Bulgarian coalition government negotiations: quest for a foreign policy

The latest in a series of negotiations between the four potential partners of a possible future Bulgarian coalition government ended on November 27 after nearly seven hours of foreign policy talks, which saw choppy waters in discussions on relations with Russia and North Macedonia.

Convened by the We Continue the Change (WCC) party and broadcast live, the negotiations also involved the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), Slavi Trifonov’s ITN party and the democratic Bulgaria coalition. Together, they constitute the “WCC + 3” and between them have enough seats in the newly elected parliament vote for a government in power.

On North Macedonia, there were expressions of intention for constructive engagement, as well as the continuation of the life of the joint commission to resolve issues on common history, joint meetings of the governments of the two countries and the creation of new joint commissions.

On Russia, the BSP, as one would expect, pushed for more cordial relations. It was pointed out that Bulgaria’s relations with Russia exist in the context of EU-Russia relations, with BSP’s Kristian Vigenin saying this does not prevent Bulgaria from seeking to develop these relations on a bilateral basis.

The long discussions covered a wide range of issues, relations with the United States, a stronger voice in the European Union, Bulgaria’s role in NATO, relations with Africa, with Canada , with other countries of strategic importance, a commitment to Bulgaria pursuing membership in the Schengen visa area, the euro area, relations with countries from Ukraine to Moldova with emphasis on Bulgarian ethnic communities in these countries, continued emancipation of Bulgarian communities abroad, reform of personnel policy for career diplomats, good neighborly relations with Turkey, as well as policy areas – such as the issuance of visas – not necessarily in the context of foreign policy. The only thing missing was the Eurovision Song Contest.

At the meeting of the working group on foreign policy, the co-leaders of the WCC Kiril Petkov and Assen Vassilev – whose party, as the winner of the most seats in the newly elected National Assembly, will be empowered by the constitution to receive the first term to seek to form a government – worked hard to achieve consensus, with the aim of moving towards a comprehensive coalition government agreement.

It is expected that the consultations between the working groups on 18 policy areas will be followed by discussions between the leaders of the parties and coalitions, with a view to the signing of a coalition government agreement.

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