Saturday

16th Dec 2017

Bulgarian PM criticises France and Germany for accepting Crimea annexation

  • Borisov - critical of the fact that the West no longer talks about Crimea (Photo: European People's Party)

Bulgaria’s prime minister Boiko Borisov has criticised the leaders of Germany and France for de facto accepting Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Black Sea peninsula of Crimea.

“On a purely diplomatic level, this move [the annexation] will always be protested but somehow the western world swallowed Crimea”, Borisov told the Sofia-based TV+.

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Borisov added that the West would never utter “in its diplomatic language that it has stomached Crimea” but that it actually had because of “the very fact that the Crimea is never mentioned when we speak about the Minsk agreement”.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande flew to the Belarus capital of Minsk in February to forge a ceasefire after lengthy negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko.

The two western leaders, who invested a lot of political capital into the trip, were trying to prevent the ethnic Russian armed insurgency in eastern Ukraine from escalating into a full-fledged war.

However the accord has been criticised for the concessions it made to the Kremlin-backed separatists that could open the way to self-rule and secession from the pro-western government in Kiev.

Borisov, a centre-right leader, who at home makes much of his cordial ties with fellow conservative Merkel, noted that both she and Hollande, the two most powerful leaders in the EU, had to travel to see Putin and make concessions to reach an accord with him.

Asked by the moderator to clarify whether he really meant that the West has tacitly “swallowed” Putin’s annexation of the Crimea, Borisov said: “How should I put it? It has not swallowed it but we have stopped at the Minsk agreement.”

Sofia analysts have often described Borisov as an opportunist keen to turn any way that will win him voters’ sympathies.

He has, on the one hand, followed a pro-western and pro-European line in championing strict fiscal discipline, cancelling two controversial Russian energy projects in Bulgaria and supporting US and EU sanctions against Russia.

On the other hand, he has never lost sight of the largely Russophile public in Bulgaria and has vocally complained about the economic costs of the sanctions, particularly arising from the loss of Russian holiday-makers.

They make up the largest clientele of Bulgaria’s tourist sector, which accounts for 15 percent of the country’s GDP.

Feature

Crimeans seek stable life under Russian control

Since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, there has been a somewhat mixed reaction to the increased Russian presence on the peninsula. Some welcome it, others reject it in hushed voices.

Romania searching for EU respectability

Ten years after its accession and a year before holding the EU presidency, the fastest-growing EU economy wants to "engage" more with its partners. But concerns over the rule of law continue to give the country a bad image.

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