Parliament Decided: Bulgaria will send Military Aid to Ukraine but No Weapons

Politics | April 20, 2022, Wednesday // 20:06
Bulgaria: Parliament Decided: Bulgaria will send Military Aid to Ukraine but No Weapons @Nova

The Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs rejected the two draft decisions on military assistance to Ukraine and only supported the proposal of “We Continue the Change” to provide technical assistance, but not weapons. The new draft decision passed with 11 votes in favor and 5 against.

The other two proposals of “Democratic Bulgaria” and GERB-SDS were rejected after almost two hours of debate with 6 votes in favor and 3 abstentions. The vote shows that only GERB-SDS, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms and Democratic Bulgaria (DB) support weapons for Ukraine. The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and “Vazrazhdane” (Revival) are strongly against, while “There Is Such a People” (TISP) and We Continue the Change (WCC) support "technical assistance".

After three weeks of canceling meetings and a practical boycott of arms proposals for Ukraine, the two draft resolutions have finally entered the agenda of the parliamentary foreign policy committee.

Of the two proposals for military assistance to Ukraine, none entered the hall

This happened after earlier today DB and GERB quarreled with the chairman of a foreign commission over weapons for Ukraine. A little later, the PP said that the two proposals needed to be clarified, and the two formations announced that they would want to be included in the agenda of the relevant committee.

The proposal passed with 12 votes in favor, 3 against (BSP and Vazrazhdane) and 0 abstentions.

Former Foreign Minister and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Kristian Vigenin of BSP commented that the left would not support the request because it was in a hurry with decisions, just because of the visit of Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

The session is currently closed, as Foreign Minister Teodora Genchovska is being heard. Both proposals will then be considered. The decision will be clear in hours.

Genchovska's hearing ended at about 4:45 p.m., after which the commission took a 5-minute break that lasted more than 25 minutes. Thus, the consideration of the draft decisions was again delayed (surprisingly, the committee meeting started 30 minutes after the scheduled time).

As expected, the topic aroused great interest and the meeting was attended by the Minister of Defense Dragomir Zakov, as well as MPs who are not members of the committee - Hristo Ivanov, Atanas Atanasov, Atanas Slavov and Ivaylo Mirchev from DB, Hristo Gadzhev from GERB-SDS and Deputy-Chairman of the National Assembly Miroslav Ivanov from WCC.

GERB and DB want to send weapons, Zakov sees a problem

Ekaterina Zaharieva presented the draft decision of GERB, saying that Ukraine is defending not only its own territory but the whole of Europe. She was adamant that Bulgaria, as a member of NATO and the EU, should send military-technical assistance.

Zaharieva also commented on one of the reasons why Ventsislava Lyubenova from WCC postponed the draft decisions - that they contradict the State Aid Act. According to her, nothing in this law contradicts the two proposals.

Her ally Daniel Mitov added that Bulgaria's defense capabilities need to be renewed. He added that Bulgaria currently has the opportunity to "get rid" of the old Soviet weapons and at the same time start talks with its NATO allies to replenish our defense capabilities (second point of the draft decision of GERB-SDS).

"We need to show that our moral compass is not broken," he concluded.

Assoc. Prof. Atanas Slavov from DB presented the draft decision of Democratic Bulgaria. He said Bulgaria must show solidarity with Ukraine and send weapons.

"This is a value and moral choice," he said, adding that the country would probably not be among the big donors, but should do everything possible.

The MP pointed out that Bulgaria could also donate its missiles to be replaced by NATO with “Patriot”.

Hristo Ivanov criticized BSP and Vazrazhdane, which use public attitudes as an argument against sending weapons. According to him, fear is not a good adviser, and deputies must behave in a stately manner.

"We have a specific political interest in Russia losing this war," he said, adding that Moscow wanted to establish a new geopolitical order.

According to him, if this happens, Bulgaria will be directly threatened.

"Russia has already lost the war, at least morally," Zakov said.

He stated that according to the State Property Act, Bulgaria can provide such property only on the territory of Bulgaria. He said there were two options for sending weapons - a decision by the National Assembly or a change in the law.

The Minister of Defense stated that what Ukraine needs the most is the same that Bulgaria needs.

However, he added that if a decision is made, the armed forces have the opportunity to implement it. Zakov called for minimizing the search for details of what will be sent. According to him, there is a huge risk for storage sites and delivery routes.

We Continue the Change with a counter-proposal without military assistance

Atanas Mihnev from WCC presented the new proposal of the largest parliamentary group. It was submitted hours before the meeting of the commission, according to a reference on the website of the National Assembly.

WCC proposed that the National Assembly give a mandate to the government to send technical assistance for protective purposes. This wording is flexible and in practice may not mean weapons.

The group also proposes a comprehensive package of measures to overcome the consequences of the war, as well as in terms of energy and food security of Bulgaria, to provide Ukraine with humanitarian and financial assistance, as well as a package of measures for Ukrainian refugees.

Vazrazhdane tried to scold the coalition, GERB and DB tried to fix WCC

Angel Georgiev from "Vazrazhdane" opened the debate on the topic with a thesis based entirely on Russian props. According to him, the sending of weapons bordered on the beginning of a new world war.

Atanas Slavov commented on the draft decision of WCC. According to him, a compromise option was obviously sought, but in order for it to be possible, military aid must be explicitly included in the text. The MP proposed a wording according to which point 2 records military-technical assistance, and not only technical assistance, as in the first version. This proposal was also supported by Daniel Mitov from GERB. He described the draft decision of the WCC as "filling". This proposal was rejected.

Mitov also demanded that the draft decision include the start of negotiations to replenish Bulgaria's defense capabilities with NATO allies. This request was also rejected.

Kristian Vigenin of BSP, which opposes military aid, said the issue should not be considered by the National Assembly at all. According to him, the right decision is for the Ministry of Defense to submit specific requests, and then for the National Assembly to decide.

Vigenin spoke in support of the WCC‘s proposal, adding that the broadest possible consensus on war and peace should have been sought. He said the left was against sending lethal weapons.

Then Angel Georgiev made a controversial statement. According to him, "technical assistance" is a broader concept and includes military-technical assistance. After these words, Daniel Mitov crossed himself, and Assoc. Prof. Atanas Slavov grabbed his head. Georgiev asked if the proposal had been discussed in the coalition, and Mihnev gave a positive answer. Angel Georgiev concluded that BSP secretly supported the sending of weapons.

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