Military personnel who join in protests will be punished, Bulgaria’s Defence Minister Nikolai Nenchev said on November 5, as police continued protests in Sofia and across the country against changes to their pay and perks.
The initial proposal in Bulgaria’s national 2016 Budget not only provided for cutting from 20 to 10 the monthly salaries paid to police on severance, but made the same provision for members of the military.
Reports after news of the proposed cutbacks emerged – and before the government backed down in part on the cutbacks – said that some military personnel had protested, including air force pilots who refused to go on scheduled border air policing missions.
Nenchev told reporters on November 5 that he had not received reports on military personnel submitting resignations.
He said that after Prime Minister Boiko Borissov announced that the 20-to-10 cutbacks would not apply to those currently employed in the police and the military, the situation in Bulgaria’s armed forces was “relatively calm”.
Nenchev was speaking ahead of a scheduled meeting on November 5 with Parliament’s defence committee at which the provisions of Budget 2016 were to be discussed, including the consequences of the possible withdrawal of social rights provided for in the defence budget.
Vowing punishment for any military personnel who protested, he said that clause 184 of the Armed Forces Act said that Bulgarian military had no right to strike.
He said that he had held a meeting with the chief of defence and deputy chief of defence and had been told that there had been only “incidental” cases, “that we monitor very carefully”.