|June 21-22, Sofia|
THE ROLE OF THE MINISTRY OF DEFENSE IN BULGARIAN NATIONAL EXPORT CONTROL
Presentation of Mr. Yordan Bojilov, Director of International Cooperation Directorate, Ministry of Defense of Bulgaria
I will talk about the role of the Ministry of Defense in the decision-making process in the Interdepartmental Commission for export control and non-proliferation of WMD’s and I will present to you some Ideas on how to improve the regime.
The analysis carried out by the Commission is based on the
- applications and documents of the trade companies;
- gathered information from the state institutions which have representatives in the Commission;
- assessment of the destination of the end-user, the type of the exported arms or dual-use goods, the presence of any specific export requirements, etc.
Therefore a large range of questions should be covered in order the Commission to take the right decisions. The final decision has to be consistent with the principals of the export control system:
- protection of the national security of the state;
- protection of the foreign political and economic interests of the state;
- strengthening of the international peace, security and stability;
- fulfilment of the international obligations of the Republic of Bulgaria.
Where is the place of the Ministry of Defense in the Whole system of export control in Bulgaria?
But before starting with the role, I have to mention that the MoD itself does not take part in foreign trade activities beyond its responsibilities as a state institution. According to the Law “Foreign trade activity in arms may be solely conducted by trade companies registered under the Company Law.” In the case of the MoD there is not a separation of roles, it cannot act sometimes like a state body, and sometimes like a trade company. Furthermore, the MoD cannot even sell its surpluses by itself. This is done by trade companies, which applications are assessed by the Commission on equal terms with the other trade companies’. That is why the need for selling the surpluses doesn’t have a direct impact on the Bulgarian export control regime in arms and dual-use goods.
The Ministry of Defense of Bulgaria, including the Directorates of the Ministry, the General Staff and the Military Academy, play a significant role in the national export control system, especially in the Commission’s decision-making process and mostly in making the assessments regarding every application for a permit.
Having that in mind, in terms of presentation in the institutional mechanism, the MoD is represented by two standing members in the Interdepartmental Commission: a deputy-minister and the chief of the Military Information Service.
The overall coordination within the MoD on issues related to arms and dual-use goods export control is done by the International Cooperation Directorate. The preparation of positions and assessments is an essential part of the export control activities of the Directorate done in coordination with other structures and services.
The Directorate compiles the information required by the relevant provisions of the international treaties and agreements in the area of export control and in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs conducts the information exchange. Furthermore, the International Cooperation Directorate disseminates within the relevant structures of MoD pressing information on arm embargoes and amendments in the control lists of the international export control regimes and provides with export-control expertise the two representatives of the Ministry in the Commission. The Directorate coordinates the provision of expert assessment of the developments and changes in the international and national export control system. Finally, it coordinates the visits of international export-control experts to the MoD, as well as the participation of MoD experts in international seminars and conferences dedicated to arms export control issues.
It is imperative that each ministry provides the Commission with relevant information and expertise.
Allow me to touch upon in brief from my perspective how the different state institutions represented in the Interdepartmental Commission conduct the case-by-case assessment of every single export or import transaction in arms or dual-use goods in the sphere of their competence. The list is not full.
The Ministry of Economy assesses whether the received documentation compiles the full set of documents required by the law on foreign trade in arms and dual-use goods and supports the activities of the Commission.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs assesses the possible consequences of every transfer in arms or dual-use goods for Bulgarian foreign policy and its impact on our international commitments in the field of non-proliferation and export control.
There are some specialized agencies within the Ministry of Interior, namely National Security Service and National Service for Combating Organized Crime, which assess the transfers and the status of the trade companies applying for a permit from the perspective of preventing the acquisition of arms by terrorist and transnational crime organizations.
What is the role of the Ministry of Defense? The experts from the MoD and the General Staff of the Bulgarian Armed Forces give the military expertise of the exported arms and ammunitions. The most significant questions in relation with every transfer in arms are, as follows:
- the military usage and utilization of the exported arms and ammunitions and whether the state of the end-user has the capabilities for carrying out the stated end-use;
- the type of the exported arms and whether they could be used for defensive purposes only or they are generally designed for offensive actions;
- whether the export and the end use of such arms is forbidden by international organizations or regimes in which Bulgaria participates.
- Any other relevant information and analyses.
Let me say some words about our system of export control. Is there a room for improvement? Please note that I am not criticizing your ministry. The export control system is evolving one.
Having mentioned the process of the case-by-case assessment, from my point of view the established Bulgarian export-control legislation is effective. It contributes to the maintenance of the foreign policy interests of the state, allows case-by case analysis of every transfer and inaugurates enough mechanisms for the control and bringing to justice of the offenders, whether arms exporters or brokers. But even a perfect legislation in the area of arms export control will barely serve the purpose if there are no conditions for its strict and full implementation. The established system of coordination among the state institutions involved in the arms export control needs further elaboration and improvement. NATO membership and future EU accession give an additional impetus that should be sustained.
In the field of the export control activities of the state institutions there could be involved mechanisms for the enhancement of the export control system. Here it could be mentioned that it is necessary that the efforts of all state institutions, carrying out executive or judiciary export-control duties be combined, in order to promote identical export-control practices. Better inter-agencies’ cooperation and further strengthening of the export control capacity can be achieved by increasing the number of state experts and personnel working in the field of export control and also by their purposeful training.
Moreover, the Interdepartmental Commission takes the decisions but the customs agents at the border are those who examine and process the documentation. No matter how much training they get, the agents cannot be familiar with all specifications of the exported commodities. In some states special software products are being used for the differentiation of the transferred items. One of these new technologies in the field of the export control can be used in our national export control system as well.
I would like to underline that the export control is not a unilateral activity of the state bodies. The trade companies also play an important role in it. The interaction between the state and the exporters should be carried up to a higher level. What does it mean? The process of issuing a license is connected with the summary of a large amount of information, which aims at clearing whether the accomplishment of any transfer could infringe the interests of the state or the established export-control regime. The competent state authorities have at their disposal enough capabilities to collect the necessary data and to take a decision. The trade companies themselves should give the information they have, that is to say, the information process should be bilateral. The dialogue between the government or its relevant institutions and the arms trade companies should be further encouraged. In many cases, the trade companies get a notion about the respondent party.
During the process of contracting, the exporting companies should be exceptionally vigilant. It should be weighed whether or not the contractor could provide the necessary conditions for the storage of the purchased items, whether or not he could use them or he has obtained the goods in order to re-sale them (and to whom), whether or not the purchased items belong to his subject of activity, whether or not it is his usual field of activity or that transfer is of extraordinary nature. Such type of questions could help during the process of clarification of the real end-user and the usage of the purchased sensitive items. That is why a specific “export-control culture” should be developed within the trade companies, a specific set of principles should be created.
Finally, a better knowledge of the trends in the area of arms export control policy could lead to a more flexible planning by the trade companies and could prevent some of the situations when they are pressing to go all out for a deal for a dubious final destination. Therefore the competent state authorities could increase the number of the conferences and seminars dedicated to the problems of the export in arms and other sensitive goods and attended by representatives of the defense industry.
The next level of cooperation and information-sharing in the export-control sphere is the international one. And probably this is the most universal step that could be taken towards enhancing the international export-control system – the strengthening of the overall coordination among states. The states participating in the international export-control organizations and regimes should exchange ideas and information on best export-control practices and policies and cases of notorious transfers on a regular basis. This is the main reason why regional seminars and conferences like the present one are very much appreciated and needed. The Ministry of Defense is ready to support each kind of activities, aimed at strengthening of the international regime. From that point of view I should underline that during the last years the MoD has been cooperating with other state authorities, NGO’s and international partners on export-control matters and will cooperate with them in the future.
In conclusion, I would like to stress that the export-control system is not a sanction, it is not an embargo. There are some restrictions regarding several aspects of any foreign trade activity, but the task of the export control is not to impede the legal trade. Its main objective is to prevent sensitive items from falling into the hands of terrorist groups and terrorism-supporting and irresponsible states. In order to achieve that goal without aimlessly restricting the legal trade, the export control system needs predictability, a basic set of clear rules and procedures. The national export control policy should be constantly clarified and explained to the trade companies.