by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg with the Prime Minister of Bulgaria, Boyko Borissov
Prime Minister Borissov,
Thank you so much for hosting me and my delegation here in Sofia. It is really a great pleasure to meet you again. As you said we met in New York during the reception hosted by President Trump, and then you invited me and it’s a great pleasure for me to be here and meet with you and your delegation.
I am pleased to be here also a few days before your national day.
And I would like to start by thanking Bulgaria for being such a committed and highly valued Ally in the Alliance. And we appreciate your loyalty, your commitment to the Alliance.
Bulgaria contributes to our shared security in many different ways. You participate in different NATO missions and operations. You play a strategic role in the Black Sea region, you contribute to our mission in Afghanistan, fighting international terrorism, you have played a key role for many years in Kosovo, in our KFOR mission, and you’re also part of the NATO training mission in Iraq, and you also have a presence in other NATO missions and operations, and we are extremely grateful for that.
This year we celebrate the 70th anniversary of NATO, but we also celebrate the 15th anniversary of Bulgaria joining NATO and the enlargement of NATO with Bulgaria has contributed to strengthening the Alliance and has helped us to strengthen our collective defence and is important both for Bulgaria, for the region, and for NATO.
We very much appreciate also the way you have supported the process which has enabled North Macedonia to sign an accession protocol with NATO and now North Macedonia is on the way to become a full member of the Alliance. The fact that you signed the friendship treaty with Skopje in 2017 helped build the confidence and pave the way for the Prespa Agreement. And now North Macedonia is set to join NATO. Allies have already started to ratify the Accession Protocol. And I welcome that just last week the Bulgarian parliament voted unanimously to ratify the accession of North Macedonia into NATO. Once that process has been completed by all Allies, North Macedonia will become the 30th member of NATO. This is good for the region. And it’s good for Euro-Atlantic security. And I thank you very much for playing a key role in making that process possible.
In a more unpredictable world, it is important to have friends and Allies.
Together, we are more effective in dealing with our most pressing security challenges.
And that includes the Russian violation of the INF Treaty. This Treaty has been the cornerstone for arm control for decades. NATO does not want a new cold war, we don’t want a new arms race and we call on Russia to come back into compliance with the INF Treaty. These new Russian missiles are nuclear capable, they can reach European cities, they are hard to detect, and they have little warning time so they reduce the threshold for any potential use of nuclear weapons in an armed conflict and therefore it’s important that we continue to call on Russia to come back into compliance. At the same time we need to be prepared for a world without the INF Treaty and with more Russian missiles.
In a more uncertain world we must invest in our security, so I welcome the fact that Bulgaria has started to invest more in defence. And also the great commitment of Bulgaria to reach the NATO goal of spending 2% of GDP on defence. And also the fact that you have stated that you will report all your expenditures, including pensions. This enables Bulgaria to report defence spending in the same way as other Allies and that is important because then we get the full picture of what Bulgaria does when it comes to investing in defence.
So we continue to count on Bulgaria as a committed and loyal NATO Ally. We are extremely grateful for your contributions and it’s always great to see you Prime Minister.