US Want Full Access to Bulgarian Military Bases

Politics | March 14, 2006, Tuesday // 00:00

The United States demand that Bulgaria grants them unlimited access to Bulgaria's military bases and equipment, and Bulgaria does not agree.

Negotiations concerning US military bases here still haven't been concluded, Angel Naydenov, head of the Parliamentary Defence Committee explained for private Nova television. Three negotiation stages have been so far completed since October 2005, and Bulgaria is currently very close to the finish, he said.

However, major disagreements arise around the conditions of access to the bases. While Bulgaria wants guarantees that these facilities would not be used without its consent, the US demand full access. They also want to apply their own jurisdiction and laws when an American violates the law on Bulgarian territory. Bulgarians do not agree on that point and this has stalled the negotiations for a while, the MP added.

Should both sides reach an agreement, the US would pay for the use and maintenance of the facilities and invest in military infrastructure, but all bases will be under a Bulgarian flag. There is no guarantee that such an agreement would be reached at all, Naydenov warned, and added that no specific deadlines have been set for concluding the negotiations.

There is a bog difference between Bulgaria and Romania's negotiations with the US, Naydenov said. While Romania has met all the demands put forth by the Americans, Bulgaria is trying to protect its national interests.

The US has asked to be given access to a third military base in central Bulgaria, though negotiations have been so far focused on two sites alone - Bezmer airfield and Novo Selo shooting range. An airfield at Graf Ignatievo, near the second largest Bulgarian city of Plovdiv, is said to match all of the Pentagon's requirements.

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