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Bulgarian MPs Rush to Decide Fate of Belene NPP
Date: 23/02/2013

The Bulgarian Parliament will hold an emergency sitting Tuesday to decide on the fate of the project to build a second Nuclear Power Plant in the Danube town of Belene.

The reason for the above are the results of the January 27 referendum on the development of nuclear energy in Bulgaria through the construction of a new nuclear power plant, which showed that the issue would be conclusively decided by Bulgaria's Parliament.

Under the law, the recent referendum results impose for the Belene NPP to be put back on the agenda, as voter turnout slightly exceeded 20%. 61% of the voters said "yes" to the question; 39% cast a "no" ballot.

The Parliament must decide on the issue no later than two months after the date of the referendum.

The referendum was sponsored by the Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP, which gathered a petition of more than the 0.5 million legally needed signatures.

Ahead of the Tuesday sitting, the right-wing Blue Coalition tabled a proposal to scrap the project for good, while BSP countered with the exactly opposite one.

Many in Bulgaria have expressed alarm such key issue for the country will be decided recklessly and in a hurry since the Parliament has had a hard time gathering a quorum after the resignation of the Cabinet.

Last Wednesday, Bulgarian Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, made the stunning announcement he was resigning, grounding the decision on not wanting to see blood on streets and fences around the building of the Parliament. He said he was returning the power to the people who elected him in the summer of 2009.

On Thursday, the Parliament accepted with overwhelming majority the resignation of the government of his Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria party, GERB.

If GERB, BSP, which is second by the number of its MPs, or a third party of the President's choice decline the latter's mandate to form an interim government, the President will have to appoint a caretaker one and adjourn the Parliament.

The breaking news about Borisov's resignation came in the aftermath of large-scale protests across the country against high utility bills, leading to clashes with riot police with many injuries and vandalism.

Immediately after the resignation, Russian press (most recently on Saturday) linked the end of the GERB Cabinet with the failure to carry out the Russian-sponsored Belene NPP project.

One day before submitting his resignation, Borisov revealed that he has been invited to Moscow by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

Borisov and the Russian officials will discuss the consequences of Bulgaria's decision to abandon the Belene nuclear power plant project last year.

The Bulgarian Prime Minister told reporters on Tuesday that Bulgaria and Russia should decide the fate of the Russian-made nuclear reactor that was initially intended for Belene without resorting to court proceedings.

The exact date of his visit to Russia has not been announced yet.

Borisov's GERB government scrapped the project for the construction of Belene back in March 2012. The move led Russia's Rosatom to file a suit with an international arbitration court in Paris.

After it was first started in the 1980s, the construction of Bulgaria's second nuclear power plant at Belene on the Danube was stopped in the early 1990s over lack of money and environmental protests.

The Belene NPP has been de facto frozen since the fall of 2009 when the previously selected strategic investor, the German company RWE, which was supposed to provide EUR 2 B in exchange for a 49% stake, pulled out.

Topic: Economy

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Haskovo municipality is located in the central part of Southern Bulgaria and occupies the most western part of Haskovo county. It is located on a territory of 737 square meters, which is 13% of the territory of Haskovo county.  Its geographic location is extremely favorable and important.

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