Bulgarian MEP Warns of Negative Impact of EU Visa Sanctions on Russia

Bulgaria in EU | March 6, 2014, Thursday // 12:02|  views

Bulgarian socialist MEP Ivaylo Kalfin, photo by BGNES

The EU cannot plug the holes in Ukraine's economy, according to Bulgarian socialist MEP Ivaylo Kalfin.

Speaking at a meeting with Bulgarian journalists in Brussels, Kalfin argued that Ukraine could get assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the IMF was the body which could solve the country's immediate problems.

He said that mediation was a strong point of the EU and expressed his disappointment over the bloc's failure to stick to that policy on the crisis in Ukraine and opt for sanction talk instead.

The Bulgarian MEP said that the EU was failing to agree on what sanctions to impose on Ukraine.

He pointed out that one of the options for penalties was to complicate visa requirements for Russian nationals, adding that Bulgaria would be negatively affected by such a scenario because it was interested in an alleviated visa regime for Russian tourists, who were frequent visitors in Bulgarian resorts.

Kalfin noted that Russia's Sochi was to host a G8 summit in two months, stressing that the threats of countries like Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States to boycott the meeting due to Russia's actions in Ukraine would have an impact on Russia.

He said that Russian President Vladimir Putin was playing for time as the Crimea and Ukraine grew apart on a daily basis.

Kalfin argued that it was essential for the EU to seek dialogue with Russia and Ukraine.

He claimed that it was possible for the Ukraine-Russia gas crisis from the winter of 2009 to recur.

Kalfin underscored that Bulgaria still lacked gas grid interconnections with its neighboring countries five years after the crisis, adding that the country was unprepared for swift response to a recurrence of the gas dispute.

He said that Bulgarian exporters would be hit in the case of an imposition of a trade embargo and assured that Russia would respond to such sanctions.

Kalfin noted that the fate of the South Stream gas pipeline project was unclear under that scenario.

The Bulgarian MEP said he did not expect a refugee wave from Ukraine, adding that the country had been the victim of a geopolitical battle for a long time.

Kalfin argued that options for Ukraine's accession to NATO were being discussed, stressing that the move would be interpreted as an act of geopolitical aggression by Russia.

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Tags: Ivaylo Kalfin, MEP, visa regime, gas crisis, visa requirements, EU, EU foreign ministers, NATO, International Monetary Fund, gas grid interconnection


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