Rumen Radev: NATO is not a Security Stock Exchange, but a Union of Sovereign States, United by Strategic Goals and Common Values
Today’s NATO summit is very important because it should display the unity, solidarity and resolution of all member states. However, so far the questions turned out to be more numerous than the answers. This is what President Rumen Radev said after he took part in the first working meeting of the North-Atlantic Council in the 29 format, which took place within the framework of the meeting of the state and government leaders of the Alliance’s member states.
The Bulgarian Head of State said that at the session US President Donald Trump raised the issue of defense spending, allocated by the member states, to reach 2 percent of the GDP moreover to be attained as of today, but set a new barrier – 4 percent. “I was the only one to raise the issue to the NATO Secretary General - what happens with the transatlantic link, which is the backbone of NATO in terms of military capabilities, if we don’t reach the 2 percent target now, and nobody speaks of a 4 percent target,” Rumen Radev said. This is vital for the organization’s future and concerns all counties, yet this problem is not discussed. “NATO is not a stock exchange where you can buy yourself security, but a union of sovereign states, united by strategic goals and common values,” the Bulgarian Head of State emphasized.
President Radev added that, on the other hand, the US President is right as every country must contribute in today’s world of growing threats, every country should build effective capabilities. “What he is doing is good for us in terms of building defense capabilities. You see how reluctant people in Bulgaria are to allocate funds for the armed forces,” Rumen Radev explained and added that he has convened three meetings of the Consultative Council for National Security on this topic. At them we agree on something which is later cancelled, the modernization projects are constantly postponed, reasons are constantly found,” Radev added.
The decision to reach 2 percent, which was accepted with difficulty in Bulgaria, will be implemented during the term of office of the next government – according to the plan in 2024, Rumen Radev said and emphasized that he expects the pressure to increase defense spending to continue to be exerted.
President Radev called for a common NATO policy on defense spending and recalled that two-thirds of the ally states have presented plans to reach 2 percent of the GDP in 2024 and eight member states have already achieved it.
In reply to a question concerning the atmosphere during the working session and whether the European leaders feel blackmailed by the US, President Radev said that the atmosphere in the hall was not “of the most pleasant.” Currently all leaders are in an “embarrassed state” because everyone thinks what does the 4 percent condition mean and how serious was President Trump, the Bulgarian Head of State said. Rumen Radev noted that NATO has passed through a lot of challenges and the allies have always managed to consolidate. “I hope that a solution will also be found now,” the President added in reply to a question concerning whether there are threats for the Alliance’s future.
Rumen Radev identified as one of the good events at the summit the expected decision whereby the Republic of Macedonia will receive an invitation for accession negotiations. The concrete time limit of the process will depend on the fulfillment of the agreement with Greece, the President added.
The Head of State said that within the framework of the meeting of the government and state leaders he has raised the topic of the transatlantic link. “I expressed my opinion and recommendations, which I have always had. I recalled the operation in Libya, which showed great deficits in the military capabilities of the European countries,” the Head of State added and said that he is speaking of the intelligence systems, high precise weapon, refueling in air, mobility, contemporary command and management systems, which were wholly provided by the US. “What is the fate of European security if these capabilities do not exist. Therefore my suggestion was to keep the two-track approach in the relations with Russia,” President Radev added. He called for not only pursuing the policy of restraint, but also engaging in a dialogue and, in the situation of vagueness of the transatlantic link, seeking a way to normalize the relations with Russia. The President added that the leaders accept this approach.
In reply to a question concerning his expectations from the forthcoming meeting between the Russian and US president, Rumen Radev said that he cannot makes guesses about Donald Trump’s approach, moreover after the statement he made today. “If he regards the attitudes to Russia through Europe’s prism, we can expect one kind of conduct. If he regards Russia through the prism of the America-China relations, then we can expect another outcome of this meeting,” President Rumen Radev further said.
Within the forum, President Radev held a bilateral meeting with his Georgian counterpart Giorgi Margvelashvili. Tomorrow he is expected to meet Turkish president Pecep Tayyip Erdogan.