NATO-Russia Tension over Georgia Does Not Affect Sofia-Moscow Relations

Politics | August 22, 2008, Friday // 00:00

Bulgaria's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Milen Keremedchiev said Friday the freezing of the military relations between NATO and Russia, which was declared by Moscow on Thursday, would not have a negative impact on the Bulgarian-Russian relations.

In an interview for the news website Mediapool, Keremedchiev made it clear the Foreign Minister was not worried about the interactions with Russia over the Georgia-South Ossetia crisis.

He pointed out Bulgaria's position on the conflict was balanced, and that it enjoyed good relations with both Moscow and Tbilisi, adding the country was trying to become an intermediary in the dispute by stimulating negotiations but that no talks were likely to start until a more Russian troops were pulled out of Georgia.

Keremedchiev also pointed out that by the middle of the next week Bulgaria's humanitarian aid worth EUR 200 000 was going to be transported to Georgia.

In his words, the idea of the Bulgarian government to turn the country's Black Sea port of Burgas into a transportation hub for coordinating the international humanitarian efforts for Georgia had already received specific offers - Hungary's government had expressed its desire to send its aid together with the Bulgarian one.

The Hungarian humanitarian aid will first be transported to Sofia, and then to Georgia via Burgas.

Keremedchiev also predicted the tension between NATO and Russia over Georgia would not escalate. He said the balanced approach taken by France was probably the best one, and that the only right move for Russia was to pull out its troops.

The Deputy Foreign Minister made it clear a large-scale Russian withdrawal would be visible as the Russians had a massive presence in Georgia, and had only withdrawn small military detachments so far. He pointed out the dialogue between Moscow and the West would be resumed immediately after such steps by Russia.

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