Weary Bulgarians fear more political turmoil after latest election

Weary Bulgarians fear more political turmoil after latest election

DAVIDKOVO, Bulgaria, (Reuters) - Bulgarians bracing for their fourth election in less than two years face a winter of want amid soaring inflation driven by the war in Ukraine, making many yearn for good government and stability after years of political turmoil. At stake is the next government's ability to tackle rocketing energy costs and secure gas supplies at affordable prices after Russia's cutoff in April over Bulgaria's refusal to pay in roubles following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. But fractious coalition-building is expected to drag out after the Oct. 2 vote amid deep rifts within the political elite over how…
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Greece-Bulgaria pipeline starts operations to boost non-Russian gas flows

Greece-Bulgaria pipeline starts operations to boost non-Russian gas flows

SOFIA, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Greece and Bulgaria started commercial operation of a long-delayed gas pipeline on Saturday which will help decrease southeast Europe's dependence on Russian gas and boost energy security. The 182-km pipeline will provide a relief to Bulgaria, which has been struggling to secure gas supplies at affordable prices since the end of April, when Russia's Gazprom (GAZP.MM) cut off deliveries over Sofia's refusal to pay in roubles. Russia has decreased its gas deliveries to Europe after the West imposed sanctions on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, leaving European Union countries scrambling to secure alternative supplies amid surging prices.  "This…
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Bulgaria’s GERB party expands lead ahead of Sunday’s election

Bulgaria’s GERB party expands lead ahead of Sunday’s election

SOFIA, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Bulgaria's centre-right GERB party widened its lead over its main rival, the reformist We Continue the Change (PP), as the country heads into its fourth parliamentary election in less than two years, opinion polls showed on Friday. Sunday's election is expected to produce a fractured parliament with up to eight political parties, surveys by Alpha Research, Trend and Gallup International pollsters showed. None of them will have a clear majority, prompting difficult talks to forge a ruling coalition to lead the Black Sea country through the cost of living crisis, stoked by the war in…
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Bulgaria inches closer to buying more F-16s to replace Russian jets

Bulgaria inches closer to buying more F-16s to replace Russian jets

Bulgaria inched closer to buying a second batch of eight new F-16 aircraft and related equipment from the United States in a deal valued at $1.30 billion, interim Defence Minister Dimitar Stoyanov said. The European Union and NATO member country, which had ordered eight Lockheed Martin  F-16 jets in 2019, is seeking to replace its ageing Russian MiG-29 fighter jets and improve its compliance to NATO standards. "Acquiring new aircraft is extremely important for the Bulgarian air force. We have old Soviet aircraft, which we cannot maintain because of the problems that occurred following the conflict in Ukraine," Stoyanov told…
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Bulgaria’s GERB party leads ahead of Oct. 2 election

Bulgaria’s GERB party leads ahead of Oct. 2 election

SOFIA, Sept 1 (Reuters) - Bulgaria's centre-right GERB party widened its lead over its main rival, the reformist We Continue the Change (PP) a month ahead of the country's fourth parliamentary election in less than two years, an opinion poll showed on Thursday. But none of seven parties seen securing seats in the new parliament is expected to win a majority, raising the prospect of protracted coalition talks in the European Union member state after the Oct. 2 election. GERB's party of former prime minister Boyko Borissov, whose more than a decade in power ended in 2021 amid anger against…
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Bulgaria says talks to resume Russian gas supplies are ‘inevitable’

Bulgaria says talks to resume Russian gas supplies are ‘inevitable’

Bulgaria's interim energy minister said it was "inevitable" that the Balkan country would discuss resuming gas deliveries with Russia's Gazprom GAZP.MM that were halted in April, after the government promised to secure adequate supplies for the winter. Rossen Hristov did not say when negotiations with the Russian company will start, but said they would be needed to secure cheaper gas for the country. "Given the demands of business and the trade unions, in reality, talks with Gazprom to renew supplies are inevitable," Hristov told reporters. The European Union country had been meeting more than 90% of its gas needs with Russian deliveries until…
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Bulgaria faces fresh polls after Socialists drop bid to form government

Bulgaria faces fresh polls after Socialists drop bid to form government

SOFIA, July 27 (Reuters) - Bulgaria's Socialist party abandoned plans on Wednesday to propose a new coalition government after failing to scrape together a majority in parliament, a development that promises fresh elections in the autumn for the Balkan country. President Rumen Radev will now have to appoint a caretaker cabinet to govern the European Union and NATO member state before fresh elections can be held, most probably in October. The Socialists had made a third and final go in the bid to form a government after the coalition government of reformist Prime Minister Kiril Petkov was toppled in a…
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Bulgaria election likely after centre-right party refuses to form government

Bulgaria election likely after centre-right party refuses to form government

SOFIA, July 14 (Reuters) - Bulgaria's centre-right GERB party refused on Thursday to form a new government, bringing the Balkan country closer to snap polls in the autumn. Bulgaria is embroiled in a political crisis after the coalition government of reformist Prime Minister Kiril Petkov was toppled in a no-confidence motion last month and his PP party failed to muster enough support to form a new cabinet. "A successful formula for support in this parliament cannot be found," Desislava Atanasova, a senior member of GERB told reporters after the party declined to form a government. GERB is led by long-serving…
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Photo Story: Protests in Skopje

Photo Story: Protests in Skopje

A woman waves the old Macedonian flag during a protest against the French proposal to resolve the dispute between North Macedonia and Bulgaria in front of the Parliament building in Skopje, Republic of North Macedonia, on Sunday evening. The biggest opposition party VMRO DPMNE leads the protest against the French proposal, which comes after North Macedonia's Government intervention in Brussels and reaction to the draft documents that the public had the opportunity to discuss last week. The official views for the French proposal that would finally allow the Balkan country to begin long-awaited European Union membership talks.will be announced after…
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Greece says gas link with Bulgaria completed, can start operation this month

Greece says gas link with Bulgaria completed, can start operation this month

ATHENS, July 6 (Reuters) - A long-delayed gas pipeline between Greece and Bulgaria aimed at helping Sofia cut its reliance on Russian gas has been completed and can start commercial operations this month, Greece's energy minister said on Wednesday. The Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB), which has hit several administrative hurdles in recent years, is important for the energy security of Bulgaria, which has been cut off Russian gas for refusing to pay in roubles following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. The 220 million euro ($226 million) pipeline will carry gas from the northern Greek city of Komotini to Stara Zagora in Bulgaria and be…
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Photo Story: Lavender harvest in Bulgaria

Photo Story: Lavender harvest in Bulgaria

A farmer harvests lavender flowers in a field near the town of Shabla, Bulgaria. Bulgaria, currently the largest producer of lavender oil in the world have overtaken France, which had problems with diseases of lavender plants. Most of the harvested lavender production of about 80 to 85 per cent goes for export. Via EPA-EFE/VASSIL DONEV
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Russian envoy to Bulgaria to ask Moscow to shut embassy after mass expulsions

Russian envoy to Bulgaria to ask Moscow to shut embassy after mass expulsions

Russia's ambassador to Bulgaria said she would ask Moscow to close its embassy in the Balkan country after her appeal for Sofia to reverse what she called an unprecedented hostile step to expel 70 Russian diplomatic staff was ignored. In a statement addressed to the Bulgarian people, the ambassador, Eleonora Mitrofanova, said the closure of the Russian embassy would inevitably lead to the closure of Bulgaria's embassy in Moscow too. Bulgaria, an EU and NATO member state and once a close ally of Russia, has been roiled by diplomatic tensions after outgoing Prime Minister Kiril Petkov on Tuesday announced the…
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Bulgaria destroys naval mine off its Black Sea coast

Bulgaria destroys naval mine off its Black Sea coast

SOFIA, July 1 (Reuters) - Bulgaria's military late on Thursday carried out a controlled explosion of a Soviet-era naval mine that had drifted close to the country's Black Sea coast, the defence ministry said on Friday. Black Sea countries began to report the appearance of such mines floating in the sea after Russia invaded Ukraine in February. Russia and Ukraine accuse each other of planting them. The defence ministry said the mine was first noticed some 27 nautical miles east of the mouth of the Kamchia river by a motor ship. "Military experts classify the mine as an anchored "YaM" type, placed…
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UPDATED: Bulgaria’s outgoing PM rejects Russian ultimatum, unveils potential successor

UPDATED: Bulgaria’s outgoing PM rejects Russian ultimatum, unveils potential successor

SOFIA, July 1 (Reuters) - Bulgaria's outgoing Prime Minister Kiril Petkov rejected a Russian ultimatum to reverse a decision to expel 70 Russian diplomatic staff by noon on Friday and named the country's finance minister as his possible successor. The Balkan nation, an EU and NATO member state and once a close ally of Russia, has been roiled in recent days by political upheaval which saw parliament pass a vote of no-confidence in the coalition government last week and Petkov this week announce the Russian expulsions on espionage concerns. Russia responded by issuing an ultimatum on Thursday which included a threat to close Russia's embassy unless…
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Bulgaria closer to early election

Bulgaria closer to early election

Bulgaria's Socialists, allies in the outgoing coalition government of Prime Minister Kiril Petkov, said they would not back a new Petkov-led Cabinet, angry with the expulsion of 70 Russian diplomats. The Socialists' position could bring the European Union and NATO member state closer in the autumn to holding fresh elections, the fourth since April 2021. The Russia-friendly Socialists called the expulsion of the diplomats over suspected espionage unacceptable. "We are putting on hold any talks with the PP party for forming a new government," Socialist leader and outgoing deputy premier Kornelia Ninova said. "The decision to expel 70 Russian diplomats…
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Bulgarian parliament greenlights N Macedonia’s EU membership negotiation

Bulgarian parliament greenlights N Macedonia’s EU membership negotiation

Bulgaria's parliament gave the government the green light on Friday to approve a European Union membership negotiation framework for North Macedonia, in a move that may allow its northern neighbour to start accession talks with the bloc. Coming a day after the bloc granted candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova, the vote marked another step towards EU enlargement, lifting a veto that had been imposed in 2020 due to a dispute about history and language.  Lawmakers voted to allow the government to lift its veto following tweaks in the framework text that would guarantee the rights of Bulgarians in the…
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Albania’s PM slams Bulgaria on Western Balkan EU membership

Albania’s PM slams Bulgaria on Western Balkan EU membership

Bulgaria's block on North Macedonia's progress to join the European Union is a "disgrace", Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said as he arrived for a special Balkans summit with EU leaders, whom he also accused of "impotence". "It's a disgrace that a NATO country, Bulgaria, kidnaps two other NATO countries, namely Albania and North Macedonia, in the midst of a hot war in Europe's backyard with 26 other EU countries sitting still in a scary show of impotence," Rama told reporters on Thursday, referring to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. EU member Bulgaria in 2020 blocked the start of accession talks…
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Bulgarian government faces no-confidence vote and political turmoil

Bulgarian government faces no-confidence vote and political turmoil

SOFIA, June 22 (Reuters) - A no-confidence vote on Wednesday threatens to topple Bulgaria's government and Prime Minister Kiril Petkov, who pledged to tackle corruption and took an unusually strong stance against Russia. Petkov's four-party coalition took office six months ago only to disintegrate earlier this month over disagreements on budget spending and whether Bulgaria should unlock North Macedonia's European Union accession.  The European Union country now faces a new round of political turmoil and possibly its fourth national election since April 2021, putting at risk millions of euros from EU recovery funds and its plans to adopt the euro in 2024.…
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Bulgarian foreign, energy ministers quit, deepening coalition crisis

Bulgarian foreign, energy ministers quit, deepening coalition crisis

SOFIA, June 13 (Reuters) - Bulgaria's foreign and energy ministers resigned on Monday after their party, the populist ITN, quit the governing coalition last week, compounding the Balkan country's political crisis. Prime Minister Kiril Petkov has said he will try to secure parliamentary support for a minority government. However, analysts say new elections in the autumn could be on the cards for the European Union's poorest member state. ITN left the shaky, four-party coalition six months after it was formed, citing disagreement over policies ranging from whether Bulgaria should unlock North Macedonia's European Union accession talks to anti-corruption legislation in…
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Bulgaria faces risk of political instability as PM loses majority

Bulgaria faces risk of political instability as PM loses majority

Bulgaria's prime minister pledged to lead a minority government on Wednesday as the populist ITN party quit the government over disagreements on budget spending and whether Bulgaria should back North Macedonia's European Union accession. Kiril Petkov said he was "optimistic" his centrist PP party and its two remaining coalition partners could still deliver on pledges to uproot widespread corruption in the EU's poorest member state after losing their parliamentary majority. But analysts say the rift is likely to bring fresh instability just as the Ukraine war causes inflation to surge. Petkov's government only took office in December after a prolonged…
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Russia’s Lavrov visit to Serbia denied as Bulgaria, North Macedonia, and Montenegro refuse use of airspace

Russia’s Lavrov visit to Serbia denied as Bulgaria, North Macedonia, and Montenegro refuse use of airspace

Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic on Monday morning met with Russian ambassador Aleksandr Botsan-Kharcenko, who informed him of the reasons that prevented Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov from arriving in Belgrade. "Ambassador of the Russian Federation Botsan-Kharcenko informed me of the reasons that prevented the arrival of Minister Lavrov to Belgrade and brought me documents confirming them," Vucic wrote on his Instagram profile, as media reported. Vucic added that he would be discussing the issue in the evening on the new service of the Serbian public broadcaster RTS. Bulgaria, North Macedonia, and Montenegro (all NATO nations, with Bulgaria also part of the…
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Centrist MEPs irked at objections to North Macedonia’s EU accession process

Centrist MEPs irked at objections to North Macedonia’s EU accession process

The European Council's persistent lack of consensus on launching accession discussions with North Macedonia has come under fire by centrist MEPs of the Renew political grouping. The MEPs lamented that despite Skopje's commitment to democracy and the rule of law, and its efforts to undertake EU-related reforms, the country has not been allowed to continue on its path towards accession. Last week, the European Parliament's annual progress report on North Macedonia, reaffirmed the European Parliament's strong support for the opening of accession talks and applauded North Macedonia's democratic transition, as well as the country's marked improvements in transparency, political dialogue,…
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Bulgarian government approves plan to offset high energy prices

Bulgarian government approves plan to offset high energy prices

SOFIA, May 16 (Reuters) - Bulgaria on Monday approved a new stimulus package to shield companies from the surge in energy prices bolstered by the war in Ukraine, Prime Minister Kiril Petkov said. Under the plan, the centrist government will continue to partially compensate businesses for high electricity costs and fully cover the 14% increase of natural gas prices in May after Russia cut gas supplies to the Balkan country last month. The government, under pressure from business associations and trade unions, said it also plans long-term solutions to protect the economy from the high energy costs which include windfall taxes on…
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Bulgaria says will veto EU oil sanctions on Russia if it does not get derogation

Bulgaria says will veto EU oil sanctions on Russia if it does not get derogation

Bulgaria will not support European Union's new set of sanctions against Russia if the Balkan country does not get a derogation from the proposed ban on buying Russian oil, Deputy Prime Minister Assen Vassilev said late on Sunday. European Union governments moved closer on Sunday to agreeing to tough sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, but scheduled more talks for Monday to work out how to ensure countries most dependent on Russian energy can cope. "The talks will continue tomorrow, on Tuesday too, a meeting of the leaders may be needed to conclude them. Our position is very clear. If there be…
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Russian parliament speaker says: cut off the gas to other ‘unfriendly’ countries

Russian parliament speaker says: cut off the gas to other ‘unfriendly’ countries

April 27 (Reuters) - Russia's top lawmaker on Wednesday said gas giant Gazprom  had made the right decision in fully suspending gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland and said Moscow should do the same with other "unfriendly" countries. "The same should be done with regard to other countries that are unfriendly to us," Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of Russia's lower house of parliament, the Duma, wrote on his Telegram channel. Bulgaria has paid for Russian gas deliveries for April and supplier Gazprom GAZP.MM will be in breach of its current contract if it halts the flow, energy minister Alexander Nikolov told reporters on Wednesday. Sofia would…
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Bulgaria bans Russian-flagged ships from entering its Black Sea ports

Bulgaria bans Russian-flagged ships from entering its Black Sea ports

Bulgaria has banned Russian-flagged ships from entering its Black Sea ports as part of expanded EU sanctions, the country’s Maritime Administration announced on its website on Sunday. “All vessels registered under Russian flag, as well as all vessels that have switched their Russian flag, or flag or maritime register registration to any other state whatsoever after 24 February, are forbidden access to Bulgarian maritime and river ports,” the authority said. Exceptions will be made only for ships in distress or seeking humanitarian assistance, or ships transporting energy products, food and pharmaceuticals to EU countries. Read more via Novinite
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Bulgaria’s growth prospects dented by war in Ukraine -IMF

Bulgaria’s growth prospects dented by war in Ukraine -IMF

SOFIA, April 15 (Reuters) - The war in Ukraine is likely to hit Bulgaria's economic growth, speed up inflation and could pose credit risks, the International Monetary Fund said on Friday. The IMF, which concluded a staff visit to Sofia, sees Bulgaria's growth tentatively near 3% this year, down from an earlier estimate of 4.4%, while inflation was likely to reach double digits in 2022, it said in a statement. The IMF said the Bulgarian banking sector remains well capitalised and liquid but urged the central bank to watch for a possible increase in credit risk and other spillovers from the war…
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Bulgaria eases travel rules for NATO troops, neighbouring states

Bulgaria eases travel rules for NATO troops, neighbouring states

SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria will allow NATO troops, as well as travellers from some neigbouring countries, to arrive in the Balkan country without showing any coronavirus-related documents as of April 13, the health ministry said. The European Union and NATO member country lifted all domestic COVID restrictions from the beginning of the month, including wearing of face masks indoors as the number of new inflections eased. The Black Sea state, which is setting up a 1,000-strong battle group as NATO is bolstering its eastern flank amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, will allow access of foreign allied forces to its…
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Bulgaria scraps ‘golden passports’ scheme

Bulgaria scraps ‘golden passports’ scheme

SOFIA, March 24 (Reuters) - Bulgaria's parliament scrapped a 'golden passports' scheme on Thursday that allowed wealthy foreigners to buy citizenship in the European Union country if they invested as little as 1 million levs ($562,366). After extensive criticism from the European Commission, lawmakers in the Balkan country ended the scheme, under which more than 100 foreigners, mainly from Russia, China and the Middle East, had obtained a passport since 2013 that enabled them access to all EU countries by dint of Bulgaria's membership in the bloc. The cancellation came days after the European Parliament urged the EU to ban such 'golden passport'…
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U.S. to provide Stryker army company to NATO battlegroup in Bulgaria

U.S. to provide Stryker army company to NATO battlegroup in Bulgaria

SOFIA (Reuters) -The United States has agreed to provide a Stryker mechanized infantry company for Bulgaria’s battlegroup under NATO’s drive to bolster its eastern flank after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov said. “The USA agreed to provide a Stryker company,” he told a press conference with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. “This is a strong sign to all of our allies in NATO.” Bulgaria, once Moscow’s closest ally during the Cold War era but a NATO and European Union member state, is establishing a battlegroup of up to 1,000 troops under the operational command of NATO’s…
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Bulgaria’s former PM Borissov detained after EU probes

Bulgaria’s former PM Borissov detained after EU probes

SOFIA, March 17 (Reuters) - Bulgaria's former prime minister and leader of the largest opposition GERB party, Boyko Borissov, was detained late on Thursday as part of a police operation linked to probes by the EU Public Prosecutor's Office, the interior ministry said. Former premier Borissov's decade-long rule ended last April after an election that showed popular anger over high-level corruption in the European Union's poorest member state. A new centrist coalition government took office in December, pledging zero tolerance on graft. Three other members of Borissov's centre-right GERB party were also detained, including former Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov, in the operation prompted…
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EU to keep talking with Bulgaria until enlargement spat solved, Borrell says

EU to keep talking with Bulgaria until enlargement spat solved, Borrell says

March 14 (Reuters) - The European Commission will continue talking to Bulgaria to get its approval for accepting North Macedonia into the bloc, the EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Monday. "We will continue talking (with Bulgaria) until this issue will be solved," he told reporters on a visit to the North Macedonian capital, Skopje, adding he perceived an improved atmosphere between the two governments. Bilateral issues cannot any longer determine an accession process, Borrell underlined. Photo - EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Policy Josep Borrell. EPA-EFE/JOHN THYS / POOL
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Bulgaria to host up to eight Dutch fighter jets and 200 troops

Bulgaria to host up to eight Dutch fighter jets and 200 troops

SOFIA, March 11 (Reuters) - NATO member Bulgaria will host up to eight Dutch warplanes and 200 troops to help it with its air policing tasks amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a government decision showed on Friday. The Netherlands will put two warplanes on 24-hour duty in Black Sea country Bulgaria from April 1 until May 31 for air policing activities, in line with NATO's integrated plan for air and anti-missile defence, the government said. "For the implementation of these actions ... from March 4 to June 24 on the territory of Bulgaria up to eight aircraft and up…
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UPDATED: Estonia, Romania and Bulgaria close airspace for Russian carriers

UPDATED: Estonia, Romania and Bulgaria close airspace for Russian carriers

BUCHAREST, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Romania will ban Russian airlines from its airspace, government spokesman Dan Carbunaru said on Saturday, joining other countries in central Europe against which Russia already retaliated. Carbunaru also said Romania has started the process to withdraw from the International Investment Bank (IIB), a Soviet-era institution which counts Russia as its largest shareholder. Estonia will ban Russian airlines from using the Baltic nation's airspace, Estonia's Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas told public broadcaster ERR on Saturday.  Bulgaria will ban flights to the country operated by Russian airlines and will close its airspace for all Russian…
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Spain will send four fighter jets and 130 troops to Bulgaria

Spain will send four fighter jets and 130 troops to Bulgaria

SOFIA, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Spain will send four warplanes and 130 troops to Bulgaria this week for air policing tasks amid tensions over the Russian military build-up on the Ukrainian border, the Bulgarian defence ministry said on Wednesday. The first Spanish Eurofighter jets are expected to land in Bulgaria by the end of the week for airspace protection duties together with the Bulgarian Air Force until the end of March, the ministry said. "The mission is implementing measures to ensure the security of NATO member countries on the Eastern flank," the defence ministry said in a statement. The Netherlands…
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Bulgaria posts new record of 12,399 daily COVID infections

Bulgaria posts new record of 12,399 daily COVID infections

SOFIA, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Bulgaria reported a record 12,399 coronavirus infections in a single day on Wednesday, official data showed, with most of the cases caused by the more contagious Omicron variant. The European Union country, where less than 30% of the population of 7 million has been vaccinated, also recorded another 73 deaths. Bulgaria's tally of infections exceeds 903,000, with 32,869 deaths since the pandemic began. The new centrist government has repeatedly appealed to vaccine-sceptical Bulgarians to get inoculated to avoid pressure on hospitals that could force tougher curbs. About 5,300 people were admitted to hospital on Wednesday,…
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Russia wants NATO forces to leave Romania, Bulgaria – Russian foreign ministry

Russia wants NATO forces to leave Romania, Bulgaria – Russian foreign ministry

MOSCOW, Jan 21 (Reuters) - The security guarantees that Russia seeks from the West include provisions requiring NATO forces to leave Romania and Bulgaria, the Russian foreign ministry said on Friday. Moscow has demanded legally binding guarantees from NATO that the bloc will stop its expansion and return to its 1997 borders. Replying to a question about what that would mean for Bulgaria and Romania, which joined NATO after 1997, the ministry said Russia wanted all foreign troops, weapons and other military hardware withdrawn from those countries. (Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Alex Richardson) Photo…
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Bulgaria posts record of more than 11,000 daily COVID-19 cases

Bulgaria posts record of more than 11,000 daily COVID-19 cases

SOFIA, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Bulgaria reported a record 11,181 coronavirus infections in a single day on Wednesday, official data showed, dominated by the more contagious Omicron variant. The European Union nation, where less than 30% of the population of 7 million has been vaccinated, added 91 deaths. Bulgaria's tally of infections exceeds 840,000, with 32,332 deaths since the pandemic began. The new centrist government has repeatedly appealed to vaccine-sceptical Bulgarians to get inoculated, so as to avoid pressure on hospitals that could force tougher curbs. About 5,259 people were admitted to hospital on Wednesday, with 554 of them in…
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North Macedonia and Bulgaria agree to work on issues blocking EU talks

North Macedonia and Bulgaria agree to work on issues blocking EU talks

The new premiers of Bulgaria and North Macedonia agreed on Tuesday to try to overcome problems that prompted Sofia to block the start of accession talks between the European Union and Skopje. Dimitar Kovacevski, who was sworn in as North Macedonia's prime minister on Monday, said he and Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov had agreed at talks in Skopje to try to improve relations between their countries. Petkov, who took office last month, said he was "a big optimist" about the chances of them achieving results. Bulgaria refused in 2020 to approve the EU’s membership negotiation framework for North Macedonia…
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Anti-vaccine protesters try to storm Bulgaria’s parliament

Anti-vaccine protesters try to storm Bulgaria’s parliament

Anti-vaccine protesters tried to storm the Bulgarian parliament on Wednesday and briefly scuffled with police officers during a massive rally against coronavirus restrictions in downtown Sofia. Tensions rose an hour after about 3,000 people gathered in front of the parliament building, demanding the lifting of a mandatory health pass which they said trampled on their rights and was a back-door means of forcing people to get vaccinated. Protesters, many of whom arrived on buses for the rally, pushed back a police cordon around parliament and reached the front doors of the building. They stopped short of breaking in and called…
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Bulgaria’s daily coronavirus infections at record high

Bulgaria’s daily coronavirus infections at record high

SOFIA, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Daily coronavirus infections in Bulgaria reached a record high of 7,062 on Wednesday, largely fuelled by the highly contagious Omicron variant, official data showed. New cases, on the rise since the beginning of the year, surpassed a previous peak set in late October, when the European Union's least vaccinated member state grappled with the Delta variant. The virus has killed 89 people in the past 24 hours in the Balkan country, according to official figures, bringing the total death toll to 31,761. More than 5,200 people were in hospitals, including 580 in intensive care. In…
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Bulgaria sees its population decline by 11.5% in a decade

Bulgaria sees its population decline by 11.5% in a decade

Bulgaria’s population has declined by 11.5% in the past decade, according to first results from the 2021 census. The National Statistical Institute said that the nation has shrunk by 844,000 people, from some 7.3 million in 2011 to 6.5 million today. Experts attribute the decline to low birth rates, high mortality, and a steady migration flow that has seen working-age people leaving to look for better jobs and education prospects in Western Europe and beyond. Read more via AP
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Bulgaria detects first cases of Omicron coronavirus variant

Bulgaria detects first cases of Omicron coronavirus variant

Bulgaria has detected its first 12 cases of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, the Balkan country's chief health inspector Angel Kunchev said. "We have confirmed the new variant in samples from 12 people," Kunchev told reporters. "From now on we can expect a faster spread of the infection. Omicron will gradually become the dominant variant as it has already happened in many European Union countries," he said. Kunchev said the infected nine men and three women, mainly from the capital Sofia, were experiencing mild symptoms and none was hospitalised. Bulgaria's health authorities will meet on Tuesday to discuss whether…
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Bulgaria hikes natural gas price by 30.4%

Bulgaria hikes natural gas price by 30.4%

SOFIA, Jan 1 (Reuters) - Bulgaria's energy regulator said on Saturday it has approved a 30.4% increase of the wholesale natural gas price for this month, following a request by Bulgargaz, the Balkan country's main gas provider and public supplier. Natural gas prices have soared in Europe in the past year, adding to inflationary pressure and threatening to dent consumer confidence. The regulator set the January gas price at 133.4 levs ($77.60) per MWh before costs for transport and taxes from 102.3 levs in December. Bulgargaz said the price for Bulgarian consumers would still be some 35% less than prices…
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Bulgaria offers cash reward to boost vaccination rates among pensioners

Bulgaria offers cash reward to boost vaccination rates among pensioners

SOFIA, Dec 23 (Reuters) - Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov said on Thursday that elderly people who get a COVID-19 shot will be eligible for a cash reward as part of his government's drive to boost the vaccination rates, the lowest in the European Union. Petkov, who took office this month, said every retired Bulgarian will get a one-off payment of 75 levs ($43.40) in addition to their pension in the next six months when vaccinated with a first or second dose. Pensioners who have already received three shots will also be eligible for the add-on. His centrist coalition government…
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Bulgaria’s PP party expects to forge coalition government soon

Bulgaria’s PP party expects to forge coalition government soon

Bulgaria's largest political party, We Continue The Change (PP), expects to forge a coalition government with three other parties soon and put an end to a political deadlock, PP leader Kiril Petkov said on Monday. The new centrist party won Bulgaria's third parliamentary election this year on Nov. 14 on pledges to root out corruption and steer the European Union's poorest member towards prosperity. PP is holding coalition talks with the Socialists and two right-wing factions to form the first regular cabinet since April, when public anger over graft ended the decade-long rule of veteran centre-right premier Boyko Borissov. Petkov, 41, nominated…
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Bulgaria’s PP party expects to forge coalition government soon

Bulgaria’s PP party expects to forge coalition government soon

SOFIA, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Bulgaria's largest political party, We Continue The Change (PP), expects to forge a coalition government with three other parties soon and put an end to a political deadlock, PP leader Kiril Petkov said on Monday. The new centrist party won Bulgaria's third parliamentary election this year on Nov. 14 on pledges to root out corruption and steer the European Union's poorest member towards prosperity. PP is holding coalition talks with the Socialists and two right-wing factions to form the first regular cabinet since April, when public anger over graft ended the decade-long rule of veteran…
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Investigators say human error likely cause of deadly Bulgaria bus crash

Investigators say human error likely cause of deadly Bulgaria bus crash

FIA, Nov 25 (Reuters) - Bulgarian investigators said on Thursday that human error was the most likely cause of a bus crash that killed more than 40 people. The bus was carrying tourists, including children, from North Macedonia returning from a weekend trip to Turkey. It crashed in flames on a highway in western Bulgaria before daybreak on Tuesday. Investigators have ruled out a terrorist act or that additional tubes with fuel on aboard could have caused the deadly fire. They also established there had been no blast. "For the time being, the leading and main version is the one…
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UPDATED – Flaming bus crash in Bulgaria kills 45 North Macedonian tourists

UPDATED – Flaming bus crash in Bulgaria kills 45 North Macedonian tourists

SOFIA (Reuters) -At least 45 people, including 12 children, died as a bus carrying mostly North Macedonian tourists crashed in flames on a highway in western Bulgaria on Tuesday, officials said. Seven people who leapt from the burning bus were rushed to hospital in Sofia and were in stable conditions, hospital staff said. Bulgaria's interior ministry said 45 people died, one less than the toll given earlier .  The cause of the accident was unclear but the bus appeared to have hit a highway barrier either before or after it caught fire, Bulgarian officials said. Television footage showed the bus…
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Bulgarian President Radev wins second term on anti-corruption ticket

Bulgarian President Radev wins second term on anti-corruption ticket

Bulgarian President Rumen Radev won a second term in office by a wide margin on Sunday as voters in the European Union's poorest country backed his strong anti-corruption message, exit polls showed. Radev, 58, defeated his challenger Anastas Gerdzhikov, also 58, winning 66% to 32% in the presidential run-off after nearly winning outright in the first round on Nov 14, according to exit polls that also registered a record low voter turnout. The election comes amid widespread discontent against high level graft that ended the decade-long rule of former premier Boyko Borissov in April and led a new anti-corruption party…
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Tired of rampant graft, Bulgarians vote in presidential election

Tired of rampant graft, Bulgarians vote in presidential election

SOFIA, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Bulgarians are voting on Sunday to choose the country's next president in a run-off election, weary of widespread corruption in the European Union's poorest member state amid rising energy costs and high death toll from the coronavirus. Incumbent President Rumen Radev, 58, an advocate of change aimed at cleaning Bulgaria's image as the EU's most corrupt member state, appears poised for a new 5-year term after winning 49.5% of the votes in the first round on Nov. 14. He competes with Sofia University Rector, Anastas Gerdzhikov, 58, who won 22.8% of the vote last week…
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EU urges Bulgaria to speed up coronavirus vaccinations

EU urges Bulgaria to speed up coronavirus vaccinations

Bulgaria needs to speed up vaccinations against the coronavirus to limit the health risks for its people and for other countries, the EU internal market commissioner in charge of vaccine strategy roll-out, Thierry Breton, said on Friday. Bulgaria is the 27-member bloc's least vaccinated nation, where less than 30% of its adult population have taken at least one shot against the virus, and the country has the highest COVID-19 related death rates in the bloc. "The first risk is of course for the Bulgarian population, but also (there is a risk) to generate a new variant, which would be more…
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Deaths 50% above normal in Bulgaria, EU’s least vaccinated country -Eurostat

Deaths 50% above normal in Bulgaria, EU’s least vaccinated country -Eurostat

More than 50% more people died in Bulgaria than usual during September, official data showed, making the European Union's least vaccinated country its hardest-hit during a resurgence of coronavirus cases over the late summer. According to a Eurostat report which compares additional deaths with pre-pandemic levels, Bulgaria had the highest excess mortality in the EU, followed by Lithuania, Greece and Romania - all over 30%. Since September, the pandemic has further worsened in eastern Europe, with Bulgaria hitting record numbers of daily coronavirus deaths in recent weeks. According to a Statista report, Bulgaria had as of last week administered just 44 vaccine doses per 100 people - the lowest rate of any…
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Update: Petkov scores high in Bulgarians vote in third election this year

Update: Petkov scores high in Bulgarians vote in third election this year

Update Entrepreneur and political newcomer Kiril Petkov scored unexpectedly strongly in Bulgaria’s election on Sunday, according to exit polls that suggested he was running close to winning the vote and could then lead the formation of a coalition. Bulgaria has held three general elections within a year. Former Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, who dominated the country’s politics for more than a decade, was forced out of power in April over a rule-of-law crisis, but the country’s smaller parties have so far failed to corral a workable coalition to replace his center-right GERB party. Another failure to break a prolonged political…
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Fire at hospital in Bulgaria kills three COVID-19 patients

Fire at hospital in Bulgaria kills three COVID-19 patients

SOFIA, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Three men died when a fire broke out in a COVID-19 ward of a hospital in the southern Bulgarian city of Sliven early on Sunday, officials said. The fire, which was quickly extinguished, broke out at around 0040 GMT and affected one room. Six patients in adjacent rooms were moved to other wards of the hospital, the head of the regional fire safety department Vladimir Demirev said. Two of the men were found dead by firefighters. The other patient suffered heavy burns and was transported to another hospital where he later died. The cause of…
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Morgues fill up in Romania and Bulgaria amid low Covid vaccine uptake

Morgues fill up in Romania and Bulgaria amid low Covid vaccine uptake

Romania and Bulgaria are recording the EU’s highest daily death rates from Covid-19, after superstition, misinformation and entrenched mistrust in governments and institutions combined to leave them the least vaccinated countries in the bloc. While new infections have recently started to edge down, Bulgaria this week reported its highest ever total of daily fatalities. Its seven-day rolling average of deaths per million inhabitants reached 22.8, compared with an EU average of 3.1. In Romania the average daily death rate hit 23.7 per million last week and has since dipped to 21, according to figures from OurWorldInData – still more than…
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Bulgaria’s GERB with strong lead for Nov. 14 election, opinion poll shows

Bulgaria’s GERB with strong lead for Nov. 14 election, opinion poll shows

SOFIA, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Bulgaria's centre-right GERB party kept a substantial lead over its rivals before Sunday's parliamentary election that will be the country's third this year, an opinion poll showed on Thursday. Neither of the six parties projected to win seats in parliament is expected to garner an outright majority, raising the prospect of tough talks on forming a government in the poorest European Union member state. Former prime minister Boyko Borissov's GERB polled at 24.1%, up from 23.5% it obtained in the last election in July when it came second, but still below the 26.1% it won…
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Bulgaria’s daily COVID-19 deaths rise to record high

Bulgaria’s daily COVID-19 deaths rise to record high

Bulgaria reported a record number of daily coronavirus deaths on Tuesday as the European Union's least vaccinated country grapples with a fourth wave of the pandemic, official data showed. New infections were 5,286, down from a peak in late October, while 334 people died of the virus, the highest daily death toll since the start of the pandemic. Over 8,500 people were in hospital, including 734 in intensive care units, the data showed. The Balkan country introduced a health pass entry to most indoor spaces last month in an effort to contain the spread of the infection and speed up…
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