Bulgaria Urges NATO to Include 'Soft Power' in New Strategic Concept

Defense | July 22, 2010, Thursday // 18:11|  views

Bulgaria's Deputy Defense Minister Avgustina Tsvetkova. Photo by BGNES

NATO must find a way to integrate its “soft power” into its new strategic concept, which is currently under discussion, according to senior Bulgarian government officials.

“The use of the so called soft power is a major challenge for the Alliance. It is not typical for NATO but we can’t disregard it. We need to identify our sources of soft power, and we should decide who need to partner with in order to muster more soft power, or influence. This is a question to which the new strategic concept of NATO must find an answer,” believes Ambassador Lyubomir Ivanov, currently the head of the UN and Global Affairs Directorate at the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry and a former Ambassador of Bulgaria to NATO (2004-2009).

Ivanov spoke at a round table in Sofia Thursday dedicated to the drafting of the new strategic concept of NATO, and his statements were supported by Bulgaria’s Deputy Defense Minister Avgustina Tsvetkova.

“The most crucial thing for us at the moment is to realize that we are a NATO member and that the new strategic concept will be our strategic concept. We must very pro-active, and we must understand the new strategic concept of the Alliance,” explained Deputy Defense Minister Tsvetkova.

She announced that Bulgaria’s Defense Ministry is carrying out a strategic review of Bulgaria’s armed forces and military capabilities in order to draft a National Security Strategy.

In her words, the Ministry has decided on purpose to execute the Bulgarian strategic review while the NATO strategic concept debates are going on.

“This is very clear. We are drafting the new strategic concept of the North Atlantic Alliance, and we will contribute to this process with the things that we have done before it has been adopted. Bulgaria finally must have the confidence to stand up and to take care of its own security together with the other members of the Pact,” explained Tsvetkova.

She emphasized that Bulgarian officials must stop referring to the NATO states as “partners” and should address them as “allies.”

“Partners are all the other countries that are taking part in some partner programs. We were partners before 2004. We have now become allies,” the Deputy Defense Minister declared.

She pointed out that NATO’s ambition was to draft a new strategic concept that would account for all the changes in the world.

Ambassador Ivanov has in turn outlined the main issues facing NATO – collective security, non-conventional threats, open-door policies, increasing the efficiency of the Alliance, energy security and cyber security, missile defense, deepening military capabilities, relations with Russia.

Tsvetkova announced that on Thursday the last of the 16 working groups of the Bulgarian Defense Ministry working on the national strategic review will complete its work, and by September the government will have a clear idea about the capacities of the Bulgarian armed forces.

“We will focus on what is necessary for our defense, on our interoperability, and procurement of resources. This has not been done for 20 years. We intend to start the beginning of the end of the reform. Once we are done, we will be able to say that we have armed forces that are based on our actual capabilities, which will then allows us to become a pro-active NATO member states,” explained the Deputy Defense Minister.

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Tags: NATO, soft power, strategic concept, Lyubomir Ivanov, Avgustina Tsvetkova, Defense Ministry, Bulgarian Army, armed forces


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