could find it hard to build a coalition government.
Borisov has said he would only continue building Bulgaria's part of the South Stream pipeline if the EU approved – in “sharp contrast with the Socialists, who want the project at any price.”
The conflicting views of GERB and the Socialists on South Stream reflect ‘divided loyalties’ among Bulgarians with some favouring Moscow’s position on the project while other taking the view that Bulgaria should stick firmly to its commitments as a member of the EU.
While the country is member of NATO and the EU, “extensive dependence on Russian oil and gas leaves it vulnerable to political meddling by the Kremlin,” AP said.
The newswire also quoted the opinion of Bulgarian political analyst Tihomir Bezlov that "Borisov believes that he lost power in 2013 because of the Russians and must be cautious” if he forms a government after October 5 vote.
GERB’s government led by Borisov resigned last year shortly before its four-year term of office expired amidst nationwide protests triggered by power price hikes and austerity measures.
A coalition cabinet led by the Socialists, which took office after early elections in 2013 before resigning in July 2014, had given the green light to the construction of South Stream on Bulgarian territory – a move opposed by the EU which says the project violates its anti-monopoly rules.
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