Bulgarian Defense Minister Faces Calls for Resignation Amid Controversy Over Military Aid to Ukraine

Politics » DEFENSE | Author: Nikola Danailov |February 28, 2024, Wednesday // 12:01
Bulgaria: Bulgarian Defense Minister Faces Calls for Resignation Amid Controversy Over Military Aid to Ukraine Todor Tagarev

The leaders of GERB Boyko Borissov and DPS Delyan Peevski demanded the replacement of the Minister of Defense Todor Tagarev. The reason - is the delay in delivery of the armored personnel carriers to Ukraine.

Attacks by Borissov and Peevski

"For me, the work of Minister Tagarev is over - whatever they write in this report, he has not finished the job. This is a non-working minister, according to him now the deputy ministers, the Ministry of the Interior and everyone else are to blame, only he is at high speeds. So high that there is a report in a secret office about what he has done. If I were him, I would not go to Kyiv to see Zelensky before I have implemented the decisions of the parliament," said Boyko Borissov.

"He can't send some armored personnel carriers for several months. A job we did with GERB and DPS months ago. Everything was ready - signed, done - on January 18 the money was provided, he has not done anything to this day. And today he is a pitiful sight, he blames the deputy ministers. Be a man and say: 'It’s my fault I didn't send them'. He walks back and forth, only takes pictures, nothing done for Ukraine. Everything that is done for Ukraine, the parliament did. Tagarev did one big zero," said Delyan Peevski.

The Bulgaria Parliament will hear out Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov and Defense Minister Todor Tagarev on Thursday. They will answer questions related to the Prime Minister's visit to Ukraine.

The Minister of Defense was not to blame for the delayed aid to Ukraine, as well as for the undelivered but promised aid, but the Deputy Ministers, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and Foreign Affairs are to blame. In fact, Todor Tagarev was preparing the largest Bulgarian military aid for Kyiv, greater in financial terms than the one provided up to now, with a total value of 47 million euros.

Tagarev defends himself

With these two messages, Tagarev himself responded to the accusations that periodically come not only from GERB, but also from "We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria", and even from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, that Bulgaria promises but does not deliver military equipment.

As we wrote, during Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov's visit to Kyiv two days ago, on the occasion of two years since the Russian invasion, he presented Zelensky with a replica of Khan Kubrat's sword, to which the Ukrainian president responded with "I haven't seen it, no sword yet." - which was interpreted in Bulgaria as a hint about the missing Bulgarian aid.

Tagarev commented that this was Zelensky's position towards every leader he met, because Ukraine needs equipment and weapons. He also stated that he was not part of the delegation only because he had to replace the prime minister (Denkov) in Paris. But otherwise, he was dozens of times in Kyiv, and after the start of the war - in Odesa - for a meeting with his Ukrainian colleague. Its absence, of course, generated comments, including yesterday GERB leader Boyko Borissov ironized him - that he "waved from Versailles".

The circus around the APCs

The APCs are owned by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and it was decided not to transfer them to the Ministry of Defense, which has an agreement with the Ukrainian Ministry, because it would take time too much time. The aid was also subject to a presidential veto, which was overridden last December. Tagarev highlighted these reasons for the delay.

"For some reason, politicians think that if something makes a lot of noise and is painted green (they are actually blue), the Ministry of Defense is responsible for it. But these APCs belong to the Ministry of the Interior. The Ministry of the Interior is a party to the agreement. The transfer is not easy. Five months of bureaucracy. There was also a presidential veto, which was overridden in December. Dispatch of equipment is not an easy process, it takes months. We are talking about huge train sets here." Tagarev pointed out.

And he promised that they would finally leave for Ukraine "within a few days".

When asked where the armored personnel carriers were, Tagarev replied "In Sofia".

"A little more calm, please, when everything leaves, we will announce it," he said.

In his own words, the trip would take "no more than two days, I suppose." And accordingly, to the question of what has Bulgaria been doing since last summer until now, he announced that only now had the three deputy ministers found a way for the machines from all over the country to be collected, which took three weeks. After that, Tagarev stated that he recommended that the deputies in question, and not him, be heard in the relevant parliamentary committee in order to give explanations as to whether there is a delay in reality and, if so, why. "I don't coordinate them, I don't coordinate them," he pointed out.

"These APCs are not a large part of the aid," the defense minister also stated, adding that Bulgaria has given weapons systems and ammunition.

And in order to emphasize how much work is actually being done, he announced that until the Denkov-Gabriel cabinet came into office, aid amounted to 13 million euros, and up to now it is a total of 47 million euros (34 million with the cabinet now).

However, the issue of compensation proved to be a "complicated issue". Only for the first 13 million there was a schedule prepared - for 4 years they (the West) will compensate the country with 50%. For the rest, it is not clear how or when. "This is according to the European instrument for peace, but we are working in search of other possibilities, because we are not completely satisfied with how this instrument works," Tagarev pointed out.

"Unprecedented aid" for Ukraine

After that, he announced a new, in his words, "unprecedented assistance prepared by the Ministry of Defense":

"We are working for additional assistance, many times more than what has been provided so far. I rely on the National Assembly. Its financial dimension will be many times greater" - but he did not specify details, because coordination was still ongoing.

It turned out that another aid was slipping - the sending of special gloves from the warehouses of the Ministry of Defense. According to Tagarev, the initiative was taken by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (with Mariya Gabriel as its head), but what they did in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he did not know, the gloves have not been sent.

"These criticisms and constant attacks against me prevent us from fulfilling this policy. I do not work to do PR," he said at the end.

Criticism from his own party

And since criticism is also coming from WCC-DB, in his meeting yesterday with the parliamentary group he told them that "the opposition has gone on vacation" regarding the attacks against him, others have taken over this function.

Will he keep his post after the rotation and does he want to? He will participate "if these permanent attacks from all directions, which prevent me from doing my job as I understand it, stop". And yet, he thought he had the support of WCC-DB.

What is Prime Minister Denkov's assessment of him? - "I think he's good," he replied. And Mariya Gabriel's? - "At this age, I've forgotten what it's like to give school grades."

If these attacks continue, can you quit yourself, he was asked. To which Tagarev replied with "of course".

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Tags: Tagarev, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Borissov

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