Stoltenberg in Bulgaria: Urgent Ukraine Support Tops NATO Agenda

Defense | May 27, 2024, Monday // 08:45|  views

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg arrived in Bulgaria and was welcomed at Sofia airport by Daniel Mitov, the head of the National Assembly's delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. Mitov expressed gratitude for Stoltenberg's visit, highlighting its significance as Bulgaria marks its 20th anniversary as a NATO member. He praised Stoltenberg's leadership and personal efforts in maintaining the unity of the Alliance during severe geopolitical tensions.

The Bulgarian National Assembly is hosting the spring session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, which began on May 27, 2024. The session was opened by Michał Szczerba, Chairman of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. The event features parliamentarians from the 32 member states of the Alliance, who are being welcomed by Stoltenberg, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Rositsa Kirova, and Acting Prime Minister Dimitar Glavchev.

Participants in the session will discuss key topics on the Euro-Atlantic defense and security agenda, with a particular focus on supporting Ukraine. The Assembly is expected to adopt recommendations for the upcoming NATO summit in Washington. Szczerba emphasized the importance of the meeting, highlighting the critical stage of Russia's war against Ukraine and the need for increased support. He stressed the need for NATO and its member states to demonstrate unity and resolve, especially in light of threats to democracies from authoritarian regimes.

Szczerba outlined three key messages from the NATO session: unwavering support for Ukraine, the necessity of immediate aid, and the importance of making societies and democracies more resilient. He called for the establishment of a center for democratic resilience at NATO headquarters and advocated for a stronger, more united NATO. He also welcomed Sweden's participation and expressed a desire to see Ukraine join the Alliance.

Stoltenberg is scheduled to meet with Acting Prime Minister Dimitar Glavchev, Defense Minister Atanas Zapryanov, and Chief of Defense Admiral Emil Eftimov. His visit coincides with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's call for US and Chinese presidents to participate in a peace conference in Switzerland next month. Stoltenberg has also reiterated that countries supplying weapons to Ukraine should allow their use against Russian forces, a point underscored by Yehor Cherniev from the Ukrainian parliamentary delegation during the NATO assembly in Sofia.

Cherniev highlighted Ukraine's need for international support as it faces daily attacks from high-precision missiles and drones. He called for joint production ventures to increase Ukraine's munitions production, emphasizing the urgency of financial and material aid. He invited international partners to collaborate on production within Ukraine to meet both Ukrainian and European defense needs.

Recently, Bulgaria announced another military aid package to Ukraine, including obsolete or excess anti-aircraft missile systems, following a parliamentary decision from the previous year. Russia has warned that transferring S-300 missiles to Bulgaria would violate international law.

Stoltenberg's discussions with Bulgarian authorities are expected to cover strengthening NATO's Eastern flank, modernizing and financing the Bulgarian army, and possibly increasing the multinational battle group in Bulgaria to a brigade level. This visit marks Stoltenberg's third to Bulgaria during his nearly ten-year tenure as NATO Secretary General.

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Tags: Stoltenberg, Bulgaria, NATO, assembly

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