Sofia Echo


Bulgarian Foreign Minister on Libya, embassies and Lisbon's Nato summit

Author: Nick Iliev Date: Thu, Nov 18 2010 2140 Views
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Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolai Mladenov will visit Libya in a mission to "improve" dialogue with the north African country, mass circulation daily 24 Chasa reports on November 18 2010.

Mladenov said he is visiting Libya following the meeting between the European Union and the Africa Union countries. This represents a good opportunity to maintain relations with a number of African countries, with which Bulgaria has little contact, according to Mladenov. He will also explain why Bulgaria is closing certain embassies in 2011.

He announced on November 11 2010 that a total of 101 diplomatic staff will be dismissed. A total of seven embassies – those in Sudan, Angola, Zimbabwe, Cambodia, Thailand, Mexico and Tunisia – will be closed at the beginning of January 2011. The "downsizing" process will last until the end of 2011.

When asked if he will meet Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe and explain to him why Bulgaria will pull out of Harare, Mladenov said

Mladenov said that the decision to close seven embassies was based on several criteria. First, if those respective countries had diplomatic missions in Bulgaria; secondly, an evaluation of the current "intensity of bilateral cooperation", and, thirdly, financial considerations.

But he insisted that Bulgaria's withdrawal from those seven countries would not change the course of Bulgaria's diplomatic relations with the nations in question and that the decision to withdraw was decided primarily by financial factors.

According to Mladenov, Bulgaria is contemplating opening an embassy in Iraq and re-opening its embassy in Kenya because of the crisis in Somalia and the Gulf of Aden.

Regarding the Nato summit in Lisbon on November 19-20 2010, Mladenov said that he expects the Russians to "come prepared" and make an effective proposal to the Alliance with which they will cooperate, and coordinate their efforts in creating the mutual missile defence shield.

The agenda of the Lisbon summit will focus on collective defence and deterrence, crisis management and co-operative security, according to the mission statement.

Other issues to be examined will be missile defence, progress on transition in Afghanistan, relations with Russia and a comprehensive approach to security challenges that will call for greater co-operation with partners.

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