“Supporting Ukraine corresponds to the defense of our national interest”

“We must continue to support Ukraine! » Invited, Wednesday November 22, to the European Parliament in Strasbourg to present his vision of Europe, Nikolaï Denkov, the pro-European Prime Minister Bulgarian, calls for the door to the European Union (EU) to be opened to kyiv. On December 14 and 15 in Brussels, the Twenty-Seven should decide on the opening of accession negotiations with this country at war as well as with Moldova and the countries of the Western Balkans.

“We still remember the Maidan revolution ten years agohe recalls in an interview with World. Already, the Ukrainians were demanding Europe! This request must be heard. » After two years of political crisis between pro-Western and pro-Russian forces in Bulgaria, Mr. Denkov took the head, in the summer, of a pro-European coalition government, favorable to Kiev.

Bulgaria, however, remains deeply divided on the Russian question. “Our country has a deep cultural relationship with Russia that goes back centuries”, recalls Mr. Denkov. Since February 24, 2022 and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Sofia has gradually distanced itself from Moscow and discreetly supported kyiv.

Exemption for importing Russian oil

“Our economic relations have long been very strong with Russia and that was not necessarily a concern. Remember Germany, and the prevailing idea that economic ties could prevent conflict…” The war reshuffled the cards and companies managed by Russian interests gradually changed hands in Bulgaria.

A large company, however, remains owned by Russia’s largest oil producer Lukoil, through a Swiss company, the Neftochim Burgas refinery. “This is an extremely sensitive subject. There is no question today of nationalizing it, but we are preparing, if necessary, to take control of operationsconfides Mr. Denkov. It’s not easy because today it refines Russian oil. Tomorrow we will have to find other supplies. »

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Since December 2022 and the European embargo on Russian oil, Bulgaria has had a derogation to import Russian crude, a measure which was to help it avoid energy shortages. According to an investigation published at the beginning of November by the NGO Global Witness, Neftochim Burgas imported more crude than necessary to meet the country’s needs. And in doing so, ensured 1.1 billion euros in revenue for Moscow.

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