Later, the former king said that his remarks had been misinterpreted. “I only said that we will try to make every effort to take into consideration what Europe wants from us. This did not mean dates, compromises or pre-determined decisions”.

The country’s chief negotiator with the EU, Meglena Kuneva, claimed that there is no policy to close the reactors in 2006. “Even I, as chief negotiator, am not mandated to hold such negotiations, and so far the government has not at all discussed such a mandate,” she said, pointing out that the national position will be outlined after adoption of a national strategy for development of the energy sector, which is expected by the end of March.

According to a memorandum of understanding between Bulgaria and the European Commission, signed on 29 November, 1999, Bulgaria should close units 3 and 4 in 2008 and 2010, respectively, but in the last two annual reports on Bulgaria the commission insisted it should be in 2006 at the latest.

Kozloduy accounted for 44.6% of the country’s electricity last year, producing a record 19.6TWh. Its previous record of 18.2TWh was set in 2000. Its average load factor was 83.7%. Boris Kalchev of the Bulgarian nuclear association has warned that Bulgarian electricity prices would increase at least twofold if units 1 and 2 are shut down by the end of this year.