Bulgaria’s Parliament votes for ‘military technical’ help, not arms, for Ukraine

At the close of a debate lasting more than five hours, Bulgaria’s Parliament voted on May 4 to mandate the government to implement a package of measures to assist Ukraine, including repairing Ukrainian military equipment at Bulgarian factories.

Rival proposals, tabled by governing coalition partner Democratic Bulgaria and opposition GERB-UDF, that would have given a clear mandate for Bulgaria to provide weaponry to Ukraine, were voted down.

The proposal that was approved was tabled by Prime Minister Kiril Petkov’s We Continue the Change (WCC) party.

The WCC proposal was amended at the last minute on the basis of a letter sent to Parliament by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, which set out six requests and did not include a request for Bulgaria to supply weaponry to his country.

The WCC version mandates the Cabinet to overcome the economic, financial and social aspects of sanctions, as well as ensure Bulgaria’s energy and food security.

It provides for continuation of Bulgarian support for Ukraine to join the European Union.

It envisages continued assistance for refugees, securing exports of Ukrainian grain through Bulgaria’s Black Sea port of Varna, and strengthening energy co-operation, in particular with importing supplies of electricity and natural gas from Ukraine.

It also provides for continued humanitarian assistance for Ukraine, in particular medicines, clothes and foodstuffs.

The WCC proposal was approved with 200 votes in favour, 16 against and one abstention.

The approval came from, with the exception of a small number of MPs, WCC, Democratic Bulgaria, ITN, the Bulgarian Socialist Party, GERB-UDF and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms.

One MP each from WCC, the BSP and ITN voted against the WCC proposal, while the majority of MPs from those groups were in favour.

Ahead of the vote, WCC’s Dimitar Gochev told the debate, referring to the provision for repairing Ukrainian military equipment in Bulgaria while there is no mandate to supply arms, that “Bulgaria cannot give what is not asked of it”.

The Bulgarian Socialist Party said that it supported the WCC version because of the absence of a proposal to supply weaponry. The BSP repeatedly had threatened to quit the ruling majority if the government agreed to supply weapons to Ukraine.

GERB-UDF MP Daniel Mitov said “the BSP won”, while GERB-UDF’s Dessislava Atanassova said that the group voted in favour of the WCC proposal because it backed Ukraine’s EU aspirations. However, she said, the proposal amounted to nothing.

The group that was wholly against all three proposals was pro-Kremlin Vuzrazhdane, the smallest group in the National Assembly.

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