Bulgaria will not recognise the results of the referendum in Crimea – foreign minister

Bulgaria will not recognise the results of the March 16 2014 referendum in Crimea, foreign minister Kristian Vigenin said after talks with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier, according to a report by Deutsche Welle.

Bulgaria would support and assist the German idea of a contact group for direct talks between the Russian and Ukrainian authorities, Vigenin was quoted as saying.

If Russia did not show willingness to compromise, the European Union would have to take decisions related to possible sanctions, he said.

Bulgaria hoped that diplomatic efforts would achieve a result because there was “no alternative but diplomacy,” Vigenin said.

Problems could still be resolved through diplomacy, taking into account the concerns and interests of the Russian side, he said.

Vigenin underlined that Bulgaria’s current participation in a naval exercise jointly with United States and Romanian vessels in the Black Sea was not related to the situation in Ukraine.

Sabre-rattling in the region was a show of power that would not help, he said.

It was unrealistic to believe that a US warship entering the Black Sea could pose a threat to Russia and to the Russian Black Sea fleet.

“I do not want to give the impression that Bulgaria somehow is participating in a show of force against Russia,” Vigenin said.

He dismissed concerns about a “new Cold War”, describing these as unrealistic.

“The world today is different, and the Cold War cannot be repeated in the way before”. But it was also clear that from now, and for some time, relations with Russia would not be the same.

He said that it remained a mystery what the actual intentions of the Russian side were.

Russian ambitions for the accession of Crimea were unacceptable, he was quoted as saying, adding that the Crimea referendum – in which this question will be put – was not recognised either by the European Union or its partners.

“The EU definitely will not recognise such a decision, because in practice it would mean a forced change of borders.”

Separately, an official statement by the foreign ministry in Sofia quoted Vigenin as seeing the planned March 16 referendum as inappropriate in a confrontational environment and without the consent of the central government in Kyiv.

“We want to move towards de-escalation of tensions in Ukraine and urge all parties to restraint and to dialogue,” Vigenin said.

According to the foreign ministry statement, Vigenin briefed Steinmeier on the outcomes of his visit to Ukraine and Bulgaria’s expectations that the new authorities in Ukraine would guarantee the rights of all minorities in the country, including the Bulgarian one.

A meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on March 17 would continue the discussion on Ukraine and the EU’s Eastern Partnership, Vigenin said.

The foreign ministry statement said that topics discussed by the two foreign ministers in Berlin included the issue of economic sanctions on Russia by the EU.

The statement quoted Vigenin as saying that these would affect not only Russia, but also the EU, and Bulgaria was among the countries that would suffer losses.

Related stories:

US, Bulgaria and Romania to hold joint military manoeuvres in the Black Sea

Controversy over foreign minister’s visit to Ukraine highlights Bulgaria’s policy complexities




The Sofia Globe staff

The Sofia Globe - the Sofia-based fully independent English-language news and features website, covering Bulgaria, the Balkans and the EU. Sign up to subscribe to sofiaglobe.com's daily bulletin through the form on our homepage. https://www.patreon.com/user?u=32709292