Ukraine crisis: Bulgarian security chiefs meet as concern deepens
A special meeting of Bulgaria’s national staff of security chiefs and senior government officials has been called to discuss the crisis in Ukraine, while President Rossen Plevneliev has called on the EU and Nato to defend the right of Ukraine’s people to decide their future without backroom deals.
It was announced on April 16 that Tsvetlin Yovchev, interior minister in the Bulgarian Socialist Party cabinet, was calling a meeting of the national headquarters to discuss Ukraine. Those to attend the meeting were to include heads of security services and of national and border police and fire departments, government agencies and ministries, to discuss the crisis in Ukraine and possible future actions by Bulgaria.
The same day, Kristian Vigenin, foreign minister in the BSP government, said that there was no reason for Bulgaria to reconsider its stance on what was happening in Ukraine.
“There is no reason for us to change our position, it is clear enough,” Vigenin said. Bulgaria was working to see the stabilisation of Ukraine, and the government believed that this was not possible without the participation of Russia, relying on dialogue and direct talks between Russia, Ukraine, the United States and the EU.
Head of state President Plevneliev accused Russia to destroying the foundations of the international legal order and returning to the thinking of the 19th century, and called on the EU and Nato to defend the right of the Ukrainian people alone to decide their future through fair elections and not through backroom deals made elsewhere.
Plevneliev said that the ongoing tension in Ukraine was raising deep concern in the international community.
In the current situation, the EU and Nato should firmly state that “they will not allow the 19th century practice to be restored, whereby the superpowers split up territories and declared them a periphery and a sphere of their own interests”.
“I hope the Bulgarian people have drawn their conclusions from the Congress of Berlin. Is it possible that in the 21st century the superpowers will sit and decide how to form a Ukraine that will be a divided territory and a periphery?” he said.
Plevneliev emphasised that Bulgaria was an active Nato member state and was working to ensure that the alliance’s plans for reactions in times of crisis would be updated.
“We should build up our defense capabilities,” he said, underlining the role of Euro-Atlantic solidarity in protecting Bulgaria’s security.
Plevneliev said that there was a need to make investments in modernising Bulgaria’s armed forces and to reduce the dependence of investment projects in the Bulgarian army on one single supplier.
Bulgaria has had to step up its air policing after an increased number of incidents of Russian aircraft brushing its Black Sea airspace.
This, in turn, has raised the issue of Bulgaria’s dependence on Russia for maintenance of its Soviet-made fighter aircraft.
While defence minister Angel Naidenov has spoken of his concerns about provocations by Russia in sending its military aircraft near Bulgarian airspace, the BSP government generally has taken a mild line on Russian intervention in Ukraine, while Plevneliev has been much more forthright in condemning Moscow’s illegal actions regarding Ukraine.
(Photo, of a Bulgarian air force MiG-29: Krassimir Grozev)