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2005-11-18 12:34:00
Embassy Sofia
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 SOFIA 001945 


E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/18/2015

Classified By: Ambassador John Beyrle, for reasons 1.5 (b) and (d).

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 SOFIA 001945


E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/18/2015

Classified By: Ambassador John Beyrle, for reasons 1.5 (b) and (d).

1. (C) Summary: Bulgaria supports a balanced approached to
negotiations over Kosovo's future status and believes that
all options should be considered. Sofia sees the prospect of
EU integration for Kosovo, and other West Balkan countries,
as the key factor in bringing stability and development to
the region. The GOB is ready to take an active if as yet
undefined part in the Kosovo negotiations but believes its
public is largely indifferent to the issue. End Summary.

EU Integration Critical for West Balkan Stability
-------------- --------------

2. (C) Bulgaria's position on Kosovo's final status remains
open. It has maintained a balance between Belgrade's position
of greater autonomy but not full independence and the Kosovar
Albanians' push for unconditional independence. Foreign
Minister Kalfin has said that all options should be on the
table. For Sofia the important issue is that the concerned
parties reach a mutually acceptable agreement on Kosovo's
status and that negotiations be without coercion or force.

3. (C) Iva Kruleva, the Foreign Ministry's chief expert on
Kosovo, shared with us a copy of the GOB's position on
Kosovo, which is still under review (full text e-mailed to
EUR/NCE Scott Brandon). The main points include:

--The Bulgarian position on Kosovo is based on Resolution
1244 of the UN Security Council and "standards before
status", which was transformed to "standards and status."

--Negotiations should not be expedited forcibly nor have a
predetermined outcome.

--The application of standards should continue during the
negotiations. The degree of the implementation of the
standards should determine the pace of the negotiations,
especially on key standards like the return of refugees and
minority rights.

--Support for a common European position.

--Decisions regarding Kosovo's future should be compatible
with European norms and values as well as: the
constitutionally guaranteed rights of all citizens regardless
of their ethnic origin, religious and language identity in

the framework of one multi-ethnic community; contribution to
the security and stability of Southeast Europe; acknowledging
the territorial integrity of its neighbors (i.e. the
agreement should not generate instability in the region).

--Bulgaria should contribute to Kosovo's stability and
overcoming its isolation, and support the economic
development and administrative capacity of Kosovo.

4. (C) Kruleva underscored the importance for the GOB that
there be a "European future" for Kosovo. Bulgaria sees
European integration as the key factor that can bring
stability and economic development to the Western Balkans.
President Purvanov highlighted the same theme in his October
18 CSIS presentation in Washington. He argued that the
borders between the Balkan countries, which were the cause of
so many conflicts, would no longer matter after EU
integration and that radicalism and separatism would become
obsolete. According to Kruleva, these countries need a "road
map" for European Integration with a set of guidelines and
expectations, but also a promise of EU membership. Foreign
Minister Kalfin has echoed this point saying, "there should
be clear rules which they (all the countries of the Western
Balkans) must follow and these rules should be tied to the
various statuses of their negotiations with the EU." Kalfin
added that "a very clear impression should exist that the
international community is watching closely whether the
standards are respected in these countries." The Bulgarians
therefore see a strong need for continuing the implementation
of standards as a part of settling Kosovo's status.

Macedonia Not a Major Concern

5. (C) Bulgaria is not particularly concerned about potential
unrest in Macedonia or a spillover effect in Bulgaria
relating to Kosovo's future status, according to Kruleva and
Boiko Todorov from the Center for the Study of Democracy.
Todorov told us that the problems of Kosovo, including fears
of an ethnic partition of Macedonia, are distant for most
Bulgarians. There is no significant Albanian community here
and Bulgaria does not have strong trade or investment ties
with Kosovo. Bulgaria never experienced a large influx of
Albanian refugees during the Kosovo conflict and the fact
that the two countries do not share a common border
contributes to the Bulgarian public's lack of interest in
Kosovo. According to Todorov, most Bulgarians view the
question of Kosovo's status as a "geo-strategic" issue that
will be sorted out by the great powers. The Bulgarian
government therefore faces no domestic pressure on Kosovo's
status, according to Todorov, and is free to chart its own
course of action. Todorov, however, believes that the GOB is
so preoccupied with EU accession now that it would prefer to
leave the question of Kosovo's status to the EU or the United

6. (C) Bulgaria's relationship with Macedonia is still
complicated, according to Todorov. In the past Bulgaria
tried to act as a big brother to Macedonia and Skopje still
remains suspicious of its larger neighbor's intentions and is
at times resentful of this "big brother" mentality. Todorov
said it is difficult for Macedonia to openly accept
Bulgaria's assistance given domestic pressures. For now the
Bulgarian government's desire is to maintain good relations
with both Macedonia and Serbia and will likely follow the
dominant opinion of the EU on Kosovo and other matters,
remarked Todorov.

Others See Kosovo's Independence as Unavoidable
-------------- ---

7. (C) Others, like former Foreign Minister and current
chairman of the Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee
Solomon Passy, have a dimmer view of what is to come. Passy
told us that Kosovo's independence is inevitable and that the
Bulgarian public "would not be happy" with the eventual
outcome. Passy said Bulgaria is concerned about any precedent
of ethnic partition, which could create problems for
Macedonia or even be exploited by "radical Muslim leaders" in
Bulgaria itself. To encourage a peaceful settlement, Passy
emphasized the need to offer Belgrade a package of incentives
like NATO and EU membership and improvements in regional
infrastructure. Passy was optimistic about the economic
viability of an independent Kosovo, but thought it would need
"close international supervision."

Bulgaria Ready to Help in Kosovo Negotiations
-------------- -

8. (C) Kruleva told us Bulgaria intends to take an active
part in the political process to determine Kosovo's future
status and highlighted Bulgaria's current assistance to
Kosovo, including supplying Kosovo with electricity during
the winter. She also mentioned that a Bulgarian business
purchased a recently privatized sheet metal factory near
Pristina which employs 350 people. Bulgaria is strengthening
Kosovo's administrative capacity by providing training and
education opportunities to Kosovars. Deputy Foreign Minister
Lyubomir Kyuchoukov just returned from a trip to Skopje,
Belgrade and Pristina, which, according to the GOB, was part
of Bulgaria's approach to pursue a resolution to the problems
of the Western Balkans and Kosovo.


9. (C) We can expect the GOB to support any agreement on
Kosovo backed by the international community. Foreign
Minister Kalfin himself has said that the positions of
Bulgaria and the United States on Kosovo are very close.
Bulgaria sees a role for itself in these negotiations,
although still undefined. End Comment.