30 September, 2023
Interview with a Romanian television about the visit of Ukrainian president Zelensky in Sofia
(source: Digi24)

Adrian Bucur, Digi24

On 7 July 2023 Romanian TV Digi24 reported on Ukrainian President Zelensky’s visit to Sofia, interviewing Vladimir Mitev. TV host Adrian Bucur asked the founder of blog The Bridge of Friendship about the achievements of Zelensky’s visit and the behaviour of Bulgarian President Rumen Radev during the visit. The video with subtitles in English can be seen below, followed by the transcript of the interview.

Vladimir Zelensky arrived in Slovakia this afternoon after short visits to Bulgaria and the Czech Republic. Also today he is expected in Istanbul for face-to-face talks with Turkish President Erdogan. The talks come just days ahead of a crucial NATO summit, and the Kiev leader is demanding a clear signal from all allies that his country will join NATO. In Bulgaria, he called for accelerated arms deliveries, only to be rebuffed by President Rumen Radev, a known Russian supporter. We insist on this detail and speak to Bulgarian journalist Vladimir Mitev. I salute you. Can we hear from you, Mr Mitev?

Hello, I can hear you very well.

Well, specifically, what help Zelensky got from the Bulgarians. Can you tell us?

If we look at the formal stuff, two declarations were signed, one of which provided for all-encompassing political support for Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic path. We have to say indeed that during the interim government, which was appointed by President Radev, an impression was created that Bulgaria is a bit more restrained in its support for Ukraine. For example, previously Bulgaria was not joining the project of delivering shells to Ukraine. With the arrival of the Denkov government, which was sworn in a month ago, there has been a change in policy on this issue. Bulgaria has joined this programme. So now the line of the Bulgarian government seems very clear. On the other hand, a document on energy cooperation was also signed. It may be very surprising, but Bulgaria has two nuclear reactors…

Is this part of Bulgaria’s plan to participate in the reconstruction of Ukraine?

There has been no mention of this in the media and I think we are still far from saying how exactly Ukraine will be rebuilt, because the war is not over yet. What has been said about this possible purchase of these reactors is that there is a possibility for Ukraine to buy these reactors with European funds that are delivered according to a certain European mechanism. There was a question on this to the European Commission, which said that there are no obstacles to Ukraine wanting this.

Now, Mr Mitev, everyone watched in amazement at the show made by your President yesterday at the tête à tête table with Zelinski. He showed us the pro-Russian face of Bulgaria, but it’s not the only one in Europe. That’s why Zelensky did this tour de force in the Czech Republic, Slovakia now and tonight he’s seeing Erdogan in Istanbul. What do the Bulgarians think there? Is it conflict or war? What’s happening in Ukraine?

I listened to this discussion between Radev and Zelensky, as far as it was allowed to be watched online. Radev himself said after Zelensky’s reaction that there is no talk of a simple conflict, that Radev always thought there was talk of war and so on. So I think that what we saw at the time perhaps has to be explained by Radev’s specific positioning in Bulgarian and international politics. Domestically, it seems to me that he is really playing or trying to gain influence in the sovereignist area. On the other hand, we see that internationally he has better relations with the Chancellor of Austria or was, for example, invited to the inauguration of President Erdogan after he won the presidential elections in Turkey. So Radev is somehow trying to get together, probably with countries that are looking to be a kind of bridge between the West and the East…

In short, Mr. Mitev…

The thing is, we don’t know how the war in Ukraine will end. And that’s how I explain Radev’s position.

Thank you very much, Vladimir. A Bulgarian journalist on Zelinski’s sparkling visit to Bulgaria.

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