Bulgarian PM Kiril Petkov says diplomatic solution is needed for Ukraine

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By Euronews
Bulgaria's Prime Minister Kiril Petkov talks for the media during a news conference in Skopje, North Macedonia, Jan. 18, 2022.
Bulgaria's Prime Minister Kiril Petkov talks for the media during a news conference in Skopje, North Macedonia, Jan. 18, 2022.   -   Copyright  Boris Grdanoski / AP

Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov said on Wednesday that a diplomatic solution was needed to defuse the tense situation around Ukraine.

The cabinet had "decided to prioritise every means from the Bulgarian side to deescalate the tension between NATO and Russia", Petkov said.

Speaking in Parliament after a crisis government meeting, Petkov said that the Bulgarian government had decided to update the country's security strategy and to prepare a battalion military group under its command, for defence purposes only.

"The government has decided to prioritise Bulgaria's strategy towards de-escalating tensions, as well as to use all opportunities through diplomatic means to resolve this conflict. Our defence strategy will be based on the Bulgarian army. Our army will be the leader. Which means — Bulgarian troops, Bulgarian command, and Bulgarian military leadership," Petkov added.

The announcement of the Bulgarian government came after Spain and the Netherlands announced their wish to send ships and fighter jets to Bulgarian territory.

Neither the Prime Minister nor the Defence Minister however commented on a possible military deployment.

With tensions rising, Bulgarian people are as divided as ever in their opinions on the topic.

"As members of NATO, we must be fair. But it is also not good to have ships in the Black Sea. You cannot be 'with' or 'against', there is no in-between! You are either one or the other. Once we are in the alliance, we have to do our part," a Sofia resident told Euronews.

"The state has an orientation, it makes its decisions and that's it. After all, it's democracy. You voted for something, the state has chosen a side and now you watch and listen," another man added.

Olena Kotseva is a Ukrainian who has lived in Bulgaria for more than 40 years. She continues to keep up with the news from her homeland with anxiety.

She says her country has been at war with Russia since 2014.

"We want peace, but we are preparing for war. Yesterday I spoke with my brother, who lives in Kyiv. He has three children. His son was at the front line for a year in a voluntary organisation. My niece's husband returned from the front without his two legs. When I talked to him yesterday I asked him: 'Are you afraid? Is it scary there?' and he answered: 'Why should we be scared? We are at home. This is our home. If necessary, I will take the rifle and defend the country'. Ukrainians are not slaves and never will be," she said.

While the people of Bulgaria and Ukraine hope for a peaceful resolution to the conflict, Sofia will work in this direction mainly through diplomacy.