Bulgaria’s former air force chief, expected to be leftist presidential candidate, lashes MoD ‘incompetence’

Bulgaria’s former commander of the Air Force, Roumen Radev, who is expected to be named on August 17 as the Bulgarian Socialist Party’s and socialist splinter ABC’s joint candidate in the November presidential elections, has lashed out at the Defence Ministry’s political leadership as “incompetent”.

Radev, who commanded Bulgaria’s Air Force from 2014 until his August 2016 resignation, effectively accused his former boss Defence Minister Nikolai Nenchev of lying about the reasons that Radev resigned.

Nenchev, a member of the centre-right Reformist Bloc component of Bulgaria’s coalition government, earlier told reporters that Radev had resigned because the Air Force commander disagreed with legislation approved by Parliament to allow foreign countries to assist in defending Bulgaria’s air space.

Radev said that the main basis for his disagreement was the concept that Bulgaria would pay partner countries to take part in joint protection of its air space.

No member state of Nato pays for joint security, according to Radev.

The concept was unfavourable and humiliating for the Bulgarian Air Force and the country, according to Radev, who added that “this concept is even more humiliating than the Treaty of Neuilly” – a reference to the treaty signed in Neuilly-sur-Seine in November 1919 that obliged Bulgaria, defeated along with the Central Powers in the First World War, to cede territories to neighbouring countries, reduce its armed forces and pay millions in reparations.

Radev said that Nenchev had not complied with any recommendation he had made, went on to accuse the MoD’s political leadership of incompetence and a lack of strategic thinking regarding the development of Bulgaria’s defence.

The former air force commander said that he could not stay on as a subordinate to a defence minister who neither sought nor needed his professional opinion on matters that related to national security, and who had alarmed him with “two years of neglect, empty promises and generally empty PR”.

In spite of this oral attack on Nenchev, Radev said practically nothing about the coming place he is expected to have in politics, as the socialists’ presidential candidate in Bulgaria’s November 6 elections.

Asked if he felt ready to become Commander-in-Chief of the Bulgarian armed forces – the post held by the President, according to the constitution – Radev, a pilot, responded by saying, “If you feel unready, never take off”.



The Sofia Globe staff

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