During a debate with his main opponent in the presidential election, Anastas Gerdzhikov, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev said he considered annexed Crimea to be Russian territory and that sanctions against Russia were ineffective, Svobodna Evropa reports.
"[Crimea] is Russian now. What else can there be?" Radev answered a question about the occupied peninsula.
He added that it is important to have pragmatism in foreign policy.
"Sanctions against Russia seem ineffective. We need a pragmatic policy towards Moscow. Last but not least, we must not forget that Russia is a very important factor in the fight against global terrorism," the president said.
Radev's opponent Anastas Gerdzhikov, in turn, said that Crimea was Ukrainian territory and argued for the need to maintain sanctions until the human rights problem in Russia is resolved.
The statement of the Bulgarian president has already been responded to by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. The Bulgarian ambassador to Kyiv was summoned to the Ukrainian diplomatic mission.
"The Ukrainian side conveyed to the Ambassador the position of our state on incorrectness and unacceptability of the statements by President of Bulgaria Rumen Radev regarding Crimea during yesterday's pre-election TV debates," the message reads.
The Foreign Ministry noted that the words of the current president do not contribute to the development of good neighborly relations between Ukraine and Bulgaria.
According to the ministry's press service, Ambassador Kostadin Kojabashev assured Bulgaria of its unwavering position on maintaining Ukraine's territorial integrity, including Crimea as an integral part of the Ukrainian state, and efforts to deoccupy the peninsula, including Bulgaria's participation in the Crimean Platform.
As it was reported, earlier Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus, Vladimir Makei called the annexed Crimea "Russian territory".
President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko stated that he was ready to recognize the annexed Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea as part of the Russian Federation.