For the second time in the space of one week, officials in Sofia and Moscow exchanged harsh words, after Russia’s foreign ministry said that an interview by Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev with a German newspaper was “regrettable”.
Speaking to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in an interview published on October 4, Plevneliev said that Russia was a “nationalistic and aggressive state” and Russian president Vladimir Putin viewed Europe as an opponent rather than a partner.
In his weekly media briefing on October 9, Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Alexander Lukashevich said that Plevneliev’s interview was cause for concern, because it “once again repeated the baseless statements about the so-called ‘annexation’ of Crimea and attempts to ‘dictate’ to Ukraine, using unacceptable rhetoric.”
Lukashevich said that Plevneliev ignored Russia’s “persistent and consistent” attempts to solve the Ukrainian crisis, claiming that Plevneliev exhibited an “intentionally skewed and selective approach” in judging Russia’s foreign policy towards Ukraine.
“Rossen Plevneliev, to please the short-term pro-Western conjuncture, ignores reality and tramples on the centennial traditions of friendship and cooperation between the Russian and Bulgarian peoples,” Lukashevich said.
The Bulgarian President’s reply was swift and he was quoted as saying, on October 10, that he worked for continued good relations and friendship between the Russian and Bulgarian peoples.
“This means that the relations between the Russian and Bulgarian nations must be put on sound footing and the most sound footing is truth, not the propaganda machine of some institution or another,” he said, as quoted by Bulgarian National Radio.
“I believe that with my interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung I am helping the good relations between the Bulgarian and Russian peoples by speaking the truth about the actions of the current Russian government in Crimea, and I will continue doing so,” Plevneliev said.
Earlier this week, Sofia and Moscow engaged in another diplomatic exchange after the deputy prime minister of Russia, Dmitry Rogozin, said on Twitter that Bulgaria was “betraying” Russia by deciding to stop using Russian-made warplanes – prompting a sharp reaction from Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry, which described the comments as “completely unacceptable”.
(Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev. Photo: president.bg)