Bulgaria accuses Russia of destabilizing Europe

- President Plevneliev says Russia aspires to reestablish its former influence in post-Soviet region

BERLIN (AA) - Bulgaria's president has accused Russia on Friday of reviving the Soviet era's expansionist policies to destabilize the European Union and warned that, after Ukraine, the Balkans could be the next flashpoint.

“Today Russia is following an aggressive and nationalist foreign policy, trying to restore its former influence in the post-Soviet region,” Rosen Plevneliev told a press conference during his two-day visit to the German capital, Berlin.

He said the West should ask itself "What will come next?" if the crisis in Ukraine culminated in unwanted consequences. "I think that the Balkans are likely to be the next target,” he said. 

He added: “Southeast Europe can be destabilized by Russia through nationalists, oligarchs, corruption, propaganda and the region's dependence on Russian energy. Kremlin uses oligarchs, failed state structures and channels of former intelligence officials of the former communist rules in these countries.”

Plevneliev underscored that the EU should counter Russia’s policy by offering a stronger EU membership perspective for the western Balkan countries and accelerating their integration process within the EU.

Asked about the negotiations among the EU members on imposing stronger sanctions against Russia due to its role in the escalation of violence in Ukraine, he said the EU members should continue acting in unity.

“In this way we can help Russia to return to the international order and the rules of modern diplomacy,” he said.

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