A Memorandum of the establishment of a civil-law partnership aiming at the setup of Science, Innovations and Security Cluster had been signed today, October 24, in the Ceremony Hall of the Ministry of Defence. The signing was attended by the Minister of Defence Velizar Shalamanov. A total of 18 partners - state-owned military repair and service works, higher military schools and the National Military Academy, research institutes of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and non-government organizations are joining the incorporation of the civil-law partnership.
“The National Programme “Bulgaria in NATO and the European Defence – 2020” is the first comprehensive programme for the modernization of the Bulgarian Armed Forces but it could not be implemented without the involvement of the Bulgarian science and the Bulgarian industry,” stated Minister Shalamanov after the signing.
The establishment of the Science, Innovations and Security Cluster is part of the steps undertaken towards speeding the Armed Forces modernization and overrunning the delay in new defence capabilities acquisition process. The Partnership will contribute to the implementation of the adopted by the Council of Ministers as modernization strategy National Programme “Bulgaria in NATO and the European Defence – 2020”. The setup of the Cluster had been discussed with scientific and research institutes of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, enterprises of the military repair and service complex, non-government organizations. The topic was also central during the Industrial Forum held on October 09-10 in Sofia.
In support of the implementation of the National Programme, the Council of Ministers will establish a position for a national technical expert in Brussels who will facilitate the participation of the Bulgarian industry in NATO, EU and Member States of both organizations projects as well as the participation of the Agencies, together with the Bulgarian industry, in the implementation of modernization projects for the security sector.
Minister of Defence Velizar Shalamanov invited the partners of the civil-law partnership to enter proposals in their area of competence. In his view, certain individual associations and institutes have hitherto made proposals yet practice reveals that it is harder for them to force their way through, being backed by only one association or institute.
Further aim of the newly established civil-law partnership is the establishment and enhancement of the interface between manufacturers, research and development and non-government organizations through participation in Operational Programme “Innovations and Competitiveness 2014-2020”.
Promotion of military cooperation in the context of NATO Connected Forces initiative was discussed today, October 21, between Minister of Defence Velizar Shalamanov and Lt. Gen. Leonardo di Marco, Chief of Staff, Allied Joint Force Command Naples. The meeting was held in the Ministry of Defence and was attended by Deputy Chief of Defence Major General Konstantin Popov, Joint Forces Command Chief of Staff Brigadier Stefan Petrov, the Chief of the Political Cabinet of the Minister of Defence Mr. Iliya Nalbantov and experts of the Ministry of Defence.
Minister Shalamanov introduced the key objectives of National Programme “Bulgaria in NATO and the European Defence – 2020” emphasizing on the modernization and development of the Armed Forces.
During the discussion the parties pointed out that meetings between representatives of the Allied Joint Force Command and the leadership of the Ministry of Defence would contribute to fostering military cooperation in the area of troops’ joint training and enhancement of allied capabilities. The opportunities to conduct joint allied exercises at Bulgarian training areas and facilities have also been considered.
Lieutenant General Leonardo di Marco, Chief of Staff, Allied Joint Force Command Naples, is on a two-day visit to our country. Today he conducted a meeting with Vice Admiral Rumen Nikolov, Chief of Defence, and visited “G.S.Rakovski” National Military Academy.
Experts of the Allied Joint Force Command Naples are also on a working visit to Bulgaria for the period 21-24 October. Together with officers of the Defence Staff, they will visit various military units, training areas and other infrastructure and will look into opportunities for logistic support and organization of the interchange during future joint NATO trainings and exercises.
Minister of Defence Velizar Shalamanov is participating in the annual sitting of the South-Eastern Europe Defence Ministerial (SEDM) Process, followed by Comprehensive Regional Ministerial (CRM) today, October 16, in Budva, Montenegro.
The recent years saw productive development of the military cooperation in the South-Eastern Europe (SEE) region focused on meetings, talks and consultations addressing confidence building among the nations of the region. To enhance interaction and improve the effectiveness of cooperation in the area of defence, Bulgaria has proposed a review of the effectiveness and efficiency of the present formats of regional cooperation along with the establishment of a high level expert group composed by representatives of member nations to undertake a survey incorporating analysis and assessment of the lessons learned from SEDM activities. These efforts, within the framework of the process, will be directed at the development of modalities for the transformation of the existing regional cooperation formats into a modern mechanism under the provisional name of SEDEFCO (South-Eastern Europe Defence Cooperation) oriented towards result-guaranteeing projects enhancing defence capabilities and interoperability in the region.
During the meeting, the Ministers signed “HQ SEEBRIG location and critical rotational slots table”. It spans the period 2015-2035 and is compliant with the achieved consensus on SEEBRIG HQ location after 2017 on rotational basis among Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece for a six-year period. Until 2017, SEEBRIG HQ location will continue to be in Larissa, Greece.
The previous day Minister Shalamanov joined the sitting of Ambassadors to NATO in a NATO caucus format in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). During the meeting, which was held in Vienna, the Republic of Austria, Minister Shalamanov delivered a speech dedicated to “NATO’s role in the security of the Black Sea Region in the context of the crisis in Ukraine” which aroused great interest and encouraged productive discussions.
"“Bulgaria will have our full support for the implementation of National Programme “Bulgaria in NATO and the European Defence – 2020”,” declared today Mr. Heinrich Brauss, NATO’s Assistant Secretary General for Defence Policy and Planning during his meeting with Minister of Defence Velizar Shalamanov. The meeting was held under the session of the organized by the Ministry of Defence Industrial Forum to convene Bulgarian defence industry, academia and representatives of NATO Agencies.
On his part, Minister Shalamanov advised NATO’s Assistant Secretary General of the concept for the development of a new military cooperation format in South-Eastern Europe. “We need to achieve straight interaction with our neighbours beyond regular Ministerial meetings and talks and start tangible actions,” said Minister Shalamanov. In his opinion, the new format to be proposed at the forthcoming sitting of the South-Eastern Europe Defence Ministerial (SEDM) Process in Montenegro features the best practices of North and Central Europe.
“Interoperability is central for you to achieve, and this can only arrive through NATO and the EU,” stated Mr. Rini Goos, Deputy Chief Executive of the European Defence Agency (EDA) during his meeting with Minister Shalamanov. According to him, Bulgarian industry shouldn’t be facing substantial obstacles when competing on the defence market since it already manages to be competitive on the common European market. “However, to succeed, companies are to be very active and aware of the available instruments,” said Mr. Goos. To him, it is a huge mistake that arms manufacturers and organizations involved in security research and development may presume European funds are not for them.”
“We are trying to encourage industry to get a move on the European market because it is huge and involves states which have declared willingness to increase defence spending,” declared Minister Shalamanov. During the meeting Minister Shalamanov also announced the assignment of a National Expert (NATEX) to NATO in support both of the Ministry of Defence and the industry in NATO bidding processes.
“Bulgaria has the ambition to become a leading nation in the Trust Fund for medical treatment of injured Ukrainian military personnel,” announced Minister Shalamanov in the course of his meeting with Mr. Mark Lyden, NATO Support Agency (NSPA) General Manager. He underscored that our country has traditions in military medicine and avails of quality military hospitals and rehabilitation centers. Mr. Lyden confirmed that this will be an opportunity for Bulgaria to gain experience with NATO Trust Funds.
“The implementation of National Programme “Bulgaria in NATO and the European Defence – 2020” will be performed in collaboration with NATO and the EU,” stated Minister of Defence Velizar Shalamanov in his today’s speech at the Industrial Forum, opened by the President and Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Bulgaria Mr. Rosen Plevneliev at “Boyana” Residence. The Minister of Defence declared that the tasks assigned to the sector under the caretaker government have been implemented. The Industrial Forum is objective number four following “Vision 2020”, National Programme “Bulgaria in NATO and the European Defence – 2020” and the speeded up accreditation of NATO Crisis Management and Disaster Response Center of Excellence (NATO CM &DR CoE). “There are serious challenges in the areas of modernization projects management and disposition of surplus armaments, equipment and decommissioned property. Neither trading companies nor research and development units are efficiently employed. We have attested that the pace of cooperation within NATO and EU – the two organizations, through which Bulgaria could achieve much more, has been slowed down,” said Minister Shalamanov and further elaborated that “the solution we propose is based on balanced development of capability targets packages within the services and branches of the Armed Forces, clear vision of the employed resources and commitment to increase defence spending looking into opportunities to ensure complementary funding.”
Bulgaria has initiated a new, project-oriented model of cooperation in South-Eastern Europe and the Black Sea region based on the best practices of the Visegrad Group, Benelux and the Northern Region. “Each and every NATO and EU member state is welcome to this new, open model of cooperation,” accentuated Minister Shalamanov.
Touching on modernization projects and collaboration with the businesses, the Minister of Defence indicated that none of the projects under National Programme “Bulgaria in NATO and the European Defence – 2020” would be implemented without the participation of the Bulgarian industry and science. “Even if the Bulgarian Government chose to import armaments and equipment from NATO and EU member states, we would insist that support and further development be performed with the participation of Bulgarian contractors on competitive basis. “NATO and EU First” Policy is not just capabilities building policy; it is a policy towards cooperation of our industry with the industry of the Alliance and the European Union,” pointed out Minister Shalamanov.
The Minister of Defence also stated that the introduction of project management system will be prioritized. “Bulgaria has gained vast expertise in project management under the Operational Programmes. We are aware that a sharp increase of spending cannot be achieved; yet, with good project planning and management, progressive spending rise will result in balanced enhancement of capabilities,” highlighted the Minister of Defence.
“Bulgaria will have full support by NATO for the implementation of the objectives set out in “Vision 2020”, introduced at the NATO Wales Summit,” attested Mr. Heinrich Brauss, NATO’s Assistant Secretary General. He pointed out that the Industrial Forum is a very timely event contributing to the analyses in the area of defence after the Summit. “What Russia is doing in Ukraine, the use of military force, pressure and actions – you can imagine what all this means to our Baltic allies. For them this is an issue of great concern. The annexation of Crimea provides Russia a platform to enhance her influence southwards through domination in the Black Sea region. That is why we need Bulgaria’s expertise, our naval capabilities are of extreme importance,” further elaborated Mr. Brauss. Another serious threat to security, as he stated, is the Islamic State (ISIS). “We want enhanced presence of NATO into our Eastern Allies – command and control elements, logistic support and provision. We will hold more and continued exercises so as to more relevantly respond to the new missions and tasks of the Alliance. Interoperability is of vital importance,” said Mr. Heinrich Brauss. He welcomed the ambition of Bulgaria to reverse the negative trend towards reduction of defence spending after 2009. “In Brussels, we are willing to assist in the implementation of this plan. We have carefully considered “Vision 2020” – it can contribute to the transformation of the Armed Forces of Bulgaria within NATO and the EU. All allies should adapt. Otherwise, we are facing a serious risk of being outwitted by our adversaries. Together with the industry, we can employ all mechanisms as Smart Defence and other approaches to improve our capabilities,” pointed out Mr. Brauss. “The achievement of the goals set out in “Vision 2020” would promote the role of Bulgaria and her influence as an important ally in South-Eastern Europe and the Black Sea region and is of strategic weight for NATO. The document puts your activities on the right track and here of vital importance is the perspective adopted by the next Government. You have to be persistent to secure the allocation of the needed funds for the achievement of NATO’s goals and “Vision 2020” demonstrates that you avail of such determination,” concluded Mr. Heinrich Brauss, NATO’s Assistant Secretary General.