Bulgarian Prime Minister Says Defense Minister's Position on NATO Troops 'Personal'

© AP Photo / Czarek SokolowskiIn this photo taken March 10, 2019, in Wesola,near Warsaw, central Poland, are seen Polish troops in combat gear during brief exercise with some other NATO forces marking 20 years since Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary joined the Western military alliance
In this photo taken March 10, 2019, in Wesola,near Warsaw, central Poland, are seen Polish troops in combat gear during brief exercise with some other NATO forces marking 20 years since Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary joined the Western military alliance - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.12.2021
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MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Bulgarian government has not put up for discussion the need for deployment of additional NATO forces in the country, and the defense minster's position concerning the issue is his personal opinion which does not reflect the official position of Sofia, Prime Minister Kiril Petkov said on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Bulgarian Defense Minister Stefan Yanev said he saw no need for hosting additional NATO forces in Bulgaria, as such a step could cause further tensions in the region. The statement was posted on Yanev's personal Facebook page.
"I can say this... the topic has not been discussed either in the Council of Ministers or with our partners. The statement on this topic is the personal opinion of the minister, which in no way expresses the official position of the government," Petkov was quoted as saying at a briefing by the News.bg portal.
Bulgaria will continue to remain an active and loyal member of NATO, and will make all decisions regarding the matter accordingly, Petkov noted. At the same time, he added that tension on Bulgaria's eastern border should be resolved primarily by peaceful means and diplomacy.
On December 18, Der Spiegel reported that Gen. Tod Wolters, NATO's supreme allied commander in Europe, suggested expanding the alliance's forces in Bulgaria and Romania. The proposal was made during a recent classified videoconference with the military chiefs of the partner countries and included the creation of two military units in Romania and Bulgaria of up to 1,500 soldiers as part of the Enhanced Forward Presence mission.
Tensions have escalated in the region as Kiev and its Western partners claim Moscow is planning to invade Ukraine, and accuse it of a troop build-up near Ukraine's border. Moscow has repeatedly denied the allegations, saying its actions were purely defensive given NATO's increased military activity near the Russian border, and stressed that it has the right to move forces within its own territory in the interests of national security.
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