Controversy Surrounds Bulgarian Government's Move to Acquire Stryker Combat Vehicles

Politics | November 2, 2023, Thursday // 18:05
Bulgaria: Controversy Surrounds Bulgarian Government's Move to Acquire Stryker Combat Vehicles

Bulgaria's political landscape is heating up after the government's decision to greenlight a draft contract for the acquisition of Stryker combat machines from the USA. The move has drawn sharp criticism from political figures, particularly former Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, who expressed concerns over the legality of the decision.

The decision, which authorized an official to conduct negotiations and sign the contract pending approval by the National Assembly for investment expenditure, has ignited a legal debate. According to the Law on International Treaties of Bulgaria, any draft international treaty must receive government approval and be signed by a designated Bulgarian official. Subsequent ratification by the National Assembly is required for the treaty to take effect.

Borissov, who leads the GERB party, voiced his dissatisfaction with the government's decision, highlighting the potential legal ramifications it might entail. He emphasized the need for parliamentary approval for such a significant procurement, including budget considerations.

"We are in favor of purchasing the machines, but it should have been decided by parliament in conjunction with the budget," Borissov said. He called on Prime Minister Denkov to delay the decision until after the elections.

The debate over the timing of the decision began earlier when Defense Minister Todor Tagarev urged the National Assembly to approve the Stryker purchase before local elections. He argued that delays in the approval process could lead to missed deadlines. Tagarev's statement triggered criticism from Borissov and other lawmakers, including Hristo Gadjev, the chairman of the defense committee.

Bulgaria's legal framework stipulates that military expenditures between BGN 50 and 100 million require a vote from the Council of Ministers, while those exceeding BGN 100 million must be approved by the parliament. The draft contract for nearly 200 Stryker combat machines, intended for the re-equipment of a mechanized infantry brigade, is estimated at around BGN 2.5 billion, well beyond the threshold for parliamentary approval.

As political tensions escalate, the fate of the Stryker combat machine deal in Bulgaria remains uncertain. The controversy surrounding the decision has raised questions about the proper legal process and the government's handling of major military acquisitions.

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Tags: stryker, Borissov, Bulgaria, US

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