Bulgaria. National Profile essay
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The paper will explore the information about the one of EU member countries, Bulgaria. At the beginning of research, one will give the information on the political situation of the country; one will describe the atmosphere and some specifics of the former communist country which stuck with unsolved problem of corruption. Then, one will study economic and demography aspects, and will pay some attention to their interrelation. There will also be some figures to help one understand the position of the country in the time of the debt crisis. One will see what kind of measurements is being taken to improve the situation.
Bulgaria is a semi-presidential republic. The country’s executive powers are shared between the President and the Government, which is headed by the Prime Minister. The President of Bulgaria is directly elected and serves as the Head of the country and Commander-in-Chief of the military forces. According to the local Constitution, the president cannot take part in the legislation processes; he can only veto the laws which the Parliament proposes for their improvement. The Parliament consists of 240 members (deputies). The election to the Parliament takes place every four years.
Rosen Plevneliev is the current president of Bulgaria; he won the last elections in October, 2011. He started his duties at the beginning of the following year. The chair of the Prime Minister belongs to Boiko Borissov. A famous leader of the party GERB (a short name for: Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria). They successfully won the 2009 general election. It is the centre-right party; previously its leader was a mayor of the capital Sofia. In July, 2009 many voters, who were much frustrated with previous government of the Socialist coalition of S. Stanishev for not keeping their promises to deal with organized crime and corruption, gave their votes for the former karate champion and Sofia mayor. In his turn, mayor based his own campaign, promising to fulfill the idea of his predecessors; he assured locals that he could get the country out of the very bottom of the European economy. He also frightened mafia bosses with prison. He promised he would get rid off corrupted governors to simplify the communication between the government and the Bulgarians (BBC, 2012). Researching different materials, one could not find any serious evidences of him keeping his promises. It did not differentiate him from the former leaders; one of the reasons of the failure could be their close relations. It is not a secret that in 2001 he was granted a top position in the Interior Ministry by a Prime Minister, Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, who belonged to a royal family. In the end, he got criticized for populism; there were no visible changes citizens expected. It was obvious that after joining the EU someone would face extremely hard tasks to solve. Bulgaria was rotten with corruption and full of destructing elements.
In more than a one year time of being a member of the Union, Bulgaria experienced some economic growth. Unfortunately, Bulgarians noticed the huge difference between their native country and the rest of the old European countries. They had low life standards and poor social security. People were surviving unexpected rise of prices absolutely on everything. It started with fuel and affected other industries. However, to everybody’s surprise, in the time of credit crunch Bulgaria showed 5% increase in economy.
Common ways of dealing with the crises did not seem to work well. The country was famous for its natural resorts; thanks to successful tourist seasons, they manage to cover some gaps in other parts of the economy. Some strong investors overseeing the future increase in the prices in real estate sector began to invest money into the Bulgarian property. At the same time, country remains not popular for other investors because of the labor shortage and weak debt and service markets. Great expectations are laid on construction and property markets which are predicted to remain strong for a long period of time, regardless of the economic crisis. Demographic researches give terrifying numbers forecasting 50% dropdown in the number of the working population by 2050 (Hope, 2008). As it appears to be one of the biggest problems for Bulgaria, and some other fresh members of EU, they introduced a program offering the quick “European citizenship” for those Bulgarians or their descendants who live outside Bulgaria, mostly in the East Europe including the post-soviet countries. However, the coin always has two sides. Not many “new” Bulgarians show their willingness to settle in Bulgaria, moving instead farther to the West. They use the Bulgarian citizenship as a golden ticket to Europe (Hope, 2008).
Bulgaria still has some sectors desirable for the whole economy that are critical and vulnerable: they localize some energy transits from Russia, and have enough means and natural resources for the food processing and agriculture. Europe hopes to diversify the supply of the gas by getting into the Middle East and Caspian resources. Geographical location of the country gives it a chance to play a key role in the European energy security plan. Bulgarian leaders managed to keep their tax on the income at the lowest rate what makes it tempting for the local businesses and international traders to register their companies there (Wagstyl, 2008) .
Political situation becomes more stabilized. There are several serious players on the political stage of the country. Leading part belongs to the ruling party of today’s Prime Minister GERB. The Socialists follow them; the party consists of former communist party members. They were governing Bulgaria since 1989. Now they are in opposition. People stopped trusting them as they were often accused of reselling its services. Great influence has the Turkish minority; it is represented by MRF party. This time they were put aside by Mr. Borissov, who has a little wish to see them in the administration of his government. It is very strange, as to succeed with reformation they need as much supporters as possible. Also, it is important to deliver, at last, positive results, the most of the Bulgarians were waiting for. It is hard to imagine a country without radicals who make much noise, but hardly influence anything. “Ataka” is the name of the nationalist political organization which finds its support amongst younger people. There are other small parties, which basically always stay outside; no matter who is at the steering wheel, they are in the opposition (Wagstyl, 2008).
It is obvious that future destiny of the country highly depends on the ruling parties, even more important for the country, especially for its citizens how political powers cooperate in difficult situations. Unfortunately for Bulgarians, their country is the fifth most vulnerable to the credit crisis country, as it is revealed by the international consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers. They also announced some other news which stated that the country recorded the lowest employment level, which is 1.3% down form the indicators for the first three months of the year (PWC). It is hard to say who to blame for this. It can be wrong governing, misunderstandings between the parties, faulty treatment of the EU parliament, or lazy citizens.
The latest news shows that Bulgaria decided not to take the euro as a global currency. It can be a wise decision for such a weak country, as it is highly dependant on its monetary system. On the other hand, they introduced the new project which should keep the country in the safe place and there was a decision to keep the fixed rate with the euro. It implies lower risks and promises the support for the international traders and businessmen.
New era of development brought changes to Bulgarian Armed Forces. There is not much specific information on the Bulgarian army. After falling of the Communism in 90th, there was not much left from the army. Chaos was everywhere including the military forces; nobody could control anything; a lot of the military equipment was sold on the black market, including the weaponry. Even some strategic objects were demolished and their metal parts were sold abroad as a scrap-metal. The only way out for a poor country was to get funds from the outside. In the early 90th, they started moving in a new political direction, building a democratic society. The leaders made a decision to take a pro-NATO policy, which required reducing the number of the weaponry and personnel. In 2004, Bulgaria joined the NATO. This was not the end of American influence; thus, in 2006, they had Bulgaria to sign the Defense Cooperation Agreement which provided the deployment of American military troops to the country. The agreement allowed American units to use Bulgarian bases without any special permits in the emergency cases and place around two thousands of American troops on the territory (Tchernev, 2009). The US kept on moving to Russian borders; and they use all the means to control that part of the world. An ordinary citizen of the country does not see anything dangerous in this cooperation, except for additional investments. More educated people understand that in case of any disagreement between such powerful countries like Russia and the USA, Bulgaria may find itself in the very center of the battle.
Making a conclusion, one can say that Bulgaria has all chances to become a wealthy country and to catch up with other members of the EU. They have all the facilities for this, except for people. It is not possible to change the national specific, but there are always ways of reeducating them, by showing other, better ways of being. In the nearest future, Bulgaria will not be given a right to influence the Union in its strategic questions. Our opinion is that it will play its role of the middle country between the East and the West protecting interests of the old Europe and the States.