Bulgaria Gives Russia Explanation on Overflight Ban
The Bulgarian Foreign Ministry has said its officials met diplomats from the Russian Embassy to discuss Sofia's move to deny overflight to a Russian aircraft convoy on Tuesday.
Sofia has also reiterated the proposal of Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov, who on Wednesday suggested that Bulgaria would allow Russian aircraft to overfly its territory if Russia consented to cargo checks at a Bulgarian airport.
The developments, reported in a media statement of the ministry, follow a move by Bulgaria to bar a convoy from using the Bulgarian airspace while en route to Syria. Moscow says the planes had humanitarian aid on board, while Bulgaria cites intelligence information according to which they were transporting weapons.
"Russian representatives demanded explanations as to the refusal to grant permission for overflight through the Bulgarian airspace of military transport aircraft owned by the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in the period between September 1 and [September] 24 this year," the statement reads.
"The Russian side was granted the respective clarifications."
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs took the occasion to refute in a most categorical manner the suggestions of the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson about the position of our state." [The position voiced by Ms Maria Zaharova is available here.]
"Bulgaria has neither prevented nor is it intending to prevent the passage via its territory of humanitarian aid for Syria and the friendly Syrian people. Bulgaria at the same time has international and legal responsibilities not to allow the transportation of arms for the Syrian regime stemming from European Union decisions."
The Russian Embassy is yet to comment.
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