Ukraine to top agenda as Nato’s Rasmussen visits Bulgaria

The visit to Bulgaria on April 10 and 11 2014 by Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen will be about much more than marking the 10thanniversary of the country’s membership of the alliance or Rasmussen being awarded Bulgaria’s highest honour, as talks are certain to be dominated by Nato’s response to Russia’s interventions in Ukraine.

Rasmussen is due to meet Bulgaria’s prime minister, defence and foreign ministers and confer with President Rossen Plevneliev before the head of state awards him the Stara Planina first class, Bulgaria’s highest state honour.

The Nato Secretary General arrives in Sofia after meetings in Prague on the morning of April 10 with Czech Republic president Miloš Zeman, prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka, foreign minister Lubomír Zaorálek, defence minister Martin Stropnický and other government officials. Rasmussen and Sobotka were scheduled to hold a joint news conference.

Both a member of Nato and of the European Union, Bulgaria, under its current Bulgarian Socialist Party cabinet, has shown scant genuine enthusiasm for a strong line against Russia over Ukraine and Moscow’s illegal annexation of Ukraine. Statements from government officials have come across more as lip service than anything else, while senior EU diplomatic figures have been concerned by Sofia’s reluctance about tough sanctions against Russia.

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