Defense Minister Todor Tagarev discussed with his predecessors the priorities of the defense policy.
At the end of last week, he invited former military ministers for an informal discussion, and Angel Naydenov, Anyu Angelov, Boyko Noev, Velizar Shalamanov, Dragomir Zakov and Nikolay Svinarov responded to the invitation.
They exchanged opinions and assessments on current issues of defense policy, given the changed geopolitical situation – Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine, the crisis in the Middle East and instability in the Western Balkans.
Those present were united around the opinion that the unprecedented threats to the security of the democratic world and its EU and NATO alliances, to which Bulgaria also belongs, require an accelerated increase and improvement of defense capabilities. According to them, more work needs to be done to make the Bulgarian society aware of this pressing need.
It was noted that the rate of growth of our country’s defense capabilities is lagging behind from the dynamics of the security environment, as the main reason for this is the inherited socio-political apathy towards the problems of war and peace, which has led over the years to insufficient national efforts in terms of human and financial resources.
Tagarev promised a defense budget of over 2% of GDP next year as well
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Tagarev and the former ministers believe that the existing strategic and doctrinal concepts should be updated and upgraded in accordance with national characteristics and Union requirements, as well as taking into account the factors determining the security environment and the risks to peace, security and stability.
The main topic of discussion were the possibilities for overcoming the shortage of personnel, the engagement of greater human resources in defense and provision of the wartime reserve. In the discussions, a general view was formed that the restoration of compulsory military service is not necessary. Solutions must be sought within the framework of existing human resources, as well as by sharply improving working conditions and professional realization in the armed forces, by encouraging various forms of voluntary contribution to defense. In the debate about the human factor in the army, the contribution of the military personnel themselves – active and reserve – would be valuable.
Tagarev and his predecessors also united around the view that modernization and rearmament programs must be carried out according to plan and if possible to be accelerated. For this purpose, it is also necessary to create an adequate management capacity. These programs create potential opportunities for industrial cooperation, which must be actively implemented for the benefit of the Bulgarian economy.
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Security risks required the rapid construction of a strong defense within NATO and the EU
The needs of the national defense and our alliance obligations were also discussed, including in the context of the development of the capacity of Bulgaria as a host country, as well as the national and regional infrastructure.
It was among the important topics defense funding. The need to seek even wider public support for increasing and strengthening national defense capabilities, supported by adequate funding, is evident. 2% of GDP is the minimum level of spending to achieve and develop the necessary defense capabilities, to guarantee the security, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bulgaria, as well as for adequate contribution to NATO’s collective defence, was noted at the meeting.
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