Thirty years after the Sofia municipality first decided to remove a monument to the Soviet army from the capital city, Bulgaria is finally dismantling the most prominent symbol of Soviet
Bulgaria has finally taken decisive measures to cease its dependence on Russian energy and undercut Moscow’s positions in the Balkan and Central European energy markets. On September 28, the Bulgarian
The talks between Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, scheduled for October 5 in Granada, Spain, were abruptly canceled when Aliyev refused to take part. According
Kazakhstan recently expressed concerns about the security of the Russian Port of Novorossiysk, which Astana uses to export most of its oil. Energy Minister Almasadam Satkaliyev said that Kazakhstan will
Tensions in the Balkans are escalating again as Serbian security forces have allegedly kidnapped three Kosovo police officers inside the territory of Kosovo. Prime Minister Albin Kurti called the entry
The Bulgarian parliamentary elections on April 2 produced another fragmented parliament, split between six parties with none having a majority. Negotiations to form a government broke down the next day,
On April 4, Jamestown Foundation Senior Fellow Margarita Assenova was interviewed by Voice of America on the implications of Bulgaria's recent parliamentary elections on the country's support for Ukraine. The
The prolonged political instability in Bulgaria will continue to impact critical energy security decisions and maintain the country’s status as Russia’s best client in Europe. Bulgaria, currently the third-largest buyer
Kazakhstani President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev secured a second term in office following the snap presidential elections held on November 20, winning 81 percent of the vote. Tokayev will serve a single seven-year
Amid heightened tensions between Russia and Kazakhstan over the war in Ukraine, Astana is betting on high-level diplomacy to build international support for its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Pope Francis’
The presidents of Serbia and Kosovo, Aleksandar Vučić and Albin Kurti, respectively, failed to reach an agreement on August 18 during bilateral talks hosted by the European Union in Brussels.
Bulgaria is heading for new parliamentary elections once again, for the fourth time in 16 months. Kiril Petkov’s centrist government collapsed on June 22, after only seven months in office,
Russia’s war on Ukraine has prompted the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union to examine current security vulnerabilities in Europe and find a way to address them.
On May 3, The Economic Times published an article by AFP concerning what victory in Ukraine looks like, quoting the April 21 Jamestown Webinar on the topic featuring Senior Fellows Margarita Assenova
Russian President Vladimir Putin miscalculated again when he stopped natural gas shipments to Poland and Bulgaria on April 27. Now Russia appears to have lost the gas markets in both
Russia’s war on Ukraine reverberated throughout the Balkans, exposing regional divisions, allegiances with foreign powers, and security vulnerabilities. While North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members Croatia, Montenegro, Albania and North
Kazakhstan faced the worst civil unrest since its independence, when popular protests turned violent and nearly caused state collapse in early January. Long perceived as the most stable and economically advanced
Emboldened by Moscow and Belgrade, Milorad Dodik, the Bosnian Serbs leader in Bosnia-Herzegovina, followed on his October announcement that Republika Srpska (Serb Republic) would start withdrawing from shared state institutions,
A November 17 article in Polygraph.info quotes Jamestown Senior Fellow Margarita Assenova on Belarusian leader Lukashenka's leverage of gas supplies on the migrant crisis on the border with Poland. Assenova
Russia’s decision to severely reduce natural gas supplies to Europe before the winter has sent prices skyrocketing, causing the most serious energy crisis in decades. In fact, Europe has never
Tensions on the Serbian-Kosovo border have rapidly escalated, threatening to spiral into a renewed conflict in the Balkans. Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić has ordered military and police units on heightened
The Nord Stream Two saga is far from over. Although the agreement between the United States and Germany would allow for the physical completion of this natural gas pipeline (directly
The announcement, on Wednesday, July 21, of the agreement between the United States and Germany allowing for the completion of Nord Stream Two natural gas pipeline project comes at a
The COVID-19 pandemic recovery in Central Asia is taking an unexpectedly green turn. Three of the five Central Asian states boast large hydrocarbon resources and, ever since becoming independent from
Two weeks after the Biden administration waived congressionally mandated sanctions on Nord Stream AG, the company behind the Nord Stream Two pipeline, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that the first
On the eve of a critical parliamentary election on April 4, the Bulgarian authorities have exposed a major case of espionage on behalf of Russia, which entangles several high-ranking defense
After a 13-month pause, construction of the Nord Stream Two natural gas pipeline reportedly resumed in late January, near Denmark’s Bornholm Island (TASS, January 24). Despite United States sanctions, the
On December 12, Voice of America released an article with remarks by Jamestown Senior Fellow Margarita Assenova, who commented on the growing likelihood that the Russian Nord Stream Two gas
Jamestown Senior Fellow Margarita Assenova was quoted in a recent RFE/RL article, "Some 'Pro-Russian' Voices Tamed In Serbia, But Vucic Keeping His Options Open." Assenova is quoted as saying that
Central Asia is suffering a significant economic downturn precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic that will deepen during the coming months (The Astana Times, May 5; Imf.org, July 2020). The health
On June 16, Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vučić and Kosovo’s Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti met in person in Brussels to restart talks between Belgrade and Pristina after 18 months of interruption.
While the United States struggles with the coronavirus pandemic, Russia has deployed two pipe-laying vessels to the Baltic Sea in a suspected attempt to complete the Nord Stream Two natural
The timing could not have been worse for Russia to provoke a spat with Saudi Arabia over oil production quotas in early March. Moscow’s decision to withdraw from the OPEC+
In a grand ceremony in Istanbul, on January 9, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, officially opened the TurkStream natural gas pipeline, running from Russia
Moscow has found itself in a weaker position in its negotiations with Kyiv on continuing natural gas transit through Ukraine to Europe after December 31. The current ten-year gas transmission
Serbia is preparing to sign a free trade agreement with the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) in October, hoping to gain access to a market of 180 million people. At
The official visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Serbia, on January 17, has raised high expectations among both the Serbian leadership and the public that Moscow would help Belgrade
With the completion, in November, of the offshore section of the TurkStream natural gas pipeline from Russia to western Turkey, the Bulgarian government kicked its preparations for creating a Balkan
The vast majority of voters who took part in Macedonia’s referendum on September 30 supported changing the country’s name to North Macedonia in order to join the North Atlantic Treaty
In the run-up to Macedonia’s referendum on changing the country’s name (scheduled for September 30), the main focus of the government in Skopje has become ensuring a high turnout. In
Macedonian nationalist groups, led by the small, pro-Russian political party United Macedonia, have announced a campaign to boycott the September referendum on changing the country’s name to the Republic of
German support for Russia’s plans to double the capacity of the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea has, in turn, encouraged Bulgaria’s aspirations to develop a regional
On June 6, the Bulgarian parliament approved a proposal by the ruling coalition to explore possibilities of restarting the Belene nuclear plant project (NPP), a project that, five years ago,
On May 28, Azerbaijan celebrates the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR)—the first democratic state with a parliamentary form of government in the Muslim World.
On April 29, Energywire published and article on the Southern Gas Corridor that quoted Margarita Assenova, Jamestown's Director of Programs for the Balkans, Caucasus, and Central Asia.
Margarita Assenova, Jamestown Director of Programs for Balkans, Caucasus & Central Asia, spoke with Georgian news agency Accent, on April 11, about Georgia's breakaway territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Although the Greek banks reopened on July 20, and Athens repaid some of its debt to the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank, unease about the Greek crisis
On February 23, Voice of America published an article on Bulgarian energy quoting Margarita Assenova, Jamestown's Director of Programs for the Balkans, Caucasus and Central Asia.
On October 30, The Street quoted Margarita Assenova, Jamestown's Director of Programs for the Balkans, Caucasus & Central Asia, regarding Gazprom and Russia's gas policies in Europe.
The Russia-Ukraine war has presented the most serious threat to European energy security since the end of the Cold War. Almost half of the Russian natural gas delivered to European
Fresh sanctions against Russia imposed by the Barack Obama administration on July 16 will likely hamper Gazprom’s ability to finance the South Stream natural gas pipeline. Among the sanctioned entities
Bulgaria is heading for new parliamentary elections as the troubled governing coalition fell apart one year into its mandate. This development was not caused by the daily anti-government protests that
Bulgarian Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski has suspended all activities related to the disputed South Stream natural gas pipeline project until his government reaches an agreement with Brussels that would be
Western sanctions against Russia may not appear as strong or as sweeping as many expected, but their targeted effect is becoming visible in major Russian industries and critical ongoing projects,
During his official visit to Germany, Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev warned that the Kremlin’s aggression is not limited to Ukraine or the territory of the former Soviet Union, but also
While Washington and Brussels are imposing more sanctions against Russia for destabilizing eastern Ukraine, the Kremlin is retaliating by deepening divisions within the European Union through the prospective South Stream
On April 11, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev appointed Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin as chairman of the Russian part of the inter-governmental commission on economic cooperation with Azerbaijan. The
On April 4, the Bulgarian parliament passed on a first reading amendments to the energy law that would allow the Russian-led South Stream gas pipeline project to bypass European Union
The crisis in Ukraine has resonated throughout Southeast Europe, evoking memories of the violent break-up of Yugoslavia and worries of fresh interruptions in Russian energy supplies. As the European Union
Margarita Assenova, Jamestown's Director of Programs for Caucasus, Central Asia and the Balkans, provided comments on the Western response to the Ukraine crisis in an interview with Voice of America
On January 28, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced in Brussels that the European Union has agreed to give Russia full access to the OPAL pipeline in Germany, the largest natural
The year 2013 was particularly important for energy security in the Balkans, as it brought the news that Caspian natural gas is closer than ever to reaching a region that
Kazakhstan is seeking to expand legal cooperation in criminal cases with the United States and potentially sign a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) with Washington. During his visit to Washington
The construction of the South Stream natural gas pipeline was effectively put on hold after the European Commission (EC) announced that Russia’s bilateral agreements with Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Slovenia, Greece
In a December 3 article of Voice of America's Russian-language service, Jamestown Director of Programs for the Balkans, Caucasus & Central Asia, Margarita Assenova, was interviewed about the political crisis
Kazakhstan plans to introduce new anti-corruption legislation and to rid the judicial system of corruption. But the country has a long way to go to move up from 133rd place
With the signing of a new friendship and cooperation treaty at a bilateral summit in Yekaterinburg on November 11, Russia and Kazakhstan aimed to move their relations to a new
The Bulgarian government intends to intensify its economic relations with Russia, according to Socialist party leader Sergey Stanishev. “This is a way for our country to develop as a modern
The anti-government protests in Bulgaria have continued for over 60 days with no sign of resolution during the summer. Thousands of demonstrators demand the resignation of the Socialist-led government, deeming
A strike by 200 workers at the Kashagan oil field on July 7–8 went almost unnoticed because the dispute was resolved in record time. When 200 employees of CAPE Industrial
In the midst of the deepening political crisis in Bulgaria, Gazprom’s Chairman Alexei Miller arrived in Sofia on July 8 to make sure construction of the South Stream natural gas
It was not the first time Central Asia’s water disputes have taken a prominent place on the summit agenda of the presidents of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, Nursultan Nazarbayev and Islam
Although lacking a parliamentary majority, the new Socialist-led government of Bulgaria, is hurriedly reversing critical energy sector decisions of the previous center-right government, thus bringing the country closer to Russia.
The Bulgarian general elections on May 12 produced a hung parliament and little hope that the political stalemate would be easily overcome. Political instability is expected to continue during a
Parliamentary elections in Bulgaria on May 12 are unlikely to ease tensions after weeks of public protests against poverty and corruption brought the government down in February. Nor will the
The political crisis in Bulgaria is deepening as the street protests continue despite the surprising resignation of the government on February 20. The wave of protests has spread to over
The resignation of the Bulgarian government amidst massive protests against high energy prices, poverty and corruption has left the country in disarray. Prime Minister Boyko Borisov announced the resignation of
One year after the Bulgarian parliament adopted a moratorium on shale gas exploration under pressure from environmental groups, public protests against high prices of electricity and heating have swept the
After a January 27 referendum on the future of Bulgaria’s second nuclear power plant (NPP) failed to produce a binding result, Sofia announced in a letter to the European Commission
Increased state control and consolidation of the oil and gas sector marked Russia’s energy developments in 2012, while the state budget remained heavily dependent on energy revenues. At the same
Margarita Assenova, Jamestown's Director of Programs, Balkans, Caucasus & Central Asia was cited in an article by News.Az entitled "Azerbaijan's Energy Potential Discussed in Washington."
United States Senator Richard Lugar has urged the Obama administration to break Russia’s energy monopoly in Europe and called on Congress to lift limitations on LNG deliveries to NATO allies
On November 15, Bulgaria signed the final investment decision on the South Stream natural gas project, becoming the last country among Gazprom partners to give the project a green light.
Bulgaria has tied the approval of the South Stream gas pipeline to favorable terms in the upcoming gas supply contract with Gazprom. According to an official statement from the Bulgarian
Russia is moving rapidly to start building the South Stream natural gas pipeline before the end of the year. On October 29, Serbia became the first Gazprom partner to announce
Despite Sofia’s anger with Russian demands for enormous compensation for the abandoned Belene nuclear project, Moscow remains silent just weeks before the deal on the South Stream gas pipeline is
Margarita Assenova was cited in News.Az for attending a debate that was held at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on building a tolerant society in post-Soviet countries.
The recent cabinet reshuffle in Kazakhstan clearly reflects President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s emphasis on social and employment programs and economic development, which he outlined in a program article published in July
A row between Bulgaria and Russia over compensation for the scrapped Belene nuclear power plant (NPP) project threatens to delay the start of the South Stream gas pipeline, the Kremlin’s
The trial of three Kazakh political opposition leaders for the Zhanaozen events is widely viewed as a test for Kazakhstan’s judicial system and democratic development. The trial of Vladimir Kozlov,
Pressure by international human rights bodies on Kazakhstan’s government is increasing as the trials of political opposition leaders for their role in the December 2011 riots in Zhanaozen are approaching.
The trials over the December 2011 violence in Zhanaozen are approaching their most dramatic phase. Several political opposition leaders are facing charges ranging from inciting public discord to calling for
Kazakhstan’s parliament will draft a new law on state borders after 14 soldiers and a ranger were killed at a remote border post on the Chinese-Kazakhstani border on May 28.
Bulgaria is under renewed pressure from Russia to sign the final investment agreement on the South Stream gas pipeline by November 15, 2012. Otherwise, Gazprom threatens to forsake the promised
The courts in Mangistau region of Kazakhstan concluded the trials of 56 people held accountable for the violent events in Zhanaozen and Shetpe on December 16-17, 2011. These rulings sent
In Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, a labor dispute at Kazakhmys – Kazakhstan’s largest copper mining company – was swiftly resolved within three days after the management agreed to satisfy miners’ demands for
Potential large shale gas deposits in Europe have raised hopes that the old continent may in the future rely less on oil and natural gas imports from Russia. However, fears
Bulgaria scrapped plans to build its second 2,000-megawatt Belene nuclear power plant (Belene NPP) on the Danube River (Trud, Capital, Dnevnik, BNT, March 28). The Belene NPP is the second
As the trials against 37 people for organizing and participating in the December Zhanaozen riots are starting in Aktau on March 27, the Kazakh authorities continue implementing a comprehensive program
The criminal trial of 37 persons charged with organizing and participating in the December riots in Zhanaozen and the village of Shetpe will start on March 27 in Aktau, the
The fugitive Kazakh banker Mukhtar Ablyazov, accused of embezzling $5 billion from Kazakhstan’s BTA bank, was sentenced on February 16 to 22 months in prison for failing to disclose his
Bulgaria’s energy security and independence were the key topics discussed by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with the Bulgarian government during her short visit to Sofia on February 5.
The Bulgarian Parliament has indefinitely suspended shale gas exploration and extraction in the country under public pressure from environmentalist groups. The moratorium will affect shale gas and oil exploration on
Kazakhstan held parliamentary and local elections a month after clashes between protesting oil workers and police left 17 dead in the western city of Zhanaozen on December 16, 2011. The
The Bulgarian government quit a Russian-led pipeline project after a thorough review of key Russian energy projects in the country. Bulgaria is heavily dependent on Russian energy supplies and suffered
Kazakhstan has been ranked among the top 50 world economies in the Doing Business 2012 report, compiled by the World Bank and its private-sector lender the International Finance Corp (i-news.kz,
On September 29, Kazakhstan’s upper house of parliament passed a new controversial law on religious activities and religious organizations intended to curb the spread of radical Islam in the country.
Russia’s energy interests in Bulgaria have been under scrutiny since the center-right government of Boyko Borissov took office in July 2009. At the beginning of his mandate, Borisov pledged to
As international efforts to restore the ancient Silk Road gather momentum, Kazakhstan has intensified construction of major transportation arteries across its territory. Astana views the development of transport corridors together