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Bulgaria canceled Lavrov's permission to fly over its airspace, the route followed by the Russian Foreign Minister's plane to arrive in Skopje is revealed (Video)
Written by SOT.COM.AL 30 Nëntor 2023
The plane carrying Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was forced to fly over Turkey and Greece to reach North Macedonia after Bulgaria refused to allow him to fly over its airspace.
Bulgaria said the prior permission granted specifically stated that the plane of the Russian delegation, led by Lavrov, was not to carry persons sanctioned by the European Union because of Russia's unprovoked war on Ukraine.
In the early hours of November 30, Lavrov arrived in North Macedonia to attend a summit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
The spokeswoman of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, accused Bulgaria of "stupidity" because of Sofia's decision not to allow Lavrov's plane to fly over Bulgarian airspace.
Previously, Skopje and Sofia temporarily suspended sanctions imposed by the European Union on Russian aircraft flights due to Russian aggression against Ukraine, in order to allow Lavrov to attend the summit.
Zakharova, who is under EU sanctions, said her presence on board the plane was the reason Bulgaria refused to fly over its airspace.
"This stupidity of Russophobia has reached the point that, for the first time in our history, the authorities stop not the plane, but the person on it," she wrote on Telegram, suggesting that Russia may impose similar flight bans "for thousands of NATO officials", and said that Bulgaria "set a dangerous precedent".
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria justified the refusal to allow Lavrov's plane to fly over Bulgarian airspace:
"Permission has been granted to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Sergei Lavrov, to participate in the OSCE Ministerial Council meeting in Skopje and is included in the exemptions from the application of the EU sanctions regime against him. The permission given does not apply to the members of his delegation, who are also sanctioned persons, according to the law in force of the EU, which is expressly stated in the answer of the Bulgarian side", it was said in the reaction of the Bulgarian MFA.
The European Union has imposed sanctions on Russian flights due to Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
Lavrov's participation in the two-day summit in Skopje has caused many reactions, and opponents of his presence have said that Russia by participating in this summit is benefiting and strengthening its position on the international stage, despite the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
Ukraine and the Baltic states, as a sign of dissatisfaction, have not sent the Ministers of Foreign Affairs to the Ministerial Council.
On the evening of November 28, the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, and the head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrell, attended an informal dinner in Skopje.
They then left North Macedonia, thus avoiding their presence at an event attended by Lavrov.
The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, did not make further comments about the meeting of the Council of Ministers of the OSCE and the participation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Sergei Lavrov, in it.
However, comments on the participation of the Russian diplomat were made by the EU's high representative for foreign policy and security, Josep Borrell, also a participant in the informal dinner of the OSCE Ministerial Council.
Borrell said that "the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, should hear from the participants in the OSCE Ministerial Council in Skopje why Russia is isolated and sanctioned and should convey the messages to the Kremlin".
The two-day meeting of the Ministerial Council of the OSCE is the biggest diplomatic event that has ever taken place in North Macedonia./REL