Bulgarian DefMin Backs New Powers Granted to Army in Counter-Terrorism Bill

Defense | July 6, 2016, Wednesday // 19:05|  views

Bulgarian Defence Minister Nikolay Nenchev. Photo: BGNES

Bulgaria's defence ministry expressed support for the the controversial bill on countering terrorism approved by the government at its regular meeting on Wednesday.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the ministry identified the adoption of the bill as an important act on raising the capabilities of the state to react in the event of terrorist attacks.

In particular, it backs the sections concerning the participation of the armed forces in countering terrorism and overcoming its consequences.

The bill entrusts the armed forces with additional powers, which meets the expectations of the society for more active role of the army in preventing, fighting and eliminating the consequences of terrorism.

The inclusion of the armed forces is in compliance with the responsibilities entrusted to the army in the constitution concerning the national security.

The bill foresees that in the case of immediate threat of terrorist attack threatening the life and health of the population, the armed forces can exercise some of the powers entrusted to the bodies of the interior ministry.

Among these are: conducting checks of persons and their personal belongings; searching buildings without the permission of the owner; establishing the identity of persons; the use of physical and armed force only when it is deemed absolutely necessary.

These measures will be applied by the armed forces only in cases when the plans for the prevention of terrorist attack or overcoming its consequences have been activated.

In accordance with the measures foreseen in the bill, the armed forces are devising plans for countering terrorism, which are part of the national plan for countering terrorism adopted by the government.

In the event of a concrete threat from terrorist attack or of such attack already having taken place, the leader of the national operational headquarters brings into action the national plan for countering terrorism.

At present, corrections are being made to the plans to ensure the armed forces have adequate short-term preparation.

The preparation will include new specific skills, which have to be acquired in line with the new powers entrusted to the armed forces and in order to achieve a better level of coordination in the army's interaction with the interior ministry.

In its normal, day-to-day activity, the armed forces will only fulfill its functions as stipulated in the Defence and Armed Forces Act.

The international experience from tackling the consequences of terrorism in countries such as the USA, France, Belgium and Turkey, has shown that the fight against terrorism requires the state to use all of the available forces and resources of its security services.

It is impossible for a single institution to react effectively in the event of a terrorist attack or to eliminate its consequences.

Moreover, without international cooperation and mutual aid, no country is capable of dealing with this challenge on its own.

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Tags: Bulgaria, terrorism, Defence, armed forces, army, terrorist attack


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