Bulgaria’s anti-government Protest Network is to hold two protests on July 7 2014 against the working visit to Sofia by Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov.
Lavrov is to meet his counterpart in the Bulgarian Socialist Party cabinet, Kristian Vigenin, socialist Speaker of Parliament Mihail Mikov, Plamen Oresharski – occupant of the prime minister’s chair in the BSP cabinet – and head of state President Rossen Plevneliev.
The Lavrov visit comes not only as Bulgaria heads for early parliamentary elections on October 5 after the BSP was decisively vanquished in the country’s May European Parliament elections, but also against the background of the controversy over the South Stream project.
The European Commission has initiated an infringement procedure against Bulgaria over the procedure of awarding of a contract to Russian firm Stroytransgaz for the building of the land section of South Stream.
South Stream is expected to top the agenda of talks between Lavrov and the Bulgarian officials.
Further, the BSP cabinet’s position in discussions at EU level on sanctions against Russia over Moscow’s illegal actions in Ukraine has caused concerns in Western capitals.
Of the officials Lavrov is scheduled to meet, three – Vigenin, Mikov and Oresharski – have just a few weeks left in office, with the resignation of the cabinet and the proroguing of the National Assembly pending.
The Protest Network has scheduled two protests for July 7, one at 12.30pm at the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry building in Alexander Zhendov Boulevard at the other at 3pm at the former Party House, now used as an administrative building by Parliament.
The network, set up in August 2013 amid the protests demanding the resignation of the government and early elections after the abortive appointment of Delyan Peevski as head of the State Agency for National Security, called on people to take part in the July 7 protests “to protect the sovereignty of the country”.
“This morally failed government has no right to make decisions on behalf of the people,” the Protest Network said, calling for an end to Bulgaria’s energy dependence on Russia and to what it called Russian interference in the internal affairs of Bulgaria.
The Protest Network called on people to show Russian president Vladimir Putin “and his puppet Lavrov” that they were unwanted and that Bulgaria was inextricably linked to Europe.
According to a Bulgarian Foreign Ministry statement, the Lavrov visit is on the occasion of the 135th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Bulgaria and Russia.
The official talks at foreign ministry level will take place at 1pm in the building of the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry.
After the plenary talks between the two delegations at 2.30pm there will be the official signing of a co-operation agreement between the Bulgaria and Russian governments in the field of health and medical science.
The two foreign ministers will validate a postal stamp collectors edition, dedicated to the 135th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.
Vigenin and Lavrov are to hold a joint news conference.