Bulgarian Government at Odds Over Russian Oil Import Deadline

Politics | November 16, 2023, Thursday // 13:25|  views

The Security Council of the Council of Ministers faced deadlock over the controversial derogation of Russian oil imports, leading to heightened tensions between “We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria” (WCC-DB), GERB, and DPS. Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov convened the meeting to evaluate the implications of GERB's proposal for an immediate cancellation of the derogation, leading to a sharp divide in perspectives.

GERB and DPS advocated for the removal of the derogation within three days, aiming to expedite the process. However, WCC-DB emphasized that the earliest safe timeframe for this derogation removal without risking the state's interests would be March 1, 2024.

Prime Minister Denkov highlighted the findings from the National Assembly's report, emphasizing the necessity of respecting the proposed timelines to minimize potential risks to the state's refinery and fuel supplies.

The Prime Minister outlined phased steps for reducing Russian oil imports:

  • No more than 50% after December 31, 2023
  • No more than 25% after January 31, 2024
  • Complete cessation from March 1, 2024

The rift deepened when GERB departed the meeting early, citing Lukoil's readiness to switch completely to non-Russian oil. However, following recent parliamentary votes, the refinery had withdrawn from this commitment.

DPS also left the meeting, expressing frustration at the lack of persuasive arguments favoring the maintenance of the derogation.

Delyan Peevski of DPS condemned the meeting as unproductive and hinted at potential repercussions for the Customs Agency over alleged circumvention of Russian sanctions.

Meanwhile, Kiril Petkov of WCC-DB highlighted reports from Bulgarian services and Lukoil representatives, emphasizing the March 1 deadline as the safest option to avoid market price hikes and supply uncertainties.

The ongoing standoff reflects contrasting views on the timeline for derogation removal, with potential budgetary impacts worth BGN 550 million if the derogation extends until March 1.

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Tags: Russian, oil, parliamentary, derogation


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