Bulgarian Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov has held talks with Russian ambassador Yuriy Isakov, telling him that as a member of the European Union and Nato, Bulgaria shapes its policies on the basis of its national interests and in the spirit of shared European policies and values.
The meeting on November 26 was a “protocol” one, in a series of talks between held between foreign ambassadors and Mitov, who was caretaker foreign minister in the interim cabinet appointed in August and was confirmed in the portfolio when Boiko Borissov’s government came to power on November 7.
Relations between Moscow and Sofia have had their tense moments in recent months, with the Kremlin hitting out at Bulgaria over its pro-Western stance and, after the caretaker cabinet took office, Bulgaria’s firmer critical position over Russia’s illegal actions in Ukraine.
Russia was irked by a Bulgarian defence policy draft document in August and also has singled out head of state President Rossen Plevneliev for attack. In October, Mitov issued a strong statement after Russia accused Bulgaria of “betrayal” over an intended shift to using Western fighter aircraft.
According to a statement by Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister, Mitov and Isakov conducted a short overview of the main aspects of bilateral relations, “and agreed that they should be developed on the basis of mutual respect, in spite of the existing differences in the positions on issues”.
The Foreign Minister and the Russian ambassador also discussed co-operation in energy, economy, trade, tourism, culture and other areas, the Foreign Ministry statement said.
Isakov confirmed the Russian position on what Moscow sees as the importance of the South Stream gas pipeline project for European energy security. Mitov said that for Bulgaria, the future of the project depends on its compliance with EU rules.