Former Bulgarian Air Force Chief Says He Left over Disagreement with Defence Minister
Former Bulgarian Air Force Commander Maj Gen Rumen Radev has said that he decided to retire over disagreement with Defence Minister Nikolay Nenchev about the concept of joint policing of the country’s air space with NATO partners.
“I left because I can’t remain subordinate to a defence minister who hadn’t sought my expert advice and hadn’t listen to it, who hadn’t responded to any of my notes, letters and reports I sent him, and ignored critical issues of national security about which I have raised alarm for the past two years,” BGNES news outlet quoted Radev as saying at a news conference in Sofia on Tuesday.
“The Bulgarian fighter aviation force could have been saved during those two years to avoid the present extremely risky solutions if there were understanding of the problems and will to resolve them,” Radev added.
Radev, seen as the most likely joint nomination of main opposition Socialists and left-wing ABV party for the November 6 presidential elections, was sent into retirement last week. He has declined to comment on the reasons for leaving the Air Force so far.
Radev stressed that he wasn’t opposed to the idea of joint air policing of the Bulgarian air space with NATO allies.
However, the Air Force Commander was in disagreement with the Defence Minister about the need to define the concept of joint air policing in the Defence and Armed Forces Act as well as the financial commitments Bulgaria would make to ensure joint air policing with NATO allies, Radev added.
“I was firmly opposed to the idea that Bulgaria must pay for the costs incurred by a partner country,” Radev said, according to BGNES.
The controversial decision for joint air policing was adopted in January. Several months earlier, Radev submitted his resignation citing the insufficient number of fighter jets fit for conducting air policing missions and trainings, the decreasing number of prepared pilots and the inadequate number of flight hours.
According to Radev, these shortcomings could result in heavy flying incidents, exhaustion of pilots and inability to train new pilots. He also criticised the defence ministry for failing to deliver on its pledges to conclude contracts for the repair and supply of engines for the ageing MiG-29 fighter jets of the Bulgarian Air Force within the specified deadlines.
He withdrew that resignation the same day he submitted it after Prime Minister Boyko Borisov assured him that measures would be taken to upgrade the air force's capabilities.
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