Black Sea fleet: Romania and Bulgaria at odds
In the run-up to the Nato summit in Warsaw, Sofia has dismissed Bucharest's plans for a joint Black Sea fleet with Turkey. After Romanian President Iohannis last week received the consent of his Bulgarian counterpart Plevneliev, Bulgarian PM Borisov categorically rejected the plans a few days later. What is behind this diplomatic shilly-shallying?
It was clear that Sofia wouldn't want to join in
Romanian journalist Ion Ionita explains in his blog with Adevărul why Bucharest's plans were doomed from the start:
“Romania has two ideas [for its defence]: it wants a multinational [Nato] brigade on land and a Nato fleet on the Black Sea. The Bulgarian prime minister's irritating statements have now torpedoed the second idea. What must Romania reproach itself for? For the fact that the Bulgarians changed their mind within 24 hours? For a friend [from Moscow] having made a call to Sofia? … Nato has left it to the states that border on the Black Sea - or to be precise Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey, the three Nato member states that are allowed to maintain a permanent military fleet in the Black Sea under the Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits - to reach an agreement on forming their own Black Sea fleet. … We should have known that Bulgaria wouldn't want to provoke Russia on this matter.”
Bulgaria not the US's marionette
The Bulgarian daily Standart fervently hopes that Prime Minister Boyko Borisov will stand by his categorical rejection of the project:
“The question now is whether Borisov will be able to keep the military-oriented section of the Bulgarian political establishment led by [President Rosen] Plevneliev, [Defence Minister Nikolai] Nenchev and [Foreign Minister Daniel] Mitov under control. They are clearly serving foreign interests that run counter to Bulgaria's national interests. … Plevneliev should travel to the Nato summit in Warsaw with a mandate clearly defining what he can offer and what he can take. … If we joined the Black Sea fleet we would become nothing more than a marionette for the US's and Turkey's anti-Russian regional politics.”