30 March, 2023
Where does the Bulgarian president stand on Ukraine,Northern Macedonia&energy issues?What did he say during his meetings with the French president Macron and the Ukrainian president Zelensky?
Radio Romania News’ logo (source: Wikipedia Commons)

Vladimir Mitev

This is the English translation of the transcript of an audio report, which was broadcast by Radio Romania News in its emission Global Agenda on 10 February 2023. The archive of the recent emissions can be heard in Romanian here.

Radev’s statements at the extraordinary European Council meeting in Brussels on 9-10 February 2023 show that the important issues for Bulgaria are energy, migration, Schengen, the rights of Bulgarians in North Macedonia and others.

On the issue of migration, Radev is reportedly seeking support at European level for reforming European migration policies and building a stronger wall along the border with Turkey, with European funds, as well as solidarity actions at European level to protect external borders. Prior to his visit to Brussels, he held talks on these issues with the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and in the Belgian capital he met MEPs from the European Conservatives and Reformists group on these issues.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s position is that migration is a European challenge and requires a European response. In her view, two lines of action should be pursued – completing work on the migration and asylum pact and strengthening external borders. However, the summit’s conclusions will not fund the construction of walls at Europe’s borders; instead, funds will be earmarked for building technological infrastructure for border protection and training guards.

At the meeting between European leaders and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Radev said Ukraine could receive energy resources through Bulgaria. The Bulgarian president also stressed that Bulgaria has provided consistent humanitarian support to Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees in Bulgaria. However, he will impose a veto if the EU tries to introduce anti-Russian nuclear sanctions, as nuclear energy is of strategic importance for the future of the Bulgarian economy.

Radev also met with French President Macron, where he called on the institutions in the Republic of North Macedonia to prove through results that they are working towards European integration. The Bulgarian head of state recalled that Sofia and Skopje have accepted the so-called “French proposal” (term introduced by the Bulgarian press) for a negotiating framework for the accession of North Macedonia to the EU, which stipulates that accession negotiations will start only after the Bulgarians are included in the constitution of the Republic of North Macedonia as a constitutional people. Radev drew attention to the fact that instead of reforms and constitutional changes, an anti-Bulgarian campaign is being waged in North Macedonia, which has led to a series of hate crimes. Speaking to journalists in Brussels, Radev also called for European monitoring of North Macedonia to ensure that the rights of Bulgarians in the region are respected.

Radev and Macron noted that Bulgaria and France have a good partnership in the energy sector, which needs to be developed. At the end of December 2022, Bulgaria’s Kozloduy nuclear power plant and the French company Framatom signed an agreement for the supply of nuclear fuel for the plant’s sixth unit for a period of 10 years. Rumen Radev expressed to Emmanuel Macron Bulgaria’s interest in leasing fighter jets as a temporary solution to ensure the protection of Bulgarian airspace until the US-ordered F-16 squadron arrives.

Rumen Radev’s policies are often described as pro-Russian, but there are also views linking him to Western interests in the country. Radev himself said in Brussels that Bulgaria, under his leadership, has contributed to energy diversification in the region, which Radio Romania is likely to have a special report on soon.

Photo: The meeting between Bulgarian president Rumen Radev and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron (source: Twitter@PresidentOfBg)

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