Bulgaria’s caretaker Cabinet said on March 1 2017 that it was nominating land forces commander Andrei Botsev to be the country’s new Defence Chief, with a promotion to lieutenant-general.
By law, the Defence Chief is appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Cabinet.
The nomination of Botsev, certain to be approved by head of state President Roumen Radev, is a sequel to the resignation on December 2 2016 of Konstantin Popov as Defence Chief.
Popov stepped down from the post in response to the election of Radev, a former air force commander, as President, on a ticket backed by the Bulgarian Socialist Party. Popov said at the time that he wanted to give Radev a free hand to decide on an appointment of a Defence Chief. Reports said that in the course of their air force careers, Radev and Popov had not got along well.
Popov currently is a candidate for election to Parliament in the Plovdiv region voting area, nominated by Boiko Borissov’s GERB party.
On January 18, in its closing days in office and while Rossen Plevneliev was still President, Borissov’s government named Vice-Admiral Evtim Evtimov as acting Chief of Defence, to serve out the year remaining to the term of office.
The caretaker Cabinet headed by Ognyan Gerdzhikov is meant to have preparing for the early parliamentary elections as its main task, but since taking office has been replacing dozens of officials.
Reports on March 1 said that Botsev was considered to be close to Radev.
Bulgarian-language daily Sega said that the change of Defence Chief was likely to lead to a change in priorities for the modernisation of the country’s armed forces. Botsev, as land forces commander, has been insisting on the purchase of armoured combat vehicles, a move expected to cost about a billion leva to acquire 238 vehicles.
The report said that there had been other changes at the Defence Ministry, including the head of the supply and trade corporation, which is in charge of purchases of military equipment and armaments.
Other changes reportedly include the dismissal of the head of the military clubs agency, which places orders worth millions of leva to supply various facilities, while the head of the ministry’s information centre, responsible for the ministry’s media publication and television channel, also has been replaced.
There also have been changes in the leadership of the Terem holding company, including its chief executive and a board member. Terem specialises in repair, modernisation and logistics support of aviation equipment, ship repairs, armoured equipment and small arms and light weapons, artillery, missiles and ammunition, as well as radar and communication equipment.
Meanwhile, in a separate decision, the caretaker Cabinet said on March 1 that it had approved additional transfers of a total of 224 503 leva to the state social insurance budget, to pay back costs related to accommodation in and use of facilities by people eligible for assistance under the War Veterans Act and the law on people with war disabilities and injuries.