In Bulgaria, January 6 is traditionally the day for a church blessing of the battle flags of the military, a ceremony attended by state and government leaders and top officers. In 2019, it was also the day for the now-traditional opposing views of the President and the Defence Ministry leadership on the fighter jet acquisition process.
On January 9, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s coalition Cabinet is expected to give the go-ahead for negotiations to take forward the process. On the table is a recommendation to acquire US-made F-16s, an option proposed over the offer by Sweden to supply new made-to-order Gripens and the offer from Italy of Eurofighters.
President Roumen Radev, who was Air Force commander before resigning to stand for election as head of state, described the contest as “flawed” and the move as a “blow to Bulgaria”.
Radev, a frequent critic of Borissov’s government, said that he had insisted that the procedure and the financial framework for the fighter jet acquisition should be respected, “which is the guarantee of optimal choice regardless of the type of aircraft”.
“The government did the opposite – declared the winner in violation of its own rules and those of the National Assembly,” Radev said. (end of excerpt)
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