Bulgarian PM Boyko Borissov, whose country holds the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU, shared his feelings this morning (23 March) with journalists, of the discussions on Russia and Turkey, held at the EU summit yesterday night.
“We find ourselves in times worse than the Cold War. During the Cold War there were rules. Now I’m not optimistic for the peaceful future of the world”, Borissov said, asked about the discussion on Russia and the decision to back Britain in blaming Moscow over a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in England.
EU leaders backed Britain in the night of 22 to 23 March in blaming Moscow over a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in England, and agreed to recall their ambassador to Moscow for consultations.
May accused Russia of the first known offensive use of a nerve toxin in Europe since World War Two after Sergei Skripal, a former Russian double agent, and his daughter were found unconscious in the city of Salisbury on 4 March.
At a summit in Brussels, the 28 EU leaders offered her their full support, agreeing “that it is highly likely that the Russian Federation is responsible and that there is no plausible alternative explanation”. They also pledged to “coordinate on the consequences”.
However, Borissov said that measures such as the “mass expulsion of diplomats”, and the recalling by the EU its own ambassador to Moscow for consultations, would “hardly bring more peace, more calm and more understanding”.
“We based ourselves on the statements by UK Prime Minister Theresa May that it was “highly likely” that the Russian Federation stands behind this attack. I expressed my views and asked for more information. ‘Highly likely’ is not ‘certainly’”, he said.
Borissov told journalists yesterday he wasn’t sure Moscow was behind the Salisbury attack and that he would repeat the same thing at the summit.
Today he said he expected in the next days and weeks “rapid escalations of tension”.
“Many countries will start recalling their ambassadors”, he said, but added that Bulgaria had no such intention. He said that the recent visit of the Russian patriarch Kirill in Bulgaria, on the occasion of the national day 3 March, had shown that “the mood in Bulgaria doesn’t go in this direction”.
The Bulgarian public opinion is among the most pro-Russian in the EU for historical reasons (the country was liberated from five centuries of Ottoman domination as a result of the 1877-1878 Russo-Turkish war). Also, many Bulgarians, including political forces, approve the policy of Vladimir Putin.
“When I will return I will speak to colleagues. But my worries have not been reduced, on the contrary”, he said.
Asked by this website why his argumentation didn’t prevail at the summit, he said:
“This is because we all trust the position of the UK. I told Theresa May my position. I reminded her that there was a time when Saddam Hussein was accused of having chemical arsenals. Later Tony Blair had to present apologies. But the consequences remain monstrous until today. Maybe I’m one of the oldest, and I’m trying to think more in this sense. But there is a common position and we support it”, Borissov said.