Bulgarian PM: Independent and Sovereign Ukraine Is Key to Euro-Atlantic Security in the Region

An independent and sovereign Ukraine is key to Euro-Atlantic security in the region, Bulgarian Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov said at a news briefing he held jointly with the visiting Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelenskyy. “Bulgaria has been consistent in its support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine because we believe that an independent and sovereign Ukraine is key to Euro-Atlantic security in the region. Russia should withdraw unconditionally to its internationally recognized borders, and be duly held accountable, including for war crimes” Denkov said.

Earlier, Nikolay Denkov and Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a joint declaration on Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration and the energy ministers of the two countries signed a memorandum on cooperation in the energy sector.

The Bulgarian government leader said that Ukraine is home to the largest Bulgarian historical community abroad. “Because of all this, Bulgaria cannot look on indifferently at the suffering of millions of people just a few hundred kilometres from its border,” he said.

Denkov recalled that from the very first days of the war, then Prime Minister Kiril Petkov and Finance Minister Assen Vassilev had personally committed themselves at the European level to support the Ukrainian cause.

“Bulgaria became a second home for hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees. The aid provided on a bilateral basis is currently determined by three decisions of the Bulgarian Parliament and puts our country at the forefront of support,” said Denkov. In his words, support for Ukraine has become particularly strong in recent months with the new Parliament and government. He recalled that Bulgaria also supports all sanctions packages against Russia, despite the difficulties facing the Bulgarian economy.

“Bulgaria’s unwavering priority remains defending the rights of the Bulgarian majority in Ukraine. We believe that the legitimate interests of our compatriots will be respected when Ukraine builds a comprehensive legal framework on the rights of national majorities in Ukraine,” the Prime Minister said. He noted that Bulgarians in Ukraine are a natural bridge of cooperation not only between the two countries, but also between Ukraine and the EU as a whole.

“Ukraine’s future lies at the heart of European security, in NATO and in the EU,” said Denkov adding that Bulgaria will continue to effectively support Ukraine in its preparations to join the EU. He also said that Bulgaria is ready to participate in Ukraine’s post-war reconstruction and can offer expertise, assistance in energy and transport infrastructure, as Bulgarian companies are ready to help in the restoration of buildings.

“Bulgaria wants sustainable and just peace in Europe and in the world and will do what is necessary to bring us all closer to it. I look forward to seeing President Zelenskyy at the NATO Summit in Vilnius, when the first meeting of the new NATO-Ukraine Council will take place, where important decisions will be taken,” the Prime Minister said.

Asked by a journalist about energy cooperation with Ukraine and equipment for the Belene nuclear power plant, the prime minister said serious talks had begun on whether the reactors could be used in one of Ukraine’s N-plants. “This is just the beginning of the negotiations, there are many technical parameters, there are many financial and economic parameters to be discussed. The conversation is essentially about the large equipment that could be used in Ukraine if we can have these negotiations and come to an agreement on how this deal could be implemented,” the prime minister said.

Denkov urged the press to trust what the Energy Minister and the government say on the issue of nuclear energy because “very often it turns out that the so-called expert opinions are ill-informed or partial.”