Bulgarian Socialist Party signs co-operation agreement with A Just Russia party
Visiting Moscow, Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) leader Mihail Mikov signed an agreement with Sergey Mironov’s A Just Russia (Справедливая Россия) on co-operation between the two parties, both members of Socialist International, the BSP said.
The signing took place during a congress of the Russian party on April 22 and 23.
The BSP is the second-largest, by some distance, party in Bulgaria’s National Assembly, in opposition to the country’s centre-right coalition government. Against the background of its poor performances in recent elections, including the 2015 municipal elections, the BSP is to hold leadership elections at a congress on May 7 and 8. A Just Russia has 64 of the 450 seats in Russia’s state duma.
The signing took place in the presence of Chile’s Luis Ayala, secretary-general of Socialist International, the BSP said.
Mikov also held talks with Mikhail Shtetinin, a member of the Russian federation council’s committee on the economy.
The BSP leader told Shtetinin that his party wanted EU sanctions against Russia removed, along with the removal of the EU travel ban on members of the Russian legislature.
“In these difficult times, we need to keep good relations with Russia,” Mikov said.
The BSP delegation also held talks with Russian deputy foreign minister Aleksey Meshkov, who “expressed considerable disappointment” over the “anti-Russian statements” of some Bulgarian politicians, which in turn aroused anti-Bulgarian sentiments, reports said.
In Bulgaria, the more reliable opinion polls put support for the opposition BSP at about 10 per cent. The lineal successor to the Bulgarian Communist Party that held the country in firm allegiance to the Kremlin during the era of the Soviet bloc, the BSP favours Russian-linked energy projects and opposed sanctions on Moscow after Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea.
As an EU member, Bulgaria, with its current centre-right government in power, has consistently stated support for sanctions against Russia, in spite of the economic impact from the sanctions and Russia’s counter-sanctions on its economy, including agricultural exports and the tourism industry. At the same time, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov has called for the Russia – Ukraine situation that led to the sanctions to be resolved at the level of world powers.
A Nato member since 2004, Bulgaria also has joined in calls for strengthening the alliance’s eastern flank. In recent months, the country has shifted the business of repairing the engines of its air force’s ageing Soviet-made MiG-29 fighters from Russia to Nato ally Poland, also irking the Kremlin.
Bulgaria has been working to restore the flow of Russian tourists to the country, including through participation by Bulgaria’s tourism minister and several senior officials in a tourism round table, attended by more than 100 tourism companies and industry organisations from Bulgaria and Russia, held in Moscow in February 2016. Reports on April 23 quoted Tourism Minister Nikolina Angelkova as expecting a 30 per cent increase in Russian tourists visiting Bulgaria this coming summer season.