Center for Strategic Decision Research


Challenges to the Alliance and Bulgaria’s Contributions to Security and Stability

Her Excellency Nadezhda Mihailova
Foreign Minister of Bulgaria


We have good reason to believe that the current and unprecedented dynamics of change in the global geostrategic configuration will be one of the main challenges to the Atlantic community in the 21st century. The viability of the post-Cold War transatlantic link will undergo yet another crucial test as it continues to adapt its present-day Euro-Atlantic security structures to changing realities.

Today NATO’s mission is no longer defined exclusively by Article 5 threats. Instead, its efforts to maintain and expand its capabilities are being caused by the transitional nature of the new international order. This situation, sometimes described as relative anarchy or chaos, is the result of the vacuum and the redistribution of power in areas of the world previously dominated by the Communists.

It is only natural that the Atlantic community, with its well-proven efficiency and ability to act coherently, is seen as a principal contributor to defining this emerging new world order. NATO can play an essential role in this work while remaining loyal to its original vocation: the protection and promotion of the common values that lie at the heart of the Euro-Atlantic community. The Alliance’s ability to act in this regard is probably one of the important factors in the attractiveness of the Alliance to the new democracies in Central and Eastern Europe.

But in order to do its work, it is important that the Alliance complete an early and successful internal adaptation. We are confident that NATO will maintain its military effectiveness for the full range of new and old missions by building both its collective defense capabilities and its cooperative security approaches. We follow with keen interest the ongoing updating of NATO’s Strategic Concept, which will take into account the new types of potential missions and the continuing enlargement process. It is also essential that the new NATO command structure function effectively and that the new members become fully integrated as Bulgaria expects into all NATO structures.

A consistent “open door” policy is also of the utmost importance—not only for aspiring candidates, but for the credibility of the reformed Alliance itself. Any attempt, whether formal or informal, to interrupt this process would be incompatible with its spirit. We count on NATO to show its clear commitment to expand southeastwards by including stable new democracies, such as Bulgaria, into the second wave of enlargement. Such an act would not only greatly aid regional security-building efforts, but would boost security Europe-wide. We expect that new invitations to join the Alliance will be issued in 1999.


As far as Bulgaria is concerned, our regional policies, including those on Kosovo, demonstrate that we are a responsible, integral element of the solution to problems in the region and in Europe. We believe that the appropriate institutional basis for enhancing the area of stability around the troubled FRY is the full integration of Bulgaria and other advanced candidate-states into NATO.

We are following very closely the situation in Kosovo. Despite some recent steps in the right direction, real progress will be achieved only if all parties to the conflict strictly comply with all requirements set out by the Contact Group. As a neighboring state and aware of its responsibility, Bulgaria will remain actively involved in all efforts by the international community to find a lasting solution to the crisis and will be ready to contribute to it accordingly.

One of the most important follow-up measures to the Sofia meeting of Defense Ministers of Southeastern European countries was the decision to set up a Multinational Peace Force in the region with proposed headquarters in the Bulgarian city of Plovdiv. The main objectives of this force will be to promote regional military cooperation and to enhance the conflict-prevention and crisis-management potential of our countries. The force will participate in NATO- or WEU-led peace-support operations.

Bulgaria plans to continue its intensive efforts to prepare for NATO membership. 1998 has been an important year for implementing military reform. To comply with military requirements, large-scale restructuring and redeployment of our armed forces have begun. These reforms will make our forces highly mobile, properly equipped, and interoperable with NATO forces. We have also redefined military priorities and tasks aimed at increasing interoperability with Allied procedures and equipment. Bulgarian forces will be able to contribute to the collective defense of the Alliance as well as to join crisis-management efforts of the international community.

In addition to our work to reform our military, last April the Bulgarian government adopted a program to restructure and privatize our defense industry. As a result, only a small number of defense-industrial enterprises will remain under limited state control while the rest will be fully privatized. Bulgaria expects leading Western companies to take an active part in this project.


Last year, at the Prague Workshop, we exchanged views on NATO’s enlargement in terms of something yet to come. Today, enlargement is a fact, and I have the pleasure of extolling Bulgaria as a strong candidate for the next round of accessions. Bulgarians share the view of an increasing number of leading security experts and politicians that the next wave of expansion should move southeastward. I hope that at the next NATO Workshop we will speak of this point as a matter of fact.


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