Bulgaria’s National Assembly voted by a large majority on November 3 to supply weaponry to Ukraine.
The vote, with 175 in favour, 49 against and one abstention, came at the close of a four-hour debate.
The decision was supported by Democratic Bulgaria, GERB-UDF, We Continue the Change, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, and Bulgaria Ascending, and opposed by the Bulgarian Socialist Party and Vuzrazhdane.
Parliament’s decision supersedes one by the previous legislature earlier this year that limited Bulgaria to supplying only “military-technical assistance” to Ukraine.
The November 3 vote came a day after a joint meeting of Parliament’s committees on defence and on foreign affairs that backed draft decisions tabled by Democratic Bulgaria and by GERB-UDF in favour of supplying weapons to Ukraine. On Thursday, MPs voted in favour of a consolidated and edited version of the two draft decisions.
The decision gives Bulgaria’s government a month to draft a decision on the military and military-technical assistance that Bulgaria should provide to Ukraine.
The government is also required to organise, as soon as possible, the signing of agreements for the provision of the necessary military equipment, taking into account “Bulgarian capabilities”.
The decision requires the government to negotiate with Bulgaria’s Nato allies to provide the country with military equipment and thus expedite Bulgaria getting rid of its obsolete Soviet-era armaments.
Parliament also requires the government to propose a package of measures for Bulgaria to participate in the reconstruction of Ukraine, and requires Bulgaria to support Ukraine’s court action against Russia in the European Court of Human Rights.
Democratic Bulgaria’s Atanas Slavov told the House: “We are standing by our allies and strengthening our defence.
“Now we have a chance to align with our allies in the EU and Nato and together provide the military-technical assistance Ukraine needs. Now we have a chance to decisively strengthen our defence capacity”.
GERB-UDF MP Georg Georgiev dismissed the argument that the Bulgarian public were opposed to supplying weapons to Ukraine, saying that if that were true, the electorate would not have voted in the October elections to send a majority of parties to Parliament that were in favour of doing so.
Observers regarded the change of position by former caretaker prime minister and former defence minister Stefan Yanev’s Bulgaria Ascending as a surprise, given that at the joint meeting of the committees on November 2, it had been opposed.
On November 3, Bulgaria Ascending said that it would support the decision, but on condition that Bulgaria receives replacement military capacity.
The BSP and Vuzrazhdane claimed that the decision would involve Bulgaria in the war between Russia and Ukraine.
On November 2, caretaker Defence Minister Dimitar Stoyanov told reporters that he would recommend that military aid be given to Ukraine in such a way that the capabilities of the Bulgarian military were not reduced.
“We would hardly provide the heavy weaponry requested by Ukraine for the simple reason that we would lose specific capabilities that could not be so quickly restored. Let’s not forget that Bulgaria is a country bordering the conflict and at some point we may find ourselves in a rather difficult situation,” Stoyanov said.
“If someone expects us to give away our anti-aircraft missile systems, I’m sorry, but that cannot happen,” he said.
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