Updated: 14-May-2002 NATO Speeches

7 Dec. 2001


by Dr. Solomon Passy
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria
at the EAPC Foreign Ministers Meeting

Mr. Secretary General, Dear Colleagues,

Our today's meeting offers an excellent opportunity to discuss how we all readjust to the post-September 11 world using the assets of the Euroatlantic community shaped by common values and common actions.

From the very outset of the anti-terrorist campaign Bulgaria has acted as a de facto US and NATO ally.

This approach became a shared position of the Vilnius Group at our October 5 Sofia Summit.

Bulgaria has granted a blanket permit for overflight of aircraft taking part in the "Enduring Freedom" Operation.

We are preparing a security company to take up the protection of the SFOR Headquarters.

Bulgaria's National Assembly approved with full unanimity a bilateral military Agreement with the US for transiting and presence of forces in support of the operation in Afghanistan.

In substance this is the first practical application in a bilateral context of the Agreement between Bulgaria and NATO of March 2001.

A US Air Force base at the port of Bourgas has started operating in implementation of the Agreement.

We are ready to conclude similar agreements with all NATO member states and allies in the anti-terrorist coalition.

Further NATO enlargement is the best means to address the complex global security challenges.

This is a strategic rationale that, I believe, will be strongly reflected in the decisions at the NATO Prague Summit.

The success of the global coalition against terrorism strengthens the logic of NATO enlargement and the strategic value of Bulgaria has been proven by this logic.

The political rationale is equally important.

The project to create a peaceful, undivided and democratic Europe would fail should Bulgaria and other countries, willing and able to assume Ally responsibilities, remain outside.

Bulgaria has reached remarkable consensus among the political establishment and the public on the country's aspiration to join NATO and EU.

The society and politicians progressively "matured" in their understanding of the benefits and responsibilities of NATO accession.

In a remarkable progress compared to the first tests - in the 1991 "Desert Storm" operation and the 1999 operations in Kosovo - our position after September 11 was decided upon with a consensus among all Parliamentary political forces and was supported by all Members of Parliament.

We fully acknowledge the military aspects of the rationale of NATO enlargement.

Building upon the above mentioned clear and stable political consensus, our Government proved its determination to face the tough choices by taking last week the decision to destroy our SS-23 missile system.

We are also adamant in allocating about 3% of the GDP to defence expenditures.

Bulgaria is reinvigorating the defence reform, completing the force structure review to allow for the armed forces' downsizing, professionalisation and capacity building for a wide spectrum of missions.

Co-operative regional developments in South East Europe underpin the prospects of Bulgaria and other countries for a European future.

Today crises are controlled rather than mishandled. The best option is the integration of the Balkan countries in the European and Euroatlantic structures.

Investments in the infrastructure in South East Europe are tantamount to investments in the security of Europe.

We need a common effort to launch a real infrastructure revolution in South East Europe.

Countering terrorism and other emerging security challenges is an all-encompassing endeavor.

In this context we welcome the evolving partnership between NATO and Russia.

We believe that further NATO enlargement serves Russia's interests as well and we are greatly appreciative of NATO's efforts to denounce the myths of "new dividing lines" and "buffer zones" as obsolete.

In the post-September 11 environment security challenges turn into security risks unless managed properly.

We all have a stake in proceeding with further NATO enlargement, so that we match promises with performance and make Europe and the whole world a safer place.

We believe that the Prague Summit will make historic decisions which will delete the Yalta division of Europe once and for all.

Thank you for your attention.

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