- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 17, 2011


An immigrant-bashing politician and cable TV talk-show host in Bulgaria is accusing U.S. Ambassador James Warlick of threatening him when he demanded that the United States pay rent for the use of Bulgarian military bases.

Volen Siderov, leader of the ultranationalist Ataka Party, also is calling on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to recall Mr. Warlick.

Mr. Siderov’s dispute with Mr. Warlick angered Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov, while Deputy Prime Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov questioned Mr. Siderov’s sobriety.

Mr. Siderov, who hosts a talk show called “Attack,” disclosed his letter to Mrs. Clinton on Tuesday on the website of his political party, the name of which translates into English also as “Attack.”

He described a confrontation with Mr. Warlick in a restaurant in the capital, Sofia, last week.

Mr. Siderov said he approached the ambassador and presented him with what he called a “bill” for about $1.4 billion in rent that his party calculated the United States should pay for using four Bulgarian military bases.

He claimed the ambassador responded with threats to “destroy” him.

“As a member of the National Assembly of Bulgaria and chairman of a political party, Ataka, I want to inform you of the improper conduct of his excellency James Warlick,” Mr. Siderov wrote in his letter to Mrs. Clinton.

He claimed that Mr. Warlick threw his rent bill onto another table and said “loudly several times, and I quote, ‘I will destroy you.’ “

“I was extremely surprised and asked him, ‘You will destroy me?’ at which point Warlick replied, ‘The U.S. will destroy you.’ “

The U.S. Embassy dismissed Mr. Siderov’s actions as a “cheap political stunt.”

“The U.S. Embassy does not endorse the ideas of hatred, prejudice and bigotry that Mr. Siderov and Attack stand for,” it added.

In a 2005 diplomatic cable, the embassy described Ataka as “strongly anti-U.S.” and noted that Mr. Siderov is “openly anti-Semitic.”

Mr. Siderov, 55, has blamed ethnic minorities in Bulgaria for the country’s poor economic conditions and accused them of receiving too generous benefits from the state.

His political party, officially known as the National Union Attack, opposed NATO and closer ties with the United States. Attack won 9.4 percent of the vote and 21 seats in the 240-seat legislature in the 2009 election. It also received 12 percent of the vote and two seats in the European Parliament in a separate election the same year.

Mr. Siderov created a headache for Mr. Parvanov, who explained that the U.S. has free use of the military bases under a 2006 U.S.-Bulgarian defense agreement. The bases remain under Bulgarian control.

“Mr. Siderov behaves provocatively,” he told the Focus News Agency.

The interior minister, Mr. Tsvetanov, suggested that Mr. Siderov should “pass a Drager test,” a reference to an alcohol sobriety test, “before making a public appearance, so that we can make sure of his emotional condition and prevent over-excitement.”


Two new conservative Republican senators are among the latest members of a key congressional human rights panel.

Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Marco Rubio of Florida were appointed to the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, completing the membership of the panel for the current Congress, Chairman Christopher H. Smith announced this week.

“The commission is well-positioned to make a real difference in the lives of those deprived of their human rights and denied their human dignity,” said Mr. Smith, a Republican House member from New Jersey.

Other new members include Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Democrat; Rep. Steve Cohen, Tennessee Democrat; and Republican Reps. Phil Gingrey of Georgia and Michael C. Burgess of Texas.

Mr. Smith, who has been chairman or co-chairman through six congressional sessions, regained the chairmanship after Republicans took over the House after November’s elections.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

• James Morrison can be reached at jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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