Bulgaria's President Says He Loves Russia but Disagrees with Putin
Bulgaria's sitting President Rosen Plevneliev has said he doesn't want the country to be brought back to the 19th century when it fell victim to great power drawing up spheres of influence.
"I love Russia, but I do not agree with the policy of the Russian President of spheres of influence that returns is to the 19th century," Plevneliev has told NOVA TV in an interview ten days before leaving office.
Vladimir Putin's policies are based on the primacy of power, rather than on the rule of law, and that might have negative consequences for Bulgaria he has noted.
His comments on Russia have followed a question about him signing a letter to US President-elect Donald Trump in which European leaders advise against rapprochement with Russia. Plevneliev was the only sitting head of state to put his signature.
While Russia and the US should have "constructive" relations, these should only be based on principles and the rule of law and not on power and interests, he has added.
A deal between Russia and the US on "spheres of influence" would be detrimental to Bulgaria, he has added, in a reference to the Berlin congress of 1878, where Austro-Hungary and Russia make their case for dividing the Balkans according to their zones of interest.
He has called on his successor Rumen Radev to condemn Russia's move to incorporate Crimea and show his "pro-NATO attitude" and his belief in the European orientation of Bulgaria, amid fears from Radev's critics he might fall victim to Russian influence.
"Today the clash in Europe is one of principles, and a very heavy one - beween counries that believe in the rule of law (EU countries, including Bulgaria) and others that believe in the primacy of power and interests."
On domestic affairs, he has said there have never been clashes between him and GERB, the party of outgoing Prime Minister Boyko Borisov which nominated him to the Presidency in 2011.
"Maybe I have been more radical... But I want more ambitions steps forward, I am ambitions," he has explained, admitting Borisov is "more pragmatic".
Plevneliev is leaving office on January 22.
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