450 Soldiers from Ethnic Minorities Serve in Bulgarian Army

Defense | July 13, 2011, Wednesday // 15:10|  views

All positions in the Bulgarian military have been opened for women, Bulgarian Defense Minister Angelov points out. Photo by BGNES

Only about 450 soldiers in the Bulgarian Army are from Bulgaria's major ethnic minorities, according to data announced by Defense Minister Anyu Angelov.

Responding to a question by ethnic Turkish MP Korman Ismailov about equality in the military, Angelov said Wednesday in a statement published on the ministry website that about 300 of the soldiers in the Bulgarian Army determined themselves as being of ethnic Turkish ethnicity, while about 140 said they were ethnic Roma.

At the same time, however, the number of the soldiers from ethnic minorities might be greater because the Bulgarian military does not oblige its servicemen and servicewomen to declare their ethnic identity, and this information is provided on a voluntary basis.

The active personnel of the Bulgarian armed forces (Army, Navy, and Air Force), which was professionalized in the late 1990s and consists only of mercenaries as opposed to the universal draft existing earlier, is about 34 000, including the administrative staff; the reserve personnel is set at 300 000.

Defense Ministry data further shows that 14% of the Bulgarian armed forces is made up of women, and 73 of the 535 students in Bulgarian military academies are female.

The average percentage of women in the EU and NATO armies is about 8%-10%.

Angelov has indicated that the Defense Ministry is working out various strategies for human resource development without discrimination based on sex, race, ethnicity, or religion.

He reminds that he has repealed an ordinance of one of his predecessors that banned women from holding certain positions in the military.

"All majors in the military academies and all positions in the military are now accessible for women," Angelov states.

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Tags: Defense Ministry, Bulgarian Army, Defense Minister, Anyu Angelov, Korman Ismailov, ethnic Turkish, Roma, minorities, soldiers, women, female, gender equality, gender discrimination, NATO, EU


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