Stratfor: Bulgaria Is Balkan Heavyweight, But Eurasian Lightweight
Bulgaria will likely be under pressure to "yield to Constantinople yet again" if an when Turkey resurges, global intelligence company Stratfor says in an analysis.
The country "may once again become subject to foreign interests" as both the EU and NATO "are in precarious positions", "Bulgaria's balance between Russia and Europe is delicate and Turkey is experiencing a resurgence".
While Bulgarians "have rarely tested their maritime boundaries," the greatest threat to the country is located to the country's southeast: "a city that has had many names but was called Constantinople throughout much of modern history."
"How the country's residents use this mountain barrier [the Balkan Mountains] has been shaped by — and has shaped — its relationship with the outside world and particularly with Constantinople," Stratfor argues.
Although Bulgaria emerged as an "ambitious new nation" amid an Ottoman decline, "the empire that Sofia meant to govern never emerged" as the world changed throughout the 20th century.
Stratfor begins by emphasizing the fact that, while Bulgaria is "Europe's oldest country", it "spent seven of their ensuing 13 centuries" after appearing on the map of Europe under foreign control.
Bulgaria has historically either "menacing the area to its west, or itself being menaced by larger states all around", but with the EU accession process spreading to the peninsula, Balkan countries no longer view it "as a threat".
It also highlights some of the country's successes, with Bulgaria doing better economically than neighbors like Greece in the second part of the 2000s and presently and a new boom in the electronics and information technology sectors "which have recently been showing signs of recovery".
"Once referred to as the "Silicon Valley of the Soviet Union," Bulgaria is now being called the "Silicon Valley of Eastern Europe." But the economic outlook is not all positive."
It points to corruption and mass emigration, the latter turning it into "the country with the worst demographic outlook in the world".
The latter is "likely to undermine its aspirations for growth in the coming decades and will leave the country weaker than its peers."
"Meanwhile, Bulgaria's imperative to balance great powers to avoid being dominated has over time proved extremely challenging to carry out. The latest attempt, aligning with Europe through the European Union while also maintaining relations with Russia, has been successful, but the sustainability of the tactic is questionable."
You can read the entire analysis here.
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