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24.02.2016.

Russia’s Influence in Bulgaria

In the light of widespread concern about the extent of Russian pressure and influence on countries in Central and Eastern Europe, the Brussels-based think-tank, New Direction, has produced the first of its analyses of the issue with a report on “Russia's Influence in Bulgaria”.

The report’s author, the distinguished academic, Dr Dimitar Bechev, looks at Russia’s efforts to leverage its historic influence in Bulgaria, particularly in the energy and defence sectors, as well as offering policy recommendations. ECR Bulgarian MEPs Angel Dzhambazki and Nikolay Barekov give further perspective with their comments.

New Direction's Founding President, Geoffrey Van Orden MEP, well-known in Bulgaria from his role as the European Parliament’s rapporteur for the country’s EU accession candidacy, said:

"While the West has previously made strong efforts to welcome Russia into the international community, Putin seems set on reinforcing the Cold War mentality and focusing on Russia's traditional combination of military threats, economic influence and soft power in an attempt to recreate the past. Dr Bechev's report explains the deep-rooted and multi-level connections Russia uses to exploit its influence in Bulgaria. Both NATO and the EU need to take heed.”

New Direction President, Tomasz Poreba MEP said:

"Putin's behaviour towards Eastern Europe requires cohesive, strong and rapid reaction from Europe as a collective. There is a great danger that if no action is taken it will soon be too late. Ukraine has demonstrated Russia's move from soft to hard power. Given its soft-power ties with Bulgaria, as highlighted in this report, special vigilance is required. This report should be used by politicians to help their understanding of the problem and begin reshaping policy towards Moscow." 

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