Podcast in English
Text size
Bulgarian National Radio © 2023 All Rights Reserved

Fact Check

Did NATO call a mobilisation of 30,000 troops in Bulgaria?

Photo: архив

An announcement has been circulated on social media that NATO has ordered the mobilisation of 30,000 Bulgarian troops as of 20 May 2023. The number of the order - No. 123-NATO-2023 - is also quoted.

The dissemination is by reprinting the text and not by sharing the publication. It says the NATO "order" is "based on Article 5(1) of the 2014 Protocol on NATO Action in the Event of Armed Conflict."

"On the basis of the mobilization order, the Minister of Defense of the Republic of Bulgaria is tasked with the mobilization of the required number of servicemen and to allocate them in accordance with NATO guidelines," the publication further claims.

The alleged news: 30,000 Bulgarian troops are to be mobilised 
as of 20 May under NATO orders

The claim that NATO issues an order to mobilise the army of each member state of the alliance is not credible. This is not alliance policy.

Here is what the official nato.int website informs about recruiting soldiers: “As an alliance of 31 sovereign countries, NATO relies on the military forces of its member countries to carry out an operation or mission, as it does not possess military forces of its own.  (...) “Force generation” is the process by which Allies and potentially partner countries resource the personnel and equipment needed to carry out North Atlantic Council-approved operations and missions. National capitals take the final decision on whether or not to contribute to a NATO-led operation or mission.“

The Law on Defence and Armed Forces of the Republic of Bulgaria states that only the President may declare a general or partial mobilisation - Section 1, Articles 18 and 19 (3).

The Article 5, para. 1 of the NATO Protocol of Action is indeed the well-known article according to which if one country of the Alliance is attacked, the others should defend it. This article stipulates that "if a NATO ally becomes the victim of an armed attack, any other member of the Alliance will consider this act of violence as an armed attack against all members and will take such action as it deems necessary to assist the attacked ally," we can read on the official NATO website. If we read the treaty we will notice the absence of paragraph 1.  There are other hints in the circulated text that it is fake news. For example, that the "NATO order" number is 123.

Verdict: The text is fake news

NATO has not and cannot give orders to mobilise Bulgarian troops. The Alliance has no such authority - this decision is taken by the member states. In Bulgaria, mobilisation is by order of the Commander-in-Chief - the President of the Republic.