Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev said yesterday (23 June) that if the EU collapsed following Brexit, there would be war. He made the comments in the presence of his German colleague, Joachim Gauck, who is on a 3-day visit to Bulgaria.
Speaking to a students’ audience, Plevneliev and Gauck expressed hopes that British citizens would vote to remain in the EU. But when asked if a Leave vote could be a signal of the EU’s disintegration, Plevneliev said that if the EU collapses, there will be war.
“If the EU disintegrates, there will be war, because after two bloody wars the only working formula to avoid war was the EU. The only way is that integration prevails, and if there is no integration and cooperation, I am sure, there will be war in Europe,” Plevneliev said.
The Bulgarian president, whose term expires this autumn, is known for his hawkish remarks on Russia. Speaking in the European Parliament on 9 June, Plevneliev said that the aim of Russia was to destroy the EU.
Plevneliev is reported to have backed the idea of setting up a joint ‘common NATO’ fleet of Romania Ukraine and Turkey, aimed at deterring Russia in the Black Sea. The idea has been flatly rejected by Bulgaria’s strongman, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov.
Plevneliev recently announced he will not run for president in the elections due in October. He invoked “personal reasons”, but in fact he stands very little chance to be re-elected, as polls give him a poor rating. A businessman by background, he was not a household name when he was elected in 2011, as candidate of the ruling party GERB of Borissov (EPP affiliated).
During his term in office, Plevneliev has alienated many Bulgarians as a result of his hawkish anti-Russian rhetoric. Bulgaria was freed from the Ottoman rule as a consequence of the Russo-Turkish war of 1877-1878 and is one of the most pro-Russian countries in the EU. However, Bulgaria also has a long tradition of its political elite being divided between “Russophiles” and “Russophobes.”
The German president also shared his view on the UK referendum.
“The voice of Germany is a symbol of a long democratic tradition and from many years it carries its weight in the EU. Brexit would be a burden for the whole of Europe,” the Bulgarian press quotes Gauck.