NATO Deputy Secretary General hails Bulgaria’s contributions to stability in the Black Sea
NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană travelled to Bulgaria on Friday (10 November 2023) for the annual exercise “Iron Strike” conducted by the NATO multinational battle group stationed in the country. “We have just witnessed a powerful display of NATO capabilities and interoperability, with troops from Albania, host-nation Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Türkiye, and the United States, all working together for our shared security,” Mr Geoană said.
“Bulgaria is a highly-valued NATO Ally, playing a critical role in our security in the Black Sea area, as well as in the Western Balkans and beyond,” the Deputy Secretary General said. He also welcomed Bulgaria’s commitment to spend at least 2 percent of GDP on defence in the coming years. “This means more combat aircraft, patrol ships and armoured vehicles, and it will make Bulgaria more secure and NATO stronger,” he added.
Mr Geoană highlighted NATO’s commitment to security in the Black Sea and steadfast support to Ukraine. “We have seen a surge of Russian attacks in the Black Sea in the recent months, including on civilian shipping lanes. Russia’s dangerous and escalatory actions pose serious risks to the stability of the region. So, NATO and Allies have stepped up surveillance and reconnaissance in the Black Sea, including with maritime patrol aircraft, NATO AWACS surveillance planes, and drones,” he said. ‘I strongly welcome that Bulgaria is working together with Romania and Türkiye to counter the threat of floating mines in the Black Sea. This is an important contribution in the broader effort toward restoring freedom of navigation in the Black Sea,” he said.
Mr Geoană travelled to Bulgaria together with the Permanent Representatives to the North Atlantic Council. He met the Bulgarian Prime Minister, Nikolai Denkov, and other Bulgarian officials, including the Minister of Defence, Todor Tagarev, and the Chief of Defence, Admiral Emil Eftimov. He also met Allied personnel from NATO’s multinational battlegroup.