Bulgarian MoD calls on EU, NATO to counter Russia, Turkey in Balkans

  • Mihai Turcanu
  • 23.5.2018 15:55

At the 22 May South-Eastern European security conference in Budva, Montenegro, Bulgaria's Minister of Defence Krasimir Karakachanov reiterated his country's support for the integration of all Western Balkan states in the Euro-Atlantic structures, so as to prevent "third actors" from gaining a foothold in the region.

Karakachanov singled out these third parties as being Russia and Turkey, and warned that the lack of clear integration perspectives in the EU and NATO will prompt the intervention of these powers, who he pointed out have traditionally pursued an expansionist foreign policy in the region. The Minister's grounds of concern are illustrated by Turkey's assertiveness and territorial claims against Bulgaria and Greece, but also by Erdogan's display of influence at the 20 May electoral rally in Sarajevo, and his increasingly hostile relations with the EU and the US. Russia has even a stronger influence in the region, as proven by its economic footprint in Bosnia and Bulgaria, but also by its strong political and practical cooperation with Republika Srpska's President Milorad Dodik. In addition, Moscow's historically and currently close relations with Belgrade are complicating Serbia's Euro-Atlantic path. Bulgaria is the second NATO member in the Balkans to underline the geopolitical risks of a lacking proactive approach in the region according to Karakachanov, who added that a geopolitical setback in the Balkans would only feed eurosceptic tendencies in the EU itself. On 17 April 2018, Albania voiced similar concerns.

About author: Mihai Turcanu

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