On Thursday, Bulgarian and N. Macedonian officials once again exchanged barbs about Sofia's ongoing hindrance of Skopje's EU bid. President Rumen Radev attacked Macedonian officials for their outrage about the new Bulgarian cultural center established in Bitola, N. Macedonia, bearing the name of VMRO revolutionary Ivan Mihaylov. N. Macedonian President Stevo Pendarovski and Prime Minister Dimitar Kovachevski protested against the chosen name because Mihaylov was a controversial figure with close ties to the Axis leadership during WWII. In other news:
Sofia invites Italy to be a framework nation in new NATO battalion in Bulgaria
According to Bulgaria's Chief of Defense Admiral Emil Eftimov, Bulgaria approached Italy and invited her to become the "framework nation" in the new multinational battle group that NATO has decided to place in Bulgaria. Alliance framework nations are usually bigger countries that are not on NATO's flank, who provide the bulk of the armed forces to a certain battle group.
In March, Bulgaria announced it had agreed to welcome one of the newest such battle groups, which will be deployed to the Novo Selo training area. It is expected that this will strengthen NATO's presence in Bulgaria by about 900-1000 servicemen. It will also give the Bulgarian army military capabilities that it currently lacks, including long-range artillery and modern fighting vehicles.
Incoming FDI increases in the first two months of the year: BNB
Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Bulgaria reached 408.1 million euro in the first two months of the year, more than double the investment of the same period in 2021, when 202.5 million euro worth of FDI entered the Bulgarian economy. This is the preliminary data of the Bulgarian National Bank (BNB), which could still be revised. The central bank estimates that in February alone the flow was positive and amounted to 141 million euro, compared to a positive flow of 146.6 million euro a year earlier.
Environmental Ministry shuts down Maritsa 3 TPP in Dimitrovgrad over pollution
The Ministry of Environment forced the shutdown of the Maritsa 3 thermal power plant (TPP) in Dimitrovgrad due to violations of environmental legislation and air quality. This was announced by Deputy Prime Minister and Environment Minister Borislav Sandov on Thursday. Sandov attributed the shutdown to excessive sulfur dioxide emissions released into the atmosphere by the TPP. Numerous fugitive emissions of coal dust were also detected. A number of administrative acts and penalty notices have been issued for these violations in recent months.TPP Maritsa 3 has a capacity of 120 MW and is one of the country's oldest power plants.