Prime Minister Borissov, President Radev Confer With NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg

March 1 (BTA) - Emerging from a one-on-one meeting with
Prime Minister Boyko Borissov here on Friday, NATO Secretary
General Jens Stoltenberg said that Bulgaria is a highly
respected ally of NATO and plays a strategic role in the Black
Sea, Kosovo and Afghanistan.

"In an increasingly unpredictable world it is vital that we are
more efficient in the efforts against the various challenges to
security and that includes Russia's suspension of the INF
nuclear missile treaty," Stoltenberg told a news briefing.

The NATO Secretary General hailed the fact that Bulgaria has
increased defence spending, its clear commitment to reach the
target of 2 per cent of GDP and its willingness to report all
defence expenditures in line with other NATO countries.

Stoltenberg said that NATO's enlargement to include Bulgaria
made the Alliance stronger and reinforced NATO's collective
defence which is important for Bulgaria, the region, and NATO.
He also praised Bulgaria's support for the process which enabled
 the Republic of North Macedonia sign its accession protocol to

For his part Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said that Bulgaria is
 one of the strongest and most loyal members of NATO, denying
that this country is Russia's Trojan horse in NATO.

Of the presence of NATO forces in the Black Sea, Borissov said
that he has always been against the idea with the exception of
military exercises. Bulgaria's tourist industry accounts for 10
to 12 per cent of the country's GDP and because of this it is
not in Bulgaria's interest if military vessels pass by Bulgarian
 ports, said Borissov

Borissov said that the two with Stoltenberg rallied around the
idea to use the full potential of diplomacy to avoid a new arms

The Bulgarian Prime Minister specified that the visit of NATO
Secretary General Stoltenberg had been scheduled at his
invitation long before it was known that Russian Prime Minister
Dmitry Medvedev would visit Bulgaria on March 3-4.

Borissov said the two with Stoltenberg did not discuss energy

One-on-one talks between Borissov and Stoltenberg were followed
by a meeting of the two delegations which discussed cooperation
in the field of security and defence and stability of the
Western Balkans and the region.

Later in the day Stoltenberg was received by President Rumen
Radev. At the start of the plenary talks after a one-to-one
meeting between the two officials, Radev said that Bulgaria is
strongly committed to further strengthening its role as a pillar
 of security and stability on the Balkans and the Black Sea
region, by leading an open, constructive and reasonable policy
and making an effort to develop contemporary defence
capabilities, fully meeting NATO's position for defence and

Radev said that the visit of the NATO Secretary General is a
good foundation for continuing the work for improvement of
Bulgaria's defence capabilities.

The head of State dwelled on the national plan for increasing
defence spending to two per cent of the GDP by 2024, and on the
three key projects for modernization of the Bulgarian Armed
Forces. Radev said that Bulgaria continues to take part in and
host more and more exercises, and to improve the training and
interoperability of its Armed Forces.

Bulgaria has a strong ambition to integrate its defence industry
 and research in NATO and EU projects, the President said.

Stoltenberg said that Bulgaria has a strategic position and role
 in the Black Sea region and contributes in the shared security
and collective defence in many different ways. The guest noted
Bulgaria's efforts to modernize its Armed Forces and the
country's contribution in various missions and operations of


Source: Sofia