29 Jan. 1997


by H.E.Mr. Petar Stoyanov
President of Bulgaria to the North Atlantic Council

In my Inauguration speech to Parliament ten days ago I declared that expressing a clear and categorical will for integration in NATO is among Bulgaria's immediate tasks. This is a position I emphasized throughout my campaign it won two thirds of the votes cast. Here I am in Brussels at this first visit after taking office with a mandate from this majority. You are all aware of the severe economic crisis which Bulgaria is undergoing. The question why from a country in the front line of reforms after the fall of the Berlin wall Bulgaria landed in this degrading situation has already found a clear answer at home: over the past four years we have been witnessing a simulation of reforms; a simulation of Euroatlantic integration. This is what the hundreds of thousands peaceful demonstrators react against in Bulgaria today. I am confident that they will give a categorical expression of their will at elections ahead of term which will be called early this year. Our firm desire for NATO membership is based on the following premises: first, Bulgaria's belonging to the same value system and our readiness to contribute to the general security and share the risks of defending and protecting these same general values; second, the conviction that a changing NATO will be the cornerstone of Euro-atlantic security in the 21st Century; third, our desire for equal participation in the processes of reform and decision making in the area of Trans-atlantic security especially when our region is concerned. IFOR and SFOR are a big success, a clear demonstration of NATO's potential to head the peace making efforts of the international community.



I will be unfair to my fellow countrymen if I passed over in silence the fact of the just disappointment when the sacrifice Bulgaria made in the years of the sanctions against former Yugoslavia remained on the sidelines of world attention. The universally recognized mistakes of the socialist government were compounded by the categorical fact of the billions-worth of losses which Bulgaria suffered through the sanctions, losses commensurate with a half of our external debt. Our appeals that the losses faced Bulgaria with additional severe challenges were not heeded.

This, again, makes us Bulgarians particularly sensitive to the subject of solidarity.

Bulgaria is due to make payments on its external debt later this year, which will face our financial system with a final collapse. This may have unpredictable social consequences. A default and a moratorium on our payments is not out of the question. At the same time Iraq, for instance, owes Bulgaria -over a billion and a half. We appeal for an urgent and adequate solution to this problem.

Mr. Secretary General, Gentlemen,

There are different kinds of borders in Europe today. There are such that disappear from the map remaining only in the memory of people. There are others which, regrettably, can easily be transferred from the politicians' minds and imagination onto the map.

For us Bulgarians borders represent yet another category to which we are particularly sensitive.

The borders drawn at Yalta severed us and some other nations of Central and Eastern Europe, from where we naturally belong and this isolation lasted for scores of years.

The war in Yugoslavia further delayed our way back to Europe.

The sense of isolation, along with the known internal problems stifles people's hope for a successful transition, their very trust in democracy and the market relations. It brings arguments and reinforces those nostalgically clinging to the past who prophet that Bulgaria is condemned to the destiny of the last 50 years.

Bulgaria is among the countries lying on the borderline between the Warsaw Treaty and NATO. All frontline states are aware of the implications of this fact. The material consequences of this still weigh heavily on the Bulgarian armed forces and the tax payers.

Bulgaria does not want and sees no reason why it should continue to have a common border with NATO.

Our relations with our neighbours Greece and Turkey are excellent. These are relations of openness and trust and they will continue to be a firm guarantee of peace in the region. I believe that if today we are partners and allies with Turkey and Greece sharing- the same vision of the future, tomorrow we shall be allies in the full sense of the term.

I have been further convinced of this after my recent first meeting with my colleague, President Constantinescu of Romania, a country with which our only common problem is how to increase the through capacity of our physical link across the River Danube. Until recently the construction of a new bridge was held up by debates about its location; now there has been a growing understanding that we should better build two bridges rather than none.


We enjoy good neighbourly relations with all countries in the region. Our regional perspective can hardly be complete without a mention of the Meeting of Foreign Ministers of the countries of the region held in Sofia a few months ago. The Sofia Declaration has set a good beginning. Next on the agenda is the meeting of defence ministers agreed in principle, a meeting to which NATO has been invited through you, Mr Secretary General. I am personally committed to guaranteeing the success of this meeting.

Solidarity is the core of the European integration philosophy. It erased from the map of Europe the borders which for centuries have been lines of war and division. Solidarity is the key to success and to the strength of NATO in safeguarding European and world peace throughout several decades. The brave political solutions which brought together foes and rivals are yielding abundant fruit for the people of Western Europe today. The people of Central and Eastern Europe, too, are looking forward to such brave political solutions.


The past few years have brought out patently NATO's desire for change. The reduced ceilings on armaments are important but even more so is the new strategy, the Alliance's structural reform, the concept of the Combined Joint Task Forces. I would like to refer specifically to the growing European identity in the area of security and defence, which is vital for the future new members. Understandably, the focus. is on the problems of external adaptation including the issue of membership and the future intensified interaction within the Atlantic Council for partnership.

We are clearly aware that the prospect of membership in the Alliance is facing us with the need to demonstrate that, both politically and practically, Bulgaria is in a position to contribute fully to the joint efforts for strengthening Euro-Atlantic security and stability. One of the prime tasks of my tenure in office will be the drafting and prompt implementation of a national programme for preparing the country, notably the defence and the armed forces, to meet the requirements of a prospective NATO membership. The highlights of such a programme will include increasing the interoperability in politics, defence planning and management as well as the maintenance of effective civil control of the armed forces.

In the future enlargement it is essential for us that the criteria of self-deferentiation and political appropriateness will be preserved. In times of transition arguments of material and financial nature should not overshadow political approaches. I an convinced in that, for NATO in his present format demonstrates a unique balance between members with different economic potential. What ensures -unity is the overall political will, the strategic commitment of shared destiny and solidarity.

We expect that at the Madrid Summit all countries which share common values and have the potential to contribute for the security in the area of the Enlarging NATO will enjoy opportunities for equal start in forging out the new formula of the national security and prosperity.

Here we come to the unavoidable question of the relations with Russia. Needless to say it is not serious to assume that the European and global security could be build without taking into consideration Russia's interests. But the sovereignty means that all countries have the legitimate right to choose for themselves the best solutions in the field of security. When it concerns Bulgaria it seems unconvincing that our geographical location as well as our modest military potential might endanger the security of Russia. I stand for developing mutually beneficial and equal relations of good will. I consider this relations as part of our bilateral policy and also as a means for improving the economic performance which will facilitate our overall European and Euroatlantic integration.

Mr. General Secretary,


Now when the political map of Europe of the 21 century is drawn a demonstration of solidarity is crucially essential. The notion of the indivisibility of the European security should not remain a meaningless political declaration.

I presume that my optimistic closing remarks might evoke some scepticism. It is true Bulgaria passes through a difficult period. But while the economy is in decline the news is that the spirits are unprecedently high.

This makes me believe that what seems as a miracle today tomorrow will be a reality. By the way, after the fall of the Berlin wall I understood the real meaning of the Jewish proverb which at a first glance looks paradoxical: "I am realistic that's why I believe in miracles"

Thank you.

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