BTA News

Defence Leaders Greet Bulgarian Military Abroad ahead of Armed Forces Day

Caretaker Minister of Defence Atanas Zapryanov and Chief of Defence Adm. Emil Eftimov spoke to the national commanders of the Bulgarian military units contributing to NATO and EU operations and missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Iraq in a videoconferencing session on Tuesday ahead of Bulgarian Armed Forces Day (May 6).

Zapryanov said: “The worthy contribution of Bulgarian servicepersons to operations and missions of NATO and the EU has made Bulgaria a welcome partner for joint military training and exercises, which are indispensable in a time of military action, crisis and insecurity.”

According to Adm. Eftimov, key infrastructure facilities at the Graf Ignatievo Air Base in Southern Bulgaria, where F-16 fighter aircraft will be stationed, will be certified by the end of August. “After we show that the facilities are fit to be upgraded with surveillance and signalling systems and so on, we will expect the US side to give us the green light to receive the aircraft. This does not mean that the facilities must be completed altogether by August; they should be brought to a certain degree of completion, so that the equipment can be installed.”

Over 140 members of the Bulgarian Armed Forces are working for four operations led by NATO and five by the EU, the Joint Forces Command said.

Speaking from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Col. Alexander Alexiev, who commands the Bulgarian contingent there, said the security situation in the area of the EU-led ALTHEA mission is relatively calm. Interethnic tension can potentially mount due to dynamic political processes and political strain, he predicted. No threats have been reported against the Bulgarian force in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Alexiev said.

In Kosovo, the security situation remains tense, according to Lt. Col. Zahari Dimov, the national commander of the Bulgarian force in the country. He sees potential for interethnic tension in North Kosovo to escalate again. No direct threats to the Bulgarian servicepersons have been detected, he said. No threats were reported, either, by Maj. Svetlin Simeonov, assistant national commander in Kosovo serving with KFOR Regional Command West.

The situation in the area of the NATO mission in Iraq remains calm, said Lt. Col. Kalin Dobrev, national commander of the Bulgarian contingent in the non-combat mission.