Bulgaria. Bulgaria continued its laborious efforts to
modernize the disadvantaged economy, and some successes
could be discerned. The currency (forint) had stabilized,
inflation was close to zero, banks began to lend money again
and the privatization of state-owned enterprises continued.
Corruption, which has long poisoned the business climate,
also showed signs of diminishing.
Countryaah official website, NATO's war against Yugoslavia was both to the advantage
and disadvantage of Bulgaria. The advantage was that
Bulgaria won political points in the West when President
Petar Stojanov and Prime Minister Ivan Kostov decided to
open air corridors for the NATO bombing despite the opinion
of the majority of the population against it. The reward
also came after the end of the war in the form of aid and
favorable loan terms from the IMF (International Monetary
Fund), and the EU. Bulgaria also became a candidate country
for the EU at the end of the year at the European Union
summit in Helsinki. The question is whether this compensated
for the losses suffered by Bulgarian exports as a result of
the war. A large part of Bulgaria's exports goes to Serbia
and is transported on the Danube River, which was blocked
when NATO bombed Yugoslavia's bridges.
The popular resistance to NATO bombing is not because the
Bulgarians are particularly Serbian-friendly, but because
they feel an almost romantic love for Macedonia, even if you
make sure that you have no territorial demands on the small
neighboring country. Bulgaria sent 150 old tanks to
Macedonia shortly before the war against Yugoslavia, which
caused irritation in Belgrade.
Bulgaria strives to join NATO and the EU. A small step on
that path was taken when the Bulgarian government agreed in
the autumn to begin negotiations with the EU to close the
age-old Kozloduj power plant, whose European Union reactors
do not comply with international safety regulations.
Bulgaria has refused to implement the shutdown plan
concluded with the EU in 1993, according to which four of
the six reactors in Kozloduj, 20 km north of Sofia, would
have been closed at year-end 1998/99. The head of the State
Energy Commission, Ivan Shileshky, declared in the spring
that the four reactors will not be closed until early 2012.
Bulgaria did away with the marble mausoleum in central
Sofia in the late summer that formerly contained the
Bulgarian Communist State's founder Georgij Dimitrov's dust,
which was removed and cremated as early as 1990, shortly
after the fall of communism.