Compare what is happening in Bulgaria with the state of affairs in countries around it – economic crisis in Greece, surging unemployment in parts of former Yugoslavia, political troubles in Romania – and one phrase recurs: “We are”, says the country’s president, Rosen Plevneliev, “an absolute island of stability”.
The claim, repeated by many senior Bulgarians, has substance. Though the economy shrank by 5.5 per cent in the 2009 global recession, unlike neighbouring Serbia, Romania and Greece, Bulgaria required no international bailout. It has since had 13 consecutive quarters of growth, even if this has been anaemic. With among the lowest budget deficit and government debt figures in the European Union, Bulgaria is one of only three countries, alongside Finland and Denmark, that fully meet the Maastricht criteria for euro membership. Read more here.