Bulgaria exceeds NATO's defense spending requirements

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"With the F-16 deal, Bulgaria will take the top position in NATO when it comes to defense spending," Dnevnik daily writes in an article. Reason for the article became the fact that the government has already transferred 1.256 billion dollars to the US for the purchase of eight F-16 Block 70 fighter jets. According to NATO recommendations, each country must spend 2% of its gross domestic product for defense annually. 20% of these funds should go for buying new weapons and equipment and Bulgaria will exceed this figure. Because of projects for new weapons for the Navy and ground forces, this is likely to happen once again in 2020. However, the surge in military spending cannot be sustained for years to come and political will in this direction has not been clearly demonstrated, the newspaper points out.

With the recent update of the state budget, the expenditures of the Ministry of Defense for 2019 increased by 1.07 billion euros and reached 1.79 billion euros. According to the spring forecast of the Ministry of Finance, defense spending in 2019 will be 2.61 percent of GDP.

Out of all NATO countries, only the United States has higher defense spending this year – 3.42%. Certainly, the money spent by Bulgaria on defense by the end of 2019 will be much more, Dnevnik writes, suggesting that this country would outperform the United States this year.

According to NATO criteria, 20% of defense spending should go for new weapons and equipment and in this chart Bulgaria would emerge an absolute leader if the Alliance's forecasts are fulfilled. This is so because the money spent on new fighter jets reaches 66.67% of total defense money.

Since 2014, Bulgaria has failed to meet promises of expenditures, as army modernization projects failed. This year's budget envisaged payments for infantry vehicles, two new ships for the Navy and fighter jets. Once the full sum for the purchase of F-16 has been paid, projects for infantry and naval equipment were put off for next year. Defense Minister Krasimir Karakachanov and senior military officials have said they would like to sign contracts for the two projects this year and pay for them in the next budget period, Dnevnik daily writes.

Editor: Stoimen Pavlov

English: Alexander Markov

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