Bulgarian PM: We strive to pursue a balanced policy towards Russia
Bulgaria seeks to pursue a balanced policy towards Russia, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said during Question Time in Parliament on September 20.
Replying to a question from Anton Kutev, an MP for the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party, Borissov said that Bulgaria had good relations with Russia and the only unresolved problem was a lack of agreement about weapons licences.
Bulgaria was continuing to negotiate on this issue, Borissov said.
On the issue of the Russian-linked Belene nuclear power station project, he said that the project had failed years ago because of a lack of clarity about its cost. But the situation was different now, with 12 companies applying to be involved in the construction of Belene, Borissov told Parliament.
He said that without Russia it would not be possible to complete the plant because the reactor supplier for it is the Russian state-owned Rosatom.
The construction of the the expansion of Bulgaria’s domestic gas infrastructure, needed in order for the country to handle the transiting gas from the Turkish Stream pipeline, had already begun.
Borissov said that the project will not be completed by New Year’s, when it is expected to the transit of natural gas is expected to stop through Russia, but Serbia would not be ready by then.
The PM also commented on Europe’s sanctions on Russia. He said that it is not possible for Bulgaria to interfere with the position of the European Union.
Many countries oppose sanctions against Russia, but when it comes to voting on them in the European Council, they all support them, Borissov said.
He said that it was not within the power of Bulgaria to do anything about the sanctions, but he hoped that with the election of Volodymyr Zelensky as president of Ukraine, Russian-Ukrainian relations would normalise, which could lead to the cancellation of the sanctions the EU imposed on Russia for annexing Crimea.
“Currently, big countries are being bombarded with sanctions against each other. This in any case has a profound impact on both trade and relations,” Borissov said.
Borissov’s comments in Parliament come against a background of recent dramas over relations with Russia. One involved Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry objecting to a Russian embassy depiction interpreting events at the close of the Second World War in a way that Sofia found offensive, while that was followed days later by Bulgaria arresting the head of the country’s Russophile Movement on charges of espionage for Russia.