Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

Economic benefit or political compulsion?

Ralitsa Kovacheva, February 20, 2010

Russia will finance the construction of Bulgaria's second nuclear power station Belene until a strategic investor is found. This is the news from Friday's mass Russian presence in Sofia. The building of more pressure started on Tuesday with a "surprising" visit of the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Gazprom Alexey Miller. Then we learned that on Friday in Sofia would come the director of the Russian state corporation for nuclear energy Rosatom Sergey Kirienko himself, brining an offer for 2 bn euro for the project.

Kirienko came but he was not alone - he was accompanied by the Russian Energy Minister Sergey Shmatko. On top of everything, after months of hesitation and freezings of the Belene project, it was on Friday morning that the Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH) published an announcement that it is looking for a consultant for the project. Journalists learned about the announcement at noon because, as he explained, BEH had problems with the server. Minister Traykov's statement unleashed more questions than it gave answers. He did not even announce the news about the Russian loan directly and left the journalists to guess. But he stressed in the fact that Bulgaria would not give any state guarantees for the loan.

Maybe because of the threat of his colleague - the minister of finance Simeon Dyankov early in the morning, that he would not allow any state binding with a Russian loan for Belene. The Russians, on their part, looked generous and well intended. They are ready to save the project, convinced in its profitableness until the investor would come. And as the ministers were in a great hurry they had no time to answer reporter's questions and it remained unclear, for example, what will happen to the project if a there is no strategic investor.

It also remained unclear why, in spite of Sofia's hesitancy regarding South Stream, the Russian energy minister announced that Bulgaria was Moscow's most important partner in the project. And another thing remained unclear - why after months of protracting, all of a sudden it appeared that there was no such a thing as a review of the energy projects with Russia.

And the most important thing: again we know almost nothing on the so called "technical issues" - namely money, shares and prices. Unless society is informed about numbers and facts on the energy projects, they will continue to be a matter of speculation and political talking. And we will never be sure when the government takes its decisions according to the economic benefit and when - according to the political compulsion.

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