BULGARIA?S EUROPEAN INTEGRATION A Crucial Factor for Stabilization and Sustained Growth
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Thanks to the Undergraduate Research Center and the Diplomacy and World Affairs department, I was able to research this summer how the process of integration into the European Union has affected Bulgaria?s development in the post-communism period. Through the Gerken Fellowship, I was able to intern at the Council of Ministers of Bulgaria with the Minister of State Administration Dimitar Kalchev. Through the contacts that I made at the Council of Ministers I was also able to get an internship at the Institute of Public Administration and European Integration. My internship at the Bulgarian Council of Ministers coincided with the period prior to the parliamentary elections of 2005. These elections were considered crucial for Bulgaria?s future, since this four-year mandate should carry Bulgaria into the European Union. However, the Bulgarian people did not choose any one party to have the parliamentary majority, and the results announced the entry of 7 parties into the parliament. This brought about a period of political instability in the following month since no party could form a majority government. Growing fears that Bulgaria?s EU accession was in jeopardy lead to the formation of a coalition between Europe-oriented parties: the ?Bulgarian Socialist Party?, the ?National Movement Simeon II?, and the ?Movement for Rights and Freedoms?. Despite some political instability and the slowly improving economical situation until the middle of 2005, Bulgaria is still on course for an accelerating and stable development. The result gives some confidence that during the next years a significant growth and development rate can be sustained and Bulgaria will enter the European Union in 2007 as planned. This is a crucial development not only for Bulgaria, but the Balkans themselves. After nearly 15 years of instability, there are many signals that the pressure in the region has subsided thanks to NATO and the inclusion of some of the Balkan countries into the organization. An eventual entry of more Balkan states into the EU such as Bulgaria, Romania, and perhaps Turkey will bring further stability and development for the region.