On the first of a two-day visit to Sofia, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba expressed thanks to Bulgaria for the support and help given to Ukrainian citizens fleeing the war, a Bulgarian government statement on April 19 said.
Kuleba held talks with Prime Minister Kiril Petkov, with a focus on Russian aggression and the extremely difficult situation for the civilian population in Ukraine, the Bulgarian government statement said.
Petkov assured Kuleba that Bulgaria would continue to be among the most friendly and strongly supportive countries towards Ukraine.
Bulgaria’s institutions, as before, would provide the necessary assistance and care for Ukrainian refugees, Petkov said.
Earlier, after meeting Bulgarian Foreign Minister Teodora Genchovska, Kuleba said that he and his counterpart had discussed further steps to restore peace in Ukraine, strengthen bilateral cooperation and advance Ukraine’s EU membership.
At the start of his visit, Kuleba said on Twitter: “Bulgaria is our friend and partner within the EU and bilaterally. We also feel the support of the people of Bulgaria at this critical time”.
According to the dedicated government portal, as of April 19 a total of 196 597 Ukrainian citizens have entered Bulgaria since Russia’s current invasion of Ukraine began on February 24.
A total of 91 826 have remained in Bulgaria, 51 291 have been provided with accommodation and 80 131 have been registered for temporary protection.
Bulgaria’s government has provided humanitarian support to Ukraine and has agreed to send helmets and bulletproof vests for the use of the civilian population.
But Bulgaria’s Parliament is yet to vote on proposals by the Democratic Bulgaria coalition, part of the quadripartite ruling majority, and opposition GERB-UDF to mandate the government to provide military and technical assistance to Ukraine.
Within the ruling majority, the Bulgarian Socialist Party and Slavi Trifonov’s ITN oppose Bulgaria sending military assistance to Ukraine. Petkov’s We Continue the Change party has made no formal decision on the issue.
In a statement on April 19, the UDF said that procedural tricks had been used to postpone the meeting of the foreign affairs committee that had been scheduled to discuss the proposal last week, and the item was not on the agenda of the committee’s April 20 meeting.
“The entire democratic community is sending military and technical assistance to Ukraine to help it against the Kremlin’s aggression, and Bulgarian rulers are expressing support only in words,” the UDF said.
“It is clear to us that there is a Putin fifth column in Bulgaria’s government, but at this historic moment, courage and determination must be shown,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, in an apparent response to complaints from hoteliers accommodating Ukrainians that they had not received the 40 leva funding per person per day from the state, Bulgaria’s Tourism Ministry said that payment would start on April 19.
The ministry said that more than 11 million leva would be paid to 328 legal entities operating in 506 places of accommodation.
The funds cover the initial reporting period, from February 24 to March 31, the ministry said.
(Photo of Petkov and Kuleba: government.bg)
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