Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker visited Sofia yesterday (1 March) as the final stop of his tour of six Western Balkan countries. The visit is preparing the Western Balkans summit in Sofia on 17 May, this being the major highlight of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU.
During his visits to Skopje, Tirana, Belgrade, Podgorica, Pristina and Sarajevo, Juncker was accompanied by EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and the commissioner responsible for neighbourhood policy and enlargement negotiations Johannes Hahn.
5 days, 7 destinations. My unforgettable #WesternBalkans tour ends today in #Bulgaria. The Leaders’ meeting in #Sofia confirmed our joint priorities: forging a credible European perspective for the #WesternBalkans on the basis of reforms, values and economic cooperation. pic.twitter.com/qyVF3m7PD2
— Jean-Claude Juncker (@JunckerEU) March 1, 2018
Bulgarian media however paid minimal attention to Juncker’s Sofia visit.
Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Dontchev, under whose responsibility is the important dossier of EU funds, commented on Nova TV that Juncker “had no chance to win public attention against the background of Ms Varbakova”.
Absolutely unknown until days ago, Ginka Varbakova is the businesswoman who owns ‘Inercom Bulgaria’, a small company planning to buy the assets in Bulgaria of the Czech energy giant ČEZ, for a price estimated at €340 million. According to observers, the scandal has the potential to bring down Borissov’s cabinet.
By yesterday Borissov obviously believed he had killed the deal, as banks had reportedly withdrawn their support.
But Chezh Prime Minister Andrej Babiš published a statement on the government’s website, in which he considered that there was no reason why Inercom should not be the buyer of ČEZ Bulgaria.
The statement also said that Borissov talked to Babiš about possible acquisition of ČEZ Bulgaria by the Bulgarian state, instead of Inercom.
“In this regard I referred him to the company management and I emphasized the fact that the contracts with Inercom have already been concluded”, Babiš concludes.