Rumen Radev: Protecting the Republic of North Macedonia’s Air Space Is Bulgaria’s National Duty and Responsibility 04 дек 2019 | 13:06 views (1723) commentaries(0)

The meeting of the state and government leaders of the NATO member states in London provides Bulgaria the opportunity to strengthen its position as a factor of stability in Southeastern Europe and defend its national interest. This is what President Rumen Radev told journalists today before leaving for the NATO summit in London. The top-level forum in the British capital will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Alliance, the presidential press office reported.

“Bulgaria should not miss the historical opportunity to protect the Republic of North Macedonia’s air space,” the Head of State said. In his words, while the talks in this direction were postponed by the Bulgarian side for the “bright future”, when we will have a squadron of new aircraft, Greece signed an agreement on this mission. “The current opportunities have given us the chance to fully perform this task without any extra expenditure because the Graf Ignatievo Air Base has been tasked this mission,” Rumen Radev said.

The President recalled his meetings with Prime Ministers Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Zoran Zaev in the past months, at which an agreement was reached for holding a meeting between Bulgaria’s Defense Minister and Chief of Defense with their counterparts from Greece and the Republic of North Macedonia for including Bulgaria in the protection of the air space of our southeastern neighbor. “This not only serves our national interest, but it is also our duty to the fraternal Republic of North Macedonia and is an expression of responsibility,” the Head of State further said.

Asked to comment the topics discussed at the talks the Bulgarian Prime Minister held in the US concerning the increased presence of the NATO forces in the Black Sea region and creating a naval coordination center in Varna, Rumen Radev said that when such topics are discussed and announced, it is essential that precise terminology be used. “This is neither a base, nor is it logistic. The decisions are made neither in Washington nor in London, they are made in the NATO headquarters in Brussels. Bulgaria has long voiced its position,” the President added.

Taking a question regarding whether “NATO is in a brain death” in President Emmanuel Macron’s words, the Head of State said that the EU has the ambition to be a factor on the world arena and is seeking its place, together with the US, Russia and China. However, to achieve this ambition, the EU should have its own defense capabilities, quick mechanisms for implementing the decision and should adopt an approach taking into consideration that it is not only a common market, but also a common political bloc.

The topics the summit will discuss are building modern defense capabilities, the funds allocated by the member states to defense, strengthening the Alliance’s role in fighting terrorism, the strategic priorities in the sphere of cyber defense, and also NATO’s open-door policy.

Within their visit to London, Head of State Rumen Radev and his wife Desislava Radeva will take part in a reception given by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II – Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, on the occasion of the state and government leaders of the NATO member states and their wives. Within different formats the Bulgarian Head of State will also hold talks with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US President Donald Trump. President Rumen Radev is also expected to hold bilateral meetings at the forum.

The delegation led by the Bulgarian Head of State includes Ekaterina Zaharieva, Deputy Prime Minister for Judicial Reform and Foreign Minister, and Krasimir Karakachanov, Deputy Prime Minister for Public Order and Security and Defense Minister.

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