Air Force Ex-Chief Challenges Bulgaria PM over Presidential Vote
The former Bulgaria Air Force Commander has vowed to defeat Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov if the latter decides to run in the forthcoming presidential elections.
In a TV interview, Maj Gen Rumen Radev has denied accusations of being a "partisan" contender, describing himself as someone who "shares the political platform of the Bulgarian Socialist Party [BSP]."
Radev is the presidential nominee raised by the BSP. The party officially endorsed him through an "initiative committee" on Tuesday, nearly a month after he asked to be discharged.
Prime Minister Borisov has not announced whether he will run, but GERB, his center-right party, has not yet unveiled the name of its own candidate and intends to do so on October 02, just over a month before the vote.
While Borisov accuses Radev of having been a "political" figure in the military, Radev has told bTV station GERB is too "intertwined" with state institutions.
"There is no separation of powers in Bulgaria. One party controls the executive, legislative and judicial powers. The President should be the [watchdog to oversee the separation of powers]. He has to be independent," Radev has opined, adding the "party" and the "state" are too "intertwined" at the moment, in an apparent reference to GERB.
The former Air Force head has also said his first visit will be to Brussels and not to Moscow if he is elected.
Radev, who has actively called for an overhaul of the Bulgarian Air Force and last year deposited his resignation in protest, drew outrage from segments of society with his stance against joint air-policing missions over Bulgaria's airspace with aircraft from other NATO countries, comparing the development as "more humiliating that the Neuilly treaty" (a post-WWI treaty which required of Bulgaria to give away some territories after having lost as an ally to the Central Powers).
"We have a strange notion of air policing. We are becoming the only NATO country that has its own Air Forced, but invites others [to conduct missions over its airspace] for paid services. The problem is that the concept was initiated by a Bulgarian deputy defense minister and approved by a Bulgarian minister and not imposed from the outside."
"I have always argued that joint policing is good for Bulgaria, it means more security and preparation. But the moment we start paying for it, it is not good."
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