site.btaUPDATED Sofia Clearance for Russian FM's Plane to Overfly Bulgaria Coordinated with EU
Approached by reporters here Tuesday, Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mariya Gabriel commented that Sofia's decision to permit the Russian Foreign Minister's plane to overfly Bulgaria en route to Skopje has been coordinated with the EU. Bulgaria would never grant such a permission to the Russian delegation without having a clear idea who is on the delegation, she underscored.
The permission is temporary, precisely for the OSCE Ministerial Council meeting in Skopje from November 29 to December 1, Gabriel underscored. "The meeting is extremely important if we want to talk about OSCE's future," she added.
Bulgaria is interested not only in there being stability in the Western Balkans but also in contributing with its experience to that stability being long-lasting. Stability in the Western Balkans means stability for Europe, Gabriel said.
Bulgaria supports Ukraine's entry in NATO. "For us, as partners, it is important to follow the reforms that the country is doing, to be ready for future crises and the Alliance's requirements," the Bulgarian Foreign Minister noted.
On Monday evening, the Foreign Ministry confirmed that it had granted a permission for a plane with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to fly through the Bulgarian airspace en route to the OSCE Ministerial Council meeting in Skopje. The permission was requested by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of North Macedonia in the capacity of the country as holder of the OSCE Chairpersonship for 2023 and organizer of the 30th OSCE Ministerial Council. The overflight permission is temporary and valid for 3 hours before and 72 hours after the scheduled date and time of overflight. The permit falls under the exemptions from the EU sanctions against Lavrov.
At the same time, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry put out a statement lamenting the inevitable presence of Russia at the OSCE forum in Skopje and announcing that a Ukrainian delegation would not participate. It argues that "the presence of the Russian delegation at the meeting at the ministerial level for the first time since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine will only deepen the crisis into which Russia has driven the OSCE". "In view of this, the delegation of Ukraine will not participate in the OSCE Ministerial meeting at the level of the Minister of Foreign Affairs. At the same time, Ukraine remains committed to the principles of the OSCE and is ready to continue working with partners to restore respect for the Helsinki Final Act, in particular through the implementation of the Peace Formula of President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy," the statement goes.