Bulgaria’s Defence Minister Krasimir Karakachanov has addressed a meeting of the Parliament’s Defence Committee in the wake of President Rumen Radev vetoing a draft on the ratification of contracts for the purchase of F-16s.
The head of the ministry has commented on Radev’s remarks that there was no consensus in the decision to purchase American aircraft. According to Karakachanov, it could not be reached because part of society continues to believe that Bulgaria was going to attack Russia using the new aircraft.
“There can be no broad public consensus because part of our society still thinks (or some of our political leaders say so) that we buy American jet fighters to attack Russia… another question is that no one buys an F-16 to attack anyone”, the minister said.
Karakachanov noted that all discussions are based on a very sensitive subject – “Americanophilia or Russophobia” – and this is extremely harmful to Bulgarian society.
“As long as we are divided into ‘philes’ and ‘phobes’, there will be no 100 percent consensus in society”, he added.
Karakachanov has already stated once that Bulgaria was not going to attack Russia with new aircraft. The minister called such speculations “foolish and irresponsible”.
Bulgarian President Rumen Radev earlier vetoed the conclusion of contracts for the purchase of F-16s, its armaments, equipment and technical support. He harshly criticised the parliament’s decision to hold two votes at once during a single meeting: one to ratify the deal and another to update the budget, the deficit of which due to the purchase of the F-16 will increase fourfold.
According to the president, because of such a simplified procedure, it was not possible to fully discuss the position of parliamentarians who opposed ratification.
“Due to the shortened legislative procedure, several issues remained unclear: price, guarantees, delivery terms, penalty, compensation, and other items”, the head of state said yesterday.
Still some politicians in the ruling party “Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria” (GERB) believe that with a second vote on Friday it will be possible to easily overcome the presidential veto.
In December of last year, Bulgaria, having considered offers from the USA (F-16), Italy (Eurofighter) and Sweden (Gripen), chose the American aircraft. The price for 8 fighters is almost $1.26 billion and they will be delivered by 2023.