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Bulgaria’s National Assembly rejected on March 4 a motion by the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) against the European Union’s economic sanctions on Russia and Moscow’s reciprocal sanctions.
The BSP, backed by the pro-Russia Ataka party, mustered 82 votes, while the motion was defeated by 111 votes against or abstentions.
The BSP argued that the sanctions – imposed after Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea – had proven ineffective and had not contributed to resolving the conflict. The sanctions were useless as they were circumvented by major Western countries and their companies, according to the BSP.
Gemma Grozdanova, an MP for Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB party and head of the parliamentary committee on foreign policy, said that the sanctions were a mechanism for regulating the crisis in Ukraine, and it was necessary to implement them.
The GERB parliamentary group’s opposition to the motion did not mean that it opposed the necessity of dialogue with Russia, Grozdanova said.
The GERB group also argued that it was dialogue with Russia that had resulted in the 40 per cent reduction in the price of natural gas, in the deal between Gazprom and Bulgargaz announced on March 3.
Approval of such a motion would intrude on the constitutional prerogative of the government in foreign policy, according to Borissov’s party, which also dismissed the motion as linked to internal issues in the BSP ahead of that party’s forthcoming leadership election.