Confirming an intention that has been telegraphed for months, Bulgarian President Roumen Radev’s office said on June 20 that he had formally invited Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to visit Bulgaria in 2018.
While the Bulgarian President’s office said that Putin had accepted the invitation but the date was yet to be specified, it is widely expected to be on March 3, when Bulgaria celebrates its national day in a year marking 140 years of the end of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877/78 and the liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman rule.
The statement said that in a 20-minute conversation, Radev had congratulated Putin and the Russian people on Russia’s national day, June 12.
During the conversation, held at Radev’s initiative, “the deep historical and spiritual connection between the Bulgarian and the Russian people was noted,” the statement said.
Putin thanked Radev for his contribution to the development of bilateral relations, the President’s office said.
At Putin’s initiative, he and Radev discussed bilateral trade and economic cooperation and bilateral relations in the field of energy.
“They expressed their shared desire to promote these relations on the basis of mutual benefit without politicising them,” the Bulgarian President’s statement said.
Should the visit go ahead on March 3, this would be while Bulgaria is the holder of the rotating presidency of the European Union.
Radev took office as Bulgaria’s head of state in January 2017, after winning the 2016 presidential elections on a socialist-backed ticket that pledged more “balanced” relations with Russia.
Putin visited Bulgaria in March 2003, during his first term as Russia’s president, when he was hosted by then-president and former BSP leader Georgi Purvanov. In January 2008, during his second term as president, Putin was again hosted in Sofia by Purvanov. In November 2010, Putin, during his second term as Russia’s prime minister, was hosted by counterpart head of government Borissov, who gave him a puppy.
During the 2012 to 2017 Rossen Plevneliev presidency, Putin was not hosted in Sofia.