Archive for September 20th, 2017

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The Bulgarian EU Chair – An attempt to lift Russian sanctions

September 20, 2017

Bulgaria is next in line to assume the rotating Chair of the EU in 2018.

During the opening of an office of the European Investment Bank (EIB) in Sofia a few days ago, Prime Minister Borisov stated that during the Bulgarian tenure as rotating Chair, Sofia would seek the lifting of EU sanctions imposed upon Russia.

“During our term as chairman of the EU, we must work politically and diplomatically to lift sanctions from Russia and reduce tensions between Europe and Russia. I do not know if we will be able to do this, since this is a very difficult and seemingly insurmountable job for us, but we will try,”

Prime Minister Borisov also stated that if, during (another) visit by President Putin in the near future, the President of the Russian Federation wished to see him (rather than just Bulgarian President Radev), he would not refuse.

The EU sanctions sky however, is not falling in – be more concerned with Italian elections than Bulgaria as rotating EU Chair in 2018 in this regard.

The most obvious thing of note regarding the above statement is how limp and uncommitted it actually is.  It is a political statement akin to going through the motions and being seen to be trying to do something when actually there is no intention to actually do anything at all.  Expectations, are crushed before they are raised within the lexicon used.

Is this then a matter of Bulgaria giving The Kremlin some domestic propaganda during the Russian presidential “election”, while being seen to do what can be reasonably be expected to be done – which is very little?

While The Kremlin will certainly accept such a propaganda gift, and wring every drop of propaganda and warp interpretations from it that it is possible to do, it is perhaps necessary to consider Bulgarian internal politics first – particularly as such a statement infers that Prime Minister Borisov believes he will still be Prime Minister in 2018, which may not be the case.

There are currently a series of scandals running throughout the Bulgarian government.  There is an arms industry scandal, a judicial scandal, a budgetary scandal (or several), a Gazprom scandal, a wiretapping scandal,  a political head-butting over exactly what words are to be used when defining the Russian threat to Bulgaria, there are intense personal and policy dislikes – for example Radev and Mikoyan, hence the schism between Radev and Karakachanov.

There are intrigues (possibly nefarious), signed memorandums, and deals between the universally disliked Bulgarian Prosecutor General Tsatsarov and the Kremlin’s Prosecutor General, Yury Chaika.

That said, Mr Chaika works all the Bulgarian players, and appears to be the front man for Russian organised criminality when it comes to Bulgaria.

The photograph taken in Sofia displays, Mr Chaika with Tsetska Tsacheva, President Radev’s electoral opponent, and who is politically close to Prime Minister Borisov.

(Sarcasm commences) No doubt there is nothing to see here, it is a standard official meeting for a Russian Prosecutor General to have in Bulgaria, because it is entirely natural for the Russian Prosecutor General to be in Bulgaria meeting those other than his counterpart Sotir Tsatsarov.  (Un-standard diplomacy). (Sarcasm ceases).

As such not only does Russia’s notoriously corrupt Prosecutor General appear to be the front man for organised criminality bilateral relations within Bulgaria, there are also other internal Bulgarian political issues beyond those (perhaps mot major) currently in play.

It seems that no Bulgarian politician wants to alienate the Russian favoring section of its constituency, and yet they also don’t appear to be entirely sure of how electorally relevant that milieu is.

All of this considered, (and much more excluded), it strongly infers that Prime Minister Borisov’s comments are far more to do with internal Bulgarian politics, political survival, and no small amount of organised criminality between Bulgaria and Russia,  than they are to do with any real attempt at delivering the removal of sanctions, or specifically going out of his way to throw The Kremlin a propaganda nugget as a runner up prize during Kremlin “electioneering” season.

Nevertheless, no doubt there will be some jerking knees as a result of Prime Minister Borisov’s statement.

 

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