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Parvanov's Victory Portrayed as Pro-EU Triumph

Date: 01.11.2006

Financial Times

Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov's victory over his ultra-nationalist competitor Siderov was presented Monday in Sofia as a triumph for pro-EU forces on the eve of the country's EU accession, the Financial Times commented.

The re-election of Parvanov for a second five-year term is in fact a pro-EU referendum of the Bulgarian citizens, PM Sergey Stanishev said as cited by FT.

"Bulgaria came close toits accession delayed because of the Socialist-led coalition's slow progress against organised crime. In spite of strong economic growth, driven by foreign direct investment and falling unemployment, Bulgaria's per capita income will be the lowest in the EU, averaging about 32 per cent of the EU-25. Mr Parvanov's victory was eased by the lack of a serious challenger from the right-of-centre parties", the article says.

"Mr Siderov's strong performance was seen as a blow to mainstream politicians who have failed to address ordinary people's concerns. His campaign targeted the ethnic Turkish party, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, which has participated in every government since the collapse of communism. The party's support has been crucial to coalition governments trying to push through reforms required for EU accession but political leaders have been forced, as a result, to cede concessions to ethnic Turkish interests", FT adds.

"Bulgaria still has no anti-European party. Despite its questionable policies and positions on many issues, Ataka has not claimed the banner of euroscepticism or anti-Europeanism", said Daniel Smilov of the Centre for Liberal Strategies, a Sofia think-tank, as cited by FT.

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