Observing a maritime exercise off Bourgas on April 10, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov boasted that his country’s military and border guards could alone protect its borders: “There is no need for Nato to come to protect us”.
“The armed forces of Bulgaria are the pride of the people. Our military and police are super professional,” Borissov said.
The exercise, involving Border Police and naval vessels, was based on a scenario of intercepting a people-trafficking boat heading from Turkish waters. It was held against the background of several such exercises by Bulgaria lately, so far only on land, to train interior and defence ministry staffs to work together in the face of the migrant and refugee crisis.
Recently, Bulgarian Cabinet ministers have said repeatedly that in spite of the shutdown of borders in Balkan countries, there is no indication of an increased number of migrants and refugees heading into and through Bulgaria on the way to Western Europe.
Taking part in the April 10 exercise were Bulgaria’s frigate Druzki, a helicopter and Border Police patrol vessels. In the exercise, a people-trafficking boat was intercepted and escorted out of Bulgarian territorial waters. Another aspect was a rescue operation of people in a boat in distress.
Others observing the exercise included Interior Minister Roumyana Buchvarova, Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev, Defence Minister Nikolai Nenchev, Bourgas mayor Dimitar Nikolov and senior military officers.
Borissov said that his Cabinet was proposing to get two new naval vessels in an 800 million leva (about 400 million euro) project, and he said that he had promised workers locally that two frigates would be produced in Bulgaria.
“Here are the colleagues from Nikola Vaptsarov Naval Academy who I met a year and a half ago. I must say I was amazed how exceptional researchers are working there and what cutting-edge technologies and developments they have done… I promised them that when we collect more money we will immediately invest in the production of two frigates of their design,” Borissov said.
“We have allotted money for what we promised. The ships will be built in three instalments over next three years, and this will create new jobs. I am convinced from prototypes I saw that then we will have a market for such frigates,” he said.
(Photo of the Druzki: Dima Sergienko)