In a statement, Bulgaria’s Deputy Prime Minister Assen Vassilev said, Sofia will not support the European Union’s new sanctions on Russia if it does get an exemption on Russian energy imports.
While talks among EU governments are moving closer towards agreeing on tougher sanctions against Russia, details have to be worked out to ensure that EU countries which are significantly depended on Russian energy do not suffer severe economic consequences as a result these sanctions.
“The talks will continue tomorrow, on Tuesday too, a meeting of the leaders may be needed to conclude them. Our position is very clear. If there be a derogation for some of the countries, we want to get a derogation too,” said Vassilev. “If not, we will not support the sanctions. But I do not expect to get to that, based on the talks at the moment”.
Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic are heavily dependent on Russian crude oil. Finding alternative energy sources are a challenge.
Vassilev went on to add, “Bulgaria needs to get a derogation, as its only refinery at the Black Sea port of Burgas needed time to upgrade its de-sulphurization facilities necessary to switch to processing only non-Russian crude”.
“Lack of an exemption would either pose serious environmental risks to the region of Burgas or force the oil refinery to decrease processing, which would create a deficit and further increase fuel prices,” he said.