Controversial Sections on Russia Removed from Bulgaria's Outlook 2020

Politics » DEFENSE | September 3, 2014, Wednesday // 11:47
Bulgaria: Controversial Sections on Russia Removed from Bulgaria's Outlook 2020 Caretaker Defense Minister Velizar Shalamanov. Photo by BGNES

An edited version of a working paper called Outlook 2020: Bulgaria and NATO in European Defense [BG] has been published on the Ministry of Defense's website.

The text has undergone substantial amendments in the sections related to the Russia-Ukraine standoff, but the part on defense expenditures has not been altered.

The authors have retained a commitment to boosting the military budget to 2% of GDP before 2020, up from the current 1.3 percent. This reflects President Plevneliev's promise made to NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen this spring.

Outlook 2020 has adopted a softer tone on the developments in Ukraine, but has pointed the risks carried from the "illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia and from the conflict in Eastern Ukraine", a process called "the biggest threat" to peace and security in Europe since the WWII.

The term "information war", previously used to designate relations with Russia (also described as a "threat to Bulgaria's security in the old version) has now been removed.

As for the "hybrid war", another controversial notion, its definition has also been changed. While it was previously explained as a mixture of "conventional methods and techniques used in guerrilla, cyber and informational war" posing a huge political, military and economic challenge to Bulgaria, it is now perceived as a combination of "conventional methods and guerrilla war techniques, backstage assistance to separatist groups, cyber attacks and propaganda, economic pressure and actions contravening international law."

Russia is only mentioned with regard to its actions in Crimea in the new version, a decision in full accordance with the position of NATO.

The new Outlook 2020 reads that Moscow's actions in Crimea "led to a serious shift in the balance of power within the Black Sea region. This negative development has an immediate relation to Bulgaria's security.

Firing capability has to be "adapted and developed" way beyond the current level due to the Ukraine crisis.

Outlook 2020's initial version prompted a huge public outcry and provoked tensions between interim Prime Minister Georgi Bliznashki and Defense Minister Velizar Shalamanov.

The working paper, finally approved Tuesday, is unveiled just a day before the NATO Summit in Wales on September 4 and 5.

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Tags: Crimea, Ukraine, Russia, Velizar Shalamanov, Georgi Bliznashki, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Rosen Plevneliev, NATO, Velizar Shalamanov, Outlook 2020
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