Balkans joining EU and NATO - (part 1): Bulgaria - Turning the tide

Balkans joining EU and NATO 

At the fall of the Berlin Wall November 9th, 1989, the very same day Todor Zhivkov, handed in his resignation as the leader of the Bulgarian Communist Party while remaining the head of state. The next day during an assembly with the Central Committee of the Communist Party, they, much to his surprise, not only accepted his resignation, but also relieved him of his duty as the head of state.

The successor Peter Mladenov, had handed in his resignation as the foreign minister of Bulgaria only one month earlier. Leading up to this event Zhivkov had scolded Peter, for planning a meeting with the american ambassador, and accusing the americans of trying to meddle with the internal affairs of Bulgaria. This led to the resignation of Peter Mladenov from his position as foreign minister, the resignation letter he sent to the Central Committee contained harsh criticism of Todor Zhivkov, which combined with the efforts of some of his friends, led to the decision of the Central Committee to remove Todor Zhivkov from power completely, putting Peter Mladenov in his place.

 Peter Mladenov wanted to keep the Communist Party in charge, but much like with Gorbachev in the Soviet Union, rising internal pressure from the citizens and outside influencers like “Radio Free Europe”, “The Voice of America”, “Deutsche Welle”, “BBC” and several NGOs, made it impossible for him to maintain the level of control that his predecessors had enjoyed. Less than 6 months after Peter's climb to power, the Bulgarian Communist Party had lost its monopoly on state leadership and Bulgaria opened up to multi-party elections.

Bulgaria's Way to NATO

During the first national assembly after the multi-party elections June 10th, 1990, Solomon Passy, member of a newly formed party (CDC) who had won seats at the parliament, was the first person to suggest to the parliament that Bulgaria should join NATO, and leave the Warsaw Pact, which caused great commotion in Bulgaria and other Eastern European countries. Solomon was also member of Ecoglasnost, which was one of the NGOs which helped push the country to accept multi-party elections, later the same NGO was a founding member of the political party CDC, which put Solomon at the national assembly as a member of parliament.

The same year, shortly before his suggestion to parliament, regarding that Bulgaria should join NATO, Solomon Passy had unofficially founded the NGO “Atlantic Club Bulgaria” which had the purpose of pushing Bulgaria towards NATO and EU. Atlantic Club Bulgaria was the first Atlantic NGO in a country that hadn’t joined NATO, and was officially founded April 4th 1991, tho Solomon claims, that he founded it way before he even gave the suggestion for the parliament to negotiate membership of NATO.

Less than one month later, the national assembly had reached agreement to initiate diplomatic ties with NATO. The following years Bulgaria was hastily moving towards a NATO membership.

The return of the King and joining NATO

The following years Bulgaria took many steps towards the NATO membership, signing on to different agreements like “Partnership for peace” and “The individual program for partnership between Bulgaria and NATO”, but the real break came later when the king returned home.

Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was proclaimed King of Bulgaria when his father died shortly after returning from a meeting with Adolf Hitler in 1943, but since King Simeon was only 6 years old, the country was to be ruled by a regent council until he had become of adult age. Things took a turn from here when the Soviets declared war on Bulgaria in 1944, 3 days later the Red Army entered Bulgaria without encountering any resistance, and the very next day all the regents got deposed and the Royal family and King Simeon had to go into exile in Egypt. 

55 years after his exile King Simeon returns to Bulgaria in 1996 after getting a Bulgarian passport, but only temporary until his final return in 1999, shortly thereafter in 2001 he formed a new political party(NDSV) to regain his lost throne. With the promises to “fix the country in less than 800 days if elected” the elections had begun for King Simeon. Even tho the King had forgotten how to speak Bulgarian, barely able to string together a sentence in Bulgarian, he manages to win the election in combination with a coalition of other parties, and with Solomon Passy on his team.

Meanwhile in 1997 Bulgaria had applied for membership to NATO, while Ivan Kostov from Salomon Passy’s party CDC was in power. Later when Salomon joined the kings party NDSV they had managed to gain broad support for becoming members of NATO, even the Socialist Party was ready to hop aboard. The final step was taken after the Socialist Democrats member Nikolai Kamov was invited to the Bilderberg meetings in 1999, only 3 years thereafter, in 2002 Bulgaria had officially been invited to join NATO.

Nikolai Kamov was a member at the founding organs of several NGOs like "The European Club", "Association of Alumni College of NATO graduates in Rome", “EIRI” and “The National Association for International Relations” he also founded the political movement “Social Democrats” which was in coalition with the Socialist Party. The main purpose of these NGOs was to ensure cross-party acceptance of Bulgaria’s membership into NATO and EU, together with the Salomon Passy’s NGO “Atlantic Club Bulgaria”.

800 days went by, the country wasn’t fixed, maybe EU can fix it

Back in 1990, a friend of Solomon Passy from back in the days of the NGO Ecoglasnost, who was also a member of the National Assembly (Lubomir Ivanov), had got his suggestion approved for Bulgaria to initiate EU membership talks. The road to EU was not easy for Bulgaria, EU required many reforms, Bulgaria tried, but in 1997 EU came out with their opinion that Bulgaria wasn’t even ready to begin the accession talks yet. The road was still long, but the promised rewards seemed worth it.

Many years and reforms went by, but only when Solomon Passy returned as the foreign minister of Bulgaria in 2003 for the Kings Party NDSV, was the EU willing to give a guaranteed end-date for the accession talks (2004). Bulgaria was accepted by the end of 2004 with King Simeon and Solomon Passy, signing the protocol to accept the constitution of Europe, in the name of Bulgaria, to come in effect from 2007.

January 1th 2007, Bulgaria became a member of the EU, but there was a catch, Bulgaria would not get full access to the EU work market until the year 2014. But all was good, Bulgaria didn’t complain, on the contrary, Bulgaria was happy, expecting to see the country prosper with their new membership in the European Union.

Today 2018, Bulgaria is still the poorest country in the EU, having privatized the flourishing state industries that guaranteed affordable products and services, the country has become a free for all, homelessness is at an all-time high, the only guarantee is freedom, freedom to be poor.

See also:

Balkans joining EU and NATO - (part 2): Romania - Ending of an era

Balkans joining EU and NATO - (part 3): Albania - Ideology made it hard to make friends

Balkans joining EU and NATO - (part 4): Serbia - Once were Yugoslavs

Balkans joining EU and NATO - (part 5): Kosovo - The long way to independence

Alexander Awayez

Alexander Awayez is an investigative journalist and researcher of Bulgarian/Iraqi descent who grew up in Denmark and later moved to Bulgaria.