NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg Visits Sofia
Friday, 23 January 2015
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg paid an official visit to Sofia Thursday at the invitation of President Rosen Plevneliev. Security issues, the Alliance agenda and defence spending dominated the guest's talks with President Plevneliev, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, Defence Minister Nikolai Nenchev and Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov.
This is Stoltenberg's first visit to Bulgaria after he took overas NATO Secretary General last October.
At a joint news conference with the guest, President Plevneliev said he expects the defence budget of Bulgaria to be increased during the year so as to meet a commitment this country has made at the NATO Summit in Wales last year.
Bulgaria's defence budget for 2015 is set at 1.16 per cent of GDP and is some 30 million euro smaller than the year before. In Wales, this country made a commitment not to decrease defence spending this year and then, in the course of ten years, to bring it gradually up to 2 per cent of GDP.
The President said he informed the NATO Secretary General that the decrease in this year's budget was called for by the difficult economic situation in Bulgaria.
Plevneliev pointed out that Bulgaria relies on the support of its partners for re-armament and technological modernization of the Bulgarian armed forces. The need to reduce the dependence on a single supplier of arms technologies and enhance the interoperability of the Bulgarian army and the other NATO armies is obvious and the government, Parliament and President attach priority to it. "This is a national priority," Plevneliev said.