NATO, Partnership for Peace, and the New Europe: A Bulgarian View
President of the Republic of Bulgaria Zhelyu Zhelev

In 1994 I had the honor of signing Partnership for Peace (PFP) framework agreement on behalf of the Republic of Bulgaria. In 1995 a PFP report described Bulgaria as the most active state in Partnership for Peace undertakings. In March, at NATO Headquarters, I stated that a major foreign policy priority of the Republic of Bulgaria was adopting the structures needed for full integration into the European and Euro-Atlantic alliances. I would like to assure you today that, in spite of our great shortage of financial resources, the Republic of Bulgaria is continuing to move ahead with this involvement and in this direction with great vigor.

One of the biggest activities within the PFP framework, Cooperative Determination `96, will be held soon. Several hundred servicemen from NATO member-states and PFP Partner states will take part. The exercise, which involves training to conduct a relief operation in case of a natural disaster, supports my strong belief that the transformation of one of the most important European security structures, NATO, is moving in the right direction. So too do the changes in the training requirements and in the manning of forces designed to operate in crisis areas.

However, I would also like to emphasize that I believe NATO must be more effective in preventing military conflicts on this continent, and that European integration must be speeded up. The Republic of Bulgaria is currently conducting its intensive dialogue for NATO membership, and I am optimistic that by the year 2000 one of NATO's new member-states will be the Republic of Bulgaria.

As we conduct our enhanced membership dialogue, the Republic of Bulgaria, in line with our plan to reform our armed forces, is actively working on our military doctrine and military equipment in order to ensure a high degree of compatibility with NATO. We are pleased to state that there are no significant differences between NATO's strategic concept, the military doctrines of NATO member-states, and the military doctrine of Bulgaria. We have begun adapting the corps and brigade organizations, and main staffs of the services. Joining the Planning and Review Process has helped us to identify the objectives, missions, and scope of activities, and is helping us to achieve operational compatibility. We pay special attention to communications standards for both personnel and equipment.


While there is hardly a more significant issue in the area of international relations than that of NATO enlargement, what is important to us about enlargement is its political motivationóthe wish to support democratic institutions and to guarantee human rights, including the right to private initiative and property. Such motivation coincides with the criteria of the European Union (EU), to which Bulgaria last year submitted its official candidacy for full membership. We have every reason to expect that enlargement of the two alliances will take place simultaneously, and that membership in NATO, EU, and the Western European Union (WEU) will largely grow in the future.

While the Republic of Bulgaria wishes to join NATO and EU, we do not wish to be the cause of new dividing lines in Europe, or to become an island standing outside the new European security architecture. Our neighbors to the south, Turkey and Greece, are already NATO members, and Romania and Macedonia have expressed their interest in joining. NATO enlargement will categorically confirm the right of these same European democracies to a free choice in the security area. The decisions on admitting new members should be taken by both NATO and the applicant states; no country outside NATO should be allowed to deter or block this process. However, NATO will need to continue to interact intensively with other international organizations that share in European security responsibilities, especially WEU and OSCE.


In addition to working with organizations to promote Euro-Atlantic security, Bulgaria will also contribute, according to its abilities, to regional security. We will continue to help implement the Dayton Accords, which call on the warring parties and their neighbors to spare no effort to reach lasting peace and stable development in the Balkans. We will also continue to promote dialogue and understanding of the Balkans, reconstruction, compensation for damages, and the realization of large-scale infrastructure projects.


The Republic of Bulgaria does not conceal the fact that we seek cooperation with and membership in NATO as a guarantee of our security. However, we also wish to work with NATO member-countries to contribute to the cooperative efforts in the areas of economic development and the prevention of crime and money laundering, because these are the main needs of the new democracies in Eastern Europe.

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