Defence Chief's Annual Conference Reports Challenges Facing Armed Forces

Sofia, February 20 (BTA) - The annual conference of the Chief of Defence, Lt. Gen. Andrei Botsev, is held here on Tuesday and Wednesday under the motto "The challenges to the national defence system and the use of the Armed Forces in the event of a military-political crisis".

Speaking during the forum's opening Tuesday, Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov said that the Army must be sufficiently provided for in advance, if it is to be relied upon during crises. This means managing to fully utilize taxpayers' money by turning it into actual defence capabilities, he added.

The Defence Minister stressed the importance of implementing the measures concerning the defence sector, included in the governance programme. Karakachanov recalled that according to this programme, work should focus on two main priorities - the Armed Forces as a reliable guarantor of this country's security, and introducing military training in schools, broadening the possibilities for voluntary military service, increasing the reserve's capacity. "Currently our efforts remain focused the implementation of the objectives included the Programme 2020 and activities in the Plan 2020," he noted.

The Minister recalled that a national plan has been established to increase defence spending to 2 per cent of GDP by 2024, which includes two proposals concerning meeting commitments to NATO, as well as the EU's Permanent Structured Cooperation. Another objective is to use 20 per cent of the defence budget for new and operationally compatible military equipment and weaponry, Karakachanov recalled.

All of this is aimed at meeting the main goal, which is for Bulgaria to be a strong, active, reliable and respected member of NATO and the EU, he said. In order for the Armed Forces to be a reliable guarantor of Bulgaria's security, work should focus on implementing the other key priority included in the governance programme, aimed at trainining enough people for this country's defence.

The challenges along the eastern and southern border of NATO and EU put this country in a new situation. "The specifically changed strategic environment puts even higher demands on our defence capabilities. Decisiveness and strategic leadership is required of us. I expect to see this understanding in your work during the conference," Karakachanov said addressing the leadership of the military and the special services.

Defence Chief Lt. Gen. Botsev described the conference as being dictated by the clear understanding that there is a need to implement demanding and consistent initiatives, solutions and measures to adequately address the challenges facing this country's defence system and the use of the Armed Forces in the event of a military-political crisis. He added the topic of this year's forum was carefully chosen.

Source: Sofia