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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06SOFIA267
2006-02-22 16:06:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Sofia
Cable title:  

PARLIAMENT APPROVES BULGARIAN MILITARY DEPLOYMENT

Tags:   PGOV  KJUS  KCRM  EU  IZ  BU 
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VZCZCXRO5338
PP RUEHAG RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN RUEHLZ
RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHSF #0267 0531606
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 221606Z FEB 06
FM AMEMBASSY SOFIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1488
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD PRIORITY 0088
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
						UNCLAS SOFIA 000267 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KJUS KCRM EU IZ BU
SUBJECT: PARLIAMENT APPROVES BULGARIAN MILITARY DEPLOYMENT
TO CAMP ASHRAF


UNCLAS SOFIA 000267

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KJUS KCRM EU IZ BU
SUBJECT: PARLIAMENT APPROVES BULGARIAN MILITARY DEPLOYMENT
TO CAMP ASHRAF



1. (SBU) Bulgaria's ruling three-party coalition won
parliamentary approval February 22 to send 155 Bulgarian
military personnel to Camp Ashraf, Iraq. The vote was 151
to 14 with one abstention. This decision clears the final
hurdle in the GOB's political approval process for the
mission and highlights the ruling coalition's determination
to follow through on a controversial foreign policy
initiative that has limited public support. According to
Defense Minister Veselin Bliznakov, the unit is expected to
deploy by late March. As expected, the ultra-nationalist
Ataka party criticized the proposal to send Bulgarian troops
back to Iraq but failed to make a dent in the Government's
solid majority.


2. (SBU) While supporting the Camp Ashraf mission, the
center-right Union for Democratic Forces used the debate to
ridicule the Bulgarian Socialist Party for its campaign
pledge to immediately withdraw Bulgarian troops from Iraq,
if elected. Ataka MPs first tried to postpone the vote by
calling for a quorum count. After the count, Ataka MPs
questioned the humanitarian nature of the mission and
accused the government of hiding information and involving
Bulgaria in "a bloody adventure." Petar Beron, also from
Ataka, said the Ashraf mission is a "shameful operation" and
that the Iraqi regime is "a marionette." Former PM and
leader of the opposition Democrats for Strong Bulgaria, Ivan
Kostov, questioned whether the mission is humanitarian, and
asserted that a parliamentary decision was not needed to
send forces on a humanitarian mission.


3. (SBU) MPs from the ruling coalition defended the mission,
which has been presented as a primarily humanitarian mission
in GOB public statements, stressing that Bulgaria must be a
reliable partner and member of the coalition in Iraq. Yunal
Lyutfi, an MP from the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights
and Freedom, responded to Ataka's criticism by stressing the
need for Bulgaria to be "consistent in its foreign policy."


4. (SBU) The vote ends a painful five-month deliberation
process for the GOB, moved forward by frequent U.S.
advocacy. In the end, the GOB decided, as PM Stanishev has
frequently said, that continued involvement in Iraq remains
in Bulgaria's national interest.

BEYRLE