Bulgaria’s position on Ukraine and Russia is “in full sync” with that of Nato and the European Union, Prime Minister Kiril Petkov said at Nato headquarters in Brussels on December 17 after talks with the alliance’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
This is Petkov’s first trip abroad as Prime Minister following his election to that office on December 13.
Petkov said that Bulgaria plans to have constant communication and a constructive approach on the topic of Ukraine and Russia.
“We truly believe that a diplomatic and peaceful approach to potential conflicts is the best way to make progress. And I’m glad you confirmed that,” he told Stoltenberg.
There was concern weeks ago when Bulgarian President Roumen Radev, in whose caretaker cabinet Petkov had served earlier this year, said in an election debate that “Crimea is Russian”.
Petkov, who invited Stoltenberg to visit Bulgaria, said that he would be very happy to have the opportunity for a more detailed conversation at their next meeting.
“When it comes to investing in defence, in new military infrastructure, in modernisation, I think there is a lot to gain from such investments, especially if they are made with a smart and strategic approach. This would support Nato’s capabilities, but also Bulgaria’s economic development,” Petkov said.
He said that there could be a great deal of synergy between military and civilian infrastructure, which could also be used for military purposes.
“Perhaps a second bridge to the one in Rousse over the Danube would be a very interesting point of strategic importance. In this sense, when we include this investment, I think we are meeting the target of two per cent of GDP expenditures on defence,” Petkov said.
Stoltenberg thanked Bulgaria for its commitment to the Alliance, including its contributions to Nato’s collective security in the Black Sea region.
He commended Bulgaria for its efforts to build stability in the Western Balkans.
Turning to Russia’s substantial military build-up in and around Ukraine, Stoltenberg said: “Nato Allies have made clear that we call on Russia to immediately de-escalate, pursue diplomatic channels, and abide by its international commitments on transparency of military activities”.
He reiterated that Nato would take “all necessary measures to ensure the security and defence of all Nato Allies”.
At the same time, Stoltenberg said: “Allies made clear that we are ready for meaningful dialogue with Russia and we reiterate our long-standing invitation to Russia for a meeting of the Nato-Russia Council”.
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