Democratic Bulgaria wants Defence Minister summoned over stance on Nato troop deployment

Ruling coalition partner Democratic Bulgaria wants Defence Minister Stefan Yanev summoned to Parliament’s defence committee to explain his stance on additional Nato forces in Bulgaria, after Yanev said that he saw nothing justifying such a deployment.

Nato’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe General Tod Wolters has suggested the alliance should deploy troops in Bulgaria and Romania after Russia’s military buildup near the Ukrainian border, German newspaper Der Spiegel reported on Saturday, Deutsche Welle’s English-language news service said.

Yanev, formerly prime minister in the two successive caretaker governments of Bulgaria in 2021, said on Facebook that at this stage there was no reason to consider Russia’s actions as a direct threat to Nato and the relevant security zone.

He said that the current increase in Russia’s military capabilities and activities on Nato’s eastern flank called for a unified approach by Nato, but without unnecessarily escalating tensions.

“I do not believe that there are the necessary circumstances that can justify a decision related to the deployment of additional troops on our territory. Such a decision would correspond neither to the alliance’s interests nor to the national interest of the Republic of Bulgaria,” Yanev said.

“Taking into account the dynamics in the security environment, the Bulgarian state is ready to increase the capacity of its own national forces on its territory in the context of the Union’s deterrence and defence capabilities. This readiness is a function of the potential possibility of any type of threat, regardless of the direction from which it arises,” he said.

Hristo Ivanov, parliamentary leader of Democratic Bulgaria coalition, said that the group strongly insisted on what had been fixed in the ruling coalition agreement, that Bulgaria should develop its full participation in Nato not as a formality, but actively.

“Because we believe that our country cannot afford to be in a state of de facto undeclared, but in practice neutrality in favour of ‘the expansionist policy in the Kremlin region’,” he said.

Ivanov said that as soon as Parliament’s defence committee was constituted, Democratic Bulgaria would initiate achearing of Yanev to clarify his position.

If there is a proposal to increase the US military presence in Bulgaria, Democratic Bulgaria would support all measures related to strengthening Bulgaria’s defence and ability to resist the growing creep by Russia in the region.

Prime Minister Kiril Petkov, who held talks with Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels last week soon after taking office at the head of Bulgaria’s new quadripartite coalition government, said that the topic had not been discussed by the Cabinet nor with the partners.

Yanev’s position was a personal one, Petkov said.

The means of peace and diplomacy should be used to the maximum, but Bulgaria remained a member of the EU and Nato, he said.

Decisions on additional military personnel need to be made on the basis of expert analysis, but in general, the less the focus is on military potential, and diplomacy instead, the better, Petkov said.

(Photo of Yanev:

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