Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev has vetoed the law on military intelligence, specifically the provisions that require the head of the Military Intelligence to be a senior military officer on active duty, the presidency’s media service said on October 15.
Parliament passed the bill earlier this month; initially, it allowed for a civilian head of the agency, but that was changed by a second-reading amendment tabled by opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party MP Tasko Ermenkov. This led to the current head of Military Intelligence, Yordan Bakalov, to submit his resignation on October 5, which was rejected later on the same day by Defence Minister Nikolai Nenchev.
In a statement, the presidency said that Plevneliev welcomed the National Assembly’s political will to pass laws regulating the activity of national security agencies, which would, for the first time in Bulgaria’s post-communist history, provide a clear framework for inter-agency communications and co-operation, while also setting up parliamentary oversight.
The goals of the Military Intelligence went beyond defense matters, as the agency is tasked with ensuring national security, including the acquisition and analysis of strategic intelligence. As such, there were no reasons to believe that only military personnel could hold the position of agency chief, the statement said.
Limiting the possible pool of nominees to officers of senior rank in active duty imposed needless restrictions. Furthermore, the presidency rejected the premise that any officer of senior rank, regardless of previous experience, had the required knowledge to be appointed to lead the agency.
“Provided that civilians can be appointed deputy directors and would be able to carry out the director’s duties in their absence, I see no reason that the director could not be appointed from outside the armed forces,” Plevneliev said in the statement.
Asked to comment the presidential veto, Nenchev said that he awaited a swift reaction from Parliament. He praised Bakalov’s track record as head of Military Intelligence, saying that since Bakalov’s appointment, there was a noticeable improvement in the quality of the intelligence reports received by senior officials.
“I think it would be good to provide reason for calmness, both to the director of the agency and its employees, so that they can do their jobs,” Nenchev told Bulgarian National Radio.
(Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev. Photo: president.bg)