BTA News

Defence Minister Tagarev: Demining Operation in Black Sea Will Not Violate Montreux Convention

The mine clearing operation that Bulgaria, Romania and Turkiye are preparing together in the Black Sea, will not violate the Montreux Convention, Bulgarian Defence Minister Todor Tagarev told journalists in Varna on Saturday. He said the operation would cover Bulgaria’s entire exclusive economic zone. It will focus on clearing the routes of merchant ships. In Varna, Tagarev attended an exhibition in the National Maritime Museum.

The main problems in the Black Sea region are caused by Russia’s aggressive policy. Russia blocks maritime traffic, prevents the use of Bulgaria’s exclusive economic zone, and creates security risks for Bulgaria, Tagarev stressed, explaining that this is absolutely unacceptable for Bulgaria.

The Bulgarian Defence Ministry is also working to speed up the process of acquisition of coastal defence missile systems, Tagarev said. Talks are underway with potential suppliers of such equipment, he added.

Commenting on the purchase of Stryker armoured vehicles, the Defence Minister said that Parliament approved the investment expenditure project for the acquisition of the vehicles, while his ministry has answered all the questions that have been asked by the political forces.

Tagarev stressed that Bulgaria’s overall defence policy will be discussed in Parliament on November 15, when a debate on the second no-confidence motion against the Government of Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov will take place. The motion of no confidence was tabled by BSP for Bulgaria, Vazrazhdane and There Is Such a People on Wednesday over the “inability of the government to ensure the national security and defence of the country”.

“Looking at the motives for it [the motion of no confidence], my team was able to identify 22 issues that its posers raise,” Tagarev said, arguing that there is not a single issue among those which has not been discussed publicly already. “We will answer them again, we will be able to explain once more to the whole society what our defence policy is and that it is in the interest of Bulgarian citizens,” the Minister explained.

In Tagarev’s words, in 2024, Bulgaria’s defence spending will equal 2.05% of the country’s GDP. The defence spending will not be increased until 2026, when Bulgaria will have to make payments on military contracts.