Russia has an important role in Eastern Europe and the Black Sea region despite its “controversies” with the EU over Ukraine, Bulgaria‘s Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov has said.
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In an interview with Russian news agency TASS, Mitov has stressed that Bulgaria is a committed member of the EU and NATO, but is also working to develop its bilateral relations with “the most rapidly growing economies in the world”.
In his words, despite the EU‘s harsh tone on Russia (which is occasionally used by Bulgaria) Sofia puts emphasis on cooperation in economy, education, science and culture, along with social policy and tourism.
Mitov has added that Bulgaria expects to sign a new intergovernmental program on cooperation in culture, education and science for the 2015-2017 period.
Bulgaria and other member states’ position on Russia‘s role in the Ukrainian conflict is defined by the need to base “defense of national interests… on the principles of respect for international law and sovereignty of each country,” he has argued.
Commenting on the prospect of scrapping visas for Russian tourists to Bulgaria, Mitov has warned Sofia must uphold to the requirements of the EU‘s common visa legislation.
The minister has called for “a peaceful and rapid solution to the conflict in Ukraine,” describing both sides’ move to lay down arms as “a positive sign”.
Asked what Bulgaria will do if the Minsk agreements between Kiev and pro-Russian rebels are violated, Mitov does not respond directly, simply explaining such developments, “regardless of which side is the first to commit it, will not correspond to the expectations of Bulgaria and other EU member states.”
Bulgaria‘s top diplomat has opined that Bulgaria and Russia should mutually respect their national interest an acknowledge they are “on an an equal footing” in international relations.
“This means Russia has to respect values and policies of Bulgaria relating to its membership in the Euro-Atlantic structures,” Mitov has said, pointing this as “a good basis” for cooperation.
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