Rearmament of Bulgarian Army To Cost BGN 1B by 2020
The rearmament of the Bulgarian army will cost BGN 1B by 2020, according to caretaker Defense Minister Velizar Shalamanov.
In a Friday interview for the Bulgarian National Television (BNT), Shalamanov, who was an employee of the NATO Communications and Information Agency in the past five years, explained that the reduction of the country's dependence on Russia was one of the goals of the rearmament.
He insisted that the military spending which Bulgaria poured into Russia was very high and it carried a high corruption risk.
Shalamanov, as cited by mediapool.bg, underscored that the spending which went to the maintenance of aircraft, radars and other equipment did not contribute to the technical upgrade of the Bulgarian industry.
He noted that Bulgaria would seek the assistance of agencies of EU and NATO to reduce its dependence on Russia, vowing that the spending would drop from its current rate.
Shalamanov also announced that he would propose measures for solving the existing problems in a program for the development of the sector by 2020.
On Thursday, it emerged that Bulgaria was unable to pay its contribution to NATO and that it also owed BGN 14M to Russia for repaired engines of MIG-29 aircraft.
Shalamanov explained Friday that Bulgaria's annual NATO fee amounted to BGN 15 M and the payment could be rescheduled.
He suggested that during the caretaker government would seek to adopt the "Bulgaria - NATO 2020" strategy during its short term in office.
Shalamanov declared that he aimed to include an increase in defense spending to 2% of the GDP by 2020 in the strategy.
Bulgaria's defense spending currently amounts to around 1.3% of GDP.
NATO demands defense spending of no less than 1.5% of GDP of its member states.
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