Банкеръ Weekly

Briefs

DOUBLE ALIBI

The statements that on Wednesday the Parliament redrafted the intentions and revoked the commitments, undertaken by the Government for decommissioning the Kozlodoui N-plant's small units, are quite exaggerated. The truth is that on that day the nation witnessed a perfect operation for shifting responsibility and producing a double alibi for the ruling circles in negotiations, which are most probably predestinated.The entire political class drew dividends from the deal. The Government was granted a parliamentary mandate for holding talks on the issue in Brussels, which was its main purpose back last week when the Foreign Minister Solomon Passy, the Minister of Eurointegration Meglena Kuneva, and the Energy Minister Milko Kovachev volunteered to appear in Parliament and explain to the MPs their vanguard idea for an inspection from the EU at Kozlodoui.The Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) was on the front pages of newspapers, as practically the Parliament's decision was what the UDF deputies had insisted for, i.e. the N-plant's units III and IV should not be shut down earlier than the date of Bulgaria's admission into the EU. Well, that opposed the requirement for a technicratic decision to taking a political decision. But it will probably stop for some time (and perhaps forever) the painful reminders about the memorandum, signed by former premier Ivan Kostov's government with the EC in 1999. There the EC's requirement for decommissioning the units by end-2006 was written down.The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) also had its benefits. Its sins date back to 1993 when premire Berov's cabinet received the first money for closing down nuclear caapcities and promised a lot of nonsense, realizing very well that it won't keep its promises. What will come next? Well, the issue is to be decided in Brussels, at that in a way that will not be to Bulgaria's liking. Politicians - both those in power and the opposition - know that perfectly well. But they have an alibi - if the pressure from the EU turns out irresistible, the negotiating ministers will stand behind the shield of the Parliament's decision. And they will ask the same Parliament (or most probably another one) if Bulgaria should join the EU or keep the Kozlodoui N-plant. They may ask the same question to the nation - shall we stay in the Orient because of two units? Really and truly the answer is not at all an easy one. And the most importatnt thing is that the Government already has time enough for manoeuvring. Very good deals could be closed behind the list with the Parliament's decision. They might be even advanatageous to Bulgaria. For example, a technical expert inspection could be carried out and postpone the decommissioning of Kozlodoui's units. Amen! May it be so!

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