Bulgaria’s Parliament voted overwhelmingly on February 24 to approve a declaration condemning Russia’s gross violation of international law and encroachment on territorial integrity through military intervention against Ukraine.
Six out of seven parliamentary groups voted in favour, including the four from the ruling majority: We Continue the Change, the Bulgarian Socialist Party, ITN and the Democratic Bulgaria coalition, and the opposition GERB-UDF and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms.
The declaration was voted clause by clause, however, with the BSP abstaining on the point backing sanctions.
The one group that voted against was Parliament’s smallest, which has 13 MPs in the 240-seat National Assembly: the pro-Kremlin Vuzrazhdane party.
The declaration said that Bulgaria’s National Assembly supports its partners and allies in the European Union and Nato in discussing a package of measures, including sanctions, to de-escalate the conflict.
It stated support for the Bulgarian government to take the necessary measures commensurate with the seriousness of the challenges to the international security architecture.
It also stated support for the Bulgarian government to consider and offer assistance to Ukraine, corresponding to the resources of the Bulgarian state.
The declaration also backed the Bulgarian government insisting that the protection of the life and health of civilians in the region be an absolute priority, to assist in obtaining immediate assistance from Bulgarian citizens and Bulgarians with Ukrainian citizenship living in Ukraine, including the need for evacuation.
The declaration said Parliament expected the Bulgarian government to propose and present a plan to deal with the consequences of the hostilities.
It called on Russia to cease hostilities immediately and return to full compliance with international law.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov, speaking during the debate on the declaration, reiterated the government’s condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and urged Parliament to come out with a clear declaration on the matter.
Petkov said that there was no direct threat to Bulgaria, the government had formed 10 working groups to assess the risks in various areas.
Urging MPs to stand in unity on the issue, he said that no one should play political games with the issue: “Either we are leaders here, or some of you have no place here,” Petkov said.
He said that Nato had a variety of options regarding sanctions and what was being discussed was how heavy they should be. Not imposing sanctions was not an option, he said.
Petkov said that he would fly to Brussels for a European Council meeting on the night of February 24, and European leaders would come out with a joint declaration.
At 4pm, the National Assembly began a hearing, held behind closed doors, of line ministers and defence and intelligence chiefs on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)
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