site.btaUPDATED Black Sea Forum in Sofia Discusses Collective Defence, Threats to Maritime Safety, Security

Black Sea Forum in Sofia Discusses Collective Defence, Threats to Maritime Safety, Security
Black Sea Forum in Sofia Discusses Collective Defence, Threats to Maritime Safety, Security
Deputy Defence Minister Teodora Genchovska addresses the Black Sea Forum, Sofia, April 25, 2023 (BTA Photo)

The 2nd Black Sea Forum is taking place in Sofia on April 24-26, the Defence Ministry said. The event is held under the auspices of Bulgarian caretaker Defence Minister Dimitar Stoyanov and the Chief of Defence, Admiral Emil Eftimov. It is organized by Bulgaria's Navy Commander, Rear Admiral Kiril Mihaylov, and Admiral Stuart Munsch, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and U.S. Naval Forces Africa, and Commander of Allied Joint Force Command, Naples, Italy.

"Our country is striving to enhance security in the Black Sea with a strong commitment to the Alliance," Bulgarian Deputy Defence Minister Teodora Genchovska said, addressing the forum. "Collective defence guarantees deterrence and conflict prevention in the region. The development of processes in the Black Sea region is key to the development of the Euro-Atlantic area. We have always believed that the security of the Black Sea can be achieved with the collective efforts of NATO and the EU and with a targeted contribution to these efforts," she added.

The Commander of the Bulgarian Navy, Rear Admiral Kiril Mihaylov, said that the countries in the Black Sea region have continuously strived for stability over the past decades but despite all efforts, along with the resurgence of old security challenges, new threats constantly emerge, making the regional security environment fragile and unstable. "Dormant conflicts in the region continue to threaten escalation and deterioration of maritime safety and security. In addition, the Russian Federation has been increasingly openly opposing the pro-NATO orientation of its neighbours which it considered neutral and viewed as its buffer zone," he said.  The Admiral added that Russia has never ceased to exert influence over the entire region. "The escalation of hostile actions by Russia, which began in 2008 with the invasion of Georgia and the subsequent illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, culminated in February 2022 with the full-scale military invasion of Ukraine," Mihaylov said. In his words, "this unprovoked Russian attack radically changed the Black Sea security situation of the region. More than a year after the start of the war in Ukraine, in addition to the battles on land, the consequences of the conflict in the maritime environment have not only seriously affected commercial shipping and local businesses but have also imposed additional tasks on the naval forces, the Bulgarian Navy Commander added. "The unpredictability of the threat posed by floating mines has turned mine countermeasures operations into a daily routine for our naval forces," the Rear Admiral said. 

Bulgaria's Chief of Defence, Admiral Emil Eftimov, pointed out that Bulgaria supports the strengthening of NATO's commitment, guided by the understanding that the Eastern flank of the Alliance and the Black Sea region are an important segment of the security of the Euro-Atlantic space. In his words, the Black Sea region has become a key strategic area of confrontation between Russia and the West, as is happening on NATO's Eastern flank. "The war in Ukraine is heightening risks and threats in the region. Our Navy has repeatedly defused floating mines in Bulgaria's area of responsibility, we need to ensure the sustainability of critical energy infrastructure in the region, we need to look for options to ensure the security of submarine and surface infrastructure," Admiral Eftimov further said.

"Security in the Black Sea region is global security. The Black Sea is a region in which Russia has created a number of frozen conflicts," stressed Admiral Stuart Munsch, Commander of the US Naval Forces Europe and Africa and Commander of Allied Joint Force Command Naples (JFC Naples). He acknowledged the importance of the Black Sea region both for the development of trade and transport of goods and as the eastern border of the Euro-Atlantic area. "That is why we are here - to work together to protect every NATO ally through collective action and cooperation," Admiral Munsch said. He thanked both Bulgaria for organizing the forum and for establishing the Black Sea coordination centre, and the Bulgarian Navy for its commitment to security issues in the Black Sea region.

/LG/

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By 18:47 on 26.02.2024 Today`s news

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