Bulgaria signs roadmap for military cooperation with US

Krasimir Karakachanov (L) and Mark Esper

Bulgaria and the US have signed a roadmap for defence cooperation during a meeting between Minister of Defence Krasimir Karakachanov and Secretary of Defence Mark Esper, the Bulgarian Ministry of Defence announced. The ceremony took place at the Pentagon as part of Minister Karakachanov's visit to the US.

The document affirms the strategic partnership between the two countries. Bulgaria will be provided with assistance to develop civil preparedness and military capability under Article 3 of the NATO treaty, which deals with developing individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack. Commitment to strengthening cooperation in the Black Sea Region was made. The goal is to achieve effectiveness in staving off and counteracting external threats and challenges by sea or air. Cooperation will also be developed in the field of cybersecurity.

A task force will be charged with monitoring progress in implementing the roadmap. New areas of cooperation can be added, if necessary. Results stemming from the respective forums, including the existing Bilateral Joint Commission, will be presented in progress reports. The agreement explicitly states that all defence cooperation activities depend on the availability of forces and resources, funding and authorisation.

The Ministry of Defence notes that the roadmap will apply until the end of 2030, adding that it is not an international agreement.

“Our relations in the field of defence are based upon mutual trust, respect and the political will the two countries share to develop and carry out their common goals in the field of defence,” reads the document, which lists six cooperation priorities for the period until December 2030.

Those include modernising capabilities in line with NATO agreements, assisting defence institutions towards better accountability and transparency, strengthening cooperation in the Black Sea Region to stave off and counteract external threats by sea and air, strengthening cooperation in the Black Sea Region with an eye to successfully stave off and counteract external threats and challenges in the naval and air force fields, cooperation in the area of cybersecurity so as to improve defence measures to prevent malicious cyber breaches and attacks on defence systems, and aiding Bulgaria in meeting commitments under Article 3 of the North Atlantic Treaty to build national stability based on a combination of civil preparedness and military capability.

Mark Esper: Bulgaria plays a critical role in protecting NATO's eastern flank

“We are happy to announce the signing of a 10-year defence roadmap between Bulgaria and the US!”, wrote the US Embassy to Sofia on its Facebook page in connection with the roadmap that the defence ministers of Bulgaria and the US, Krasimir Karakachanov and Mark Esper, respectively, signed.

“Together we are stronger and safer!”, the embassy notes in its post.

During the meeting, Secretary of Defence Mark Esper stressed that Bulgaria is a frontline NATO state. “The nation plays a critical role in protecting NATO's eastern flank,” he said.

“We, of course, share many security interests, particularly issues such as Black Sea security, defence modernisation and security cooperation,” Esper continued.

He praised Bulgaria for dedicating 3% of its gross domestic product towards defence in fiscal 2019. He believes the roadmap looks for ways for the two countries to improve interoperability and establishes a framework for the continuous development of Bulgaria's military readiness and capabilities for the next decade through sustained cooperation between the two nations.

“This roadmap will give us a chance to not only intensify our bilateral relations, but to be individually beneficial to each other's national defence,” Karakachanov said. “Also, to be beneficial to NATO… to be able to counter the malign intentions of our adversaries.”

 

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