New Ukrainian ambassador to Bulgaria presents copy of credentials to Foreign Ministry

The new Ukrainian ambassador to Bulgaria, Olesya Ilashchu, presented a copy of her credentials to caretaker Deputy Foreign Minister Kostadin Kozhabashev, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said on March 28.

At the meeting, Kozhabashev “noted the excellent relations between Bulgaria and Ukraine, which are an expression of the deep historical and cultural ties between the two countries,” the Foreign Ministry said.

He said that the Bulgarian community in Ukraine, numbering more than 200 000 and the largest Bulgarian community abroad, was also a “bridge” between the two countries.

“In the course of the conversation, Bulgaria’s firm and consistent support for Ukraine in the context of the unprovoked Russian armed aggression, as well as our country’s contribution to support for Ukraine, was reaffirmed,” the Foreign Ministry statement said.

Bulgaria was in sixth place in terms of contribution based on gross domestic product, as well as on the support provided in accordance with the decisions of the National Assembly, including assistance to the civilian population and Ukrainian refugees, the ministry said.

“The support for the territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders, including territorial waters, as well as Bulgaria’s participation in supporting Kyiv in the pursuit of Russia’s responsibility, was also specially emphasised.”

According to the statement, Ilashchuk expressed thanks for the support provided by Bulgaria, emphasising that it is highly appreciated by the Ukrainian people.

When her appointment in Sofia was announced in December 2022, replacing Vitaly Moskalenko, eyebrows were raised by media reports alleging that Ilashchuk was a self-described sexologist and unqualified for the ambassadorial post.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry responded that she had graduated with honours in international relations from Yuriy Fedkovych Chernivtsi National University’s history faculty and was a qualified translator, fluent in English. Ilashchuk has sharply criticised the reports as an attempt to discredit her with the aim of blighting relations between Ukraine and Bulgaria.

Bulgaria currently has no ambassador in Kyiv, after Kozhabashev was withdrawn following Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

President Roumen Radev, who as head of state appointed the current caretaker government, repeatedly has been adamant that Bulgaria should not supply weaponry to Ukraine, whether bilaterally, via third countries or as part of EU efforts.

Radev says that he favours a diplomatic solution for “peace” and repeatedly has derided political parties that want Bulgaria to send arms to Ukraine as “warmongers” and “parties of war”.

(Photo: Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

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