Bulgaria’s post-communist experience has been a fractured transition both politically and economically. As Bulgaria now stands on the cusp of what is potentially the most significant event in its modern history – entry into the European Union – how deeply has its democracy been consolidated? Has the residue of Bulgaria’s communist era finally been sloughed off? Are there lingering threats to democratic stability that could delay Bulgaria’s entry into the EU? And just how genuine a partner has the EU been in helping Bulgaria progress down its transition path?
If there is one single issue that can help to illuminate these troubling questions, it is the long and controversial history of the Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant. In this first thorough examination of Bulgaria’s only nuclear power-generating complex, new light is shone on issues ranging from the micro-management of nuclear safety and regulation to political accountability and adherence to international agreements. Most significant, however, are reappraisals of the impact of the 1996-97 political and economic crises, the importance of the 1999 EU accession invitation and the democratic shortcomings of the much-heralded government of former tsar Simeon II.