has a population of 7 million (2019). Bulgaria ended up in windy weather in the EU at the
beginning of the year, when it nominated its Foreign
Minister Rumiana Jeleva as EU Commissioner. She was
subjected to a tough hearing in the European Parliament.
Jeleva was found ignorant of humanitarian emergency aid, for
which she would be responsible. In addition, there were
accusations that she was lying about a part-ownership in a
consulting company devoted to tax planning, and it was
rumored that her husband had mafia contacts. Jeleva resigned
from both the EU candidacy and the post of Foreign Minister.
Instead, the European Commissioner became Kristalina
Georgieva, who previously worked for the World Bank. Defense
Minister Nikolaj Mladenov became new Foreign Minister.
In January, investigative journalist and radio reporter
Boris Tsankov was murdered, who reported on mafia groups and
their connections with politicians. He was shot dead in the
capital Sofia in what appeared to be a contract murder. In
that case, it was the first reported since Prime Minister
Boiko Borisov's entry last year, when he pledged to take
action against organized crime. The government's inability
to cope with mafia activities and corruption led to the EU
freezing its contribution to Bulgaria in 2008.
A sign that some attempts are still being made to combat
financial crime came when a businessman, his wife and four
employees were convicted of having embezzled millions in
agricultural aid from the EU. They were sentenced to between
5 and 12 years in prison.
Despite this, there was a setback towards the end of the
year, when it became clear that France and the UK were
planning to block Bulgaria's entry into the EU passport
Schengen, due to the corruption problems.
Opposition leader and former Prime Minister Sergei
Stanisev was indicted in June for retaining seven secretly
stamped reports from his reign of 2005–09. According to
Borisov, the documents concerned crime. Stanisev claimed
that the prosecution was politically motivated.