Bulgaria is not Russia’s Trojan Horse in Nato but is among the alliance’s most disciplined and loyal members, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said on March 1 after talks with Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who is visiting Sofia.
This was a reference to frequent claims in the past about Bulgaria being Russia’s “Trojan Horse” in Nato and the EU, for instance in November 2006, when Vladimir Chizhov, Russian ambassador to the EU, said that Bulgaria was “Russia’s would-be Trojan Horse in the EU”. The allegation also has been attributed to unnamed officials accredited to Nato, which Bulgaria joined in March 2004.
Borissov said that he and Stoltenberg had not discussed energy projects.
This, in turn, was an apparent reference to a statement on February 28 by Bulgarian President Roumen Radev when he was in Košice for a B9 Summit, a meeting of leaders from Nato’s eastern flank.
Radev was reported to have said that during the preparations for the summit, he had found that “certain texts” in the draft declaration had put at risk the implementation of key infrastructure projects that were in the interests of Bulgaria and he had “taken steps” to have these texts removed.
Stoltenberg, at the March 1 news conference with Borissov, praised Bulgaria’s commitment to Nato and thanked Bulgaria for its strong contributions to Nato missions in Afghanistan, Kosovo and Iraq, and its strategic role in the Black Sea and Western Balkans regions.
He noted that in 2019, the alliance will celebrate its 70th anniversary, as well as the 15th anniversary of Bulgaria’s accession to Nato.
“Bulgaria has contributed to strengthening the alliance,” he said.
Stoltenberg welcomed Bulgaria’s support for the accession of the Republic of North Macedonia to Nato.
“I welcome that just last week the Bulgarian parliament voted unanimously to ratify the accession of North Macedonia into Nato,” he said.
Stoltenberg also thanked the Bulgarian government for its commitment to reach the Nato goal of spending two per cent of GDP on defence.
He and Borissov discussed current security challenges, including Russia’s violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
Stoltenberg said that Nato does not want a new arms race and called on Russia to come back into compliance with the Treaty.
The Nato Secretary-General also held talks with Radev, who told him that Bulgaria was strongly committed to enhancing its role as a “pillar of security and stability” in the Balkans and the Black Sea region, through its constructive policy to develop modern defence capabilities that meet Nato standards.
(Main photo, of Stoltenberg and Borissov on his arrival in Sofia on the evening of February 28: boykoborissov.bg)