Ex-Ambassador to Moscow: Bulgaria Is Battleground for Turkey, Russia

Opinions | February 25, 2016, Thursday // 11:23|  views

Ilian Vassilev, a former Bulgarian ambassador to Russia. File photo, BGNES

Bulgaria should not be surprised by its role as an area of collision between Turkey and Russia, former Ambassador to Moscow Ilian Vassilev opined.

"It is inevitable... In this very big collision we are immediate neighbors, that is, we are part of the frontline," Vassilev told bTV in an interview earlier this week.

Tensions in Bulgaria are mounting "regardless of the events in Turkey," but are strongly fuelled by the dispute between Ankara and Moscow also using Bulgaria as a playground.

He tied recent developments relating to controversial MP Delyan Peevski (report of a travel ban issued on him and the termination of public tenders allegedly involving companies with links to him) and the situation with the report on Corporate Commercial Bank (KTB) by AlixPartners are "the echo of a bigger and stonger dramaturgy we are taking part in as actors."

Vassilev suggested the act of Turkey to bar Peevski and Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) co-founder Ahmed Dogan from entering the country is a way for Ankara to show it deems "hostile" Dogan's move to show allegiance to Moscow.

Turkey pins its hopes on the assumption that "the Turkish ethnic group, regardless of whether it lives in Turkey or Bulgaria," will not side with the enemy or opponent.

Commenting on the purported decision by Bulgarian authorities to expel a Turkish consular official in Burgas, he said the step had been prompted by domestic realities as a result of pressure by some political parties on the Foreign Ministry to "expel the Turkish ambassador without even realizing the risks".

He added a very small part of the exchange of low-profile officials between two countries was "very low, not beyond 20%".

In recent years Vassilev has been a Managing Partner at Innovative Energy Solutions, which describes itself as a leading Eastern European professional services advisory firm, "supporting investors and companies in the energy sector". In local media outlets, he has been notable for his comments about Russia's big-scale oil and gas projects involving Bulgaria and other countries in the region.

He was Bulgaria's envoy to Russia between 2000 and 2006.

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Tags: Ilian Vassilev, turkey, Russia, Bulgaria, DPS, Delyan Peevski


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