Bulgaria Claims to Be Happy Turkey Got US, NATO Missile Shield RadarDefense | September 2, 2011, Friday // 16:48| views
Bulgaria's Foreign Minister Mladenov (left) and Defense Minister Angelov (right) said the government was happy with Turkey's hosting of the NATO missile shield radar. Photo by BGNES
Bulgaria is satisfied with the agreement reached between the USA and Turkey to deploy in the latter the radar of the US/NATO missile defense system in Europe, Bulgaria's foreign and defense ministers said in a joint statement.
Turkey's decision to agree to host elements of the missile shield in spite of its earlier misgivings was announced by a Turkish official early Friday.
"This step is part of the process that is regulated by the NATO Strategic Concept, adopted in Lisbon, the joint statement of Bulgaria's Foreign Minister Nickolay Mladenov and Defense Minister Anyu Angelov said.
"As I have said repeatedly, our priority is that the whole of Bulgaria should be protected from possible missile attack. We are satisfied that the decision to install a radar facility in Turkey is addressing this issue in practice," Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov declared.
He said that construction of a missile defense system is a strategic project to collectively meet one of the most serious security risks in the 21st century.
According to Bulgaria's Defense Minister Anyu Angelov, the deployment of the missile defense system in Turkey will increase the defense capabilities of NATO and will have a direct impact on safeguarding the national security of Bulgaria.
"The system is and will be one of the main missions of NATO. It will provide adequate protection of the territories and people of the Alliance's member states from ballistic missiles, in accordance with fundamental principles of equal and indivisible security and solidarity of the Alliance," he said.
The joint statement of the two officials does not contain any references to the fact that Bulgaria had expressed readiness to host elements of the US/NATO missile shield in Europe if Turkey had refused to do so.
Back in June 2011, Bulgaria's Deputy Defense Minister Avgustina Tsvetkova said Bulgaria was likely to host elements of the US/NATO missile defense system in Europe instead of Turkey if Turkey refused to host them.
Turkey's position about hosting elements of the US and NATO missile shield, most likely its radar system, should be clear by the fall of 2011, Tsvetkova said back in June. Should Turkey decide against hosting part of the missile defense, then Bulgaria could start talks with NATO to host the same elements, she explained.
Tsvetkova did point out that for the time being there were no plans to station elements of the US and NATO missile defense system in Europe on Bulgarian territory. She reiterated the official position of the government, which insists that Bulgaria's entire territory must be covered by the future missile shield.
The past few months since the NATO summit in Lisbon in November 2010 took a decision to adopt the project for the US missile system in Europe as an Alliance-wide shield have seen occasional reports that Bulgaria might host elements the radar of the system.
The original missile defense in Europe plan of George W. Bush administration provided for stationing interceptors in Poland and the radar station in the Czech Republic. The modification of the plan by the Obama Administration switched it to sea-borne missiles and, later on, locations in southeastern Europe. Initially, there were reports and expectations that Romania and Bulgaria will replace Poland and the Czech Republic, respectively.
In May 2011, the US State Department and Romanian President Traian Basescu announced that the interceptor missiles of the future NATO/US missile shield in Europe will be stationed at the Deveselu Air Base near Caracal, Romania.
The System employs the SM-3 interceptor (also referred to as the "Aegis Ashore System") while the deployment to Romania is anticipated to occur in the 2015 timeframe as part of the second phase of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) – the US national contribution to a NATO missile defense architecture.
The US Ballistic Missile Defense site is approximately 430 acres (175 hectares) and is located within the existing Romanian Air Base at Deveselu.
Deveselu is about 50 km away from the Romanian-Bulgarian border. The closest Bulgarian location is the village of Zagrazhden between the towns of Oryahovo and Nikopol.
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