Bulgaria Commits Major Blunder in Nuclear Talks with Russia, NEK CEO Fired

Energy | April 5, 2011, Tuesday // 18:25|  views

Krasimir Parvanov has been fired as head of NEK for committing a major blunder in Bulgaria's talks with the Russians over the Belene NPP, according to Economy Minister Traikov. Photo by Monitor

Bulgaria's Economy Minister Traicho Traikov has fired the head of the National Electric Company NEK Krasimir Parvanov over a blunder in the negotiations with Russian company Rosatom for the construction of the Belene NPP.

Traikov axed Parvanov because the latter signed an agreement with Rosatom's subsidiary Atomstroyexport that potentially threatens Bulgaria's national interests by obliging the Bulgarian government to reach a final agreement with the Russians on Belene by June 1, 2001.

Bulgaria's National Electric Company (NEK) and Rosatom's subsidiary Atomstroyexport signed Tuesday a Memorandum of Understanding to extend the analysis on the project by 3 more months - until June 30, 2011.

The prior extension of the agreement expired on March 31, which led Bulgarian Minister of Energy and Economy Traicho Traikov to declare just hours earlier, on Tuesday, that the Belene project had reached a "legal vacuum".

NEK and Rosatom completed their current talks on Tuesday; in addition to the Memorandum of Understanding, which gives the Bulgarian and the Russian side three months to explore further the safety of the project for the construction of what should be Bulgaria's second nuclear power plant Belene, the head of NEK Krasimir Parvanov also signed a second agreement with Rosatom that obliged Bulgaria to sign a binding contract with the Russian side within a two-month period.

Bulgaria's Minister of Economy, Energy, and Tourism Traicho Traikov explained that NEK CEO Parvanov had "brutally overstepped" the mandate that was given to him by the government for the talks with Rosatom, and that he was not authorized to sign the second agreement.

"In my view, this shows that apparently in Bulgaria Russian pressure is sometimes stronger than the ability of certain people, whose job is to protect Bulgaria's national interests, to resist it," Traikov declared.

The agreement that Krasimir Parvanov made with Rosatom stipulates that by June 1 Bulgaria and Russia must sign a final contract for the construction of the Belene NPP even if the safety criteria might not have been outlined by that time. It is also still unclear how the final safety requirements will increase the cost of the Belene project, and the price itself for the construction of the NPP is still the major bone of contention between Bulgaria and Russia.

“This second agreement is complete nonsense and really stupid because what if we fail to agree by June 1? Whose fault will that be? Which one of the parties will be to blame if we fail to reach an agreement by that date?” Economy and Energy Minister Traikov asked rhetorically.

He stressed that the now fired NEK CEO Krasimir Parvanov had been explicitly prohibited from signing such an agreement with the Russians.

“We had decided on a different text, and today he just went ahead and signed the document with the text that he was forbidden from signing,” Traikov stated.

Parvanov’s sacking, however, does not invalidate the second agreement because he has already signed in his capacity as the CEO of NEK.

“From now on we will have to work in the framework that we are already in. The situation that we have now ended up being in is anything else but normal,” Traikov declared.

He said he will ask Prime Minister Boyko Borisov to have the State National Security Agency DANS to check out whether Krasimir Parvanov abused his position, what motives he had to sign the second agreement with Rosatom, and if his actions have produced a threat to Bulgaria’s national interests.

Krasimir Parvanov was appointed CEO of Bulgaria's National Electric Company NEK in February 2010.

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Tags: Fortum, Boyko Borisov, Traicho Traikov, NEK, National Electric Company, Atomstroyexport, Belene NPP, Genadiy Tepkyan, Rosatom, NEK, Krasimir Parvanov, Russia, Economy Minister, Krassimir Parvanov


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