- By Lucy MooreLucy Moore is a researcher at Foreign Policy.
Bulgaria, the EU’s newest member state, is fast becoming one of Brussels’ main headaches.
Back in January, corruption accusations grew so rampant around the country’s road construction projects that the EU froze all related funding until further investigation.
Then, less than a week after EU officials visited Sofia to warn against corruption and organized crime, a prominent businessman was shot twice in the head in the stairwell of his apartment building. Less than 24 hours later, a former mafioso turned novelist was also shot and killed while leaving a downtown café. Their deaths only add to the 150 or so mafia-style killings in Bulgaria since the fall of communism –- none of which have seen convictions.
Now, Bulgaria’s parliament has reported that its country’s problems extend far beyond the new EU border. Bulgaria’s National Security Agency has found that Bulgarian drug traffickers, who do a sizable business sitting on the fault line between Europe and Southwest Asia, have close links to Arab drug traders who, in turn, fund Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad.
I’m all for the EU accession of Western Balkan states –- if nothing else because there is presently no other viable alternative for an economically and politically stable future in the region. But it’s because of the lack of an alternative that accession standards have slipped as far as they have. And if the EU can’t hold Bulgaria on its commitment to anti-corruption standards, how will it ever manage the likes of Bosnia and Serbia?
Blake Hounshell is managing editor at Foreign Policy, having formerly been Web editor. Hounshell oversees ForeignPolicy.com and has commissioned and edited numerous cover stories for the print magazine, including National Magazine Award finalist "Why Do They Hate Us?" by Mona Eltahawy. He also edits The Cable, FP's first foray into daily original reporting, and was editor of Colum Lynch's Turtle Bay, which in 2011 won a National Magazine award for best reporting in a digital format.
Blake joined Foreign Policy in 2006 after living in Cairo, where he studied Arabic, missed his Steelers finally win one for the thumb, and worked for the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies. Blake was a 2011 finalist for the Livingston Awards prize for young journalists for his reporting on the Arab uprisings, and his Twitter feed was named one of Time magazine's "140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2011." Under his leadership, in 2008, Passport, FP's flagship blog, won Media Industry Newsletter's "Best of the Web" award in the blog category. Along with Elizabeth Dickinson, he edited Southern Tiger: Chile's Fight for a Democratic and Prosperous Future, the memoirs of former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2012.
A graduate of Yale University, Blake speaks mangled Arabic and French, is an avid runner, and lives in Washington with his wife, musician Sandy Choi, and their toddler, David. Follow him on Twitter @blakehounshell.| Passport |