Plevneliev: ‘Crimea is Ukraine, and Ukraine is Europe’
Bulgaria will work for a strong and unified EU position for ensuring the territorial integrity of Ukraine and supporting the democratic and European path of the country, Bulgarian head of state President Rossen Plevneliev told a joint news conference with his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko in Kyiv.
“Nobody has the right to move the borders by force and occupy foreign territories – the future of Europe is in the abolition of borders,” Plevneliev told the news conference, held on July 7 during a two-day visit to Ukraine.
Bulgaria supports the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine and calls for strict implementation of the Minsk agreement to overcome the crisis in the eastern part of the country, Plevneliev said.
He was adamant that the annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by the Russian Federation was in violation of international law, the constitution of Ukraine and the Budapest Memorandum of 1994.
Bulgaria does not recognise the results of the referendums organized by the self-proclaimed authorities in Donetsk and Lugansk. “For Bulgaria, Crimea is Ukraine, and Ukraine is Europe,” said Rosen Plevneliev.
Plevneliev called for visa-free access for Ukrainians to the EU to happen as soon as possible.
According to a statement by the Bulgarian President’s office, Poroshenko expressed thanks for Bulgaria’s position in support of the territorial integrity of Ukraine and the European orientation of the country.
Plevneliev and Poroshenko discussed the possibilities for stimulating trade and economic relations and tourism between the two countries.
They said that Bulgaria and Ukraine together with Romania, could develop joint projects using funding from European instruments, including projects to improve the standard of living of the Bulgarian community.
Poroshenko issued assurances that work would soon begin on the construction of a transport corridor from Odessa connecting with Romania and Bulgaria.
Plevneliev said that he would work for the restoration of the Varna – Ilichevsk ferry line, giving an example of how the already functioning shipping service between Bourgas and the Georgian city of Poti has turned Bulgaria into the second largest export market for Georgia.
The meeting also discussed the possibility of establishing a Sofia-Kyiv direct air route, the Bulgarian President’s office said.
Natural gas should not be a weapon but should be a commodity traded according to market prices and freely, Plevneliev said
He said that in 2009, Bulgaria was hit by the gas crisis and now was working hard to diversify.
“We are not against Russia, we buy Russian gas and we want to continue, but we are against the fact that we cannot calculate what will be the price we, are against not having long-term clarity and are against the absence of market prices, Plevneliev said.
Bulgaria and Ukraine rely on fair treatment, predictability, stability and longevity of gas supply, said the Bulgarian head of state. The President was adamant that in the energy sector, economic logic, not politics, must prevail.
Plevneliev said that the Third Liberalisation Package of the EU was in the interest of citizens and businesses and gives a chance for Europe to have competitive prices and free market.
Let the natural gas be traded freely on the markets, not be a tool to destabilise, he said.
At a meeting with the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce, he called for deepening of co-operation between Bulgaria and Ukraine in the manufacture of high-tech products.
“Both Ukraine and Bulgaria have a long tradition in applied sciences and engineering, which are used in important industries of our countries. Bulgaria will continue to strive for convergence and cooperation in this area, which will contribute to the exchange of experience and intensive development of our economies and achieving higher economic growth,” Plevneliev said.
He said that Bulgaria welcomes Ukrainian investors in the production of high-tech products.
According to statistics, the largest share of Ukrainian investments in Bulgaria are in the field of real estate. “We have to push back the focus on the industries of the future. Bulgaria is working hard to become a regional technology hub,” Plevneliev said.