Bulgaria's Govt Adopts Military Overhaul Program
The cabinet approved on Wednesday a draft document to upgrade the Bulgarian Armed Forces' capabilities.
A statement by the government reads that the so-called Program for Development of Defense Capabilities of the Bulgarian Armed Forces 2020 will be submitted to Parliament for consideration.
The document is envisaged to serve as the basis of a plan for development of he military by the end of the decade to boost its capabilities in line with NATO requirements and with what the government calls "changes in the geostrategic security environment in immediate proximity to our territory".
In terms of budget, defense expenditures will be "restructured" by 2024, and their share in GDP will grow gradually from 1.3% to 2% "under favourable economic conditions".
However, no annual increase is fixed in the working paper which says the "relative share of defense budget in GDP by 2018 is retained at a level not lower than... 2014 [levels]". Last year the military was also granted a sum equal to 1.3% of gross domestic output, and in 2015 Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said the share could not go up due to fiscal restrictions.
Ministers also revoked a decision taken by last year's interim (August-October) cabinet to approve a document titled Bulgaria in NATO and European Defense 2020 which proposed a set of steps to transform the country's armed forces.
The draft version of that document, prepared by a team led by then caretaker Defense Minister Velizar Shalamanov sparked controversy as it contained sections pointing to Russia as a main threat to the region and containing notions of "hybrid warfare" waged in Sofia by Moscow.
Parts of the text were subsequently removed, and Shalamanov's successor Nikolay Nenchev pledged to create a new document.
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