FT: Vision 2020 Could Be Seen as 'Distancing Bulgaria From Moscow'Defense | September 17, 2014, Wednesday // 20:36| views
Interim Defense Minister Velizar Shalamanov believes defense expenditures should be boosted in the light of the Russian "invasion" in Ukraine. Photo by BGNES
Bulgaria must boost defense spending in response to Russia's invasion in Ukraine and the situation in the Middle East, caretaker Defense Minister Velizar Shalamanov told the Financial Times' beyondbrics blog.
Shalamanov argued Bulgaria is currently "in an new security situation", since "the Russian invasion in East Ukraine is bringing instability to the whole Black Sea region and the whole of Europe."
Commenting on the working paper Vision: Bulgaria in NATO and in European Defense 2020, a document which embroiled Shalamanov and Prime Minister Georgi Bliznashki in a dispute, FT says it "can be seen both as a direct response to Russian action and an act distancing Bulgaria from Moscow".
It warns, however, that it is not clear whether the policies in Vision 2020 will be implemented, quoting former Bulgarian Defense Minister Todor Tagarev as saying only one of the seven parties with chances to make it into Parliament after the October 5 snap poll supported the original text, which was later modified, with the most robust statements dropped from the new version.
The article notes that the caretaker government has reaffirmed Bulgaria's Atlanticism, "with Shalamanov at the forefront".
It also argues the former Bulgarian government "fell partly due to its continued support for Gazprom's South Stream".
The text says Bulgaria "has often been overlooked" in terms of its strategic importance as a country situated in the Balkans and on the Black Sea.
Even though the Vision should not be perceived as a clear sign of a change in Bulgaria's ties to Russia, the document has "at least put defense back on the agenda," beyondbrics concludes.
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