Bulgaria. It was a historically important day for the Bulgarians when the country’s flag was first hoisted outside the NATO headquarters in Brussels in April. Bulgaria joined the Defense Alliance at the same time as six other former Warsaw Pact countries.
Formal negotiations with the EU were also concluded during the year. Bulgaria was given the go-ahead for the coveted membership in 2007, subject to a number of conditions being met. This included to deal with widespread corruption and to improve conditions for the Roma minority.
According to CountryAAH, the total population in Bulgaria is 6,948,456 people in 2020. NATO membership and the agreement with the EU were feathers in the hat of the government, which could also point to improved economy and reduced unemployment. Nevertheless, the dissatisfaction with the center-right government was great, as living conditions remained difficult for most Bulgarians. The government coalition also lost its majority in parliament when a group of Prime Minister Simeon Sakskoburggotski’s party resigned in March. Towards the end of the year, bourgeois parties discussed an election alliance ahead of the 2005 parliamentary elections, an election most predicted that socialists would win.
Several Bulgarian soldiers who were part of the country’s nearly 500-strong force in Iraq were killed during the year. Two civilian Bulgarian truck drivers who were kidnapped were also killed. A majority of Bulgarians opposed the presence in Iraq, but the government maintained its support for the US-led operation.
Sakskoburggotski announced in May that the construction of a nuclear power plant outside Belene would resume after laying down since 1991. It was expected to be the government’s largest investment project during the year and would attract foreign investors and reduce unemployment.