Veto on F-16 Contract Rejected, President Rumen Radev Made Special Statement
(Source: Novinite; posted July 25, 2019)
SOFIA --- Yesterday the parliamentary defence committee rejected the presidential veto on the ratification of the agreements on the acquisition of the American aircraft. GERB, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) and VMRO voted against the veto.

In a special statement for the media, President Rumen Radev added further clarifications regarding his motives for imposing a veto on the law ratifying the agreements on the acquisition of eight F-16 Block 70 aircraft, BNR reported.

President Radev states that “the purchase of the jet fighters is a long awaited and necessary step in the modernization of the Bulgarian air force and the country’s defence capabilities. But it cannot take place to the detriment of the interests of the Bulgarian citizens, of the dignity and sovereignty of Bulgaria”.

The Bulgarian President points out that a new debate in parliament is needed to give a clear answer to the question how Bulgaria’s interests are defended with regard to the purchase price – 1.1 billion euro, excluding VAT -- with 100 percent advance payment and a delivery deadline for the aircraft of no less than 4-5 years, hidden and unspecified costs which Bulgaria will have to pay afterwards.

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As Contracts for New Fighters Are Not Public, Parliament Must Inform the Public About Commitments and Capabilities
(Source: President of Bulgaria; issued July 24, 2019)
(Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com)
A few days ago, the Bulgarian Parliament ratified the international contracts for the purchase of new F-16 fighters. This is a long-awaited and necessary step in the modernization of the Bulgarian Air Force for the defense capabilities of the country. But it cannot be at the expense of the interests of Bulgarian citizens and the dignity and sovereignty of Bulgaria. So, I took advantage of my constitutional powers and vetoed the ratification law.

The government's decision not to make these international treaties publicly oblige MPs to inform the public of the nature of their engagement and their defense capabilities. A new debate in the National Assembly is obligatory to give a clear answer as to how the Bulgarian interests are protected with regard to:
-- The acquisition price of BGN 2.2 billion excluding VAT
-- 100% advance payment;
-- Deadline for delivery of aircraft at the earliest after 4-5 years;
-- Cut-off armament, equipment, training, and services where the aircraft remains with limited capability;
-- Hidden and unspecified costs that Bulgaria will subsequently pay in terms of infrastructure, transport, arms, equipment, training, services, taxes and fees;
-- Modification of contract terms unilaterally by the contractor without coordination with the Bulgarian side in terms of prices, terms and volume of supplies and services;
-- Negligence or default.

Undertaking obligations related to hidden and unclear spending has put the Bulgarian governments in for decades to make significant financial commitments. Moreover, the acquisition costs obtained, including the issuance of new debt, draws into question the possibilities of timely provision of missing capabilities.

I want to emphasize that it is not the specific type of airplane, but the availability of real capabilities, that determines the authority and the future of the Bulgarian Air Force and our Euro-Atlantic affiliation.

Building modern defense capabilities requires a comprehensive approach and long-term planning, and in this case colossal spending for Bulgaria, there is even a lack of debate on crucial issues of national and collective security:
- When will we acquire the complete armament, equipment, training and services package guarantees multi-functional capabilities of the aircraft?
-- When will we acquire full technical support capabilities in Bulgaria, without which the annual operation of the aircraft is more expensive?
-- When will we build the necessary complex infrastructure?
-- When will we buy the next eight aircraft?
-- When will the F-16 squadron be operational?
-- When, how and how much will we pay for all this?

All these circumstances generate instability for the process of modernization of the Bulgarian Air Force and jeopardize the modernization of the Land Forces and the Navy, without which the fighter project becomes untenable.

Taking public spending, especially in a country with mass poverty and deepening social problems, requires maximum transparency and accountability.

The enormous costs that will be invested in the modernization of the Armed Forces will be paid not by the prime minister nor the government, but by Bulgarian citizens. That is why the National Assembly should perform its constitutional role and control executive power, rather than becoming its hub.

Let us not forget that both the government and the National Assembly are responsible for their actions exclusively and exclusively to the Bulgarian citizens. And no-one but Bulgarian society determines their legitimacy.

I remind the MPs that they have sworn in all their actions to be guided by the interests of the people. That is why Bulgarians must be given clear, categorical answers as to how this is being implemented and what the real consequences of the concluded contracts are.

I expect deep debates in the National Assembly and taking adequate action.

Thank you for your attention!

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