Overview: Where does Bulgaria Stand in the Tense Situation between NATO, Ukraine and RussiaDiplomacy | January 26, 2022, Wednesday // 20:19| views
Radio Free Europe Bulgaria
Bulgaria's strategy in the crisis over Ukraine, adopted at today's cabinet meeting, will be aimed entirely at the Bulgarian army, and our country will make every effort to resolve the conflict peacefully. This was announced by Prime Minister Kiril Petkov after the government session.
Some of the information during today's sitting is secret and will not be announced, including to the deputies in the parliament, Kiril Petkov told the ministers. Later, it became clear from his words to the media that Bulgaria will focus all its efforts on resolving the Russia-Ukraine conflict through diplomatic channels. And our defense system will be aimed at developing the potential of the Bulgarian army.
Less than a day was the deadline given by Prime Minister Kiril Petkov to the Minister of Defense Stefan Yanev to prepare a draft of the national position of our country and measures to strengthen the security system in Bulgaria. The project was submitted and approved at today's meeting.
The Council of Ministers decided to prioritize Bulgaria's strategy towards fully de-escalating tensions between NATO and the Russian Federation, as well as to use absolutely all opportunities through diplomatic channels to resolve this conflict. Our defense strategy will be based on the Bulgarian army. That means Bulgarian troops, Bulgarian command and Bulgarian military leadership, said Kiril Petkov, prime minister.
The Prime Minister expressed regret that over the years our army has been underfunded and stressed that we will work actively to cover precisely these deficits by avoiding the purchase of equipment that is not systematically selected.
From now on, Bulgaria should not be just a consumer of security. It should be a constructive partner of NATO, said Kiril Petkov.
The Minister of Defense Stefan Yanev announced that together with the diplomatic efforts “Bulgaria must develop its defense potential in the direction of preparing a battalion battle group with Bulgarian troops and Bulgarian command”. On BNT he explained the details:
This will happen with a limited contingent, if we talk about what size - the order is not more than one battalion, not more than 1,000 people. A joint exercise is not a task, but a means, a joint exercise is a means to increase training and capacity.
The battalion will take part in joint NATO exercises, which have been planned since last year, Yanev said.
According to him, the decisions made today will be the Bulgarian position in the framework of the discussed measures in NATO.
Neither the Prime Minister nor the Minister of Defense commented today on the information from the last days about the possible deployment of NATO ground troops and fighters in our country.
And the Foreign Minister reminded that since December at all diplomatic forums our country has consistently insisted on the need to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict.
These efforts will continue in the future. We hope that the conflict will be resolved diplomatically. However, diplomatic speech must be supported by the necessary evidence that we have the necessary defense capabilities, said Teodora Genchovska - Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Kiril Petkov announced the invitation to become a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation as a great success for our country because it means that “we are entering the club of the rich”.
The National Assembly heard out Kiril Petkov and ministers on Russia-NATO tensions at an extraordinary meeting today
The Prime Minister, the Ministers of Defense, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, and the heads of the services in connection with the Russia-NATO tension and the Bulgarian position were heard in the parliament.
Bulgaria is not a consumer of security - this was stated by Prime Minister Kiril Petkov before the National Assembly. He added that in the current situation the Bulgarian army will be prioritized with a battalion, which will probably be formed in April-May. There is also a readiness to withdraw Bulgarian diplomats from Ukraine, but there is no such need at the moment.
The Minister of Defense highlighted the deficits in the Bulgarian army. The Foreign Minister pointed out that our country gives precedence to diplomacy.
MPs outlined dialogue as the best mechanism for resolving the crisis. They expressed concern about the state of the Bulgarian army and the possible economic consequences of escalating tensions.
The de-escalation of tensions is a top priority for Bulgaria, Prime Minister Kiril Petkov reaffirmed before parliament.
“The escalation is real. We monitor all developments in this conflict on a daily basis. Our strategy for the first time has the idea of not being security consumers, but partners. Over the years, there are clear deficits in equipment in the Bulgarian army. We have different options - to prioritize the Bulgarian army, with Bulgarian troops, with Bulgarian command,” said Kiril Petkov.
The Minister of Defense further developed the idea of prioritizing the Bulgarian army.
“A Bulgarian battalion will be made and everything will be done through national communication channels. This means that this battalion will increase the pace of preparation. We do not envisage escalation. We do not envisage plans to defend national territory. Nor do we envisage plans for another team to go elsewhere, to a different place”, said Stefan Yanev - Minister of Defense.
The Foreign Minister pointed out that our country gives precedence to diplomacy.
“Obviously, Russia is trying to divide allies by dividing them into categories,” said Teodora Genchovska, the foreign minister.
Opposition party GERB expressed concern that our country may behave as a security consumer.
“We will support you if you stop raising dust with phrases such as ‘national interest’. For us, the national interest is to be a strong member of NATO. GERB governments have done a lot for our defense capabilities - we paid for ‘Cougars’ and ‘Spartans’, you will order and pay the next F-16s. If you offer us a meaningful position - we are ready to support you,” said Daniel Mitov of GERB-SDS.
“The only thing to say whether we are a consumer is how we set our priorities. Our priority is the Bulgarian army with Bulgarian troops,” said Kiril Petkov.
The political party Democratic Bulgaria expressed concern over the state of the Bulgarian army.
“The mission of the Bulgarian army is constitutionally set, but we are all aware of the degree of readiness of obsolete equipment and delayed modernization,” said Hristo Ivanov.
The opposition party Movement for Rights and Freedoms outlined the best solution to the problems in this crisis.
“Through discussion, transparency, and everything that leads to military action. What would be the economic consequences?” Mustafa Karadayi said.
“The main risks are in the energy sector,” Kiril Petkov replied.
And the coalition party “There Is Such a People” focused on the possible economic consequences of escalating tensions.
“Is there a scenario for the energy sector?” Victoria Vasileva of TISP asked.
“We have a clear plan and we are in communication with the EU on how this can happen. Bulgarian households and businesses will be able to count on it,” said Kiril Petkov.
The Bulgarian left welcomed the ruling party's decision to de-escalate tensions.
“The key for Bulgaria is to maintain its position in this hysterical situation. Bulgaria will not engage in hostile and military action,” Christian Vigenin from the Bulgarian Socialist Party said.
The nationalist Vazrazhdane (Revival) party asked the prime minister if he thought Russia posed a threat to Bulgaria's national security.
“There is an escalation of hysteria in Bulgaria. Russian troops are just doing standard exercises. This is being used in the domestic political debate. We are not just a consumer of security, we are using security as a maneuvering ground,” party leader Kostadin Kostadinov said.
“We have no master. No one can say otherwise,” said Kiril Petkov.
After the plenary session, the deputies heard in closed session the reports of the heads of the security services.
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