Ex US Envoy Beyrle: Bulgaria Gave Up over Gazprom Deal

Energy | May 30, 2011, Monday // 09:38|  views

John Beyrle served as US Ambassador in Sofia from July 2005 to May 2008. Photo by Sofia Photo Agency

Bulgaria is far too dependent on Russia, but nevertheless concluded a 23-year deal with Gazprom,  leading many to question what the country really gave up for this deal, read fresh diplomatic cables of the US embassy in Sofia, revealed on WikiLeaks.

The cable, dated February 26, 2007, and signed by former US Ambassador in Sofia John Beyrle was prompted by plans for a visit of the then Economy Minister Rumen Ovcharov to the United States.

It points out that although on the surface the terms of the deal do not seem onerous, the length of the commitment and the secrecy with which it has been struck have led many to question what Bulgaria really gave up for this deal.

"The answer is almost certainly the construction of the new nuclear power plant at Belene on the Danube, awarded to a Gazprom-owned consortium," Ambassador Beyrle writes.

The American diplomat warns those, who are due to meet with Ovcharov, that he is an enigmatic, but controversial figure as he is linked to corruption and Russian energy interests.

The ambassador concedes that Ovcharov is also linked to a more liberal economic policy than many of his Socialist colleagues would support, but keeps his cards close to his chest.

"In face-to-face meetings, he can be both charming and off-putting."

The Embassy's concerns about Ovcharov's dark side were sufficient for them to recommend against meetings with his counterparts at the cabinet level.

FULL text of the diplomatic cable READ HERE

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Tags: Beyrle, John, ambassador, sofia, embassy, US, Wikileaks, Rumen, Ovcharov, Bulgaria, Russia, Gazprom, American


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