The latest in a series of negotiations among the four potential partners in a possible future coalition government of Bulgaria ended on November 27 after close to seven hours of talks on foreign policy, that saw choppy waters on discussions on relations with Russia and with North Macedonia.
Convened by the We Continue the Change (WCC) party and streamed live, the negotiations also involved the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), Slavi Trifonov’s ITN party and the Democratic Bulgaria coalition. Together, they amount to the “WCC+3” and between them have enough seats in the newly-elected Parliament to vote a government into office.
On North Macedonia, there were expressions of intent for constructive engagement, along with the continuation of the life of the joint commission to resolve issues on shared history, joint meetings of two countries’ governments and the creation of new joint commissions.
On Russia, the BSP, predictably, pushed for more cordial relations. Points were made that Bulgaria’s relations with Russia exist within the context of EU-Russia relations, with the BSP’s Kristian Vigenin arguing that this did not preclude Bulgaria from seeking to build on these relations on a bilateral basis.
The lengthy talks touched on a wide range of issues, from relations with the United States, a stronger voice in the European Union, Bulgaria’s role in Nato, relations with Africa, with Canada, with other countries of strategic importance, a commitment to Bulgaria pursuing accession to the Schengen visa zone, to the eurozone, to relations with countries from Ukraine to Moldova with an emphasis on Bulgarian ethnic communities in those countries, to the continuing enfranchisement of Bulgarian communities abroad, to reforming personnel policy for career diplomats, to good-neighbourly relations with Turkey, along with policy areas – such as visa-issuing – not necessarily in the ambit of foreign policy. All that was missed was the Eurovision Song Contest.
At the meeting of the working group on foreign policy, WCC co-leaders Kiril Petkov and Assen Vassilev – whose party, as the winner of the largest share of seats in the newly-elected National Assembly will be entitled by the constitution to receive the first mandate to seek to form a government – worked hard to push for consensus, in a bid to step forward to a comprehensive coalition government agreement.
Plans are for the consultations among working groups on 18 policy areas to be followed by talks among leaders of the parties and coalitions, towards the signing of a coalition government agreement.
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