Speaking at the Bulgarian Investment and Business Summit held in Sofia on Thursday (5 March), Iskrov explained that the lower inflation rate will enable Bulgaria to enter the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM 2), the antechamber to the euro zone.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev recently said his country had fulfilled four out of five criteria for eurozone entry, inflation being the only outstanding criterion (EurActiv 01/03/09).
"The adoption of the euro is not a privilege but an obligation the country has taken," Iskrov recalled.
Bulgaria's currency board mechanism, which pegs the lev to the euro, provides a cushion against trouble and risk of speculations, Iskrov explained.
Although the central bank has revised its growth forecast for the Bulgarian economy to 2%, unlike Romania (EurActiv 05/03/09), the country does not need financial aid at the moment. The government has maintained a steady budget surplus and will target at least a balanced budget this year. Bulgaria has had budget surpluses for the past seven or eight years.
In line with many East European leaders, who strongly criticised Western media for depicting their countries as "black holes" and major threats to economic stability (EurActiv 04/03/09), Iskrov expressed dismay at what he called the "aggression" of Western analysts and media towards the region. Central and Eastern Europe has nothing to fear from the crisis and none of its banks have toxic assets, according to Iskrov. The only problems are in fact imported from the rest of Europe, because the main commercial partners of the region are in the grip of recession, he added.