Bulgarian President says Putin wants to ‘blow (up) the EU from inside’

Rosen Plevneliev. London, March 2014. [Chatham House/Flickr]

During a visit to Brussels, the President of Bulgaria, a country which depends on Russia for over 90% of its gas supplies, accused Vladimir Putin of planning to destroy the EU from the inside.

Speaking at a conference organised by the Centre of European Policy Studies (CEPS), Bulgaria’s Rossen Plevneliev said that Putin’s propaganda machine was attempting to split the member states of the European Union.

The leaders who rule by force across the world have one thing in common – breaking the rules, Plevneliev said, as quoted by Vesselin Zhelev, the correspondent of ClubZ.

“See how Mr. Putin today is taking us with his propaganda, which can blow (up) the EU from inside,” said Plevneliev. “Whichever crisis you observe, it is related with breaking the rules. The EU is a project for peace. But peace is not only the absence of war, but also human rights and the rule of law. Every crisis begins with breaking the rules, ” Plevneliev said.

The Bulgarian leader gave the examples of Ukraine and Poland, which had similar living standards and economic development at the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

“Poland today is 25 times richer than Ukraine thanks to the rule of law,” Plevneliev said, recalling the revelations of corruption in Ukraine in the fall of its pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych a year ago.

Plevneliev also recalled the lavish splendor of the home of the Chief Prosecutor of Ukraine [Viktor Pshonka], which he compared to the lifestyle of the Roman emperor Caligula.

“If it is to which Mr. Putin wants us to return, we would rather choose what Poland made 25 years ago,” he said, obviously alluding that Russia wanted to turn Bulgaria into what was Ukraine under Yanukovich.

In another reference to Putin, Plevneliev said: “Our weapon is integration, we must continue with integration – with the Banking Union and the Energy Union. Our weapon is transparency,”  he added, making a reference to the intentions of the European Commission to propose new legislation against tax evasion by transnational corporations.

Without naming Putin, Plevneliev derided “leaders who ride a horse, swim in the river or fly with the birds”, but whose public image doesn’t help them solve their country’s problems.

The Bulgarian President also slammed the authorities of neighboring Greece, a country with which relations have traditionally been good. He expressed regret at what he called rampant populism in Greece under the SYRIZA-led government.

“I am alarmed that no honest debate in Greece takes place today on how €350 billion were spent,” Plevneliev said. He added that the Greek debt was accumulated not because of expensive German submarines and American fighters that governments in Athens bought, but because of “artificially high salaries and pensions at the expense of the next generations.”

One country mentioned in a positive light was Romania. Plevneliev said Bulgaria’s northern neighbour was a positive example for his country in the fight against corruption. 

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