Bulgaria/Transnational issues

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Bulgaria has generally good relations with its neighbors and has proved to be a constructive force in the region under socialist and democratic governments alike. Promoting regional stability, Bulgaria hosted a Southeast European Foreign Ministers meeting in July 1996 and an OSCE conference on Black Sea cooperation in November 1995. Bulgaria also participated in the 1996 South Balkan Defense Ministerial in Albania and is active in the Southeast European Cooperative Initiative.

With their close historical, cultural, and economic ties, Bulgaria seeks a mutually beneficial relationship with Russia, on which it is largely dependent for energy supplies. Sporadic negotiations are underway among Greece, Bulgaria, and Russia for construction of a gas pipeline from Burgas on the Black Sea to Alexandropolis to transport Caspian Sea oil.

Bulgaria's EU Association Agreement came into effect in 1994, and Bulgaria formally applied for full EU membership in December 1995. In 1996, Bulgaria acceded to the Wassenaar Arrangement controlling exports of weapons and sensitive technology to countries of concern and also was admitted to the World Trade Organization. Bulgaria is a member of the Zangger Committee and the Nuclear Suppliers Group. After a period of equivocation under a socialist government, in March 1997 a UDF-led caretaker cabinet applied for full NATO membership, which the current government is pursuing as a priority.

Bulgaria joined NATO's Partnership for Peace in 1994 and applied for NATO membership in 1997. It is working toward NATO compatibility in communications and training, and has established a Peacekeeping Training Center. The military continues to rely on Russia for much of its equipment needs and spare parts.

Illicit drugs: major European transshipment point for Southwest Asian heroin and, to a lesser degree, South American cocaine for the European market; limited producer of precursor chemicals