Bulgaria holds large military parade to mark Armed Forces Day
More than 1300 Bulgarian military personnel, aircraft and armoured vehicles were involved in the country’s largest military parade in several years on May 6 2016, Armed Forces Day.
Several hundred people gathered at Alexander I Square in Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia to watch the military parade, which also was shown live on public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television and was live-streamed online.
Flypasts were performed by the Bulgarian Air Force’s MiG-29 jet fighters, SU-25s, Mi-17 and Cougar helicopters and other aircraft.
Along the cobbled square rolled T-72 tanks, C-300 rocket launchers, other armoured vehicles and artillery equipment, as well as Desert Cat armoured cars.
The playing of the national anthem was followed by a 20-gun salute.
In spite of Bulgaria being a Nato member since 2004, the aircraft and much of the other military equipment involved in the parade dated from the era of the Soviet bloc. Bulgaria has yet to complete the process of acquiring Western-made multi-role fighter jets appropriate to Nato standards.
Addressing the parade, President Rossen Plevneliev, who also constitutionally is commander-in-chief of the armed forces, said that today peace and freedom were being put to the best because for the first time since the Second World War, the level of security was at a record low as there were fundamental differences on key issues of the international order.
“The risks and threats to security in Europe cannot be denied, but they do not come only from the wave of migration and terrorist attacks. The illegal annexation of Crimea, the Ukrainian crisis, destabilization and placement of countries according to someone else’s will through frozen conflicts, hybrid, propaganda and cyber attacks are a fact,” Plevneliev said.
He said that Bulgaria was some distance from the crises in the region, but the efforts of the political and professional leadership of the military to achieve modernisation of the armed forces should be supported.
Plevneliev paid tribute to all Bulgarian soldiers who had died in missions abroad and conveyed his congratulations on the day to all veterans and current Bulgarian military personnel.
Among senior state and government leaders attending the parade were Speaker of the National Assembly Tsetska Tsacheva, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov and Defence Minister Nikolai Nenchev.
Armed Forces Day, which in the Bulgarian calendar also is St George’s Day, was celebrated in several other cities with parades and events, including a helicopter flypast over Plovdiv and in the Black Sea city of Varna, a Bulgarian naval vessel had an open day for visitors.
(Photos: BNT and president.bg)