Romania's Joint Naval Force Proposal Leaves Bulgaria PM, President Divided

Defense | June 16, 2016, Thursday // 08:40|  views

Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev (L) and his Romanian counterpart Klaus Iohannis (R) inspect the honor guard during an official welcoming ceremony in Sofia, Bulgaria, June 15, 2016. Photo: EPA/BGNES

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis has tabled to Bulgaria a proposal to create a joint Black Sea fleet to counter Russia, reiterating an earlier offer by authorities, daily 24 reports, citing government sources.

"This is an attempt at involving Bulgaria in another conflict. Nothing requires that additional troops should be deployed to the region. I don't need a war in the Black Sea," the daily quotes Bulgaria's Prime Minister Borisov as telling Iohannis on Wednesday during their meeting in Sofia.

Iohannis is on a two-day visit to Bulgaria, more than a year following his counterpart Plevneliev's arrival to Bucharest.

Plevneliev supports the initiative suggested by the Romanian head of state, which would bring together units of Bulgaria and Romania with some of Ukraine and Turkey.

There is no way for Bulgarians to feel safe when they are surrounded by a myriad of "frozen conflicts" used to place them in permanent dependency, Plevneliev is reported as saying, hinting it is Russia that works toward this end.

Iohannis' visit comes amid a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels as part of the preparation for the Warsaw Summit of the alliance due in July.

Speaking after the Brussels talks, the defense ministers of Bulgaria and Romania, Nikolay Nenchev and Mihnea Motoc embraced a proposal to deploy troops for a multinational brigade based in Romania that would provide training on a rotational basis.

However, while Plevneliev has embraced the idea, Borisov is skeptical of a possible deployment, which according to Nenchev might amount to some 400 troops.

Unlike the President, whose rhetoric often targets Russia as a potential threat to security and stability in Europe and condemns its activities in Ukraine, Borisov has been wary of any inflamatory statement, repeatedly declaring Sofia would like to improve relations with Moscow that have been strained in light of the developments in Ukraine.

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Tags: Klaus Iohannis, Boyko Borisov, Rosen Plevneliev, Nikolay Nenchev, Mihnea Motoc, Bulgaria, Romania, Russia, NATO


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