The Defense Ministers of Bulgaria and Greece have signed the first ever bilateral agreement under NATO's Air Policing program in the Balkans.
"The borders of our trust and understanding are where we place them," Bulgaria's Defense Minister Anyu Angelov stated at a joint news conference with his Greek counterpart Evangelos Venizelos in Athens Monday as cited by the Defense Ministry press office.
"The agreement we signed is not just the first bilateral agreement under NATO's Air Policing for Bulgaria and Greece, it is also the first for the Balkans. Our countries will now help one another with air operations about terrorist threats from the air and about safety of air travel. But I am convinced that the defense cooperation between Bulgaria and Greece is yet to deepen because the open and honest relations provide for open doors and open minds," Gen. Angelov said.
Under the NATO Air Policing deal signed Monday between Bulgaria and Greece in Athens, the designated aircraft of the two nations will be able to enter the air space of one another in case of a threat as stipulated by the respective procedures.
Under NATO's Air Policing program, NATO members jointly and collectively conduct air policing to preserve the integrity of NATO airspace. Air policing encompasses radar surveillance and identification of air objects.
When required, fighter aircraft may be employed to assist in identification, or to assist/escort aircraft.
NATO members without the necessary national assets to conduct air policing are assisted by other NATO members to ensure that air sovereignty is maintained.
NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) is responsible for the conduct of NATO air policing.
During his visit to Athens on Monday, Bulgaria's Defense Minister Angelov was also welcomed by Greek President Karolos Papoulias.