Russia is not a threat to Bulgaria, which has no intention of going to war with anyone and is building its armed forces solely for defence, centre-right ruling party GERB said in a declaration in the National Assembly in Sofia on February 11.
The declaration was read the same day that the cabinet approved the position of Bulgaria ahead of a February 12 meeting in Brussels of the European Council which has the situation in Ukraine on the agenda.
Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, leader of GERB, will represent Bulgaria at the European Council meeting.
Reading the declaration in Parliament on behalf of GERB, MP Valentin Radev said that the party was issuing a call to end “whipping up fear and tension among Bulgarian citizens, to be constructive and responsible in national security, the protection of the country and its future”.
This was a reference to various opposition minority parties that have been making statements alleging that the US and Nato are leading Bulgaria into a war with Russia. The Bulgarian Socialist Party has called for refusal to allow the placement of military equipment in Bulgaria while far-right ultra-nationalists Ataka want a referendum on Bulgaria withdrawing from Nato.
Ataka also has made claims of a “secret mobilisation” which have been dismissed by, among others, the Defence Minister, the armed forces chief and the President, pointing out not only that was no such thing happening, but it would be legally impossible.
On the evening of February 10, a small gathering from the BSP Youth held a placard protest outside the Presidency, against “the possible participation of Bulgaria in hostilities in Ukraine”.
Radev said that while Russia was not a threat to Bulgaria, “the biggest threat comes from those who are spreading rumours that we are preparing for a war”.
As a Nato member state, Bulgaria was part of the armed forces of the alliance, and therefore any fears about service people and units of Nato being on Bulgarian territory were ridiculous, GERB said.
GERB said that while the numerical strength of the Bulgarian military had been maintained, the capital expenditure of the Defence Ministry budget should see a manifold increase.
Referring to draft amendments to the Armed Forces Act (which Ataka also has alleged to be part of a plot to have Nato officers commanding Bulgarian troops in a supposed forthcoming war), GERB said that these were intended to allow Bulgarian military personnel and civilians to take posts in Nato structures on Bulgarian territory.
The decision on stationing a Nato command-and-control centre in Bulgaria did not mean preparation for war, Radev said. The equipment and staff of such centres could not be used for offensive operations, he said.
“We say current truths Bulgarian citizens need to know. The first of them is that three months after a coalition government was formed, it is obvious the country has been stabilised and again enjoys the trust of its European partners,” Radev said.
“Our position is that the crisis in Ukraine should be settled in a peaceful way and the rights of all Ukrainian citizens should be respected,” he said.
Naiden Zelenogorski of the Reformist Bloc, which is a minority partner in the coalition cabinet, called for Bulgaria to vow that it would comply with all of its commitments as a fully-fledged Nato member.
The Reformist Bloc was concerned by the increasing activities of “destabilising factors” that instilled fear and hatred among the Bulgarian public to serve foreign interests.
As a fully-fledged Nato member, Bulgaria relies on Nato’s structures and organisation to defend its borders and territorial integrity, the Reformist Bloc said.
“Any attempt to manipulate public opinion against Nato and its protective functions poses huge risks to the country’s national security and is a malicious attempt to undermine the Alliance’s efficiency through discouragement of one of its members”
Attempts by Ataka and the Bulgarian Socialist Party to go against this nationally responsible position and serve foreign interests clearly demonstrate their anti-Bulgarian and anti-European nature, the Reformist Bloc said.
Krassimir Karakachanov, co-leader of the nationalist Patriotic Front, which backs the ruling coalition, read a declaration calling for urgent measures in support of ethnic Bulgarians in Ukraine.
The Patriotic Front called on the President to convene the Consultative Council on National Security to consider this issue.
On February 10, President Rossen Plevneliev told reporters that preparations for a meeting of the Consultative Council on National Security on the subject of defence and security had been underway for a long time now. This meeting will probably take place in March.
As reported by Bulgarian news agency BTA, Plevneliev said that he would convene the council to “do so some useful work for our army rather than take advantage of a particular situation.”
Plevneliev also slammed the “outright lies” of those who claimed there was a “secret mobilisation” and came up with other such rumours, saying that they should have the decency to apologise.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)