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Aid for Ukraine not on Parliament’s Agenda, Democratic Bulgaria Hints Possible Withdrawal from Government Coalition

A day after the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee voted to give the government a mandate to prepare a package of measures for Ukraine including humanitarian, financial and technical aid for defence purposes, it transpired that the matter is not on the agenda of the plenary on Thursday. The power-sharing Democratic Bulgaria, the smallest of the four parliamentary groups in the government coalition, asked that the matter be discussed at a meeting of the coalition partners right after the Easter break this long weekend.
Atanas Slavov of Democratic Bulgaria said in a Bulgarian National Radio interview that his party might reconsider its participation in the government coalition if the legislature fails to support military aid for Ukraine.
Parliament Chair Nikola Minchev explained that the Foreign Policy Committee has not submitted a report on its decision regarding the Ukraine aid, which is why it is not on the legislature’s agenda for the day. 
Democratic Bulgaria and the formerly ruling GERB, both of which insist that Bulgaria should send military-technical assistance to Ukraine, wanted to see a draft decision discussed by the full house on Thursday.
The decision that the Foreign Policy Committee voted on Wednesday is not the decision that Democratic Bulgaria and GERB want to see. Proposed by Continue the Change, the largest party in the government coalition, it says that the government should “consider a propose a package of measures connected with the war in Ukraine, one of which is providing aid to Ukraine: humanitarian, financial and technical aid for defence purposes according to the needs of Ukraine and the capacity of Bulgaria”. 
Democratic Bulgaria co-leader Hristo Ivanov said that his party will back only a decision which explicitly mentions “military, military-technical or defence aid for Ukraine”. 
He recalled that of all NATO countries, the only one other than Bulgaria which has not provided military aid is Hungary. 
He also said that the coalition council will have to decide what government Bulgaria has: “whether we have a government that is fearful and lies low or a government that appreciates the new era we found ourselves in, not out of our own choice but out of Putin’s choice”. 
Kostadin Kostadinov, the leader of the nationalist Vazrazhdane party, took the floor to say that if Bulgaria votes to send aid to Ukraine, it also should send to Iraq. “A war is also being wages in Iraq which was invaded by Turkey on Sunday night in exactly the same way Russia invaded Ukraine,” he said. 
He also said that during the Wednesday meetings of the visiting Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, in Sofia, he saw the powerholders “bow down to the foreign minister of a foreign country”.
According to Kostadinov, war crimes in Ukraine are being committed by both sides “because, unfortunately, during a war everybody does the same thing because they want to win” but the media and the powerholders in Bulgaria only show the Ukrainian position.
In conclusion, he said that his group in Parliament would back a decision for sending military aid to Ukraine only on condition that the aid is personally taken there by the Democratic Bulgaria deputies and they remain there as volunteers. 
Continue the Change floor leader Andrei Gyurov said that his group will vote their conscience when the decision on aid to Ukraine is put to the vote. 
He explained that the Foreign Policy Committee supported the proposal of Continue the Change, which is a framework proposal and the details are expected to be specified in the plenary chamber. 
There Is Such a People (TISP) leader Slavi Trifonov said on Facebook that “if there is a red line, I am on the side of those who believe that Ukraine must be helped in any way possible, including with weapons”.  “Giving them [the Ukrainians] only bullet proof vests right now is a total cop-out and a failure to take a stance,” he commented. 
Ukraine is an independent sovereign state that has been attacked in violation of all international treaties by its neighbour Russia, he said. 
PM: It is in the best interest of Ukraine to have stability in Bulgaria
In an emotional Facebook post, Prime Minister Kiril Petkov wrote that “having stability in Bulgaria is in the best interest of Ukraine” and urged for accord on the matter of aid to Ukraine. 
The Prime Minister said that it is time “to turn our back on political rhetoric, to stop drawing red lines and giving ultimatums”.
He said that his Continue the Change party appreciates the historical gravity of the moment “but it is important for it to be a source of stability for Bulgaria in this complex four-party coalition, while taking care of the life of our compatriots in all corners of the world”. 
The Prime Minister further said that Continue the Change will continue its efforts to broker an agreement between the Socialists and Democratic Bulgaria.  “Bulgaria continues to help Ukraine with humanitarian aid. The government sent all helmets and bullet-proof vests that are available in our stock. From the very start, Bulgaria has been a loud voice for Ukraine in Brussels and the International Criminal Court in the Hague. And now we are faced with the choice of whether we want to cross the red lines of two of the coalition partners. At the same time we have one Bulgarian ship in Russian hands and one in Ukrainian hands, with Bulgarian citizens on board. If we want to have successful rescue operations, we need to have a common position. If we want to continue providing humanitarian aid and broaden our support for Ukraine, we need to have a common position and be able to make responsible government decisions. If we want to ensure stability for all Bulgarians during a crisis, we need a common position,” Petkov wrote.