Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 41

During talks in Moscow with his Bulgarian counterpart over the weekend, Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov lauded the close ties existing between Moscow and Sofia and said that the development of better relations with the countries of eastern and central Europe is a priority for Russia. On the latter point, Primakov said that Russia "cannot and will not" exercise any sort of veto over the intention of former Warsaw Pact states to join NATO. "However," he said, "we would like to prove that absolutely nothing endangers these states, and that they may be perfectly safe not joining any alliances."

Primakov characterized relations between Russia and Bulgaria as "advanced" and said that the two countries had similar approaches to many foreign policy issues. He also expressed interest in a Bulgarian proposal to convoke a meeting of all Balkan countries to discuss how best to promote the peace process in Bosnia as well as to discuss the improvement of relations throughout the Balkans as a whole. A press release following the talks noted that Bulgaria and Russia have signed over 50 intergovernmental and interbranch agreements since 1991. A Russian government source, meanwhile, indicated that Russia would give to Bulgaria some 100 T-72 tanks and 100 BMP-2 infantry combat vehicles, all slated to be scrapped in compliance with the CFE Treaty. Bulgaria is to destroy an equal number of its own obsolete armored vehicles. The deal was said to be lucrative for Moscow because it would free Russia the expense of destroying the hardware. (4)

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