Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said on July 9 he wants the Black Sea to be a demilitarised zone, to open the way to develop business, tourism and the extraction of oil and natural gas.
Borissov made the comments during a visit to a Bulgarian village, while in Warsaw, Bulgaria’s President Rossen Plevneliev and the country’s foreign minister, defence minister and defence chief were attending the two-day Nato summit in the Polish capital.
“All my life I have been a fighter and I know there is no such thing as a good fight,” Borissov told reporters. “It’s always bad. And so people, much cleverer, much wiser, centuries before me said that it was better to have a bad peace than a good war. I would even go to extremes in this regard. The Black Sea should be declared a demilitarised zone.
“A zone without military, without submarines, without ships, because that’s a zone in which we expect to extract gas, where all countries have tourism, and greater trade is possible. What would missiles, ships and submarines bring to the welfare of our people?” Borissov said.
Borissov, who recently said that he sought an easing of tensions and a normalisation of relations between his country – a Nato and EU member – and Russia, was asked to comment on the call by US president Barack Obama, European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker for a continuation of sanctions against Russia.
“Well,” Borissov said, “if that’s what they want, they (sanctions) will continue. We are losing a lot of money on agriculture. We’ve certainly passed the 300 million mark. And now that Turkey and Russia have converged again, our agriculture will be put under heavy pressure,” he said.
Borissov’s comments about the Black Sea come against a background that include an imbroglio involving Bulgaria in recent weeks over reports that Romania and Turkey wanted a permanent naval presence in the Black Sea, in a move seen as a counterbalance to Russia. Bulgaria distanced itself from these reports, saying that any military activity in which it would be involved could only be under the aegis and command of Nato.
Bulgarian Defence Minister Nikolai Nenchev, speaking on July 9, said that there were no plans for Bulgaria to participate in the planned deployment of Nato forces in Baltic countries and Poland.
Nato framework nations will have a leading role in that region, Nenchev said, according to Bulgarian National Radio. On the Black Sea region, Nenchev reiterated Nato’s concerns over military imbalance in the region, but said the issue would be thoroughly discussed in October.
On July 8, leaders of Nato member countries decided to strengthen the Alliance’s military presence in the east, with four battalions in Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania on a rotational basis – to be in place starting next year.
They also agreed to develop a “tailored forward presence” in the south-eastern part of the Alliance, a Nato statement said.