With regard to dealing with external crises and conflicts, the main actors that cooperate in Bulgaria are the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defence, and the Ministry of Interior.
Parliament can play an important role with regard to Bulgaria’s positioning on external conflicts and crises. Article 84 (11) of the constitution stipulates that parliament must give its consent to any deployment of Bulgarian military forces abroad. The proposal for the deployment is prepared by the government.
The parliament also adopts the annual state budget proposed by the government. Budget lines linked to humanitarian aid, development policy and Bulgaria’s participation in NATO and CSDP missions are not issues that trigger extensive debate.
The parliament or individual parliamentary committees have the right to put questions to ministers and to invite representatives of the executive to attend hearings on any issues of interest, including external conflicts and crises. One format for debate on politically controversial foreign policy issues can be the Consultative Council for National Security (CCNS), which is chaired by the president of Bulgaria. The CCNS includes representatives of the political groups in parliament; the speaker of the parliament; the prime minister; the ministers of foreign affairs, defence, the interior and finance; the chairman of the state security agency; and the chief of the general staff of the Bulgarian Army (President of the Republic of Bulgaria 2012). Depending on the issue under discussion, other government or political parties may be invited to either the regular (quarterly) or extraordinary meetings (ibid.).
With regard to crises in the last 10 years, the CCNS had a meeting in March 2014 in the immediate wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Although there was agreement that the sanctions which would eventually be imposed on Russia would also have negative impacts on Bulgaria, this did not prevent the government from supporting the sanctions. However, at present, the incumbent president and the incumbent government are quite often at odds on several foreign policy issues, especially when Russia is involved in a direct or indirect way. Most recently, the president also criticised the government for its support for Juan Guaido as the de facto head of state of Venezuela.