“We act under procedure regulated by law and assigned by the Council of Ministers decision,” stated today, February 24, Minister of Defence Mr. Angel Naydenov at a press conference in the Ministry of Defence. He clarified the reason for granting the Army the public procurement for the selection of companies-contractors to deliver the materials needed for the construction of fencing engineering structures at the Bulgarian-Turkish border. “This is regulated under the Law on Defence and the Armed Forces and allows budget second level spending units to launch public procurement tenders within their competence,” said Minister Naydenov and added that since the Army has taken full responsibility for the building of the fencing structure, they should be entitled to negotiate the terms and conditions of delivery and engage subcontractors.
“According to the available information, I see nothing contradictory to the Law or raising doubts,” said Minister Naydenov and pointed out that an appointed by him Commission is further evaluating the works related to the construction of the facility. Regarding the company to supply razor wire, it proved to be the only manufacturer of such product. Minister Naydenov highlighted the fact that, since it is a Bulgarian company, this will enable, on the one hand, an economic incentive, while on the other would allow for control over the whole manufacturing process and acceleration of manufacturing, if necessary, along with controlling and shortening delivery timelines.
Commander Army Major General Neyko Nenov informed the media representatives of the organized and performed by the Army activities towards the implementation of operation “Joint Efforts”. He explained the specification of the facility and the key issues related to the organization and launch of the public procurement tender and the negotiations with the contractors. Major-General Nenov reminded of all stages of the Council of Ministers’ decision implementation referring to public procurement award.
He explained that the border fencing structure consists of footing, fence netting, main and secondary posts, spiral razor wire, various types of metal grating and netting panels and emphasized on the particularly great quantities of material needed for the installation. Major-General Nenov announced that the Army service members who are presently in the operation zone proceed with the activities on construction site tracking and preparing for the development of the deterring facility. He specified that there are already 3000 post bases and 7 gates footings built.
Deputy Minister of Defence Ivan Ivanov informed of the results of the investigation accomplished by the appointed by the Minister of Defence Commission of the circumstances of public procurement tender implementation and contracts award. He declared that the Commission has not found violations and all activities have been performed in full compliance with the laws of the Republic of Bulgaria.
Deputy Minister Ivanov announced that during a working visit to the Hellenic Republic he was informed of the full details of the engineer structure on the Greek-Turkish border. He said that their facility is 11 km long, developed along a flat terrain for 8 months while the cost almost equals that of the Bulgarian structure which is three times as long.
During the press conference Minister Angel Naydenov stated that he has ordered to complete the technical facility within 60 days of the delivery of the materials, taking into consideration contingencies as unfavourable weather conditions. He pointed out that as of today, 87 service members and 37 pieces of equipment are on site while the costs amount to 71 331 BGN. Minister Naydenov informed that he receives a weekly report on the course of the technical facility construction works which will be uploaded on the Ministry of Defence web-site.
In view of anticipated refugee influx, the Minister of Defence said that according to information delivered by services directly subordinated to him, a refugee wave from Afghanistan may be probable due to the still unsettled Security Agreement for the continuation of the international forces operation post-2014.
The press conference was attended by Deputy Minister of Defence Nedzhmi Ali, Deputy Chief of Defence Lieutenant General Stefan Vasilev, the Chief of Army Staff Brigadier Andrey Botsev and Colonel Stefan Raychinov, Head of “Contracts and Public Procurement” sector of the Army Command.
Today, February 24, Minister of Defence Angel Naydenov received H.E. Süleyman Gökce, the newly appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Turkey to the Republic of Bulgaria.
“The relationships between Bulgaria and Turkey are an example of cooperation between good neighbours, NATO Allies and partners in a wide range of areas,” stated Minister of Defence Naydenov during the meeting. He pointed out that the contacts between the Armed Forces of the two countries are based on excellent interaction in international missions, operations, exercises and joint events.
Evidence of this is the joint participation in the Black Sea Naval Cooperation Task Group (BLACKSEAFOR) and the South-Eastern Europe Brigade (SEEBRIG).
For his part, H.E. Süleyman Gökce stated that the cooperation between the Armed Forces of the two states is very good and pointed out that he had been particularly impressed by the professionalism of the Bulgarian service members with whom he had the chance to work as Advisor to the mission of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan in 2005.
During the talks the Parties noted that the dynamic security environment calls for joint efforts and interaction in building defence capabilities and common understanding of the approaches to countering contemporary risks and threats.
It was also stated that the reestablishment of the sessions of the Joint Bulgarian-Turkish Committee in the Military and Technical field, which were cancelled in 2007, would contribute to the development of the defence cooperation between the two countries.
Further the discussions touched on issues related to NATO Smart Defence initiative, the exchange of experience in the area of military training, the stages of transition from conscript to professional Armed Forces and the preservation and care for military graves as an expression of good neighbourly relationships and respect for the national remembrance and history.
The Bulgarian Party was represented by Deputy Minister of Defence Ivan Ivanov, Deputy Chief of Defence Rear Admiral Georgi Georgiev, the Director of Defence Policy Directorate Colonel Radostin Iliev, members of the Political Cabinet of the Minister of Defence and experts of the Ministry of Defence, and the Republic of Turkey – by Defence Attache Colonel Ali Yazici.
The Ministers of Defence of the Republic of Bulgaria and the Kingdom of Belgium Angel Naydenov and Pieter de Crem signed today, February 21, “Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Bulgaria and the Minister of Defence of the Kingdom of Belgium on Defence Cooperation and Military Relations”.
The official signing ceremony was held today in the framework of the Informal Meeting of EU Defence Ministers in Athens, Greece.
This memorandum updates the legal and contractual basis of bilateral contacts and reflects the realities of the relationships between the two countries after the accession of Bulgaria to NATO and the EU. The document supersedes the signed on December 5, 1994 “Agreement between the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Bulgaria and the Minister of National Defence of the Kingdom of Belgium for the Establishment of Contacts in the Military Field”. The main areas of cooperation under the Memorandum are defence policy and military aspects of security, budgeting and financial issues, structure of the logistic support, environmental issues, military education and training, humanitarian operations, peacekeeping and crisis management operations.
The discussions during the second session of the Informal Meeting of the EU Ministers of Defence in Athens, Greece, were focused on ongoing missions and operations of the Union – Operation EUFOR “Althea” in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the counter-piracy Operation ATALANTA in the Horn of Africa, as well as the ΕU Training Missions of the security forces in Mali and Somalia. In his statement, Minister Naydenov expressed the concern of Bulgaria about the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. “We stand for the right of the people to express their clear position on how their country should be governed,” pointed out Minister Naydenov and added that the EU works hard not to allow political, economic and social dissent in the country to spread and upset the stability of the inter-ethnic situation. “Our view is that Operation “Althea” will continue to be of great support as a partner and representative of the commitment of the European Union to the democratic progress of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” said Minister Naydenov and added that Bulgaria will participate in the operation until February 2015.
The last working session of the Informal Meeting of the EU Defence Ministers was devoted to discussions of the forthcoming EU military operation in the Central African Republic (CAR). Political support was expressed for the start of the EU operation in the CAR to ensure order and security in the capital Bangui for a 6-month period pursuant to the UNSC Resolution from 2014. The Ministers of Defence considered the operational plan of the upcoming operation. Our country is ready to contribute to the operational Headquarters in Larissa, Greece.
Earlier today, February 6th, at Sofia Airport, Mr. Dobromir Totev, PhD, Permanent Undersecretary of Defence, Rear Admiral Georgi Motev, Deputy Commander of the Joint Forces Command, and Brigadier General Lyubcho Todorov, Commander of 2nd Mechanized Brigade, met the second batch of personnel from the 25th Contingent of the Armed Forces who participated in the operation of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (ISAF). Approximately 260 personnel from the national element in Kabul, part of 15th Force Protection Company, representatives of the Military Police, and a medical team, led by the Contingent’s National Commander Colonel Maksim Karev, arrived in Bulgaria after a six months’ mission in Afghanistan. The 3rd and 4th Advisory Teams, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Kostadin Dobrev and Lieutenant-Colonel Valentin Stoyanov respectively, are also back. While on the mission, they successfully carried out the tasks they were assigned: round-the-clock duties at various NATO bases and sites, watch towers, checkpoints, Tactical and Joint Operations Centres (TOCs and JOCs). They conducted 3,534 mechanized and foot patrols, 13,323 motor vehicle checks, and 33,112 pedestrian checks. The Commission appointed from the Joint Forces Command to exercise control and provide assistance during the rotation has also returned home, together with the commander of the force protection company Captain Svetoslav Godinov. During the official ceremonies held in Kabul and Kandahar on handing over responsibility from 25th to 26th contingent, the NATO Medal for participation in the international mission was awarded to service members from the national element, the Advisory Teams, the Military Police unit, the medical team and the specialized teams. The personnel of the 15th Kandahar Airfield Force Protection Company with Assistant National Commander Lieutenant Colonel Tihomir Dachev were also decorated.
NATO Investment Committee unanimously elected Colonel Konstantin Nesterov as its Chair. Colonel Nesterov is an officer from the Bulgarian army, currently he is department head to Defence Policy Directorate of the Ministry of Defence. He also has experience as a national representative in the Investment Committee and in other management and resource policy decision-making bodies of the Alliance.
NATO Investment Committee is the oldest active committee of the Alliance. Its existence starts with the establishment of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and its basic goal is to create defence infrastructure and collective capabilities on the territory of the member-countries. After the end of the cold war, an analogous task is fulfilled on the territory of the new member-countries including Bulgaria. The financial means necessary for the implementation of these large-scale projects are provided at the expense of the so called Common Funds which are generated by the installments of the counties participating in the NATO Security Investment Program (NSIP).
The basic goal of the infrastructure projects implemented on the territory of the country is to reach interoperability with the forces and capabilities of our allies. In the course of the 10 years of Bulgarian membership in NATO, a series of projects were implemented under NSIP in Bulgaria, which under other conditions we would not be able to fund independently. Our active participation in the activities of the NATO Investment Committee assisted our efforts in establishing capabilities in the sphere of Air Defence, Air Force and the communication information capabilities of the Bulgarian army. Currently, we carry out projects for the needs of the information interoperability of the Bulgarian Navy, modernization of Bezmer Air Force Base, the NATO mobile communication modules etc.
The Investment Committee is the finalizing body of the Alliance on building defence capabilities. At the Committee’s sessions, the member-countries reach consensus on funding the capabilities necessary for the Alliance. It is only for the current 2014, that the financial framework of the projects authorized for implementation amounts to 1.5 billion Euros. The annual ceiling on expenses for the year of the investment plan-program is determined to be 800 million Euros.
The election of the Bulgarian candidate for Chair of NATO Investment Committee is a great success and recognition for the overall successful work of our country within the various governing and working bodies of NATO.