UDC 341.217.02(4-672EU:497.2) 271.222(497.2)
Biblid: 0543-3657, 75 (2024)
Vol. 75, No 1190, pp. 83-108
DOI: https://doi.org/10.18485/iipe_ria.2024.75.1190.4

Review article
Received: 27 Nov 2023
Accepted: 30 Jan 2024
CC BY-SA 4.0


PETROVIĆ Miloš (Research Fellow, Institute of International Politics and Economics, Belgrade, Serbia), milos.petrovic@diplomacy.bg.ac.rs
VESELICA Milan (Research Assistant, Institute of International Politics and Economics, Belgrade, Serbia), milan.veselica@diplomacy.bg.ac.rs

This paper analyses the socio-political position and role of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in the context of the country’s accession to the European Union. The authors consider these aspects from the perspective of distinctive circumstances and attitudes within the Church, which significantly differed from those of state authorities in the context of European integration. The limitations of the Church in terms of socio-political influence were closely tied to existential challenges, such as schisms and exposure to state intervention, coupled with a low degree of religiosity. Given the extensive reach of the Europeanization process affecting political, economic, and social dimensions and the historical influence of Orthodox churches on political decision-making and public opinion, the authors seek to explore the political ramifications of isolationist tendencies, internal divisions, and public perceptions, coupled with the ambivalence between political pro-Westernism (pro-Europeanism) and religious anti-Westernism. The hypothesis posits that the Church did not have a prominent role in the course of European integration as a consequence of the isolationist tendencies derived from its recent history. To investigate this assumption, the authors rely on the rational choice perspective of religious institutions. Additionally, the authors examine the Church’s recent history and challenges, its unusual position within the Orthodox world, and the geopolitical circumstances that have increasingly marginalised religious authorities in favour of state decision-makers.

Keywords: Politics; EU enlargement; Bulgaria; religion; cooperation; isolationism.