US, Bulgaria sign 10-year road map for military co-operation

US, Bulgaria sign 10-year road map for military co-operation

United States Defence Secretary Mark Esper and Bulgarian Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov signed a 10-year road map charting defence co-operation between the two countries over the next decade, the US Department of Defence said in an October 6 statement.

Bulgaria and the United States are Nato allies, and Esper praised Bulgaria for dedicating three per cent of Gross Domestic Product toward defence in the 2019 fiscal year. The road map looks for ways for the two countries to fix gaps in military capabilities and to improve interoperability, Esper said.

It also establishes a framework for the continuous development of Bulgaria’s military readiness and capabilities for the next decade through sustained co-operation between the two countries.

“This road map 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 through an interpreter. “Also, to be beneficial to Nato … to be able to counter the malign intentions of our adversaries.”

Bulgaria is a front-line Nato state. Esper said the nation plays a critical role in protecting Nato’s eastern flank, the statement said.

“We, of course, share many security interests, particularly issues such as Black Sea security, defence modernisation and security co-operation,” Esper said, according to the statement.

Esper said he wants more Nato allies to reach at least the two per cent goal of GDP committed to defence. “I encourage you and our other alliance members to pay to push for two per cent of the GDP spending target and to make the needed investments to enhance your capabilities and capacity,” he said. “Because you know, I believe that two per cent should be a floor, not a ceiling.”

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