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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05SOFIA604
2005-03-31 13:14:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Sofia
Cable title:  

BULGARIAN COUNCIL OF MINISTERS CONSIDERS DECISION

Tags:   PREL  MOPS  PGOV  IZ  BU 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SOFIA 000604 

SIPDIS


E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/31/2015
TAGS: PREL MOPS PGOV IZ BU
SUBJECT: BULGARIAN COUNCIL OF MINISTERS CONSIDERS DECISION
TO LEAVE IRAQ AT THE END OF 2005

REF: A) SOFIA 524 B) SOFIA 436 C) SOFIA 486 D) SOFIA

67 E) 04 SOFIA 2261 F) 04 SOFIA 2054 (NOTAL)

Classified By: Ambassador James Pardew, reasons, 1.4(B) and (D).

C O N F I D E N T I A L SOFIA 000604

SIPDIS


E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/31/2015
TAGS: PREL MOPS PGOV IZ BU
SUBJECT: BULGARIAN COUNCIL OF MINISTERS CONSIDERS DECISION
TO LEAVE IRAQ AT THE END OF 2005

REF: A) SOFIA 524 B) SOFIA 436 C) SOFIA 486 D) SOFIA

67 E) 04 SOFIA 2261 F) 04 SOFIA 2054 (NOTAL)

Classified By: Ambassador James Pardew, reasons, 1.4(B) and (D).


1. (C) SUMMARY: The Bulgarian Council of Ministers (CM) is
considering a proposal on March 31 to withdraw its troops
from Iraq on 31 December 2005 in accordance with the GOB's
understanding of UNSCR 1546. During a meeting with Foreign
Minister Solomon Passy on March 30, Passy informed Deputy
Secretary Zoellick that the CM would task the Parliament to

SIPDIS
determine another form of participation in the Iraq
Coalition, such as the NATO Training Mission Iraq (NTM-I).
The GOB says this decision will reaffirm Bulgaria's support
for the Iraqi government and its commitments to the MNF-I.
However with two thirds of the population opposed to
Bulgaria's military presence in Iraq, this is an issue that
the government is clearly hoping to put behind it before the
upcoming June parliamentary elections. END SUMMARY.


2. (C) According to information provided by Foreign Minister
Passy on March 30, the CM's decision will allow the GOB to
tell the Bulgarian population that the government does in
fact have an exit strategy for Iraq, while simultaneously
leaving the door open for further participation in NATO
training initiatives. The GOB crafted its decision to
demonstrate that it is "reaffirming" both its participation
in the Coalition and its support for the Iraq government.


3. (SBU) Following are key points of the text submitted to
the CM and presented to us on March 30. The text is quoted
verbatim from the Bulgarian translation into English.
BEGIN TEXT: Key Points of the Council of Ministers draft
decision on Bulgaria's participation in support of the
international community initiatives for maintaining the
security and stability in Iraq.
- Bulgaria remains a member of the international coalition
and in coordination with the Iraqi leadership supports the
independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq.
- Bulgaria will continue to fulfill its obligations until the
end of the year in accordance with the UN Security Council
Resolution 1546, which sets the mandate of the multinational
forces until December 31, 2005.
- The adoption of a national political decision on the
parameters of our further participation in Iraq is related to
the changing situation in the country and in particular with
the successful continuation of the political transition and
the elections held on January 30 for Interim National
Assembly, provincial councils and autonomous Kurdish
Parliament. These elections are a historical milestone both
for Iraq and the region as after the elections the Iraqi
authorities are in a position to assume more responsibility
for stabilization and democratization of the country.
- As the situation has changed after the January 30 elections
for Interim National Assembly, there is a potential for
cutting the troops in Iraq from 500 to 400 while improving
the structures and the staff of the Bulgarian contingent.
- This decision does not come as a result of any external
pressure.
- The decision is not a pre-election move. On the contrary,
it is a result of the common stand of the allies and the
Government's strategy for the country's long-term policy.
- There is a need for additional forms of cooperation to
support the newly elected political institutions in Iraq in
compliance with the UN Security Council resolutions.


4. (C) COMMENT: The GOB's draft strategy on Iraq likely will
create a hot public debate before it is approved by the
Parliament in coming weeks. The opposition Socialists smell
political blood on this issue for Prime Minister
Saxe-Coburg's party. They are likely to generate an intense
debate to keep it going as long as possible before the June
25 Parliamentary elections in Bulgaria.