Friday, 22 September 2017



on the security and defense policy of the Republic of Bulgaria

September 22, 2017


Program „National and International Security“



Review of the security and defense policy: 

  1. The conclusion that Russia is a destabilizing factor for the regional security in Southeastern Europe and the Black Sea is discernible in the Annual Report on the State of National Security of the Republic of Bulgaria in 2016, three years after the annexation of the Crimea and the incitement of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine.  Albeit long overdue, this is a reaction in the right direction.
  2. The intrusion of Russia has gone on in 2017 with the overt attempts at destabilizing Montenegro and Macedonia and its policy of subverting stability of the countries in Europe through executing focused information and cyber campaigns.
  3. The enduring shift in the geostrategic and military balance in the Black Sea caused by Russia by means of the illegal annexation of the Crimea and the intensive enhancement and modernization of the Russian military capabilities is an undeniable fact that is recognized in NATO and the EU as well as in Bulgaria as a member state in both organizations.
  4. Any attempt by any Bulgarian State leader to revise this assessment and to decouple the European and the Bulgarian national security, combined with the constant hints implying the existence of “special” relationship with Russia, have a destabilizing effect. This sends negative signals to the rest of the NATO allies and causes lack of confidence with regard to our country as a NATO ally and EU member.
  5. The responsible attitude of the Bulgarian leadership towards the Bulgarian citizens requires that all these national security threats are publically named and defined. The State leaders must resolutely take all the necessary actions aimed at limiting and eradicating the threats impact in short- and mid-term.
  6. Pointing out successes achieved in Bulgarian foreign policy that are related to reaching common positions in NATO and the EU is a too ostentatiously exaggerated act, having in mind that the Bulgarian contribution therein is limited chiefly to the adherence to already made collective decisions. In spite of the signed agreement of good neighborly relations between Bulgaria and Macedonia, our country has still not formulated crystal clear and is not following its own interest in having Macedonia join NATO as well as in establishing a secure and integrated economic space amongst the Black, Aegean and Adriatic seas.
  7. The problems of the national security sector cannot be resolved without a holistic approach and without reforming all its constituent parts. Even if a successful reform takes place in the defense sector, without reforming the internal security sector and without an effective judicial reform it is not possible to have a national security system sufficiently effective in its entirety.
  8. The declaratory policy on the development of the Bulgarian defense potential is confronted with alarming indications that are revealing the threat of a continuing degradation of the Bulgarian Armed Forces’ capabilities.
    • The Armed Forces continue to function under the conditions of substantial deficit of personnel, material and finance. They are implementing their constitutional and Alliance obligations with substantial difficulties.
    • Rearming the Armed Forces with modern Western equipment is still declaratory policy. Still lacking is a clear-cut mid-term commitment to provide for the necessary financial resources. The start of the implementation of the priority investment projects will not take place till the end of 2017, regardless of the earmarked in the central budget additional 402 million BGN for the fiscal 2017 for acquisition of new type of fighter aircraft and new Navy vessels. Guarantees are not present that these projects will be implemented taking into account primarily the national interest, the military requirements, the economic and technological reality, the need of a transparent and effective spending of the resources of the State.
    • Bulgaria is still lacking the capacity to make financially realistic Armed Forces’ development programs.
    • The policy of continuing the military cooperation with Russia still does not have clear-cut and explicitly defined limits. We still lack clear timeframe with regard to terminating the dependence on Russia with regard to the maintenance of the main platforms. Quite the contrary is true. In contradiction of the EU-imposed sanctions, the cooperation with RSK MiG is renewed. Unlike the program of the previous government, the present government’s program does not explicitly state the need to terminate the existing dependence on suppliers of military equipment that are not members of NATO and/or EU.
    • The incessant pressure to use the Bulgarian Armed Forces for the implementation of tasks not related to their main sphere of competence, combined with the low level of pay of personnel and the risks arising from the use of critically obsolescent equipment, are not simply alarming conclusions. These are problems requiring swift and resolute solutions. The policy of using the Armed Forces to support the Ministry of Interior activity (mainly tackling mass illegal migration at the borders) should have clear limits in conformity with the principles of modern civil-military relations. This must not hamper the Armed Forces’ preparedness and combat readiness.
    • The stated policy of cooperation with “patriotic organizations” should be carefully scrutinized in order to prevent the establishment of political paramilitary formations. Any future military training or setting up of “voluntary formations” should be carried out solely within the framework of the Bulgarian Armed Forces.


Looking into the future: What does Bulgaria in NATO and the European Defense” mean?

In spite of the fact that Bulgaria has been member of NATO since 2004, the trends in the development of the national security and defense policy are upsetting and they are making proof that our national security system is bogged down within the grey zone between NATO and the former Warsaw Pact. It is an established fact that in spite of all the political level declarations, Bulgaria is integrated with NATO to a lower degree compared not only with countries like Austria, Switzerland, Finland and Sweden (that are formally outside the Alliance), but in comparison also with ex-members of the Warsaw Pact and even the USSR.

We, representing the opinion of all Bulgarians who see the future of our country as an integral part of the free world of the countries of Europe and North America, consider that implementing this goal with regard to national security and defense involves the following:

  1. To adopt a comprehensive plan for the future development of the Bulgarian defense system and the Armed Forces by 2030, implementing the decisions taken at the NATO Wales Summit and in particular increasing the defense expenditure to 2% of the GDP by 2020, as well as allocating at least 4 billion BGN for acquisition of new equipment by 2024.
  2. To establish a resilient institutional framework and to build up administrative capacity that should be providing a fully effective and transparent defense investment spending as well as purchasing of new equipment.
  3. All investment expenditure should serve the goal of obtaining real combat capabilities.
  4. Consistent with the investment program, a decision on the general future model of the Armed Forces should be made, taking into consideration the necessity to gradually increase by 50% the personnel pay as well as to substantially raise the spending dedicated to combat training. The Bulgarian Armed Forces should not have formations that are left “overboard” and that are required to execute combat tasks with minimal resources, without modern equipment and with insufficient training.
  5. To substantially increase the investment in human capital in the Armed Forces and to elaborate clear objective criteria measuring such a development.
  6. To establish on the Bulgarian territory multinational NATO formations from the three Services that, on a rotational basis and in the context of Art. 4 and Art. 5 of the Washington treaty, should serve as a guarantee for the national independence and the collective defense in the framework of the NATO tailored Forward Presence. The conduct of joint Air Policing with NATO allies of the Bulgarian airspace should become a rule and constant practice rather that an exception.
  7. The rearmament program should be implemented through the greatest and broadest possible implementation of multinational projects, with the support of the NATO and EU agencies, which will provide for ensuring swift implementation, lower costs and real NATO interoperability.
  8. To set and adopt concrete schedule for ending the existent unilateral dependence on Russia in the sphere of defense. The inherited Soviet equipment should be kept in operation until the acquisition of new capabilities takes place. This should be done to the extent that this old equipment could be maintained on our own or together with other allies, and to the degree it answers the modern military requirements. The spending on the inherited Soviet equipment should be at such a level that it should be enough only for the maintenance of the minimum of the necessary capabilities for the execution of the Armed Forces’ missions and tasks. The obsolescent Soviet platforms should be decommissioned immediately after the acquisition of new capabilities. We should not admit any eventual parallel maintenance of both newly acquired Western-made and inherited obsolescent Soviet platforms.
  9. To elaborate and adopt a position on the place of Bulgaria in the debate on the future of the European defense as a part of the NATO defense potential.
  10. Bulgaria should actively participate in the process of decision- and policy-making in NATO and the EU.
  11. To pursue an active policy of maintaining contacts with Bulgarian citizens now occupying high positions in NATO and the EU, with the aim of harnessing their potential upon their return to Bulgaria for the purpose of developing our national defense.
  12. Immediately after the approval and the launch of the three main defense investment projects for the three Services, a process of developing models for comprehensive development of the Armed Forces should be initiated. It should go beyond the 2024-2030 timeframe and lay the foundations of the Armed Forces’ development – prepared to tackle nowadays and tomorrow’s conflicts, integrated with the forces of our allies and capable of defending our sovereignty at the borders of the European civilization.

Our future depends on our citizens’ resolve to be free. In 1991 and 1997 we made the choice to make part of the civilization of the free peoples of Europe. In 2017 our determination to follow this path seems once again under threat that is coming from attempts to push Bulgaria, against our will and conscience, into various „-asian“ and „pan-„ schemes.

It is our duty and responsibility today to confirm and defend once more the European future of Bulgaria!


Atlantic Council of Bulgaria

National and International Security Program


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