site.btaWeekly Roundup of Political Events: May 6 - May 13
Sofia, May 6
The Day of Valour and of the Bulgarian Armed Forces is marked across Bulgaria. This is the third year in a row when the May 6 observances do not include a military parade - this time on account of the war in Ukraine. President Rumen Radev, Defence Minister Dragomir Zakov and the Chief of Defence, Admiral Emil Eftimov, lay wreaths at the Monument to the Unknown Soldier and pay tribute to the memory of the fallen for Bulgaria's freedom and independence. Radev points out that "developments in recent months show that effective defence is unthinkable without high technology, and the modernization of the Bulgarian Armed Forces is ever more urgent and without an alternative". He acknowledges the service persons' consistent, responsible, professional and selfless performance of their assignments despite the challenges that they face daily. PM Petkov assures the military that "the Government is doing everything necessary for the development of modern and combat-fit armed forces, a worthy ally of the countries of the Euro-Atlantic community." Admiral Eftimov thanks all uniformed and civilian personnel for their professionalism, diligence and high morale.
Sofia, May 6
A company of the British Army's Royal Irish Regiment arrives in Bulgaria to train and work alongside the Bulgarian military and other NATO allies with the aim of enhancing interoperability and sharing skills between the two countries, the British Embassy in Sofia says. "The UK supports Bulgaria's efforts to strengthen its defences in light of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. As a close ally the UK is committed to Bulgaria's security. The deployment, of approximately 120 troops, will remain for the upcoming months, and during this time UK troops will work alongside the US Army's 2nd Squadron 2nd Cavalry Regiment and the Bulgarian 42nd Mechanised Battalion," the Embassy says.
Sofia, May 6
Deputy Prime Minister for Climate Policy and Environment and Water Minister Borislav Sandov pays an official visit to Belgrade and signs a bilateral agreement on environmental impact assessment and strategic environmental assessment in a cross-border context with Serbian Environment Minister Irena Vujovic. The two discuss current issues in the field of environment and water, and express a readiness for fruitful co-operation.
Skopje, May 7
North Macedonia's Prime Minister Dimitar Kovachevski says the European Union must finally dare to fulfil its promise and part of its obligation to set a date for the first intergovernmental conference to mark the start of negotiations as soon as possible. "Of course, there is a dispute with Bulgaria, but we will continue working to harmonize legislation, to deepen our cooperation with all EU member states, but also to increase our strategic partnership with the United States," Kovachevski says.
Sofia, May 8
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Assen Vassilev says on Bulgarian National Television that if some EU Member States are granted exemption from the embargo on Russian oil, Bulgaria wants to be included. Without a derogation, Bulgaria will not support the new package of sanctions against Russia, he says. He expresses confidence that Ukraine will emerge victorious from the war, which he says could last four to five years. This will affect the prices of energy sources, which will rise more than anywhere else in the world, Vassilev says, adding that food prices will also rise because both Russia and Ukraine are huge producers of grain, cereals and exporters to the world market. Logistics, especially in the Black Sea, will become much more expensive as military action takes place in the neighbourhood.
Sofia, May 9
President Rumen Radev and Vice President Iliana Iotova lay flowers to the Monument to the Unknown Soldier to commemorate the end of Nazism 77 years ago. Members of the public and officials, including Russian Ambassador Eleonora Mitrofanova, lay wreaths at the Monument to the Soviet Army in Sofia on the occasion of Victory Day.
Sofia, May 9
In posts on the social media and statements on the occasion of Europe Day, Bulgarian leaders - National Assembly Chair Nikola Minchev, Prime Minister Kiril Petkov, BSP leader and Deputy Prime Minister Korneliya Ninova and Movement for Rights and Freedoms leader Mustafa Karadayi speak of the significance of European unity and the shadow of war.
Sofia, May 9
President Rumen Radev cables condolences to Cuban counterpart Miguel Diaz-Canel over the explosion at the Saratoga Hotel in Havana, which kills a least 31 people and leaves many injured. Radev wishes speedy recovery to those injured.
Sofia, May 9
Austrian Federal Minister for European and International Affairs Alexander Schallenberg pays an official visit to Sofia. Meeting with Foreign Minister Teodora Genchovska and President Rumen Radev, the Austrian chief diplomat discusses the war in Ukraine, the EU integration of the Western Balkans and energy security. Genchovska says the two countries will work to expand cooperation in tourism, education and culture. She stresses Bulgaria's unwavering support for the EU path of the countries of the Western Balkans, adding that "progress towards EU membership is inextricably linked to the 'own merit' principle". She also says that Sofia will keep working on building real goodneighbourly relations with Skopje, but they are possible only with a concerted effort. For his part, Schallenberg says that if it was up to him, the EU accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia would start as early as June. He appreciates highly Bulgaria's efforts and emphasizes that the political will should meet with support from both sides. Aspects of bilateral relations, the energy crisis in Europe, and the economic and social implications of the war in Ukraine are on the agenda of the meeting between President Radev and Schallenberg.
Sofia, May 9
An expert council of the ruling coalition discusses the national plan for the introduction of the euro and anti-inflationary measures. Participants say the target date for the adoption of the European currency at this stage remains January 1, 2024, as stated in 2017.
Sofia, May 9-11
Vice Admiral Keith Edward Blount, Commander Allied Maritime Command, NATO, pays an official visit to Bulgaria. He meets with the Chief of Defence, Admiral Emil Eftimov, and Deputy Defence Minister Yordan Bozhilov to discuss the changed security environment in the Black Sea region and the threats posed by the war in Ukraine to NATO member states in the maritime domain. Also on the agenda are the development of the defence capabilities of Bulgaria's Armed Forces, the activities and stages of building the Alliance's additional defence potential to strengthen its military presence on the eastern flank, and the 360-degree approach to responding to threats in all domains. In Varna, Vice Admiral Blount meets with the Commander of the Bulgarian Navy, Rear Admiral Kiril Mihaylov. In Varna, Vice Admiral Blount says NATO does not intend to stay out of the Black Sea for long. He expresses satisfaction with the capabilities of the Navies of Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey, and adds that the revision of NATO's plans is done daily.
Sofia, May 9-10
The Romanian Chief of Defence Staff, General Daniel Petrescu, pays an official visit to Bulgaria at the invitation of Bulgaria's Chief of Defence, Admiral Emil Eftimov. The two discuss matters of current relevance and exchange views on the changed security environment in the Black Sea region, as well as on the present and future challenges facing the NATO Member States in the wake of the war in Ukraine. The highlights of the meeting are the new model of the Alliance's forces, joint air policing and the formation of battle groups in the context of Allied enhanced vigilance activities across NATO's Eastern Flank. Gen. Petrescu shares Romania's experience in building multinational units. Deputy Defence Minister Yordan Bozhilov receives Gen. Petrescu in the presence of Romanian Ambassador Brandusa Ioana Predescu, the Commander Multinational Corps South-East (MNC-SE), Major General Dragos-Dumitru Iacob, and the Chief of Staff of the Bulgarian Joint Forces Command, Brigadier General Valentin Krastev.
Sofia/Washington, May 10-11
Prime Minister Kiril Petkov pays a working visit to Washington at the invitation of Munich Security Conference President Christoph Heusgen. The government leader is accompanied by Energy Minister Alexander Nikolov, Defence Minister Dragomir Zakov and Deputy Foreign Minister Velislava Petrova. At the State Department, Petkov meets with Senior Advisor for Global Energy Security Amos Hochstein, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland and James O'Brien, Head of the Office of Sanctions Coordination. Petkov gives a detailed account of his government's corruption eradication policies and the real steps towards judicial reform. The highlights of his first meetings with US government officials also include Sofia's efforts to achieve energy independence and diversification. The Prime Minister says the cabinet is seeking long-term solutions to ensure security and stability after Russia's Gazprom unilaterally stopped gas deliveries. The US officials praise Bulgaria's support for Ukraine. Petkov also talks with White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and meets with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to discuss Bulgaria's energy security, economic and political cooperation between Bulgaria and the US, and the situation in the region. Petkov meets with US Vice President Kamala Harris to discuss the strategic partnership between Sofia and Washington and opportunities for expanding cooperation, as well as the war in Ukraine. An agreement is reached on LNG supplies to Bulgaria at prices below those at which it was buying from Russia. Vice President Harris commends Bulgaria for standing up for its energy sovereignty. A White House readout says Vice President Harris "thanked the Prime Minister for Bulgaria’s support to Ukraine and affirmed U.S. solidarity in the face of Russia's latest attempt to use energy as a weapon. They agreed on the need to strengthen European resilience by further diversifying energy supplies away from Russia and the importance of continued strong defense and deterrence along NATO’s Eastern flank."
Sofia, May 10
Transport and Communications Minister Nikolay Sabev and Ukrainian Ambassador Vitaly Moskalenko discuss the capabilities of the Bulgarian transport infrastructure and the logistics sector. The meeting is attended by Alexander Repkin, Adviser to Ukraine's Foreign Minister on economic diplomacy. He expresses sincere gratitude for Bulgaria's support in this difficult time for Ukraine.
Sofia/Prague, May 10-11
President Rumen Radev pays a state visit to Czechia at the invitation of his counterpart Milos Zeman. Radev's delegation includes Foreign Minister Teodora Genchovska and business representatives. The highlights of Radev's talks are ways to deepen bilateral political dialogue at the highest level, including in the context of the forthcoming Czech Presidency of the EU Council in the second half of 2022, prospects for developing trade and economic partnerships and cooperation in tourism, and the challenges facing Central and Eastern Europe due to the war in Ukraine. Meeting with President Zeman, Radev says the war is destroying the established international order, as well as Europe's decades-old security architecture. This aggression requires a united response within NATO and the EU, a deep and decisive transformation of the Alliance, a new strategic concept with a focus on the Eastern flank, the Bulgarian President says. President Zeman reaffirms his support for Bulgaria's membership of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Schengen area. Radev also meets with Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala, the President of the Czech Senate, Milos Vystrcil, and the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies in Czechia, Marketa Pekarova Adamova. Radev and Industry and Trade Minister Josef Sikela open a Czech-Bulgarian business forum mottoed "Together We Achieve More". The President also meets with Bulgarians living in the Czech Republic.
Sofia, May 11
Bulgarian Interior Minister Boyko Rashkov and Croatian Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic sign an agreement on cooperation in disaster management. The two also discuss the situation in Ukraine, their commitments to provide protection to Ukrainian refugees and the migrant situation along the Eastern Mediterranean route. They agree that the management of migration and the protection of the EU external border are areas where Bulgaria and Croatia can cooperate more within the EU.
Sofia, May 11
The Chief of Defence, Admiral Emil Eftimov, says that Bulgaria is seeking to purchase one or two used submarines and talks on the parameters of a possible purchase will be held with Italy.
Sofia, May 11
Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko urges Bulgaria to join an embargo on Russian oil imports. He addresses via video a conference entitled "NATO after Madrid: The Ukraine Lesson". The conference is organized by the Atlantic Club, the embassies of Spain and the US in Sofia, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the NATO Public Diplomacy Division, within the context of a NATO summit scheduled for late June in Madrid.
Sofia, May 11
Deputy Defence Ministers Yordan Bozhilov and Stanimir Georgiev confer with a delegation of Ukrainian government officials and representatives of the Ukrainian defence industry visiting Bulgaria in connection with the military technological assistance offered to their country. The experts tour the Bulgarian military repair works to see their condition and what they can offer. "Capacity is available, the key point is what exactly the Ukrainian authorities will wish to have repaired and the extent of repair," Bozhilov says.
Sofia, May 11
The opposition nationalist Vazrazhdane party holds a protest in front of the National Assembly. It calls for the resignation of the government, saying that it is too preoccupied with the Ukraine war and ignores the Bulgarians' problems.
Sofia, May 11
Back home from a visit to the US, which he describes as "fruitful," Prime Minister Kiril Petkov tells reporters: "We have agreed on having two shiploads of liquefied natural gas from the US in June at a price slightly below the Gazprom level." He does not specify the price agreed but insists that it will be far below the current market levels. Negotiations on a long-term contract are in progress.
Washington, DC, May 12
The United States is developing measures in support of Bulgaria after the discontinuation of the Russian gas supplies to the country, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried says during a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Donfried says that the administration of President Joe Biden supports Bulgaria to a full extent. She also notes the strong support which Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov received during his visit to the United States earlier in the week, saying that she has colleagues who work literally every day with Prime Minister Petkov to support Bulgaria and to consider how the United States could aid the country in ensuring the necessary supplies.
Sofia, May 12
Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama pays a working visit at the invitation of his Bulgarian counterpart Teodora Genchovska. In Sofia Onyeama confers with President Rumen Radev and with Genchovska. The participants in the talks discuss the development of the bilateral trade and economic relations.
Sofia, May 13
President Rumen Radev expresses condolences to the Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Armed Forces, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and the people of the UAE, on the passing of UAE's President, Emir of Abu Dhabi, and supreme commander of the UAE Armed Forces from 2004 to 2022, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
Strasbourg, May 12-13
Bulgarian Justice Minister Nadezhda Yordanova pays a working visit to Strasbourg on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Bulgaria's accession to the Council of Europe. In Strasbourg Yordanova confers with the President Emeritus of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (better known as the Venice Commission) Gianni Buquicchio, the Commission's Director/Secretary Simona Granata-Menghini, CoE Secretary General Marija Buric and the Director General of Human Rights and Rule of Law, Christos Giakoumopoulos. The talks focus on the current and future cooperation in deepening the judicial reform in Bulgaria in conformity with CoE’s recommendations regarding the implementation of decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, the recommendations of the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) and the Venice Commission for Democracy through Law.
Sofia, May 13
The partners in the ruling coalition discuss the national plan for the adoption of the euro by Bulgaria and a package of anti-inflationary measures which is expected to be unveiled next week. The package is expected to disburse between 1.5 and 2 billion leva. Democratic Bulgaria MP Georgi Ganev says the discussion centred on the procedures for the euro adoption. The Finance Ministry and the Bulgarian National Bank will prepare a joint report assessing the effects of the adoption of the euro by Bulgaria.