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Bulgaria’s government has been besieged by protesters for six months, and oversees an economy that has averaged growth of just 1 per cent since 2010. Those were the main factors behind Standard & Poor’s recent decision to revise its outlook for the country to “negative” from “stable”.

The change may be unwelcome, but merely reflects the difficult economic and political situation. Will it affect Bulgaria’s fledgling recovery? Continue reading »

Hollywood, Bollywood, Nigeria’s Nollywood; France’s arthouse cinema scene, British romcoms, Italian and Russian film from the likes of Fellini and Tarkovsky; the Korean Wave. The cinema culture of south eastern Europe may be rather less celebrated outside the region than those of its more famous peers, but there is growing recognition both of a resurgent home-grown movie scene and the competitive advantages of SEE as a location for shoots. Continue reading »

The government besieged, protesters and police packing the streets, an ongoing air of uncertainty over the country’s future – name the country. Not Turkey, or Egypt, but Bulgaria. But while demonstrators rage against the newly-appointed prime minister, the Balkan country has received a remarkably upbeat report from the International Monetary Fund, which praised the country’s economic stability and policies.

At the end of a regular staff visit on July 3, Michele Shannon, IMF Mission Chief for Bulgaria issued a statement that may give a fledgling, fragile and beleaguered government some succour. Continue reading »

Bulgaria’s Danubeside city of Vidin has a somewhat forlorn air. The great grey river slinks slowly by a long waterfront of panel blocks gazing across the water to the forests of Romania. Among the cracked pavements, despoiled Communist monuments and boarded-up shops, there are, however, a few glimmers of a noble past: an old quarter with some charm, and the stout fortress of Baba Vida, which stands on ancient foundations. The fortress and the elegant gateway to the old city – the Stambul Kapiya, or Istanbul gate – remind the visitor that this was once an important centre in a European network of empire and trade. Continue reading »

Five hundred years of Ottoman rule, 45 years of Communism and the past two decades of democracy tainted by corruption and economic failure have given Bulgarians a substantial dose of disrespect for their rulers. The latest government, which tiptoed over the line into office in a parliamentary vote on Wednesday, presides over a country that is as sceptical – even cynical – as ever. It also faces a sluggish, if stable, economy with the EU’s lowest incomes. Continue reading »

Bad GDP figures from the eurozone on Wednesday but there’s a pleasant surprise from an unexpected quarter: Hungary’s economy contracted by only 0.9 percent in annual terms in the first three months.

Doesn’t sound like good news. But investors had been expecting a drop of as much as 1.4 per cent. With hopes of further improvement in the rest of 2013 buoying the Budapest market, the forint gained 1 per cent against the euro. Continue reading »

In an election marred by allegations of poll-rigging and vote-buying, Bulgaria’s former ruling GERB party came out on top. But it is far from clear who will form the government once the dust settles. Two possible scenarios are a coalition between GERB and ultranationalists that would cause disquiet in Europe, or a return to power of two opposition parties still regarded with suspicion by many Bulgarians. Continue reading »

Stanishev (left), Borisov (right)

“Too many grannies mean an unfed child” is the Bulgarian equivalent of “too many cooks spoil the broth”.

There are lots of fussy Balkan grannies competing in Sunday’s election – and they are likely to squabble for sometime afterwards about who gets to look after the feeble Bulgarian economy. Continue reading »

Bulgaria’s farm sector has started to look up after years of under-investment and fragmentation, with export-oriented agro-industry doing well and smaller farms seeing opportunities to sell quality produce abroad. But damage wreaked during the 1990s is still far from repaired, holding the country’s farmers back from achieving their potential. Continue reading »

A caretaker government in Sofia will do its utmost to steady the tiller before May’s snap elections, following several weeks of street protests that toppled the previous administration and plunged Bulgaria into political uncertainty. But what happens after the poll is anybody’s guess. Many in Sofia’s political elite seem reluctant to grasp the poisoned chalice of leadership and their capacity to satisfy the demands of a restive and inchoate popular movement is limited.

On Wednesday, President Rosen Plevneliev ended weeks of speculation by naming Marin Raykov, Bulgaria’s ambassador to France, as caretaker prime minister until the May 12 elections. Continue reading »

Romania averted recession in the last quarter of 2012, but can only look forward to a long and slow slog this year as external and internal problems weigh heavy.

GDP crept forwards at a seasonally-adjusted rate of 0.1 per cent from the third quarter, and an unadjusted 0.3 per cent from the fourth quarter of 2011, the National Statistics Institute (INS) announced on Wednesday, giving details of figures published last month. Continue reading »

Bulgaria took a step into the political unknown on Thursday as parliament confirmed the resignation of the government. A caretaker administration will probably be formed following constitutional niceties, and hotly-contested early elections are expected within three months.

On Thursday, parliamentarians from the ruling GERB party voted to accept their own government’s offer to quit, announced on television the previous day by Prime Minister Boyko Borisov. Continue reading »

Bulgaria’s parliament accepted the resignation on Thursday of right-of-centre Prime Minister Boyko Borisov’s government, which stepped down after a series of nationwide protests over high energy prices turned violent. Continue reading »

By Otilia Simkova, Europe analyst, Eurasia Group

Bulgaria faces snap elections after Prime Minister Boyko Borisov’s 20 February resignation spurred by ten days of protests against electricity bills, which in January averaged €100. That is a significant portion of monthly income in a country where average monthly wages are just €387 and the average pension is just €150. Despite Borisov’s decision to step down, protestors will not be appeased and are likely to turn the heat up on the energy sector. Continue reading »

The Bulgarian government resigned on Wednesday, throwing the country into political uncertainty and compounding concerns about the faltering economy.

Prime Minister Boyko Borisov announced the move on morning television, after days of street protests, including bloody clashes between police and demonstrators outside parliament on Tuesday night. Borisov said: “Every drop of blood is a shame for us.”

A snap election and change of government are now on the cards. Continue reading »