„My priorities were clearly and categorically declared, and they are related to a fuller and broader integration within the framework of NATO and EU as well as to a much closer cooperation within the framework of the Alliance,” said the Minister of Defence today, 13 November 2014, at the meeting with Mr. Sorin Ducaru, NATO Assistant Secretary General for emerging security challenges. Minister Nenchev declared that he would adhere to the principles incorporated in the National Program “Bulgaria in NATO and in European Security - 2020” developed by the team of the outgoing Minister of Defence, Mr. Velizar Shalamanov, in the caretaker government.
He expressed his concern with the development of the situation in Ukraine and its reflection on security in the Black Sea region as well as on the events taking place in Iraq and Syria. Minister Nenchev emphasized the expanding activities of the “Islamic State” and the possibility for terrorists to infiltrate Bulgaria’s territory. “I believe that NATO and EU have to powerfully and clearly counteract the “Islamic State”, and we expect higher activity on the part of the Alliance directed towards this part of the world,” declared the Minister of Defence.
He familiarized the NATO Assistant Secretary General with the political situation in our country in the past two years and assured him that a stable Euro-Atlantic coalition supported by the National Assembly and the President of the Republic of Bulgaria stands firmly behind the newly formed government. Minister Nenchev emphasized that within the framework of this support the reform of the Bulgarian army has to be implemented, placing an emphasis on active work focused on the rearmament of our armed forces. “Cooperation, integration and trust – this is my message to our NATO allies,” the Minister declared.
The NATO Assistant Secretary General for emerging security challenges Sorin Ducaru congratulated Minister Nenchev on his appointment to his post and thanked Bulgaria for its contribution to the Alliance’s operations and capabilities. He pointed out as success the establishment of the NATO Center of Excellence in Crisis Management and Disaster Relief. Sorin Ducaru expressed his hope that through the support on the part of the government and the National Assembly, Bulgaria will implement the basic priorities beyond the Wales Summit – the implementation of the Alliance’s Readiness Action Plan and gradual increase in the defence budgets.
Today, 12 November 2014, the Minister of Defence Nikolay Nenchev met with NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe and Commander of US European Command General Philip Breedlove. General Breedlove who is on a two-day official visit to Bulgaria was welcomed with full military honors ceremony earlier today, and laid wreaths at the Unknown Soldier Memorial.
“I would like to assure you that Bulgaria will continue to be a predictable member of the North Atlantic Alliance and will endeavor to modernize of its armed forces within short time in order to be adequate to our partners,” Minister Nikolay Nenchev said at the meeting. The increase in the allied capabilities by conducting joint training of the troops was discussed within the framework of the debates. The future development of the planned projects within NATO as well as the efforts which will be made in order to achieve the necessary parameters of the defence budget were also in the focus of the discussions.
General Breedlove expressed his gratitude to the Bulgarian servicemen for their excellent service in NATO operations. The NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe expressed his hope that the Bulgarian armed forces will continue to work outstandingly in the future and pointed out that in order to achieve this goal, it is necessary for our country to develop its defence capabilities and to keep abreast with its allies in the Alliance.
General Breedlove expressed his support for the achievement of the goals incorporated in the National Program “Bulgaria in NATO and in European Defence 2020” pointing out that these goals are directed towards the Bulgarian Army’s modernization and development. “At the meeting with the Chief of Defence earlier today, we conducted fruitful discussions on the future steps which are to be undertaken, and on the support necessary for you in order that you develop and keep abreast with the development of the Alliance,” also said the General.
In the course of the discussions conducted by NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe and the Chief of Defence Vice Admiral Rumen Nikolov, the two of them debated on the challenges to the security environment in the context of joint execution of tasks. They also discussed issues related to broadening the scope of the jointly executed tasks on Air Policing with NATO allies as well as the Alliance’s mission Resolute Support aimed at training, advice and support in Afghanistan.
“I consider it a great honour to be appointed Minister of Defence. I will stand up for each and every one of you, for the dignity of the military profession, and for the honour of the Ministry of Defence, as decidedly and firmly as possible. I will be consistent and predictable as regards the policy which will be pursued by my team.” With these words the newly sworn-in defence minister Nikolay Nenchev addressed the leadership of the Ministry of Defence today, November 7th, at the official hand-over ceremony. He thanked Minister Velizar Shalamanov for the work done in his three months in office as caretaker Minister in charge of defence and pointed out that it was a valuable legacy to which he would adhere most steadily and resolutely.
In keeping with the tradition, the outgoing Minister of Defence Velizar Shalamanov presented his successor in office with an icon of St. George the Victorious, patron saint of the Army, and wished him every success in the name of Bulgaria. He conveyed his firm belief that the newly sworn-in government will abide by the principle of continuity, as solemnly stated in their programme declaration. Minister Velizar Shalamanov expressed his hope for intensification of the efforts aimed at adoption by the Parliament of a national rearmament programme, in order to ensure the necessary resource provision and sustainability. “I am pleased with the fact that there is no question on the size of the armed forces, which will not be further reduced; moreover, a closer tying of the force structure of the Bulgarian Army to NATO and EU force structure will be sought, thus guaranteeing added value, strengthening of security and sovereignty for our country,” the caretaker Defence Minister said.
The handover ceremony provided Defence Minister Nikolay Nenchev with the opportunity to meet the leadership of the Armed Forces and the directors of the administrative structures of the Ministry of Defence.
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.