President, PM, Defence Minister: Bulgaria Will Not Participate in Romanian Initiative for Black Sea Fleet

President, PM, Defence Minister: Bulgaria Will Not Participate in Romanian Initiative for Black Sea Fleet

Sofia, June 16 (BTA) - Bulgaria rejects the idea for building a Black Sea fleet the way it was proposed by Romania, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said at a statement he made for the press Thursday jointly with President Rosen Plevneliev and Defence Minister Nickolay Nenchev. Borissov said that the Bulgarian position was expressed at Wednesday's meeting of the President and himself with the visiting Romanian President Klaus Iohannis.

President Plevneliev said that in the area of defence, Bulgaria follows its strategic documents adopted by the government and Parliament.

"No initiative or government act can be an improvization: they must be based on these [strategic] documents," the head of State said.

He added that these documents make an adequate assessment of the security environment and "we don't think anything has changed", said the President.

He went on to say that the plan for development of the Armed Forces of Bulgaria has nine priority projects for modernization, including acquisition of two patrol ships. He called "improvization" any allegations that other vessels will be purchased.

"If it is not on the modernization plan, we cannot do it," said Plevneliev.

He said that the Romanian side came up with a new initiative for regional cooperation for maritime defence.

"Bulgaria will support it only in a NATO format", he added.

The President said that this is a training initiative and urged the news media to stop writing about "building a fleet against somebody". "Bulgaria is not part of such proposals and ideas," the head of State said.

Defence Minister Nenchev said that the Bulgarian positions in the recent days have all been coordinated with the President and the Prime Minister. "No commitments have been made outside the framework [of these positions]," he said.

He said that his Romanian counterpart has raised the issue of a joint fleet in the Black Sea including Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey, to which he expressed disagreement and said that any decision must be made by the political leadership on NATO level.

Borissov added that NATO vessels could protect the Bulgarian maritime border only in the event of a powerful migrant wave by sea and after the Mediterranean and the Aegean "are closed". He expressed hope, though, that Bulgaria will be able to deal with such a challenge on its own.

Talking to journalists earlier in the day, Borissov commented reports that he objected to the idea of creating a joint navy of Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine to neutralize Russia's naval presence in the Black Sea.

Borissov told the reporters: "I stand up for NATO and the EU, I stand up for Bulgaria's economic interests, but this line must not be crossed. If the Bulgarians think otherwise, they will replace me with somebody else."

Thursday's "24 Chassa" writes that Borissov disapproved of the initiative Romanian President Iohannis put forward in Sofia, while President Rosen Plevneliev reportedly backed it. The daily also alleges that following Borissov's rejection of the idea, Turkey unilaterally suspended the agreement on the readmission of migrants.

The Prime Minister said he was waiting for Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov's return from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Defence Minister Nikolay Nenchev's return from Brussels. "I will be very displeased if they have made commitments. If they raised hopes in vain without informing me, they will have a problem with me. I will send them fighting out to sea."

"I want to see sailboats, yachts, tourists, peace and love in our Black Sea resorts, I do not want frigates crisscrossing the sea. We can have Bulgarian-Romanian exercises any time we want, but that other thing would be opting for a military conflict," said Borissov.

The Prime Minister also said: "Bulgaria is one of the most loyal EU and NATO members. We have a Bulgarian-American base, we hold exercises and conferences, training goes on all the time, we have done everything we must do as NATO members. Even amid this crisis we revised our policy and increased armament spending to put the armed forces at ease."

He recalled the South Stream gas pipeline project when NATO member Turkey and Russia changed their minds overnight. "Not a single neighbour or counterpart spoke up in my defence when President Putin wagged a finger at me in Ankara in Erdogan's presence, saying that Bulgaria lost everything. We were involved in dire conflicts and when we had to defend our national interests in the projects for the Bourgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, South Stream and the Belene nuclear power plant, we were more than adamant. There is no one else like us in Europe," said Borissov.

"I have always said there is no way Bulgaria will be attacked by Russia, they engage in other types of action, mostly economic, in Bulgarian territory," Borissov commented. "We are Orthodox Christians, we have common ground in religion, culture and everything else. (...) Russia may be a bit nervous about others, but it will be badly hurt if Bulgaria does this."

Answering a question, the Bulgarian Prime Minister said he had no information about Turkey's intentions concerning the readmission agreement. However, it is a fact that Bulgaria had 200 rejections for 200 migrants, he added.


Source: Sofia