The Bulgarian government’s security council is to meet on March 4 to decide on the country’s formal position regarding the mounting tension in Ukraine and the Crimean Peninsula, the government information service said.
The meeting is being called to decide on the stance that Bulgaria will take at the special meeting of the European Council of heads of goverment and state to be held on March 6.
EU foreign ministers held a special meeting on Ukraine on March 3, but any decision on sanctions against Russia is being left to the European Council meeting.
Speaking after EU foreign ministers met, Germany’s foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that the EU would react only if Moscow made no “swift and credible contribution towards de-escalation”, Deutsche Welle reported.
Steinmeier said that this applied to the negotiations on making it easier for Russians to get visas to travel to the EU, and on a new co-operation agreement. He added that freezing accounts would then also be an option.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said that a number of economic and diplomatic actions could be taken.
“Without question, this is in breach of Russia’s international obligations and its commitments. We talked about the potential of suspending bilateral talks on visa matters and the New Agreement, and will consider targeted measures,” Euronews quoted Ashton as saying.
Bulgaria’s government security council is not to be confused with the Consultative Council on National Security, convened by the President as head of state.
The security council is chaired by the interior minister and attended by the foreign minister, defence minister, the deputies to these two ministers, interior ministry chief secretary, head of the National Intelligence Service, head of the State Agency for National Security, head of Military Intelligence, chief of staff of the President’s office and the chief of Bulgaria’s military.
Its job description includes summarising, analysing and drawing conclusions from all current information about risks to national security.
Interior minister Tsvetlin Yovchev said on March 3 that he saw the situation in Ukraine as a threat to Bulgaria’s national security, mainly on the economy and energy front.
On March 2, ahead of the EU foreign ministers meeting, President Rossen Plevneliev held discussions with the foreign minister and intelligence chiefs about Bulgaria’s position on Ukraine.
Foreign minister Kristian Vigenin was to travel to Kyiv and Odessa on March 4 for meetings with leaders of Ukraine’s interim government and political leaders, focusing on the Bulgarian government’s concerns about the position of the Bulgarian minority in Ukraine.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)