Bulgarian MPs Approve Participation of Allied Aircraft in Joint Air Policing Missions
(Source: Novinite news agency; posted Feb 05, 2016)
The Bulgarian parliament approved on Friday amendments to the Defence and Armed Forces Act allowing the participation of allied countries in missions on guarding the country's airspace.

A total of 96 MPs voted in favour of the joint air policing missions, 34 were against, while thirteen lawmakers abstained.

According to the amendments, the air policing missions will be carried out either solely by the Bulgarian army or jointly with the armed forces of allied nations.

The debates and voting took place in the absence of Defence Minister Nikolay Nenchev, daily Dnevnik informs.

During the discussion, the ruling and opposition parties mutually accused each other of the state of the country's air force.

According to the opposition, the bill constitutes a violation of the Bulgarian constitution and national sovereignty.

Former Foreign Minister and MP from the Socialist opposition Kristian Vigenin insisted for a provision stipulating that only countries which are both EU and NATO members can participate in the joint air policing missions.

Other MPs suggested that there should be an exception for allied countries neighbouring Bulgaria, namely Greece, Romania and Turkey which should not be allowed to participate in such missions.

In January, the participation of foreign aircraft in joint air policing missions was approved at first reading.

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