Enhanced Bulgaria – NATO military-political contacts days before Summit

Bulgarian Defense Minister Krasimir Karakachanov (left) and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

The past week has been marked by active military-political dialogue of Bulgaria with NATO. Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva spoke in Brussels with Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday, while Minister of Defense Krasimir Karakachanov did the same on Thursday. Head of Defense Lieut. Gen. Andrey Botsev also attended the spring session in the Belgian capital.

Both, the foreign minister and the minister of defense, as well as the head of defense took over their positions in the third cabinet of Boyko Borissov and so these visits aimed to some degree at the establishment of initial contacts. At the same time the talks were held a few days before the NATO summit, scheduled for May 25. The Bulgarian government has approved certain stances for it this week that the Bulgarian delegation will adhere to. Ministers Zaharieva and Karakachanov will be part of this delegation and during their talks with Secretary General Stoltenberg they actually voiced the major accents that they would defend during the Summit.

Bulgaria’s commitment to a gradual increase of its military budget to 2 percent of GDP was confirmed. The intentions of the defense ministry envisage 1/5 of this budget to be allocated to the armed forces’ modernization. Both ministers stated before Secretary General Stoltenberg that Bulgaria would like the more sensitive commitment of NATO within the fight with terrorism. At a session of the Alliance’s military committee Gen. Botsev agreed with the recommendation, saying that NATO should become a member of the coalition against ISIS, contributing to the enhancing of the capabilities of Iraq and the other countries which fight with the terrorist organization.

Right after the talk with Mr. Stoltenberg, at sittings of the European Defense Agency’s Steering Board and of the EU Foreign Affairs (Defense) Council, Minister Karakachanov declared his stance for cooperation with NATO for the boosting of the Western Balkan countries’ capacity in the sphere of security and defense. The idea was well received and supported by a series of European defense ministers and so the Bulgarian side will most likely launch this stance during the forthcoming NATO Summit.

In a message sent to PM Boyko Borissov Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg expressed his expectation that later on through the month the two would meet in Brussels. Minister Karakachanov on his part invited him to visit Bulgaria. Thus the week ended up with wishes for new military and political contacts.

English version: Zhivko Stanchev 

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