Bulgarian MPs Reject Proposal to Revoke Sanctions on Russia
Bulgarian lawmakers have narrowly turned down a proposal by the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) calling for sanctions against Russia to be reviewed.
Sofia has enforced measures against the Russian Federation in line with the EU and the US policies toward Moscow after the Ukraine crisis began last year.
The BSP, which was the senior coalition partner in Bulgaria's government at the time, applied the restrictions. Now its MPs are demanding they be gradually reversed over the impact they are having on the country's economy.
Their request, however, was rejected after it gathered 52 votes in favour and 47 against, with 31 MPs abstaining.
At the same time the motion left most party groups - including the ruling axis - divided. Lawmakers representing the main coalition partners, conservative GERB and right-wing Reformist Bloc, were split with those opposing the reversal of sanctions making up about two-thirds of their respective groups, whereas left-wing ABV, also a coalition partner, voted unanimously that the sanctions should be lifted.
The BSP warned before the vote that entire sectors of the Bulgarian economy, especially agriculture, suffered substantial losses.
GERB MPs, on the other hand, downplay the importance of bilateral economic relations describing the relationship as unequal and citing difference in pricing offered by Russia per 100 cubic meters of gas (Bulgaria pays USD 503 for that amount, while Germany pays USD 300).
"Statistics for 2013 [a year before sanctions were in place] show milk exports from Bulgaria to Germany were 1300 tons, whereas for Russia they were 230 tons, six times less," Dnevnik.bg also quotes Dimitar Bayraktarov, from the nationalist coalition Patriotic Front which backs the government, as saying.
In February, the BSP put forward a proposal to limit the scope of sanctions against Moscow, but it was voted down.
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