SOFIA, Bulgaria (BulgarianMilitary.com) – The Chairman of the parliamentary group of PP GERB, Tsvetan Tsvetanov envisages that the Government’s proposal to start negotiations with the U.S. on the purchase of 8 F-16s will be approved by the Parliament. This, he stated on Sunday, in an interview for the Bulgarian National Radio, learned BulgarianMilitary.com.
According to him, the plan, approved by the Council of Ministers last week, “is the most optimal option possible and something that our country could be proud of in decades. This is a security investment.”
Tsvetanov recalled that the final decision was political, but also stressed on the importance of a transparent procedure. He rejected the criticism from the opposition party BSP and the leader of NFSB Valery Simeonov that are against the start of negotiations with the U.S. referring to the fact that the procedure for the acquisition is not transparent. The PP GERB chairman reminded also that the previous decision, to be selected the Swedish fighters, was canceled precisely for that reason and then a new procedure was launched.
He pointed out as an advantage that the U.S. offer does not include hidden costs, thus Bulgaria will not have to acquire anything through separate contracts with third countries or licenses from other governments.
In another interview for Nova TV, in response to a question whether the Parliament is not going to become untenable, by contradicting its previous decisions on fighters acquisition, Tsvetanov said that the current procedure is the most transparent – with a working group, a report, a decision by the Council of Ministers and debate in the Parliament.
About the F-16, he explained that the fighter is fully equipped and can be integrated to support the defence capabilities of both the country’s national security and NATO comprehensive approach. Tsvetanov pointed out that the F-16 is in service with 10 NATO and EU member states, while Gripen is only in Hungary and the Czech Republic. “If we choоse Gripen, there must be a third country from which to buy the appropriate armament and to receive the licenses,” he explained further.
This week the National Assembly is expected to vote on Government’s proposal to start negotiations with the U.S. and the future contract to “deviate” from the Bulgarian mandatory requirements so far. The Cabinet has the assurance of the White House that the price of fighters will be reduced during the negotiations. Besides the parliamentary groups of BSP and PP Volya, Ataka and NFSB are also against the decision. The assumption is that the proposal will be approved with the support of GERB, IMRO and MRF.
“The fact that we start negotiations does not mean that there is a contract. There is a subsequent ratification, and in order to approve it, the government has a lot of work to do and in the end to propose something to the Parliament, so the process is not finished at all, ” commented the Chair of Bulgaria’s Parliamentary Defence Committee General Konstantin Popov for BNR.
He warned that the “dramatization” over the topic could lead to a delay in the whole process as well as to a serious effect not only on this project, but also on all other modernization projects of the Bulgarian army. Gen. Popov said that this week, there would be political debates in the Parliament, and the politicians will take a decision, but it will be on the basis of the expertise.
“We do not say that the basic requirements are dropped. We say that the government – what we have proposed and adopted – will have to bear its responsibility when it returns for ratification of a proposed contract or comes up with a proposal for negotiations with the next bidder,” the Chair of Bulgaria’s Parliamentary Defence Committee said further, adding that a comprehensive approach is needed and “Bulgaria should to take maximum advantage in all possible areas – also in the field of industrial cooperation.”
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Sources: News.bg, Mediapool