Socialist Presidential Candidate Denies 'Russophilia' Claims
Bulgaria should develop its own policies and pursue and defend them abroad, and not the other way around, the Air Force's ex-commander and current socialist presidential candidate has said.
In an interview with private bTV station, Maj Gen Rumen Radev has argued the country should act in its own interest, instead of eing imposed decisions. He has not elaborated.
Radev, whose nomination is backed by the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP, the largest opposition force), has fended off allegations from his opponents, who accuse him of being pro-Russian.
"I am a Bulgarophile. I have graduated from two American academies, I fly Russian aircraft, but I am neither a Russophile nor an Germanophile, nor an Americanophile. I am a Bulgarian military officer and insist that Bulgaria should have its coherent and independent policy within the unions of which it is a member," he has argued.
Asked about why he is running for President, he has said he realized it is only through politics that some causes can be pursued.
"The [Bulgarian] President is Commander-in-Chief and heads the Consultative Council on National Security, he can exert influence and require all the information about the state of the Bulgarian Air Force, while at the same time [holding institutions accountable] for its modernizations," he has explained.
The President's veto powers, enshrined in the Constitution, can help trigger debates and generate energy in society to make sure the best decision will be taken, Radev has added.
Bulgaria's military aircraft fleet consists largely of Soviet-made MIGs. The country has been seeking to acquire new multipurpose aircraft, but has agreed to conduct joint air-policing missions over its territory with NATO counterparts until its air force capabilities have been upgraded.
Radev has opposed the joint air-policing missions, arguing a country with an own Air Force should seek to overhaul its capabilities insted. Some of his political opponents, however, accuse him of being a lobbyist for the Russian defense industry.
Presidential elections are due on November 06. GERB, the main ruling party led by Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, has not yet unveiled its candidate.
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