President Plevneliev speaks out on Bulgaria’s North Korea controversy
Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev has spoken out sharply on statements by the government on a bilateral agreement with North Korea in areas including culture, education and the media, approved by the cabinet on February 12 2014.
An announcement by the Bulgarian Socialist Party cabinet that it had approved the agreement with Pyongyang caused an outpouring of indignation – and satire – from opponents and critics of the current government.
Kristian Vigenin, the socialist former MEP who currently is foreign minister, responded to the reaction by saying that the agreement was nothing new and also had been approved in 2010, for the previous three-year timeframe, by the centre-right government in which Nikolai Mladenov was foreign minister.
Unconfirmed reports said that the agreement actually dated back to 1970, when Bulgaria was still subject to a communist regime, and had been given the nod by every government since then.
During the time of the previous government, from 2009 to early 2013, Bulgaria’s foreign ministry critically addressed the topic of North Korea several times, in response to Pyongyang’s missile tests and stated nuclear ambitions.
Plevneliev, speaking to reporters during a February 14 visit to the town of Pleven, said that he had been “extremely disappointed” by the current government excusing itself by referring to the previous government.
“Please, come out and say whether it is right that in the field of media we will co-operate with North Korea? Or in which other field will we co-operate with the last remaining Stalinist regime on the planet?
“We have to be a little more upfront and honest with Bulgarian citizens and should have a position, which we must defend. We are a democratic country, an EU member state,” Plevneliev said, local news agency Focus reported from Pleven.