GERB Presidential Runner: Bulgaria to Stay Friends with Russia

Diplomacy | October 6, 2011, Thursday // 10:23|  views

Photo by Sofia Photo Agency

Rosen Plevneliev, presidential candidate of ruling center-right party GERB, has vowed not to obstruct the activity of Russian companies.

In an interview for Russia's Kommersant, as cited by the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency (BTA), the former Regional Development Minister, largely tipped to be the front runner in the presidential election, gives assurances that he will not hinder the implementation of the Belene NPP project and the South Stream gas pipeline for which Moscow has been lobbying.

By saying this, GERB's presidential runner rejects claims of experts that relations between Sofia and Moscow might get particularly complicated if a pro-Western politician is elected head of state.

According to the local correspondent of the Russian business daily, Plevneliev's election program focuses on support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by lowering taxes and mentions very little about his foreign policy orientation.

The journalist further reminds of a Kommersant publication dated September 21 stating that "if Mr. Plevneliev is elected head of state, Russia will lose a key partner in Bulgaria - current President Georgi Parvanov."

After the article was extensively commented upon, Plevneliev contacted the journalist to assure him that "If I do win the elections, we will be great friends with the Russian Federation".

GERB's presidential hopeful went on to say that he would not get in the way of projects on the agenda of Russian state-owned companies in Bulgaria, among which Belene NPP, the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline and the South Stream gas pipeline.

He also remarked that "Russia is not all about two or three projects", which was why he intended to develop relations with Moscow on all fronts.

According to Kommersant, however, Plevneliev has not guaranteed that he will support all three projects.

The publication specifies that he has just said that he is against holding a referendum on Belene NPP because the terms of the contract are unclear.

The Russian daily further points out that, judging by the actions of GERB members, Sofia is in no hurry to implement the nuclear power plant project.

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Tags: GERB, ruling party, presidential candidate, Presidential elections, Kommersant, Belene NPP, South stream, Burgas Alexandroupolis Oil Pipeline, Referendum, small and medium-sized enterprises

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