Bulgaria’s government minority partner ‘United Patriots’ divided over fighter jet proposal

Valeri Simeonov, one of three co-leaders of the United Patriots, the nationalist minority partner in Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s coalition government, has called for the procedure to acquire new fighter jets to be terminated and restarted.

Simeonov made the call on the evening of January 9, several hours after the Borissov Cabinet agreed to ask Parliament for the go-ahead to negotiate with the United States on the acquisition of F-16 fighter jets.

The Cabinet was acting on the recommendation of a military-political committee that recommended the F-16 option over the Swedish offer of new Gripens and Italy’s offer of second-hand Eurofighters.

Of the other two co-leaders of the United Patriots, the F-16 proposal is backed by VMRO party leader Krassimir Karakachanov, who is Defence Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, and opposed by United Patriots parliamentary group leader Volen Siderov.

Simeonov, in a television interview, said that he was stating his personal opinion and said that the issue had not been discussed at party level.

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