"NATO Membership: A Key to EU" Conference Marks Alliance's 70th Anniversary
111 MILITARY - DEFENCE - NATO - CONFERENCE
"NATO Membership: A Key to EU" Conference
Sofia, March 25 (BTA) - A conference on "NATO Membership: A Key to EU" took place in Sofia on Monday. The forum was organized by the Atlantic Council of Bulgaria to mark the Alliance's 70th anniversary and the 15th anniversary of Bulgaria's accession to NATO.
Bulgaria's president from 2012 to 2017, Rosen Plevneliev, called for modernization of the army. Bulgaria needs all projects for the modernization of its army and these have to be implemented by NATO member countries, he said.
"There is instability everywhere around and it is quite normal for people to worry. It depends on the politicians to address the fears of the citizens and resolve them in a sustainable manner, not to play on those," Plevneliev pointed out. According to him, solutions can only be on a global scale, regardless of whether it is a matter of terrorism, economic and financial crises or migration.
"NATO is the most powerful and worthy alliance of democratic states in the world which uphold principles, and what greater dream can there be than that of a standing peace on the planet," Plevneliev said.
Former prime minister Ivan Kostov also said that he is concerned that Bulgarian insecurity now is greater than it was 15 years ago. The reasons also lie in Bulgarian politics and in that of NATO, he commented. In his words, when Bulgaria was acceding to the Alliance, he warned that this membership could not help it impose the supremacy of law, deal with corruption and organized crime; these internal deficits of security continue to hold Bulgaria far from western democratic standards.
US Ambassador to Bulgaria Eric Rubin noted that these are challenging times, but ones of great promise and opportunity as well. "We should celebrate these historic milestones, recommit ourselves to our shared values of peace and prosperity, and look proudly and boldly to the future," he said as quoted by the US Embassy in Sofia. In his opinion, marking NATO's anniversary allows shared values to be reconfirmed and to consider the successes that have been achieved, what has not been achieved and what has yet to be done. Rubin drew attention to the decision for modernization of the Bulgarian Air Force, saying that the choice of F-16 fighter jets is the correct one.
The Ambassador of the United Kingdom, Emma Hopkins, said that NATO is not simply a military organization, but one that also has a political role. She pointed out that explaining what the objective of NATO is should continue, as well as debunking the myths about the Alliance and popularizing it. Hopkins commented that even if it leaves the EU, the United Kingdom will still be connected and play a role in European defence.
Alexander Yordanov of the Atlantic Council pointed out that the membership in the EU passes through NATO membership. In his opinion, the NATO membership of every single country from the former communist bloc should be a condition for the accession of that country to the EU.