Bulgaria’s foreign ministry bids to avert further blunders by MPs

Seeking to secure the stable door lest any further horses bolt, Bulgaria’s foreign minister is asking members of Parliament to consult him before going on foreign trips, an appeal that follows controversy over MPs who travelled to Syria and to Taiwan.

Some days ago, Bulgarian Socialist Party MP Strahil Angelov prompted fury from within his own party, socialist parties elsewhere in Europe and from the Bulgarian foreign minister for travelling to Damascus where he was claimed to have endorsed the Assad regime.

Angelov faces disciplinary action from the BSP, which Kristian Vigenin, the former MEP who currently is foreign minister in the BSP cabinet, said should be dismissal from Angelov’s post as head of the parliamentary Bulgaria-Syria friendship group.

Angelov earlier denied that he had endorsed Assad, but matters took a new twist on January 24 when local media quoted him as saying that Assad was fighting extremism and Bulgaria’s policy on Syria was “outdated” – an implicit criticism of, among others, Vigenin, and not Angelov’s first since the controversy erupted.

Separately, it emerged earlier this week that four MPs, one from each of the parties represented in the 42nd National Assembly, had gone on a trip to Taipei paid for the Taiwanese government. The trip, while defended by some of the MPs as “building business ties”, as private and unofficial, was widely seen as flouting Sofia’s long-standing diplomatic relations with Beijing and Bulgaria’s endorsement of the One-China policy.

Vigenin told reporters that his call to members of Parliament was to careful with visits such as that to Taiwan, especially when the costs were borne by the host country.

He hoped that a “tradition” would be established in which similar visits complied with Bulgaria’s foreign policy positions and there was co-ordination with the relevant institutions.

Meanwhile, Angelov also has let it be known that he was ready to go to Ukraine, should the head of the Bulgarian-Ukrainian friendship group in Parliament organise such a trip (perhaps being unaware that President Rossen Plevneliev announced two days ago that he was postponing a visit to Kyiv scheduled for May 2014 because of human rights violations and political instability in that country).

However, Angelov does not plan a Taiwan trip of his own.

“Taipei is a complex issue, I am not ready to go. Bulgaria does not recognise this entity,” Angelov said.

So that is at least one less thing for Vigenin to have to worry about.



The Sofia Globe staff

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