Joint press conference
by NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană with Nikolai Denkov, the Prime Minister of Bulgaria
Dear Prime Minister, Minister, Generals [inaudible], Ambassadors,
Thank you so much for hosting us today. And I would like to express on behalf of the Secretary General of NATO, of myself, and many of the North Atlantic Council members present here, our great pleasure to be here in your great nation and also the Novo Selo Training Area for Exercise Iron Strike 2023.
With troops from Albania, host-nation Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Türkiye and the United States, all working together own our shared security. I even see my own fellow Romanians coming especially for this operation in Bulgaria.
[speaks in Italian]
We have just witnessed a powerful display of NATO capabilities and interoperability.
Dear Prime Minister, Minister, Bulgaria is a highly-valued NATO Ally.
Your country plays a critical role in our security in the Black Sea area, as well as in the Western Balkans, and beyond.
You host, as you’ve seen today, successfully one of NATO’s eight multinational battlegroups, stretching from the Baltic to the Black Sea.
Helping to deter aggression on the Alliance’s eastern flank.
Your troops have an important role in our KFOR peacekeeping mission in Kosovo.
And you are contributing to NATO’s training mission in Iraq.
I also welcome 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.
This will make Bulgaria more secure and NATO stronger.
Russia continues to wage its war of aggression against Ukraine.
We have seen a surge of Russian attacks in the Black Sea in 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.
Bulgaria’s role in Black Sea security is vital.
Your naval forces are taking part in NATO patrols.
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.
And Russia is again preparing to use winter as a weapon of war against in Ukraine this winter which is approaching.
So, we must continue to give Ukrainians what they need to remain strong on the battlefield.
And have a stronger place at the negotiating table.
With all these things in mind, this will be critical as we look forward towards our next summit in Washington.
Where we will be celebrating the 75th anniversary of our great Alliance.
While boosting our deterrence and defence.
Continuing to support to Ukraine.
And produce a 360-degree approach to our security.
And prepare the most successful Alliance in human history for its next decades of importance and relevance to our security and world stability.
So dear Prime Minister,
I want to thank you again for your leadership. I want to thank your nation for your invaluable contribution to our Alliance.
And I’m so proud to see our women and men in uniform, the flags of our proud NATO Allies, together here in Novo Selo.
Journalist: [inaudible], do you plan to send more troops here to Bulgaria and also fighter jets, to enhance air policing? Thanks.
NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană: Thank you so much for the question. It’s obvious that we are living in a period of great power competition and what we call at NATO, pervasive instability. And we see things coming our way from the East from aggressive Russia, in the south, for reasons that we all see, but also from many other directions, geographical and non-geographical, cyber, disinformation, hybrid warfare, problems on critical infrastructures.
So this is what NATO is at its best. And I want to congratulate our leaders, in their wise decisions of the Vilnius Summit last summer, when we entered the most ambitious transformation of our defence and deterrence planning in NATO in generations. As we speak, we are working on the executability of these plans, on nations appropriating and giving to our SACEUR and our military leaders, the forces they need, the equipment they need, the interoperability they need, the exercising together like today that we need, in all domains, in all geographies, from the Black Sea, to the Baltic Sea, and from the Mediterranean, to the High North.
So I want you here in Bulgaria, a country that I admire and I like a lot personally, is to send you a message of confidence in this Alliance. We are not for no reason, considered the most successful as in history because when times change, we adapt.
I think NATO has in our genetic code, a sort of a gene of permanent adaptation to a changing global environment. This is what we do. This is why I'm here. This why I’m together with your Prime Minister and your leadership, just to say that we are here to defend 1 billion citizens in NATO countries and project stability and predictability in many regions around us. So trust us we are working very hard in making sure that we really defend properly every square inch of this great Alliance of ours.