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Third Annual Security Conference: Security Risks and Transformation -Euro-Atlantic and Regional Perspectives
Sofia, 19-20 November 2005


Gen. Nikola Kolev, Chief of the General Staff of the Bulgarian Armed Forces

Distinguished Ministers,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to start my lecture with expressing my personal gratitude and also the gratitude on behalf of the leadership of the General Staff of the Bulgarian Armed Forces to the Center for the Study of Democracy for inviting me to participate in the annual International Security Conference.

As Chief of the General Staff of the Bulgarian Armed Forces, I am privileged and honoured to be part of this conference, which for several years already has been generating rational ideas and suggesting solutions for strengthening of security in the context of transformation on global and regional scale.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The global geopolitical changes at the end of the 20th century have generated new contradictions thus giving birth to risks and threats of a new nature. The advance in sciences and technology and the process of globalization have confronted the world with a new transition – the transition from a modern industrial society to a postmodern informational one. This transition is characterized by unprecedented dynamic changes in the nature and dimensions of the security risks and threats.

The key factors defining the strategic security environment have turned to be the globalization, the growing complexity and unpredictability of the asymmetric war, the changing demographic and environmental media, the formation of regions with unstable political and social characteristics and low level of economic development and the radical ideologies and unsolved conflicts. In the multidimensional character of the global security system, the military involvement has gone beyond the frames of the traditional allied and territorial defence, with a redirected focus on conflict prevention, crisis management, peace restoration, enforcement and preservation, and humanitarian assistance and support.

With this background the military strategic environment has gained a new content. The complex character of the security environment requires a large spectrum of military involvement in finding solutions to the emerging conflicts - from preventive activities and humanitarian operations to high intensity military operations. The war against modern threats and especially against the basic one among them - terrorism is a task that exceeds the individual capabilities of any country and calls for the engagement of all democratic forces.

In the common dynamics of the current security processes the military factor will continue to play an important role interacting closely with the diplomatic, political and economic factors. In the context of the common security environment and the ongoing processes and developments in the world, the scale of the changes and the logic of the global transformation are becoming more and more comprehensible. The changed security environment has imposed adaptation and reconsideration of the basic role and tasks of the major security guarantee at the present - the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The decisions from the last NATO Summits clearly and unambiguously display that NATO is turning into а focal point for planning and coordination of the multinational military efforts for ensuring protection against the new asymmetric threats. A fundamental conclusion for the future development of the Alliance has been drawn based on the planning and building of the required capabilities for effective response to these threats.

NATO has consolidated its position of an organization for preservation and enforcement of peace, stability and effective counteraction to the new challenges. An evident expression of this position is seen in the Crisis Response Operations conducted on the Balkans.

An important factor for the strengthening of the regional and global security is the determination of the European Union to include a military dimension in its policy. The idea for “Common European Defence” has found a practical expression in the EU involvement in the post-conflict reconstruction of Bosnia and Herzegovina with the activation of the operation “ALTHEA”.

These transformation processes have raised new requirements for the building and development of the modern Bulgarian Armed Forces. The concepts for the role and place of the Bulgarian Armed Forces in the common defence system of the country have changed. The new possibilities deriving from the integration and cooperation have been taken into account as formative factors for the military and strategic environment. An impressive amount of work has been done and significant results have been achieved in a number of fields such as:

• active and actual/determining participation in the integration processes of the country’s NATO and EU accession;

• active and actual participation in the regional confidence and security building initiatives;

• international military cooperation and participation in the multinational formations;

• applying of the international legal regulations in the field of Arms Control and Non-Proliferation of Weapons for Mass Destruction;

• bilateral and multilateral military contacts and consultations on security issues;

• exchange of personnel for short- and long-term training;

The transformed characteristics, ways and methods for operations conduct have affected the organization of the Armed Forces operational training, the training of military leaders and the integration of operational capabilities.

As a main guarantor of security and territorial integrity of the country, the Bulgarian Armed Forces have important role in the integration processes of the Republic of Bulgaria’s accession to NATO and EU and of the stabilization of South-Eastern Europe.

Since the Republic of Bulgaria’s joining to the Partnership for Peace (PfP) Initiative, the Bulgarian Armed Forces have constantly followed the chosen road towards meeting the criteria and requirements of NATO in order to get an invitation for membership.

The reform of the Bulgarian Armed Forces, the elaboration of the normative basis of documents, and the implementation of the Membership Action Plan (MAP) were key to the successful preparation for membership.

The country’s accession as full member of the Alliance was a recognition of the results of the achievements; the accession was also realization of the most significant priority of the national foreign policy during the past years.

Serious structural and organizational changes were made with the purposes of development of the required operational capabilities, establishment of expedient balance between the active and reserve forces, and stabilization of the reformed services of the armed forces.

The accelerated reform of the Bulgarian Armed Forces, the reduction of its peacetime and wartime strength, the establishment of flexible functional and organizational structure, the significant reduction of main samples of armament and equipment (tanks, combat armored vehicles, helicopters, and ships), the increase of the interoperability, and the start of the modernization are an expression of these changes.

Simultaneously with their large-scale transformation, the Bulgarian Armed Forces actively participate with contingents in the different crisis response operations which determines the practical dimensions of our country’s policy of European and Euro-Atlantic integration and intensive regional cooperation. The participation of the Bulgarian Armed Forces in the operations of NATO (SFOR, KFOR, ISAF), EUFOR (“ALTHEA”), in “The Coalition of the Willing” (operation for stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq”), in missions of the UN (UNMEE in Ethiopia and Eritrea, UNMIL in Liberia and UNMIK in Kosovo) is serious national contribution to world peace and security.

At the present the Bulgarian Armed Forces participate with 539 servicemen in crisis response operations which at this stage corresponds to our capabilities of funding expeditionary missions.

The participation of the Bulgarian Armed Forces in allied and coalition operations and missions of the UN is an expression of the Republic of Bulgaria’s politics and contribution to the efforts of the international community to normalize the situation in the world and the region. This participation contributes to raising the international prestige of the country, accelerated and full integration in the Euro-Atlantic security structures, military cooperation, and gaining new experience in the foreign policy for the purposes of the training the armed forces.

After the signing of the agreement for the Republic of Bulgaria’s accession to the European Union and the acquiring of status of an accessing country, the role and contribution of the Bulgarian Armed Forces to the achievement of the strategic goal of the country – full membership in the European Union on 1 January 2007 - got particular importance for the General Staff.

Along with our participation in the EU operation “ALTHEA” in Bosnia and Herzegovina, there is political decision for participation in Multinational Tactical Battle Group of the European Union with Greece, Romania, and Cyprus and our concrete contribution is being specified. Our participation in the military bodies and structures of the European Union is activated.

A lot has been done for the consolidation of regional security and confidence. This has been achieved through the significant contribution of the Bulgarian Armed Forces to the multinational military/political initiatives and bilateral agreements between the countries from South-Eastern Europe with special accent on the initiative of building Multinational Peace Force in South-Eastern Europe as a key element for the military/political cooperation in the region. We are making any effort to contribute to the development of the task force for Black Sea cooperation BLACKSEAFOR with the purpose of enlargement of the activities and focusing the efforts on the fight against terrorism and non-proliferation of the weapons of mass destruction; creation of permanent command post and communication and information network; transformation of the combat forces into effective tool for accomplishment of the tasks of fighting terrorism and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; coordination of the activities of the established Black Sea Border Coordination and Information Centre.

The General Staff of the Bulgarian Armed Forces participates actively in the implementation of the national politics of guaranteeing stability and security without operational deployment of the armed forces. This finds its expression in the implementation of the arms control activities; adapting and implementation of the Conventional Forces Europe Treaty; exchange visits of ships, aircraft, military units and personnel at different levels; exchange of experience in the process of building the armed forces, building and development of the armed forces on bilateral and multilateral basis; implementation of programmes for exchange of personnel, exercises, training courses, etc.

These facts outline the significant contribution of the Bulgarian Armed Forces to the consolidation of peace and security in the crisis regions in the world and on the Balkans as well as to the accelerated integration of the country in the Euro-Atlantic security structures.

This determines the new defence policy of the country expressed in the vision of the role, place, and tasks of the Bulgarian Armed Forces defined as result of the Strategic Defence Review (SDR). Our task is to build the required capabilities to accomplish three main missions:

-support to the international peace and security;
-contribution to the national security in peacetime.

The goal of the Bulgarian Armed Forces is to be ready to guarantee the national sovereignty, security and independence, to protect the territorial integrity of the country and of the NATO nations, to be able to accomplish international and coalition engagements to fight terrorism, crisis and conflict prevention and management, to carry out the required activities in support of the developing European Security and Defence Policy, as well as the arms control activities, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, international military cooperation, rendering humanitarian assistance, consolidation of confidence and cooperation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

After briefing you about the role and place of the Bulgarian Armed Forces in the overall process of transformation and our national contribution to the process of building of one peaceful and secure world, I would like to underline that the Bulgarian Armed Forces are only one of the tools that Bulgaria should use wisely and actively in order to turn into a generator of confidence and security. Only in this way our country will be recognized as active and valuable ally, reliable partner with consistent policy, flexible in its approaches for implementation of the national interests and worthy participation in the collective systems and mechanisms to face the challenges to global security.

The balanced security and defence policy aiming at establishment of lasting peace and stability on regional and global scale and the active formation of the security environment are the most important condition to share the responsibilities for consolidation of peace and security and for adequate response to the existing and future risks and threats.

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