Bulgarian parliament votes for “military-technical” assistance, not weapons, for Ukraine

After more than five hours of debate, the Bulgarian parliament voted on May 4 to task the government with implementing a package of measures to support Ukraine, including repairing Ukrainian military equipment at Bulgarian factories.

Competing proposals by ruling coalition partner Democratic Bulgaria and opposition GERB-UDF that would have given Bulgaria a clear mandate to supply arms to Ukraine were rejected.

The accepted proposal was brought forward by Prime Minister Kiril Petkov’s We Continue the Change (WCC) party.

The WCC proposal was changed at the last minute based on a letter to Parliament President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who set out six requests and did not include any demand for Bulgaria to supply arms to his country.

The WCC version tasks the cabinet with overcoming the economic, financial and social aspects of the sanctions and ensuring Bulgaria’s energy and food security.

It provides for continued Bulgarian support for Ukraine’s accession to the European Union.

It provides for continued assistance to refugees, securing exports of Ukrainian grain through the Bulgarian Black Sea port of Varna, and strengthening energy cooperation, particularly through importing electricity and natural gas from Ukraine.

It also provides for further humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, in particular medicines, clothing and food.

The WCC proposal passed by 200 votes to 16, with 1 abstention.

The approval came, with the exception of a small number of MPs, from the WCC, Democratic Bulgaria, ITN, the Bulgarian Socialist Party, GERB-UDF and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms.

One MP each from WCC, BSP and ITN voted against the WCC proposal, while a majority of MPs from these factions were in favour.

Before the vote, WCC’s Dimitar Gochev said to the debate, referring to the provision to repair Ukrainian military equipment in Bulgaria while there is no mandate to supply arms, that “Bulgaria cannot give what is not asked of it”.

The Bulgarian Socialist Party said it supported the WCC version as there was no proposal to supply arms. The BSP has repeatedly threatened to give up the government majority if the government agrees to supply arms to Ukraine.

GERB-UDF MP Daniel Mitov said “the BSP won,” while GERB-UDF’s Dessislava Atanassova said the group voted in favor of the WCC proposal because it supported Ukraine’s EU aspirations. However, she said the proposal amounts to nothing.

The group totally opposed to all three proposals was the pro-Kremlin Vuzrazhdane, the smallest faction in the National Assembly.

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