Bulgaria would abstain for the time being from joining the European Intervention Initiative, the country’s Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov told Parliament during Question Time on September 5.
Asked by opposition socialist MP Petar Vitanov whether the Defence Ministry believed that it was in Bulgaria’s interest to join the initiative, Karakachanov said that it was still too vague.
“The European Intervention Initiative is still only a political forum, where ideas are being discussed. It is yet to develop and acquire more concrete dimensions,” he said, as quoted by state news agency BTA.
Bulgaria’s active participating in EU’s common security and defence policy was of strategic importance to national security, Karakachanov said. Taking on additional commitments like the European Intervention Initiative could endanger existing strategic goals because of the need to redirect already scarce financial resources earmarked for defence purposes, he was quoted as saying.
In June, nine European Union member states agreed to form a joint European military intervention force. Its goal, as outlined by French president Emmanuel Macron in a speech last year, would be to be able to rapidly deploy troops in crisis scenarios near EU’s borders.
The initiative was initially backed by the defence ministers of France, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Estonia, Spain, Portugal and the UK. Last week, Finland said it intended to join the initiative and Italy initially showed support as well, although it did not sign up to the initial announcement.
The European Intervention Initiative is separate of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (Pesco) structure formed as part of the EU last year, which Bulgaria joined alongside 22 other EU member states. Pesco’s goal is to enable joint development of defence capabilities, investment in shared projects and enhancement of the operational readiness of their armed forces.
It is also separate from Nato, although all nine countries to sign up to the original letter of intent to establish the initiative are part of Nato. Finland was the first of six EU member states that are not part of the alliance (alongside Austria, Cyprus, Ireland, Malta and Sweden) to show interest in joining the initiative.