U.S. Bases in Bulgaria

March 25, 2006 by  
Filed under News

Bulgaria and the US reached a final agreement allowing the US military to use several military bases in Bulgaria.

The news was broken by Bulgaria’s Ambassador to NATO Lyubomir Ivanov and US Ambassador to Sofia John Beyrle, who told journalists that if the agreement is signed by April the first US soldiers will come to Bulgaria in 2007.

The agreement should be signed by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice when she visits the country for a summit of NATO foreign ministers in April, Ivanov explained. The US will be able to use three Bulgarian military bases – the Novo Selo range and the Bezmer both near the city of Yambol and close to Bulgaria’s border with Turkey, and the Graf Ignatievo airfield in central Bulgaria. US forces will also use a storage facility near Bulgaria’s port of Burgas. The bases will be used for the training of 2000 to 3000 US soldiers.The agreement, which will be valid for 10 years, must be ratified by Bulgaria’s parliament. It provides mechanisms for bilateral consultations over the actions of the US forces in Bulgaria. According to the agreement if an American soldier commits a crime on Bulgaria’s territory, he will be sued according to local laws. Washington will also inform Sofia about the actions of the US army that concern the bases in Bulgaria.

Bulgaria’s Defence Minister Vesselin Bliznakov commented that Bulgaria’s flag will be raised in the bases. The location of the US bases in Bulgaria has faced the strong opposition of nationalistic formation Attack (Ataka), whose members left Parliament to stage rallies across the country against the bases.In the context of ministry, the reformation within the Bulgarian Army anticipates the implementation of chaplains. This long-expected opportunity for ministry within the Bulgarian Army may become a reality when U.S. forces integrate with Bulgarian military units on Bulgarian soil.