Bulgaria speaks on Syria crisis

Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement condemning the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria and reiterating calls for a political solution to the crisis, saying that Sofia is ready to contribute to finding a solution to a crisis – but making no signal of support for military action against the Assad regime.

The statement from the Foreign Ministry came on August 27 as there were repeated strong signals from the United States, United Kingdom and France, in particular, that possible military options were on the table for discussion after reports alleging that the Assad regime used chemical weapons against the Syrian population on August 21, causing hundreds of deaths and serious injuries.

Western media reports said that a strike against Assad’s forces could come within days. At the same time, Moscow, which has been bolstering the Assad regime, said that any action against the Syrian government with UN Security Council sanction would be a grave violation of international law.

In an August 27 statement attributed to foreign minister Kristian Vigenin, Bulgaria said that it had repeatedly stated its position on the events in Syria since the outset: outright condemnation of violence as a means of seeking a way out of the crisis, extreme concern about the grave violations of human rights, from the huge flow of refugees and destitute people to the continuously worsening humanitarian situation. Consistently, our country has called for the conflict to be resolved through a broad national dialogue involving all political and social formations.

“The stubborn unwillingness of the regime to seek a political exit from the crisis is leading to a constant escalation of the violence. Recent events related to reports about the use of chemical weapons against civilians on August 21, throws the country into a new, extremely dangerous spiral of terror, with unpredictable consequences for the stability and security of the entire Middle East region in the long term,” the statement from the Foreign Ministry in Sofia said.

“As a member of the Convention for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Bulgaria is strongly against the use of such weapons by anyone, anywhere. We strongly condemn this inhumane act that has led to the deaths of hundreds of innocent people. It is an unacceptable violation of morality, humanity and international law, and its perpetrators should bear the most severe punishment.”

The statement said that Bulgaria continued to support and actively engage in international efforts to find a political solution to the crisis.

“We call on the Syrian authorities to provide immediate, comprehensive and secure access to a team of international investigators and experts from the United Nations and the OPCW to the area of the incident in order to establish the truth. Bulgaria has joined the demarches in UN for the immediate conducting of an investigation.

“We also have joined the joint statement by the Australia Group, which condemns the use of chemical weapons in Syria and calls on the country’s leadership to take steps for the accession of Syria to the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.”

The Foreign Ministry statement concluded, “we will monitor developments closely and are ready to contribute according to our ability to the finding of an exit from the crisis”.

Western powers have apparently told the Syrian opposition that a strike against President Bashar al-Assad’s forces could come within days. The information, obtained by Reuters, comes from sources who attended a meeting between the Syrian National Coalition in Istanbul and envoys from 11 core “Friends of Syria” members, a report on the euronews website said on August 27.

American forces are “ready” to launch strikes on Syria if US president Barack Obama chooses to order an attack, US defence secretary Chuck Hagel said, the BBC reported on August 27 2013.

“We have moved assets in place to be able to fulfil and comply with whatever option the president wishes to take,” Hagel told the BBC.

US secretary of state John Kerry has said there is “undeniable” proof that Syria had used chemical weapons.

The UK parliament has been called to a special sitting on August 29 to discuss possible responses to the Syria crisis. “There will be a government motion and a vote,” Downing Street told Reuters.

French foreign minister Laurent Fabius said that France was willing to join an international coalition against Syria without Security Council unity, the Voice of America reported.

But speaking on Europe 1 Radio, Fabius said that a decision to take military action in Syria has not yet been made.

Russia has said it believes rebels were behind the incident and has warned any military action without UN approval would violate international law, the Voice of Russia said on August 27.

Pro-Kremlin Russian newspaper Izvestia on August 26 published an interview with Assad who ridiculed as “nonsense” the idea that his regime used chemical weapons and warned the US of failure if it attacked Syria.




The Sofia Globe staff

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