Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev has called a special meeting of the Consultative Council on National Security for March 24 to discuss the potential risks to Bulgaria from the crisis in Ukraine.
This was announced after Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed his country’s parliament, the Duma, on the annexation of Crimea and as Russian troops sought to take over a Ukrainian military base in Crimea by force.
It is the second time that Plevneliev, as head of state, has convened a meeting of the council to discuss Ukraine. The previous meeting was on March 4.
The European Union and the United States have responded to Putin’s Crimea land grab with targeted sanctions. In the case of the EU sanctions, some voices – especially those currently in government in Bulgaria and in the Bulgarian Socialist Party – have expressed concern that these could backfire on Bulgaria.
Bulgaria’s Parliament was to be presented with three different draft resolutions on the crisis in Ukraine, one from the Bulgarian Socialist Party, another from centre-right opposition party GERB and the third from far-right ultra-nationalists Ataka.
However, tabling of the resolutions was put off because the positions taken by the various parties in Parliament were irreconcilable. Two of the parties, GERB and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, suggested that the resolutions could be tabled after the Consultative Council on National Security meeting.
BSP leader Sergei Stanishev said that there were two key facts that could not be ignored, one that 250 000 Bulgarians lived in Ukraine and the other, Bulgaria’s economic dependence on Russia, especially in energy supply.
Stanishev was reported by public broadcaster Bulgarian National Radio as saying that his party’s draft resolution was a principled and clear framework position of Bulgaria, based on the principles of international law, respect for and protection of the territorial integrity of Ukraine and the search for a political solution and dialogue on this complex crisis.
Parliament’s smallest party, Ataka, which sent some of its members of Parliament in support of the March 16 Crimea referendum and which has taken an unambiguously pro-Kremlin position, is insisting that Bulgaria should recognise the results of the referendum in Crimea and declare itself against economic sanctions against Russia.
The Movement for Rights and Freedoms, the third-largest party in Parliament and part of the current ruling axis, did not table a draft declaration on Ukraine because, the party said, the issue required a common position adequately protecting the Bulgarian national interest and adopted through broad political agreement.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)