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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 19 February, 2003, 18:17 GMT
Bulgaria rejects French 'emotion'
Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov has summoned the French ambassador to object to President Chirac's criticism of EU candidate countries for siding with the US over Iraq.

The French president admitted defeat in his rage
Slovakian daily Sme

At a meeting in Sofia on Wednesday he expressed concern about "the emotional statement" in which the French president accused future EU members of childish and dangerous behaviour.

Mr Chirac was particularly irked by statements of solidarity for the US position on Iraq, signed by a number of the countries due to join the EU in 2004, and by five existing members.

He said that Bulgaria and Romania - currently expected to join the EU in 2007 - had been "particularly thoughtless" and could not have chosen a better way to spoil their chances of gaining entry to the club.

FEBRUARY LETTER SUPPORTING US
Albania
Bulgaria*
Croatia
Estonia*
Latvia*
Lithuania*
Macedonia
Romania*
Slovakia*
Slovenia*
*EU candidate country
Newspapers in Eastern Europe on Wednesday responded angrily to Mr Chirac's comments, which came too late for Tuesday's editions.

"Bulgaria insists on mutual respect between EU members and applicant countries, between big and small states," Mr Parvanov told ambassador Jean-Loup Kuhm-Delforge, according to the presidential press office.

"In this regard, pressure by one state on another should not be allowed."

Atlanticism

French officials have been reported as saying that Mr Chirac was angry that the candidate countries had been giving higher priority to transatlantic defence ties than political and cultural ties within Europe.

JANUARY'S OPEN LETTER OF SUPPORT
Czech Republic*
Denmark
Hungary*
Italy
Poland*
Portugal
Spain
United Kingdom
*EU candidate country
Mr Parvanov told the ambassador: "Bulgaria views its European and Atlantic integration as inseparable and would not like to be put in the position to choose between its future allies and partners."

Bulgaria is one of seven East European countries scheduled to join Nato next year.

The day after Mr Chirac's outburst, all the 13 EU candidate countries endorsed the common EU position on Iraq hammered out in Brussels on Monday.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair took the unusual step of writing to the candidate countries hours afterwards, praising their solidarity with the US and seeking to present himself as their closest ally in Europe.

"I much admire the leadership you have shown on these issues," he said.




SEE ALSO:
'New Europe' backs EU on Iraq
19 Feb 03  |  Europe
Chirac blasts EU candidates
18 Feb 03  |  Europe
EU moves to heal Iraq divisions
17 Feb 03  |  Europe
Full text: EU Iraq declaration
18 Feb 03  |  Europe
Tense weeks ahead in Iraq crisis
17 Feb 03  |  Middle East
US warns UN against Iraq delay
17 Feb 03  |  Middle East
Analysis: Vive la UN difference
16 Feb 03  |  Americas
European leaders rally behind US
30 Jan 03  |  Europe


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