Russian Made Nuclear Station Causing Tension In Bulgaria

Bulgaria is set to restart construction of a Russian designed nuclear power plant first proposed at the end of the Cold War. The move, supporters say, could reduce the country’s energy dependence on Russia.

The Belene nuclear power plant, designed by Russian-state corporation Rosatom, has already cost Bulgaria millions of euros after the project was halted by Prime Minister Boyko Borisov in his first stint as leader and then revived after his return to power.

The Bulgarian Minister of Energy concluded the most appropriate option for rational use of the available equipment at Belene, was to resume action finding investors to construct the NPP jointly with a strategic investor, on a market principle and without any sovereign guarantee. The Ministry of Energy believes this option would allow Bulgaria to reimburse the costs incurred over the years under the project and to ensure long-term energy security of Bulgaria.

Borisov’s Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party has not always been in favour of Belene NPP during his three separate terms in office. Borisov was Prime Minister from 2009-2013 and from 2014-2017 as well.

“It is difficult to answer the question why the project was restarted now, in 2018, after the same prime minister for 6 years had a pronounced negative attitude towards Belene,” the former Bulgarian Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski, of the Bulgarian Socialist Party told Euronews. Oresharski held power between Borisov’s terms from 2013-2014, until his government resigned in July 2014 after a long series of mass protests against the cabinet.

The project has faced opposition on environmental and safety grounds, but the biggest friction has been around the role of Moscow. In 1999, Bulgaria agreed to close four older reactors at the already functioning nuclear plant at Kozloduy, as a precondition for beginning negotiations to join the European Union. The EU held a hard line against countries with the oldest-generation design of Soviet reactors joining. Bulgaria officially joined NATO in 2004 and the European Union in 2007.

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